For my second day in Japan, Aunty took me to the fish market. I fell asleep on the car, so I’m not quite sure exactly where this was… somewhere in Chiba Prefecture, at least. The market was right along the coast, with the salty ocean water gently lapping up the curb on the other side of the parking lot. That, with the cloudy skies, made for quite a blustery day, which means that I spend the whole day feeling cold, so cold. And I was wearing my green garbage-bag Uniqlo down jacket, which is supposed to be super warm, so what’s up with that.
There were many people browsing for fish, and vendors advertising their best catches, which made for a lively scene. As you can see from these pictures, there were many, many, many different types of seafood – not only fish, but also squid, octopus, eels, scallops, whelks, and more! Some of the seafood, such as the octopi, were still alive and crawling about their buckets. You really cannot get any fresher than that! There were also some things that you will not find in America, such as whale meat and dolphin (yes… dolphin) meat. I’ve heard about whaling practices in Japan but I was actually shocked to see the dolphin…
We waited in line and each bought an oyster from a guy who was shucking them right on the spot. To his side, there were bottles of soy sauce and lemons that you could squeeze onto your oyster. I usually eat my raw oyster with lemon or maybe a little tabasco sauce, but I gave the soy sauce a try. I didn’t particularly like it, and I definitely thought that it did not go well with the lemon at all, so I would suggest using one or the other, maybe not both at once. Anyways, I’m not sure what kind of oyster it was, but it was HUGE – not only the shell, but the flesh as well. I definitely could not down it in one gulp. I unfortunately don’t have any pictures D: If Aunty fixes her hard drive and recovers her lost photos, I will edit this post and add them here.
There were many (mostly seafood) restaurants nestled between the fish market buildings, so we went to a sushi-go-round for lunch. (Aunty asked me what these conveyer belt style sushi restaurants were called in English; it occurred to me that I don’t really know what the correct term is, but I call them sushi-go-rounds.) I would say the difference between American and Japanese restaurants of this style is that the Japanese restaurants are really tiny and squished together. The seats are bar-style and you are literally sitting shoulder-to-shoulder to a stranger, which was a little uncomfortable. This place is definitely not good for large parties. In fact, this place, and few other eateries I visited later in Japan, seemed more suitable for people dining alone or couples.
Anyways, I watched the goodies come down the conveyer belt, and there was definitely way more variety of fish than a typical Japanese-American restaurant! There were things that I have never tasted before including…
When whale sashimi came down the conveyer belt, my reaction was something like this:
Aunty told me that when she was a schoolgirl in Japan, whale meat was served in school lunches. I later did some research and learned that after World War II, protein was scarce, so the Japanese resorted to whaling to feed their populations. Nevertheless, given how controversial it is, I was surprised at how commonplace this plate of WHALE was. I thought it would be something of a delicacy, and I definitely did not expect whale to make an entrance in this sushi-go-round restaurant. As the plates of sushi floated by, I actually saw whale come down the conveyer belt more times than salmon, if you can imagine that.
Aunty grabbed a plate of whale and urged me to try it. It wasn’t too bad! If you’re wondering, raw whale tastes kind of like raw beef. (how do I know what raw beef tastes like, what is my life…)
So yeah. I ate whale. And now, I am on the run from PETA.
Don’t worry, I also ate normal sushi such as unagi (eel), sweet shrimp, salmon, and more. Yum!
In the afternoon, we went to see the Hinamatsuri Dolls. See my next blog post!
When we got home, we ate EVEN MORE FISH. Aunty had bought some seafood from the market and we proceeded with sushi round 2. Something cool that we did was grill our own scallops/whelk thing on a Japanese charcoal grill-pot-stove thing. This involves putting some charcoal at the bottom of a pot, heating it up with fire, putting the grill grates on top, placing your food on it, and fanning the flames with a fan for like 20 minutes until your food is cooked. Again, I have no pictures because Aunty took pictures that were then lost ;__; But here is a picture from the internet to give you a sense of what I am talking about:
See the hole on the side of the pot? That’s where you fan the flames.
Anyways, we grilled scallops and this sea snail/whelk shell kind of thing. As the heat got higher and higher, the liquids in the shell started to bubble out. It made a large sizzling sound when it hit the hot metal below, and I could see the flesh inside contracting (maybe in pain as it slowly cooked alive. Sorry whelk snail thing.)
When Aunty finally gave the ok, she set up the camera to film me eating it. I pulled out the flesh from the shell with a fork and I screamed in disgust/shock/horror because the thing inside was WAY LONGER THAN I EXPECTED, and when I pulled it out it MOVED. I was freaked out because I thought it might have been still alive, though tbh it probably moved because of heat/hitting the air.
Aunty was still filming so I ended up eating it. It tasted alright, honestly it was quite tasty, with a soft, almost delicate texture that I wasn’t expecting. But man, it just looked so weird!
Besides the snail and scallops we cooked, we also ate some sashimi from the fish we bought earlier at the market. Here is one picture that I somehow have, although I have no others:
So that concludes my long, sushi-filled day. I ended up paying dearly for all the delicious raw things I ate today, because I got sick 2 days later. Stay tuned for how I almost died in a snow-covered monkey land (a bit of an exaggeration but not really).