The First Business Day of the Fish Markets – Hatsuzeri
Japan is still in the feeling of Shogatsu (正月/New Year) but the business is coming back normal already. Today, the 5th of January is the day the fish markets start the business. It´s called Hatsuzeri (初競り). Especially Tsukiji market is exciting. Every year, the price of tuna fish gets a lot of attention. Last year, the final price reached 155.5 million yen (1.09 million euro) for one 222kg of tuna fish.
According to the news, this year it was much lower at 7.36 million yen (51,718 euro) for a 230kg of tuna.
The passion the Japanese people have towards fish is something special. Sometimes I´m asked if I can eat fish. I say yes then the person looks at me and says, "of course! You are Japanese!" I don´t know if it´s because I´m Japanese. My both parents don´t like fish. My father hates fish because it smells fishy and my mother doesn´t like it so much because she can´t be bothered selecting small bones inside her mouth. But since I was very small, I always preferred fish over meat. At one point, I dropped meat from my diet and my mother had to cook me fish while my parents ate meat for dinner. My father would say he didn´t understand why I love fish so much and although he hated fish, just looking at me eating, it seemed quite appetizing.
By the way, do you know Tsukiji market will close and move to Toyosu in 2015, don´t you? Now the name Tsukiji is way to famous even outside of Japan. But the market is too big to be in the middle of Tokyo and the traffic that buyers make is outrageous.
In the early Edo period (1603), the general Ieyasu Tokugawa called fishermen from Osaka and gave them permission to fish in the Tokyo Bay to provide fish to Edo castle. After supplying fish to Edo Bakufu (江戸幕府/Edo shogunate), the fishermen started selling the rest at Nihonbashi. This is the beginning of the fish market in Tokyo.
But in any way, fish has been always Japanese´s favourite food and seeing Seri (競り/ bidding) is something special. If you have a chance to go to Japan before 2015, I recommend you to visit Tsukiji. But make sure you go really early in the morning. That´s when Tsukiji shows it´s liveliness.
Today, all fish markets around Japan starts the new year to fill Japanese´s big stomach.
More Shogatsu event