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Drivers tackle urban Tokyo’s alleys and streets

TOUGH STUFF: Driver AoYama Shinkichi and his brightly decorated Narrow Cab Fuso.
TOUGH STUFF: Driver AoYama Shinkichi and his brightly decorated Narrow Cab Fuso. Kirstin Payne

IF YOU have ever thought you had a logistical nightmare to deal with, spare a thought for some of the thousands of Tokyo's fish freighters who work at Japan's largest fish market.

The Tsukiji Fish Markets, a decades-old government owned institution, is on reclaimed land on the port of Tokyo.

The market is one of the largest in the world, accounting for 90 per cent of the seafood that passes through Tokyo and a third of the seafood that passes through Japan.

The space covers 56 acres, and contains 1200 fish merchant stalls and provides 480 different kinds of seafood daily, that arrives from more than 60 countries.

That is $28 million of seafood sold at the market each day.

Like any fresh freight task, the logistics behind the facility are massive.

Six thousand individuals are aided by trucks, carts, scooters cars, bikes and even wagons to move the stock in the fastest time possible to its destination.

 

JAPAN
JAPAN KIRSTIN PAYNE

Mrs Miyashita, who runs the Kane Ichi Transport Company, has worked in the transport industry for more than 30 years.

She started the business with her husband, taking over as company president following his death a few years ago.

The operation and the main office is manned 24 hours a day to ensure stock gets to where it needs to be.

Sixty-five drivers and 69 nine trucks, mostly of the easy to manoeuvre Fuso canter make, tuck into the depot in the suburbs of Tokyo.

The drivers make hundreds of deliveries in the metropolitan area daily, most notably to Gyro, a Michelin star sushi restaurant that requires the immediate deliveries of the prized catch of the day.

The company even made a cameo appearance on a cooking show that featured Gyro, a point Mrs Miyashita shared proudly.

The tiny head office is in stark contrast to many of the giant depots that service Australia.

Tucked just underneath Mrs Miyashita's home, the room is a sea of paperwork covered in Japanese script.

Two small women in matching uniforms man each side, working diligently through each pile, noting every page with a stamp and ink.

To the back of the office a single looming blackboard covers the wall, neatly noting the time and name of each driver sent on the route for the day.

It doesn't take to long to notice the business is entirely run without the use of technology, paperwork only.

"It's simpler that way," Mrs Miyashita says.

"It's how we have always done it," she explains with the help of a translator.

 

ON THE MOVE IN JAPAN:  (From bottom left) 1. Inside the Kane Ichi Transport Offices.  2. Mrs Miyashita talks about the 24/ 7 delivery business. 3. Yasuhiro Yamazaki is all smiles at the holding tanks.  4. The aftermath of a busy market morning.  5. A driver takes a well deserved break.
ON THE MOVE IN JAPAN: (From bottom left) 1. Inside the Kane Ichi Transport Offices. 2. Mrs Miyashita talks about the 24/ 7 delivery business. 3. Yasuhiro Yamazaki is all smiles at the holding tanks. 4. The aftermath of a busy market morning. 5. A driver takes a well deserved break. Kirstin Payne

At the fish markets, an enthusiastic Yasuhiro Yamazaki, president of the Yamaharu wholesale, is eager to explain the process of the sales.

Also free from the confines of technology, the fish are auctioned off each morning, with the price of some tuna reaching into the the thousands.

In the loading docks, Kane Ichi drivers AoYama Shinkichi and Takao Nagata could be found standing in front of a lime green canter in equally bright windbreakers.

Takao has been driving with the company for more than 20 years.

Before then he worked at the fish market itself as a wholesaler.

He begins work at 3am each day and leaves in the early afternoon.

It's not an easy job in the high-stress, fast-paced environment but they both enjoy the challenge.

AoYama sees himself as in a bit of a battle and decorates the cab of his vehicle with Kabuki eyes, an illustration of Japan's traditional theatre.

"Warrior", he laughs, gesturing to the fearsome eyes.

The imperial nation awards drivers on good behaviour with golden licences.

 

JAPAN
JAPAN Kirstin Payne

AoYama proudly shows off his.

"Driver number one," he laughs.

Despite the geographical and cultural differences he is just like any truckie.

"He said his favourite part of the job is lunch break," the translator explained with a giggle.

A sign of a blight-free record, despite his many hours spent on the road.

More recently in response to the ageing population and the appetite of drivers, the Kane Ichi Transport Company has moved to halt overnight work entirely.

The company now delivers only to the metropolitan area, allowing the drivers to return home daily.

As such a number of drivers are over 70 years of age and stay with the company for decades.

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