Japan maintains largest
commercial fishing fleet in the world, and has invested heavily in technology. To pay for it all they have to bring in an awful lot of fish. Being a fisherman’s the same all over the world — brief spurts of frantic activity interspersed with long bouts of tedium. I realize fairly quickly that it’s an all-male crew . they’ve rigged up a working television but there isn’t a single toilet on the entire ship. At last, we reach the fishing grounds. Several boats work together, each with a 3-4 man crew. No wonder fish is so expensive in the markets of Japan. This is one of the few jobs that really frightens me. If you get tangled in the netting and dragged overboard you’re dead. And then there’s nothing to do but wait and hope that our light attracts some fish. The net is 500 meters long and a hundred meters deep and despite all that sophisticated technology, it’s coming up empty. There’s something! but it’s just “tachi-wo” — trash fish. They only make one haul per trip. They can’t afford an empty net or worthless fish. But wait — those are horse mackerel. Maybe there’s still a chance. Something’s down there — and it’s huge. After a good deal of pestering,
they finally put me to work. They leave the fish in the water until the
last minute to keep them fresh. Then they head straight for shore. Timing is critical because Tsukiji’s fish market opens at 4:30AM….