And we're all just waiting around at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. Around 1972 Japanese fish wholesalers discovered the delectable taste of the Bluefin Tuna when caught in the seas near New England. American fisherman didn't have a market for the giant fish so they were happy to put them on transcontinental flights to Japan.
The Tsukiji Fish Market is the largest market for seafood in the world (by area and tonnage of product). It moves around 4.4 million pounds of seafood daily. There is practically no limit to the diversity of sea creatures that are sold at Tsukiji: eel, lobster, oyster, barnacles, sea pineapples, octopuses, squid, puffer fish, sweet shrimp, and flying fish can all be found at wholesale prices.
Tuna, however, are the main event. Buyers for large distributors and single restaurants all gather at Tsukiji for the daily auction of Tuna. The stakes are high. According to Vanity Fair the buyers can lose control:
The tuna weighed 200 kilos. At ¥100,000 per kilo, the possessed bidder had paid ¥20 million—the equivalent of more than $170,000—for a fish whose parceled meat could never recoup that amount.
The tricky part about this auction is that the buyers cannot truly know the quality of the fish until it has been cut open. Clues about the texture and taste of the fish are derived from the fins.
The official name of the Tsukiji Fish Market is the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market. It is owned and operated by the municipal government through a law dating back to 1923. Officials in Tokyo are debating the practicalities of moving the public market to a new, larger site. Vendors and buyers seem to be adamantly opposed to the proposal since the former Tokyo Gas site has severe ground pollution.
One would imagine that a place as crowded with live and recently decesed sea creatures would posses a certian smell (putrid or gut-turning, for instance). However, according to at least two visitors it doesn't stink.
Via Vanity Fair, If You Knew Sushi, and CHOW, Sushi Scribes.