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Matteo Allegro | Tsukiji Market

Cart drivers are arriving at the Market.
Tsukiji Market, Matteo Allegro

The Tsukiji Market is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind.
Located in central Tokyo it is for sure one of the most interesting spots in the city, offering to the visitors an authentic overview of how huge and serious the fish business actually is in Japan.
The activity at the market starts around 3:00 a.m. with the arrival of the products from all over the world. Tons of frozen tuna and other goods are first unloaded from trucks and then inspected by the auction houses in order to estimate their value.
Consecutively all the goods are observed and carefully evaluated by the potential buyers before the real auction starts.
Afterward, the purchased fish is either loaded onto trucks to be shipped to the next destination or on small carts and moved to the many shops inside the market.

As soon as the shop owners receive the goods, they carefully start preparing the products for retail in their small stalls. In case of large fish, cutting and preparation is extremely elaborate and, for accuracy and precision, it’s really a show that’s worth watching. Frozen tuna and swordfish are often cut with large band saws in a way that could remember cutting of large trees in a sawmill, while fresh tuna is carved with extremely long knives and can be elegant like a dance.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the market is the activity of the cart drivers. They can drive electric carts or old fashioned hand cart but all of them are just running as fast as they can in the narrow alleys around the market, delivering boxes of fresh fish to the retailers.
Walking between the narrow lanes of stalls is a tough job, with buyers and workers rushing everywhere with their pallet trucks zipped all over, transporting white polystyrene boxes around.
Particularly impressive is the amount of empty boxes that can be produced in a huge market like this. After a few hours, outside the Market’s main buildings, literally small hills of polystyrene grow up surrounded by a multitude of busy people collecting and taking apart the white boxes.

In my photo essay, I mainly focused on the human activity that is going on around the market and that keep it alive everyday, guiding the reader inside the colorful kaleidoscope of social life that is daily running in Tsukiji.

Buyers and Workers rushing everywhere with their pallet trucks and carts zipped all over
Frozen tunas are inspected by the auction houses in order to estimate their value.
Frozen Tunas are prepared for the auction.
Workers in a moment of relax.
Cutting and preparation of frozen tunas.
Fresh tuna is carved with extremely long knives.
Shop owners are running their business in the stalls.
Polystyrene boxes full of different kind of fish in the stalls.
An impressive amount of empty boxes can be produced in a day.
Products are loaded on small carts and moved to the many shops inside the market.
Cart driver at the end of the morning when the market is about to close.

Q&A with Matteo Allegro

Photography is…
Photography is my greatest passion along with travelling.
It allows me to express myself and to tell the stories that I find worth of interest through my personal perspective.
It’s the challenge of getting attractive images that are not only good-looking but that can effectively immerse the reader in a specific atmosphere and also transmit the feelings that the author wants to express.

Photography and writing…
… are the arts of open minded people.

Who left the biggest impression on you?
It’s all the people I met in my travels around the World.
Everyone of them left me the most important gift: a fragment of their perspective of the world we live in.
Thanks of them I can call myself a man.

Tell us a little about yourself
I am a 36 years old Italian photographer based in Milan.
I love travelling around the World and reporting through my pictures the stories I experienced.

Matteo AllegroMatteo Allegro ( In the beginning it was just enjoyment and pleasure in shooting pictures, before discovering a real fever for photography when in Tokyo whilst shooting with a compact camera. My passion    → more

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