Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Going to the Open Market Day!

By Kochi City CIR Xu Lin
   On the first Saturday of each month an “open market day” is held at Kochi City Central Wholesale Market. March 3, marked its 99th time and I went to have a look around with the staff from KIA.
Bidding for tuna at the fresh fish auction.

On an open market day of course one goes to the auction!
   The first auction: fresh fish! It was 5:30 AM at the market, and fish unloaded straight from ships and large tuna flown in from across Japan and overseas were displayed in rows. This was the first time for me to see tuna fish like this up close. Once the auction started, those buying wrote the prices on paper as the auctioneer called and showed them to the auctioneer. It seemed like the person who gave the highest price could buy the item, however even though I was right there I couldn’t work out what the auctioneer was saying or how much the buyer was paying. Fish successfully bidded for were immediately taken to the many wholesale stalls which line the premises, and prepared for selling. Time to dissect the tuna! It was gripping to watch the tuna gradually be taken apart before my eyes! I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the deft and highly skilled stall owners using their long knives with well-worn blades.
The gripping spectacle of dissecting a tuna!
   7:00 AM - the fruit and vegetable auction starts! In a spacious warehouse-like venue, an assortment of fruit and vegetables were displayed in rows. This auction was held in a slightly different way to that of the fresh fish auction- perhaps due to the larger number of buyers. In this case buyers didn’t write their bids on paper, but showed their prices using unique hand gestures. The auctioneer was able to quickly read these and call out prices and the bidder’s number. Next to the auctioneer stood the market staff who recorded the successful bidders and prices by simply listening to the voice of the auctioneer without even raising their heads. It seemed that they were recording the whole process as a
precaution in the case that any trouble should arise.
Everything looks so good! Lets get in line!
Try the market’s unique fresh food!
   Before the fruit and vegetable auction started, I ate a breakfast only served at the open market day. They were selling rice-based dishes, such as freshly boiled whitebait rice bowl, and asari clam curry, as well as various noodle dishes and individual food items- all of which looked delicious! This meant that there was already a long line of people forming, even though it had only just passed the early hour of 6:00 AM. Inside, the charcoal-grilled seafood buffet was very popular and had a somewhat refined style to it- you chose a dried-item, grilled it on a small charcoal grill and then ate it. Then from 7:00 AM they started selling the market’s own seafood rice bowl. You buy just the rice and then can make your own individual seafood rice bowl by browsing the fresh fish stalls and buying the items you want to eat.
The fruit and vegetable auction.
   In addition to this there are all sorts of activities that take place every time that can be enjoyed by all ages, including an “all the root vegetables you can stuff in one bag” activity, “taking a handful of asari clams” activity for elementary school children, and a “seasonal fruits tasting” activity. Why don’t you try going to the open market day? The next day will be (Sat) April 7, and will mark the 100th anniversary of the event. Perhaps the market will plan a special activity or offer to mark the occasion...let’s wait and see!

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