ODAIBA BAY – fishes, fruits and Wagyu
Tuesday – this morning we had the choice of an optional tour of Toyosu Market Tuna Auction. Due to the fact that we had to meet in the lobby at 4.30am – I decide to give it a miss. We are due to visit the Market minus tuna later this morning so I decided to remain in bed and get some sleep.
After breakfast it is back on the subway (changing trains 3 times) and a return to Odaiba Bay where the markets are situated. I get a feeling we are going to get to know the Japanese rail system pretty good.
This is the new Toyosu Market.
Facts – After years of planning, the world’s largest wholesale fish and seafood market has finally been moved from Tsukiji to Toyosu. Three large, multi-storey buildings make up the new wholesale market. One is for fruits and vegetables (which we will visit later), and the other two are for seafood.
These buildings are connected by raised walkways (meaning lots of walking). Prior to the new building, Red Leader tells us that you could actually walk around among the seafood. Unfortunately now it is all behind glass observation galleries – a more sanitary way for sure. Granted not as exciting but you don’t get the overpowering fishy smell!
Upon entering we are given a Visitor Pass that we must display during our time here and we have to hand it back when we leave – no souvenir for me!
Though Tsukiji Market was first and foremost a working market, the unprecedented growth in tourism and the mystique surrounding the inner workings of the world’s largest wholesale seafood market did bring a great deal of foot traffic there – in both good and bad ways.
If you look closely at the photo above right, you can see some tuna still waiting to be despatched.
Toyosu Market’s new layout aims to manage the tourists, and it’s very clear where you can and cannot go. Those who have visited Tsukiji Market before will notice that Toyosu Market is far larger than its predecessor, and there is a great deal more walking required here to see everything.
There are a great many little sushi restaurants in this part. They all seemed to be packed – most probably by the people who came here at 5am for the auctions!
This is the mascot for Toyosu Market – it’s name is Ichino.
After we walk around for what seems like ages, we leave the building and head for the Rooftop Garden for a bit of fresh air. This is another wide open space within a busy precinct.
Walking, walking, we get the lift up to the top and we are greeted by this wonderful area –
The photo at the top of this page was taken from the Rooftop Garden so you can see it has some really wonderful views of the area.
We go back down to the markets and find a lovely little spot to have a cold drink and maybe a light snack – I get an Iced Coffee – delicious. After our refreshment it is time to head for the Fruit and Veg Markets. More walking and more produce behind large viewing areas. Even though most of the goods have been moved, there are still lots of cartons waiting to be whisked away. Every produce has its own viewing area. So organised and from what I have eaten so far – so fresh!
Every type of fruit and veg you can imagine is being distributed to all the restaurants and stalls over Japan.
It is time to head for lunch but instead of training it back, Red Leader decides to get taxis – which is definitely a welcome decision and much appreciated by our tired tootsies. Our cab drops us off and across the road is the Tsukiji Hongwan-ji Temple which we decide is worthy of some investigation.
A wonderful welcome by a Buddhist Priest and we are advised if we want to go inside the Temple we need not remove our shoes. He gives us a lovely little booklet together with a paper keepsake and explains in hushed tones what is going on. He requests that we be quiet and then tells us we can take photos but please no flash.
This Buddhist temple – it’s history dates back to 1617 – is unlike any other, especially in terms of its architecture. Unfortunately the original temple went up in flames in the Great Fire of 1657 but you can read more about the history on the link.
What a soothing experience to be inside this temple.
Right in the middle of Tokyo traffic, people rushing hither and yon and then to emerge feeling calm is so great.
Unfortunately that feeling does not last for long and we have a bit of spare time to investigate the local markets.
Dried fish, fruit, vegetables, meat and whale bacon. Yep, you heard me correctly say whale bacon. It certainly does not appeal to me – Y2000 is about $25.00.
We are keen to try this famous Wagyu beef (also Y2000 – must be the going rate) so we amble up to Mr Yoshizawa and we get to pick out our own steak. We select a tray that has 5 pieces on it – marbled but not fatty and then it is cooked right in front of our eyes.
What is so special about Wagyu beef? Not only does it have higher levels of intra-muscular fat or marbling but the meat texture is finer, resulting in a more flavoursome eating experience. A super beef, Wagyu is known for being so tender it actually melts in your mouth. Well, we will see how true that statement is.
OMG – how good does that taste???? It certainly does melt in our mouths. I can tell you if we weren’t heading for lunch then we would have stopped here and had a few more plates. I don’t believe that steak can be so good. Thank you Mr Yoshizawa – you’re the best. Pulling ourselves away it’s time to meet the others for lunch.
On our way we come across some wonderful displays of plastic food. Don’t they look real?
It advertises what dishes are available inside and helps you select what you want. Further along are some wonderful mushrooms. Even though they look exotic they are not magic ones. I wish I could buy some to take home but maybe an investigation of Japanese produce when I get back to Oz is in order.
Speaking of food – a sushi lunch awaits.