akodai.jpg
19
TOUKAI (EAST-SEA) FISH FILLETS
 
When I quit Touto Marine Products, I thought that I would
also quit the whole fish business. But, searching for jobs was
not easy.
I made an application for an English teaching school but
failed to pass the entrance examination. I guess my English
was too broken.
My unemployment allowance was almost spent and I still
hadn't found a job, so I visited an old acquaintance of mine,
Mr. Honda. He was the top management of Toukai (East-sea)
Fish Fillets, though it was a very small company.
Toukai Fish Fillets had its office in Sugamo (Nest-duck)
which is one of the stations on the Yamonote Line that circles
around Tokyo.
There was a small complex building in Sugamo which was
owned by a pharmacy called Kouun-Dou (Lucky-temple). On
the first floor was the pharmacy, and Toukai Fish Fillets was
on the fifth floor.
There was a mail box in the small and dark hallway on the
first floor. On one of the boxes was stuck a card. The name
and address of Toukai Fish Fillets were written on it.
I got on the old and slow moving elevator and went to the
fifth floor. I opened the only door found on the floor. Inside
was an office that was so small that the entire space could be
observed within a glance.
Two middle aged women and a man were working. Mr.
Honda was sitting at the far most end of the room with his legs
on his desk.
"Hi, fellow. How are you?" said Mr. Honda. He was still
just around 30 years of age at the time. "Fine," I answered but
actually, I wasn't.
I felt that this meeting was fateful, because Mr. Honda had
been the one who led me into the fish business in the first
place.
The story goes further back to when I had graduated from
university. I was not a good student in the university at all, so
I was having a hard time finding a job. I had been to university
for 7 years which was 3 years more than regular. I also didn't
have any idea of what I would like to do in the future for a
living. I wanted to be a writer -- yes. But it was clear that
being a writer wouldn't bring any money to me for the time
being. My future was dark as the night.
One day, I was just hanging around a cafe called Minimum,
when Mr. Honda came there to have a cup of coffee.
"Hey, wadda-ya doing?" asked Mr. Honda to me.
Mr. Honda and I had known each other's faces since we
had met occasionally at Minimum, but that was the first time
we talked.
"I'm having a hard time finding a job," I said.
Mr Honda chuckled and said, "Is that so? Say, there's a
fit-in job for an idle lad like you. I'll introduce you to it."
"What kind of job is that?" I asked.
"Ooh, yes. Well, there's a place called an auction place
here, and suppose you decide to work here, all you have to do
is to wait with your hands in your pockets, smoking cigarettes
or chewing some gum, the same as the other people here do.
Soon there a lot of customers will come. Easy, huh? You
don't have to walk around to find customers. They all come
to where you are. The only hard thing is that you have to
wake up a little bit early in the morning: 3 or 4 o'clock in the
morning, perhaps. But no sweat. Once you wake up, almost
half of your day's work is done."
"Is that in the fish market?"
"Yes, exactly. To be more specific, Tukiji Wholesale
Market Inc.,
more commonly called Touichi, is the company's
name. It's a very large company even listed in the Tokyo
stock market. The president of this Touichi is a man named
Mr. Ueda who is a very close friend of mine. He went to
places like Iceland, Norway, with me. So if you decide to
work at Touichi, you are promised to become president.
"President? Who? Me?"
"Yes, you. The president of Touichi."
"You're kidding."
"No, no, this is no joke. People who work in the fish
business are all stupid. Of course, I'm included there. So it's
easy for a smart lad like you to become president. I'll teach
you and assist you to do it."
I was suspicious about this story of Mr. Honda. But his
speech was so enthusiastic that I was finally convinced to check
out the company, at least.
"Well, I'll give it a try," I said.
"Yes, yes. That's the boy. Just mention my name to the
people there. Everything will work out right," said Mr. Honda
cheerfully.
I wore a jacket and a tie, and walked into the Tukiji
Wholesale Market for the first time in my life. The wet road
took me to a building where there was the general affairs office
of Touichi on the second floor.
There I met a Mr. Kurosawa (Black-creek) who was the
director of general affairs. I told him why I applied for Touichi.
After listening to my story, he replied,
"Never heard of a man named Honda."
He looked at the personal history of me that I had written
on a piece of paper.
"Hey, by the way, it says here that you have graduated
from Meiji University, haven't you? -- Same university where
I graduated," said Mr. Kurosawa. He put his big arm on my
shoulder. He seemed to have gotten a good impression of me,
only because I had graduated from the same university as him:
a very common thing in Japan. The senpai-kouhai relationship
again. Guessing from the size of his body, Mr. Kurosawa
must have been in some sports club in the university. The
senpai-kouhai relationship is strong in sports clubs especially.
There are enormous senpai-kouhai relationships every-
where in Japan.
The kouhai has to worship and obey the senpai's words.
The senpai has to take good care of the kouhai.
"So, you're my kouhai, you better come to Touichi," said
Mr. Kurosawa. He also told me the date of the entrance
examination, which he said was only a ritual.
At home, I explained to my parents how my job-searching
was going on. I told them I was applying for Touichi and I
had a high possibility of entering. Then my mother said,
"Quit that Touichi. I know a same kind of fish trading
company like Touichi which is more famous and larger than
Touichi. The name of the company is Touto Marine Products.
The company's vice president's wife went to the same school
as I did. So you better apply for Touto Marine Products."
My mother said that she would ask her friend for me.
"Everything will work out right."
She said the same thing as Mr. Honda did.
Didn't I have objections to my mother's idea, but I decided
to enter Touto Marine Products.
So, that's the story about how I first entered the fish
business. And for the second time, I was talking with Mr.
Honda about my job. I was asking to let me work at Toukai
Fish Fillets, although I was just thinking that it was a job of
short term, until I find my real job.
"You came in the right time," said Mr Honda. "You got
to lend me a hand."

[back