Reported by Isao Tokuhashi
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MET’s new series of special features called “Tokyo Getaways” has started! We will bring wonderful ideas to those who are planning a trip to Japan. The first tour that we introduce you to is “Tsukiji Outer Fish Market and Sushi Workshop”. You can experience the vital spark of the shopping streets in the market and learn how to make sushi from a professional sushi chef. Let’s take a closer look at how the tour actually went.
*Organized by JTB Sunrise Tours
Sunrise Tours Desk at Hamamatsucho Bus Terminal
8:35am – The tour begins from here. People from the United states and Sweden joined it.
“We came to Japan because it has a very unique culture. Even though most of the rest of the world looks the same, Japan looks very different.
There is a tour office in the United States. We talked to them about things to do in Japan, and this tour was one of the suggestions from them. This tour is very popular, so they kept trying to apply. We waited for a call from them for a few days and finally could join it!” – An attendee from the US
“We came to Japan for the first time. We arrived here yesterday! This tour is a present from my son. We found this tour on the website called ‘Japan Specialist’.” – An attendee from Sweden
Tsukiji Shijo Subway Station
Tour attendees took subway to Tsukiji Fish Market.
The world’s largest fish market jumped into their eyes as soon as they got out of the subway station.
Tsukiji Outer Fish Market
The outer retail market, restaurants and associated restaurant supply stores remain a major tourist attraction for both domestic and overseas visitors while the inner wholesale market has restricted access to visitors.
Attendees, who were led by Ms. Miyazaki, a licensed guide, toured the outer market. They were overwhelmed by various kinds of fish lined up at the shop fronts and a vibrant atmosphere with a tremendous morning crowd.
“The fish market was very interesting because we don’t have that kind of market in Sweden. In my hometown, there is a place called ‘Fish Church’ – it’s not an actual church, though – They hold a fish auction every morning and they sell various kinds of fish, but it’s much smaller than Tsukiji and there are much fewer people in the Fish Church.” – An attendee from Sweden
They also visited Namiyoke Inari shrine near the market. The shrine became an unofficial guardian shrine for the marketplace and its traders after the Tsukiji fish market was established in its present location after the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake.
Then they headed to Ginza.
They walked through one of the world’s biggest shopping districts located 1km (0.6miles) away from the fish market. Their destination was…
A Japanese restaurant called “Ganko” (lit. “Stubborn”), the venue for the sushi making experience.
In the parlor at the back of the restaurant, there were “sushi kits” amount for the number of attendees. Each kit included vinegared rice, a rice chest, seaweeds, fillets of raw fish and a sliced omelette for sushi.
A big sea bream welcomed the wonderful foreign guests!
Wearing a coat called “happi (法被)”, they felt high!
After getting ready for the workshop, a restaurant staff gave them a brief lecture about the history of sushi. It originates in a Southeast Asian dish which was preserved food and came to Japan via China. After many years, sushi chefs were displaced from Tokyo throughout Japan after the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923, then Edomae sushi (Edo style sushi, a combination of fresh raw fish and vinegared rice) were popularized throughout the country.
Then Mr. Nishina, a very friendly sushi chef, joined the workshop.
He showed attendees his own kitchen knife. Originally, it was longer, but it got shorter while using it for a long time.
First of all, he started to cut a sea bream. Attendees got excited!
“I judge the freshness of fish from its eyes.”
One fillet of the fish was cut into slices for sashimi.
Making rolled sushi
Then, a lesson in rolled sushi making started.
Leave 1cm (approx. 0.4 inches) of space at the upper portion of seaweed and spread the rice over all. Then apply wasabi paste on it.
Place the ingredient at the center of bed of rice and roll from the front end side toward the other end using a bamboo mat.
Well, let’s make rolled sushi together!
Everybody was really doing well even though they made sushi for the first time in their life!
Making Hand-rolled sushi
Then they tried to make hand-rolled sushi. The ingredients were tuna, squid, salmon, yellowtail, omelette, shrimp, octopus and conger eel.
Mr. Nishina kindly showed them the finger shape for making it.
Attendees were closely watching his every move.
“I remember the finger shape was like this!”
The chef was giving them one-on-one lessons!
Various kinds of hand-rolled sushi were made slowly but steadily.
Mr. Nishina carefully cut rolled sushi made by attendees and served them in a dish.
Then, he gave them a hand rolled sushi making demonstration. Watch the video and see how he makes 10 sushi in one minute!
Meals started with a phrase “Itadakimasu!“ (いただきます！) with their hands close together.
Sea bream sushi made by a professional chef was served to each attendee.
Having sushi made by themselves – it must be a very rare experience for them!
“I do cook, but I’ve never cooked sushi. That’s why I asked our teacher a lot of questions like ‘How long does it take to become a sushi chef?’ ‘How do you choose the fish for sushi?’ ‘How do you know the best fish for sushi?’ ‘Do you cut different kinds of fish differently?’ and so on. The taste of sushi I made was excellent! It’s thanks to a good teacher. Some foods were unusual for me and I’ve not eaten them before and those were a little surprising, but it was good to try!” – An attendee from the US
“This workshop was very interesting because I could learn how to make sushi. I’ll make it for my husband and my son’s girlfriend after going back home!” – An attendee from Sweden
Award of sushi certificate
At the end of the workshop, each participant received a Sushi Certificate and a sushi-shaped candy and a chopstick rest as souvenirs.
“This tour was excellent. The tour guide was excellent. The fish market was fascinating and the sushi cooking was excellent. It’s very fun for multiple ages, from young to old. It’s exactly what I was expecting!” – An attendee from the US
“The tour was great! I was satisfied with it, absolutely!” – An attendee from Sweden
“I enjoyed both tour guiding and interpreting during the sushi workshop, because everybody was so friendly. Also, I was surprised by the number of questions that were asked at the workshop!” – Ms. Miyazaki, a licensed guide