Yukitaka Yamaguchi: The “Tuna King” Of Tokyo

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As the first rays of sunlight peek over the horizon, casting a warm glow upon the cityscape, one man is already awake, clad in his trusty rubber boots and waterproof overalls. While the rest of the city sleeps, Yukitaka Yamaguchi makes his pilgrimage to Toyosu Market, a tuna temple that feeds the best sushi restaurants in the world.

As president of the Yamayuki Group, Yamaguchi lords over a tuna empire. But long before he became tuna nobility, he was a young apprentice trying to break into the exclusive world of high-end fish supplying.

Back then, Yamaguchi did whatever it took to understand the mysterious creature called maguro. He once paid three times market price just to dissect a fresh bluefin, poking at its ruby flesh to memorize the hue. At home, his wife served up bowls of rice topped with tuna for breakfast, lunch and dinner while he trained his palate.

After months of tuna meals, Yamaguchi could instantly identify the fishing grounds of any sample bite. He could tell whether the tuna grew up bingeing on Atlantic herring or Japanese anchovy, tracing each distinct flavor back to origin.

Armed with this intel, Yamaguchi opened his own fish shop. He personally hand-picked tuna for Tokyo’s top sushi spots, using his mental library of 1,000 restaurant menus to match cuts precisely to each chef’s style.

While rival suppliers slept, Yamaguchi made late-night runs delivering fresh catches to their doors. And when those chefs bowed to the dedication he showed maguro, they granted him access to the finest seasonal tuna as a sign of respect.

Over decades of 18-hour days, Yamaguchi’s obsession spawned a wholesale empire that now exports around the globe. At auction, his uncanny knife skills reduce giant frozen tuna into perfect puzzle pieces for each buyer. And his discerning eye lets him pay margins slimmer than his sushi knives.

So when young upstarts try wrenching his crown, the Tuna King reminds them: “The day I collapse here on the auction floor, then I will have chosen my successor.”

For now, Yamaguchi soldiers on with just 3 hours of fitful sleep and bowls of maguro rice motivating him through the small hours. Because no matter how high tuna prices soar, to him they could never match the value of these mysterious beasts from the deep. The Tuna King bows to no one but the fish themselves, and he’ll keep chasing that ultimate bite as long as his heart still beats with theirs.

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