Watching Japan’s King of Tuna cut fish is mesmerising

Inside the world’s largest fish market, a master shows where Tokyo’s best sushi comes from.

By Jeremy Repanich 13/06/2018

Most days each week, a little drama plays out inside the auction hall of the world’s largest fish market, Tsukiji in Tokyo. Before dawn, a group of wholesalers are given 30 minutes to inspect more than 1,000 tuna before the auction begins to lay claim to some of the world’s finest fish. Among them is Yukitaka Yamaguchi, who owns the Yamayuki Group, and has become known as the market’s king of tuna. After watching him work and explain his craft, you understand why.

Eater recently traveled to the market that will soon change locations to follow Yamaguchi to follow him for a day as he sources fish for some of the world’s finest restaurants. Wielding his enormous maguro bōchō knife (it practically looks like a sword), he carefully carves up the massive sea creature while he discusses what he’s looking for and what makes certain parts of tuna more valuable than others.

Embedded content: https://youtu.be/trbl4RNgKO0

At one moment, you see him marvel over the beauty of a tuna fished in Japanese waters, showing the parts that will wind up in a two-Michelin-star sushi restaurant. The next minute you see him open up a tuna from North Carolina that has a puncture in the belly—the fish’s most valuable section—causing him to bemoan the lack of skill and care from the American fisherman who caught it.

Such a complaint isn’t merely about aesthetics. Finding an imperfection like this could be really costly to Yamaguchi, because even intact fish could still land him in the red. He has to have the skill to recognize high quality fish that he can turn a profit on after he breaks it down to sell it off to restaurants. “You don’t know the tuna until after you buy it and separate it,” Yamaguchi says.

By noon, nearly 7 hours from the start of the auction, the market grows largely quiet, but you’ll still find him slicing away for the more than 1,000 restaurants he supplies. And after four hours of sleep, he’ll start it all over again before the break of dawn the next morning.

ADVERTISE WITH US

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Robb Report AU - Newsletter Robb Report AU - Motors Newsletter Robb Report AU - Property Newsletter Robb Report AU - Lifestyle Newsletter Robb Report AU - Style Newsletter Robb Report AU - Business Newsletter Robb Report AU - Travel Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

The Colourful And Alluring Work Of Australian Photographer George Byrne

Given the cold, dreary weather out, find a reprieve in the sunny, colourful world of Australian photographer George Byrne.

By Richard Clune

27/05/2020

Own The World’s Oldest Cognac

Less than a handful of these incredible bottles remain – and one could be yours.

By Terry Christodoulou

26/05/2020

The Robb Interview: Architect Koichi Takada

The globally-renown, Australian-based architect on nature and the very real need to bend rules and rally against monotony.

By Terry Christodoulou

21/05/2020

Phillips Asia Is Now Holding Its First Ever Cross-Category Online Auction

Bidding takes place between 20th and 28th May.

By Nick Scott

20/05/2020

Ovolo’s Inventive New ‘Room Service’

Book a hotel room for dinner – staying over optional.

By Terry Christodoulou

15/05/2020

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe to Robb Report today!

Subscribe today

Stay Connected