motorcycles, none of which speeded—this despite the open path, and the lack of police.
I was tiring by the time I passed Tokyo Tower, but I knew the best part of the run was coming: Shiba Park, where I slowed down as I passed the graveyard of the Tokugawa clan of shoguns, and took a brief stop to drink some water at Zojo-ji Temple. I resumed my run again and emerged under a giant tori gate into the Hibiya business district, then Shimbashi, with all its wonderful little eating and drinking places still closed. Finally I ran through Ginza, the luxury shopping district where people said that if you stacked ten ten-thousand-yen notes anywhere on the sidewalk, the tiny portion of land underneath the bills would still be worth more. Then it was a right on Harumi Dori past the grand old Kabuki Theater and straight into Tsukijii, where I was delighted to slow to a walk to avoid running into the huge, glistening fish laid out directly on concrete sidewalks. The fishmongers with their thigh-high rubber boots and shrewd expressions glanced at me, but didn’t bother beckoning—it must have seemed obvious that a sweaty young woman in Asics was not a major restaurateur.
I was a glutton, I thought, as I ran my eyes over the glistening sea creatures lying so ingloriously on concrete. A sleek blue-gray fish that looked as if it weighed only about ten pounds—big enough for a feast with my friends, though the price scrawled on its side made that fantasy unaffordable—gave me pause.
“Excuse me, but what’s that called?” I asked the bored-looking fellow standing in a wool sweater and rubber wader overalls behind the beauty. The fish had a number scrawled on it, but that was its only identifying feature.
“It’s a kind of shusseuo .”
“Really! What kind, exactly?” Shusse literally meant “career progress,” and uo meant fish. Mothers gave children shusseuo before school examinations. It was interesting, and perhaps apt, that I’d gotten to see this fish this morning.
He glanced around, then lowered his voice as if he were going to tell me a secret. “ Wakashi . It’s very, very fresh.”
“Oh, I bet it will make wonderful sushi.” He was talking about young yellowtail. If yellowtail was good, a younger version had to be heavenly.
“Ah, yes, it will be gone within a half hour, I’m sure.”
“Where was it caught, in Japanese waters or—”
“What about some service for a real customer?” a sharp voice barked behind me and I stepped aside.
I’d gone too far, asked too much. And the fact was, I couldn’t take the fish. I bowed to the fishmonger and the man who had interrupted me and slipped off. It was six-thirty, so some breakfast spots around the market had to be open. I began searching for a little hole-in-the-wall place where Tom had taken me for an incredible seafood stew a few years earlier. After a minute’s walk, I recognized its sign—a smiling octopus—but the door was locked. However, two doors down a long blue curtain fluttered in another doorway.
A red-faced man with a kerchief tied around his head bellowed out a welcome as I stepped inside the tiny restaurant. It couldn’t have been more than ten feet long and five feet wide, with a blond wood counter and five stools. Every stool was filled, but the chef motioned for me to stand behind the chair of a fishmonger, who was finishing up a plate of squid roe sushi. I took the time to look around and decide what I’d order. The man next to him was eating tai , one of my favorite fishes. Soon, the fishmonger had departed and I took his spot. I asked for tai and wakashi hammachi.
The chef shook his finger at me. “We don’t carry wakashi fish. It’s because the little ones are caught too early that we have fish shortages, neh ?”
“You’re right. I’m sorry.” My cheeks warmed with shame. Why hadn’t I thought of this myself, when I’d been joking with the fishmonger outside? Ever since sushi had exploded in global popularity in the