Tsukiji fish market, the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world

October 1st, 2014 | General | No Comments »

© Ovc/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Ovc/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Tsukiji Market is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind. The market is located in Tsukiji in central Tokyo, and was a major attraction for foreign visitors. Currently however, access is no longer permitted to the inner market, and the outer market is open to visitors only after 9:00 AM. While this regulating was in place for quite some time, recently it is enforced. There are two distinct sections of the market as a whole. The “inner market” (jōnai-shijō) is the licensed wholesale market, where the auctions and most of the processing of the fish take place, and where licensed wholesale dealers (approximately 900 of them) operate small stalls. The “outer market” (jōgai-shijō) is a mixture of wholesale and retail shops that sell Japanese kitchen tools, restaurant supplies, groceries, and seafood, and many restaurants, especially sushi restaurants. Most of the shops in the outer market close by the early afternoon, and in the inner market even earlier.

The market handles more than 400 different types of seafood from cheap seaweed to the most expensive caviar, and from tiny sardines to 300 kg tuna and controversial whale species. Overall, more than 700,000 metric tons of seafood are handled every year at the three seafood markets in Tokyo, with a total value in excess of 600 billion yen (approximately 5.9 billion US dollars on November 24th, 2013). The number of registered employees as of 25 January 2010 varies from 60,000 to 65,000, including wholesalers, accountants, auctioneers, company officials, and distributors.

The market opens most mornings (except Sundays, holidays and some Wednesdays) at 3:00 a.m. with the arrival of the products by ship, truck and plane from all over the world. Particularly impressive is the unloading of tons of frozen tuna. The auction houses (wholesalers known in Japanese as oroshi gyōsha) then estimate the value and prepare the incoming products for the auctions. The buyers (licensed to participate in the auctions) also inspect the fish to estimate which fish they would like to bid for and at which price. The auctions start around 5:20 a.m. Bidding can only be done by licensed participants. These bidders include intermediate wholesalers (nakaoroshi gyōsha) who operate stalls in the marketplace and other licensed buyers who are agents for restaurants, food processing companies, and large retailers.

In August 1918, following the so-called Rice Riots, which broke out in over 100 cities and towns in protest against food shortages and the speculative practices of wholesalers, the Japanese government was forced to create new institutions for the distribution of foodstuffs, especially in urban areas. A Central Wholesale Market Law was established in March 1923. The Great Kantō earthquake on September 1, 1923, devastated much of central Tokyo, including the Nihonbashi fish market. In the aftermath of the earthquake, the market was relocated to the Tsukiji district and, after the construction of a modern market facility was completed in 1935, the fish market began operations under the provisions of the 1923 Central Wholesale Market Law. Following the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake architects and engineers from the Architectural Section of Tokyo Municipal Government were sent to Europe and America to do research for the new market. However, because of the sheer size of the market and the number of items traded they were forced to come up with their own unique design. The quarter circular shape allowed easier access and handling for freight trains and the steel structure above allows a wide, continuous space free from columns and subdivisions.

Read more on Tsukiji fish market and Wikipedia Tsukiji fish market. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.

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Ciudad Bolívar in Venezuela

September 27th, 2014 | General | No Comments »

Ciudad Bolívar historical zone © Hiddendaemian/cc-by-sa-3.0

Ciudad Bolívar historical zone © Hiddendaemian/cc-by-sa-3.0

Ciudad Bolívar is the capital of Venezuela‘s southeastern Bolívar State. It was founded as Angostura in 1764 and renamed in 1846. The town’s original name of Angostura was a contraction of its full descriptive name, Santo Tomé de Guayana de Angostura del Orinoco (Saint Thomas of Guiana of the narrows of the Orinoco). The town also gave its name to the Angostura tree which grows in the area. Angostura bitters were invented there in 1824, though the company which produced them later moved to Trinidad and Tobago.

Ciudad Bolívar has a well-preserved historic center; a cathedral and other original colonial buildings surround the Plaza Bolívar. Ciudad Bolívar lies at a spot where the Orinoco River narrows to about 1 mile (1.6 km) in width, and is the site of the first bridge across the river. The city is a major riverport for the eastern regions of Venezuela.

The Bolívar state economy is dominated by agriculture and animal husbandry, particularly cattle and pigs. Agricultural products of the area include maize, cassava, mango, yam, and watermelon. Tourism has become increasingly important to the area.

Ciudad Bolívar’s historic district is a popular tourist attraction, featuring houses and buildings that date from the colonial period. The Jesús Soto Museum of Modern Art—named after the city’s native sculptor and painter Jesús Soto—features a collection of modern works by Venezuelan and international artists.

Read more on venezuelatuya.com – Ciudad Bolívar, Wikitravel Ciudad Bolívar and Wikipedia Ciudad Bolívar. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.

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