A fun, illuminating introduction to a piece of Japanese life rarely glimpsed by outsiders.
A bustling center of trade for the people of Japan—and the largest seafood center in the world—the storied Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo is nonetheless being threatened with relocation to a new site, one that critics charge is unfit and polluted. But the rascally Nakamura has made it his personal mission to stop that from happening. The author loves the Tsukiji Fish Market right where it is, and the adoration he has for this fascinating hub of commerce and culture comes across in an often quirky narrative that reveals as much about him as it does the Japanese fish trade. In addition to preparing freshly caught salmon aboard Russian trawlers and in far-flung factory towns, the former Japanese fish inspector used to lead maverick tours through the vast Tsukiji complex before ultimately turning to writing. Nakamura assumes the role of intrepid tour guide here as well, dipping into the vast intricacies of the Tsukiji Fish Market and the samurai-sword–wielding vendors who make their living there. An odd mix of surprising biography, in-depth history and zealous advocacy evokes the often discordant strains of music referenced in the title. And like jazz itself, Nakamura’s unvarnished writing successfully creates a narrative totality that becomes curiously infectious once the accepted rules of grammar are dismissed. He has as much to say about processing deep-water salmon as he does the human experience, reflecting on Tsukiji’s idiosyncratic hierarchy, as well as his own personal demons. And after his latest tour ends, readers will likely want to know more about both the unconventional author and the ultimate fate of the Tsukiji Fish Market.
A surprising catch from a unique voice.