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Visit to the Kii-Katsuura Fish Market


20 November 2016

Katsuura boasts the highest volume of tuna fish hauls in all of Japan and the tuna which were caught in the coastal waters by long line fishing were sold by auctions in this market at 7 AM every day except Saturday and eve of National holidays.

Unlike Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo where the auction takes place much earlier at 5 AM and visitors have to queue even earlier to be the first 120 persons allowed in, the number of visitors to Katsuura is not very high and all visitors were welcomed to view the auction free of charge at the 2nd floor observation deck.

We had woken early on this beautiful Sunday morning, not just to see the sunrise, but also to visit the Katsuura Fish Market that we missed on Saturday. The earliest ferry from Urashima Hotel (our accommodation in Katsuura) to the Katsuura Pier was 6.45 AM. We managed to catch this ferry after a brisk walk from the Nisshokan Wing to the Main Building. The Fish Market is a five to seven minutes walking distance from the ferry pier at Katsuura.

Visitors are allowed to view the tuna up close on the actual floor itself but reservations had to be made in advance and a fee of 1000 yen is payable for a guide to escort the visitors.

This family of three was the only visitors on this day that went on the auction floor for an “up close and personal” tour. That kid was having an educational tour that he would not forget easily.


At 7 AM, there was already hustle and bustle as tuna and other catch were being unloaded from a fishing boat docked at the wharf. Fishing nets (what else could be more appropriate) were hung to fence off the auction area. I managed to take some photos at this level through gaps in the nets before going up to the second floor observation deck.

Kii-Katsuura Fish Market

Rows of tuna glistening in the morning light.


The tuna were already unloaded when we arrived. The boats were unloading other catch like sharks and swordfishes.

There were quite a number of visitors, mostly from overseas and independent travellers, not tour groups. The viewing balcony is long and wide enough for everyone.

Here are the photos of the tuna auction from the viewing area:

Overview of the Katsuura fish market from above.



Kii-Katsuura Fish Market

A team of men and their weighing machine went round to weigh and tag the tuna.


Kii-Katsuura Fish Market

Working with good teamwork and speed, all the tuna were weighed and tagged in no time.


There were many species of tuna seen. The above picture shows the smaller long fin tuna.


Kii-Katsuura Fish Market

A section near the tail of this huge tuna is chopped off to expose the flesh for potential buyers to inspect.


Kii-Katsuura Fish Market

Kii-Katsuura Fish Market

Kii-Katsuura Fish Market

Potential buyers went around inspecting the tuna for quality before submitting the bids. Some yellowfin tuna are seen in the top of the picture with their longer sickle shape anal and second dorsal fins.


Kii-Katsuura Fish Market auction

Bids were submitted into a wooden box.


Kii-Katsuura Fish Market Tuna Auction

Checking and reading the bids and announcing the winner (I guess that’s what he was saying as it was all in Japanese!)


Kii-Katsuura Fish Market

Packing the tuna into Styrofoam boxes and labelling them.

 

Kii-Katsuura Fish Market

Adding shaved ice into the box to chill the fresh tuna for transportation. 


Besides tuna, there were other fishes unloaded and sold but the tuna were the fish given the priority.

Kii-Katsuura Fish Market

Catch unloaded from boat at Kii-Katsuura Fish Market.


These looked like sharks, even without the heads.


Washing carcasses of marlins and/or swordfishes without their beak.


These fishes looked like collateral damages, left unattended in the corner of the market. They looked small next to tuna but were actually very large fish.


The auction took place rather rapidly and was finished by 7.45 AM. After the visit to the Fish Market, we rode the ferry back to Urashima Hotel for our buffet breakfast.

The plan for the remaining part of the day is to travel by JR train from Kii-Katsuura to Nara where we would staying for a couple of days.


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