Fish and Jet Lag

As you've probably noticed, I've been doing a lot of traveling the last six weeks. After three weeks in Europe and Asia, I flew home, only to go to Tokyo the following week. That's given me plenty of opportunity to practice dealing with jet lag. Returning from Japan, I used a fish market to help fight the time change.

Japan’s 14 hours ahead of Kansas City, which meant I’d fly out of Narita at 2pm Saturday, and get home at 4:30pm the same day. Weird. I’ve read quite a bit about fighting jet lag, and the key steps tend to work pretty well for me. Change to the local time where you’re headed as soon as you board the plane. Get some sleep on the plane. Avoid alcohol (okay, I cheated on that one, but just a little!). And once you arrive, spend as much time outside (in daylight) as possible, and don’t go so sleep until evening local time.

All of these seem to help, but the big one for me is spending time out and about, getting exercise and fresh air. Arriving in Tokyo, I spent six hours the first full day walking around the area near my hotel. Departing, though, I wanted to combine some photography with getting out. And that meant a 5am wakeup call for an early-morning visit to the Tsukiji fish market.

One of the largest fish markets in the world, over 220 tons of fish are sold there every day. And most of those sales happen early in the morning. A good friend, Mirjam Evers, who runs photo treks for American Photo, had told me that if I only had time to do one thing in Tokyo, it should be a visit to the fish market. So there I was at 5:15am, walking to the fish market with just a hint of light in the sky.

Guidebooks recommend a visit to the market, but also warn you to be careful. There’s lots of traffic, even among the stalls, and the floors are wet and slippery (you can guess why). If it lives in the sea within 1000 miles of Japan, it can probably be found there. Endless rows of booths cover acres of ground.

There’s not much light, but great opportunities for photos. And it’s such a popular tourist destination that everyone working there is used to people taking photos. Not one person refused when I asked if I could shoot photos. You just have to remember that most folks are working, so don’t get in their way.

After a couple of hours I was done, and headed back to the hotel. A little breakfast, a quick shower, and off to the airport. I downloaded the photos while waiting for the flight and picked my favorites. Then it was time to settle into my seat, watch a movie, get some sleep, and pity the people around me. They had to be wondering where the dead fish smell was coming from. My shoes had had quite a morning!

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