Tuna Auction in Kii-Katsuura
Apart from walking through beautiful ancient cedar forests, visiting temples and feudal castles, I spent some time in Japan trying to better understand it, trying to learn as much about this country and its culture as I could in just 3 weeks. So I took part in a few unique events. One of them was tuna auction. Tuna is one of the most popular fishes eaten in Japan – raw slices of it are used both in sushi and sashimi.
Typically most tourists visit Tsukiji Tuna Auction in Tokyo, which is the most famous event of this type in the whole world. There are a few problems with it, however:
- Even though the auction begins around 6 AM, you need to get up very early in the morning (around 3 AM or preferrably even earlier) to make sure you will actually manage to enter the auction as only 120 people are allowed each day. No reservations can be made.
- This place is the biggest fish market in the world. This means big business. This means big money. This means people there aren’t very happy you’re there, because you simply disturb them (there were cases where flash photography made someone lose the auction because he was blinded for a fraction of a second!). So you are separated from the real auction and if you make something wrong, they kick you out. Simple as that. So taking good photos could be a problem.
So instead of visiting Tsukiji Tuna Auction we decided to do something different. You know, there is another tuna auction in Japan in a small town of Kii-Katsuura in the Kumano Kodo area. As we already planned to visit Kumano Kodo (and coincidentally our hotel was in Kii-Katsuura), we decided to visit tuna auction there. And I’m glad we did as it was truly unique and amazing experience! Even though it was much smaller than its Tokyo counterpart it was still fairly big with hundreds of tunas, sharks and fishes names I don’t know. And we didn’t need to get up at 3 AM, as the auction there starts at 7 AM. And the best part was that we were actually allowed to take part in running the auction! Our guide allowed us (in fact, he encouraged us to do that!) to weigh the tunas, drag them around to prepare them for selling, he spent a lot of time explaining various aspects of tuna auction, etc. And besides all we took plenty of fantastic and unique images.
Important information: if you would like to take part in tuna auction in Kii-Katsuura (what I strongly recommend), you should make a reservation at least one day in advance. Even though I managed to book it on the day of the auction, I was very lucky to do so. But I suggest you don’t rely on luck. If you don’t manage to make a booking you will still be allowed to watch the auction but only from the upper level. Although it offers great view on its own, it’s not the same as actually taking part in the auction and walking among both fishermen and their catch.
As you can expect today I’d like to share one of the images from there. This photo shows dozens of tunas lying in rows and ready to be sold.
Camera: Canon 5D MK III (read my review)
Lens: Canon 16-35 f/4 L IS USM (read my review)
Focal length: 28 mm
Exposure time: 1/80 s
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: 1.0 EV
Flash used: no
Software: Magic Lantern, Capture One 9.1, Photoshop CC 2015, ON1 Effects 10