It is our next to last day in Japan and our day started quite early with a morning trip, 5:30am, to the Tsukiji Fish Market. Tsukiji alone handles over 2000 metric tons of seafood per day. The number of registered employees varies from 60,000 to 65,000, including wholesalers, accountants, auctioneers, company officials, and distributors.
The market opens around 3:00 am and the tuna auction starts around 5:20am ending around 7am. We arrived at around 6am and the auction was well underway.
The auction is fast and furious with some fish reaching prices of $10,000 or more. We have seen some fish bring as much as $50,000 for a single tuna.
The auction is broken up into about five groups. The closest group to us had an evaluation area where small slivers of tuna had been cut for evaluation by the bidders. This is serious business.
After watching the tuna auction for 10 minutes we decided to head into the bowels of the market to look at the various stands that were setup. This particular vendor had white tuna and as can be seen from the photo this is a large fish.
Our group must have shot over 100 photos while in the market thus in a future post I will provide you with many more photos of this incredible market.
After our visit to Tsukiji we headed over to the Orchid Show located in the Tokyo Dome. It was a short subway ride from the fish market and there was a stop just across the street from the dome itself.
We arrived a bit too early and had to wait to purchase tickets. By the time we had coffee and returned to the ticket line, there were the beginnings of very long lines to enter into the show. Now mind you this was a Tuesday morning at 10 am and the cost to enter the show was 20 Yen or roughly $23 per person. We were glad we came early as within an hour of our arrival the crowds were incredible.
This shot was taken around 11:30am just 90 minutes after the show opened. KJ and I were just amazed at the attendance to this show. The show contained many exhibits of orchids, vendor booths for every orchid imaginable, and food booths. If you got tired of the show you could purchase a bento box and head into the stands to sit and eat.
To give you an idea of the mass of people here is a close up of one of the aisles we tried to navigate.
After trying to navigate this for 30 minutes, KJ and I decided it was just time to head up and wait for the others. We did obtain a few bamboo mats at the show – and yes a few orchid bulbs. But more about that in the Spring.
The following are a few photos of the orchids in the show. There was so much to see that we will just create a separate post so that you can enjoy the many beautiful orchids we saw.
We thought this display was most appropriate since Valentine’s day had just occurred and it was our anniversary.
This was one of my favorite displays. I love the way they incorporated grass and orchids. The grass resembles a building structure that has perhaps become overgrown with beautiful flowers. We often see this in nature where a building has gone into disrepair but nature takes over and adorns the structure with color and grace.
We decided to head back over to the green club for one of our last visits. This next photo is out of date sequence but I wanted to post it as KJ found a stone she loved and it was one of Mr. Suzuki’s stones.
We saw Mr. Suzuki many times throughout the show and each time he was warm and friendly. Even though language was quite difficult there always seemed to be someone around who could help translate for us. This person stone was quite unique and we will post photos of the stones we purchased during the show.
On the first day of the show and our visit to the green club, I came across a very small doban in a locked case. I asked the owner if I could see it and he gladly obliged. It was ~11cm in length and about 1cm in height with a beautiful patina. The owner told me it was by Harada Houn. If you don’t know this name I’m not surprised as I don’t think I have seen any of his dobans in the US even though I’m sure there is one in someone’s collection. He is perhaps the most famous maker of bronze dobans in Japan. He is credited as making the very first bronze “suiban” or doban as they are called.
I tentatively asked for the price of this doban and quickly learned it was beyond our budget. Ah but wait, we were now at the next to last day of the show and this doban and been on my mind since seeing it more than a week ago. I ask Mary if she could once again do her magic. She wanted to know what I wanted to pay and I indicated that if we could get it for say 50% of his asking price it would be within our budget. She was gone about 10 minutes and returned saying she had gotten the price to $50 over of our desired price. So we purchased this incredibly beautiful doban.
This doban can be found on page 229 of Miyabi a special book published at Gafu-ten.
The Miyabi states this doban is around 100 years old thus it was made by the first Harada Houn of which there were two known artist by this name.
Well tomorrow is our last day in Japan and after packing tonight we will head to the Green Club for one last visit.