Fish Are Food, Not Friends

And we are in Tokyo!! I love it here 😀 Cities are always so exciting for me, and Bowdoin has deprived me of Asian food, so I was even more excited to just eat haha. First on our trip agenda was to meet Ozaki-san, our incredibly 元気 tour guide and long-time friend of Aridome 先生. She led us  on a tour in Tokyo, with the first stop being at Tsukiji.

Prior to visiting Tsukiji market, we had to read the following article:

  1. Wholesale Sushi Culture and Commodity in Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market by Theodore C. Bestor

Tourists love Tsukiji, but Tsukiji does not love tourists. Unfortunately we did not get to experience the rush of Tsukiji–although this was probably better for safety reasons–but we did get to see what remained. It was interesting that the Tsukiji workers don’t like it when people take photos because it causes traffic jams. Something that stuck out to me while doing the reading and also while walking through the fishy aisles was the prominent idealized perception of what is fresh food. In Japan, there is so much attention to presentation and food being perfect and uniform. This isn’t to say that Americans or people of other cultures don’t value looks, but in my experience, American produce in the same display do not usually look the same (i.e. they are of varying quality). In contrast, all the food, down to the vegetables, in Tsukiji looked photo-ready. Again, the idea of purity appears!!! Nature has to be controlled, and it only has value when unblemished.

Ozaki-san also took us to places like the Tokyo Metropolitan building, a couple 神社, でんつ. I wish I was fluent in Japanese so I could understand more

Author: Karen Chan '18

Hello! I just completed my junior year at Bowdoin College as a chemistry major and recently-declared Japanese Language minor. I am from Honolulu, HI so Japanese culture has always been part of my life, but this trip is the opportunity to go beyond my classroom language experience and Japanese-food-eating experience. My interest in this project stems from my science background and my hope to eventually be a pharmacist in a hospital setting. I plan to focus on public awareness of "environmentally-caused" diseases, like Kawasaki Disease.