© Image shot with Canon 7/Jupiter 50 on Ilford Delta 100 film.

A visit to Tsukiji

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This August, before visiting the legendary seafood auction I went to Tokyo Camera Fair. I always wanted to immerse myself in the incredible abundance of analogue cameras it’s famous for. Rows of rangefinders, SLRs and other mysterious types, brands and models that’s never been seen in Europe. Many in mint condition. Some still in a box. A pure analogue heaven!

I didn’t just go to stargaze there, of course. My eyes were set on Canon 7 — a great rangefinder with incredible features, deemed unprecedented in 1961.

I did indeed find my wonderful Seven! I was finally ready for my trip to Tsukiji.

For the past seventy years, Tsukiji has been known as the most chaotic and unusual auction house for bulk seafood products. After all, it’s where all the best sushi restaurants get their tuna.

To get there on time, one needs to be ready by 3 AM. There are no trains running this early and taxi service is especially expensive in Tokyo. So I rode a rented bicycle before dawn across the city from my hotel in Nippori.

The auction was scheduled to start at 5:25 AM and end at 6:15 AM. Only 120 people are allowed to be on the tour, who are then split into two groups of sixty based on the time of arrival.

Tsukiji fish market is a functioning retail space, rather than a tourist attraction. The workers, buyers and sellers have no time for the pleasantries. We’ve been asked to watch ourselves and make sure not to interfere with the business as the locals zoomed past us unfazed by the foreign presence.

The trouble is… the covered interior turned out too dark for my ISO100 film (may that be a warning to all the future film photographer visitors!) Thus I spent my time outside, around the central market. The streets were bursting with fresh food products and the shoppers looking to get the best deal for their restaurants. I’ve never seen anything like it.

This biggest, oldest fish market is set to move to a new site on the fringes of Tokyo to accommodate space for the 2020 Olympics. It may never be the same thereafter.

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