Or at least that's what people who take the time to put text on images of cows and post them on the Internet would have you believe. And if you walked around Taiji during the dolphin drive hunt season, you'd probably think they believe it too. That would be a pretty logical explanation for all the secrecy, right? All the tarps and barricades and "No Trespassing" signs are there because seeing how the animals they eat are killed makes people uncomfortable and less likely to eat it, right?
One town over, in Kii Katsuura, the fish market is practically a tourist attraction. The slaughterhouse goes a step further than having glass walls: it has no walls. So another Cove Guardian and I went over to see if they'd object to our presence as much as the killers of Taiji do.
WARNING: At the risk of stating the obvious, the photos in this post with the word "slaughterhouse" in the title are going to be quite graphic.
There were plenty of people wandering across the floor covered in running water, melted ice and blood, so we walked right in and no one seemed to mind. The first fish we saw were tuna, swordfish and sunfish.
Feet for scale
Next we found what we thought were sharks, but they were difficult to identify for obvious reasons:
We even watched them deliver more sharks without being stopped:
Many more sharks.
Once I got over the sight of all that death, the thing that struck me most about the place was the smell, or lack thereof. It's clean enough that it smells better than the fish station of a lot of supermarkets. This is another stark contrast with Taiji's processing areas, which smell vile. At least one Cove Guardian has vomited their first time there. Immediately following the butchery of a large number of fish, the floor was bloody, but it was washed away pretty immediately, unlike the processing areas of Taiji, which are filled with blood and decay. I'm not advocating eating fish (obviously), but the difference between this market and Taiji's is remarkable. Taiji's dolphin killers and meat buyers are so lax about hygeine (more on that later) and secretive that they ruin their own business.
NOTE: I've been back in Taiji, Japan opposing the dolphin drive hunt with Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardians for a while now, but these updates are going to come out of order so footage can be reviewed and some facts confirmed before they're posted. If you're new to this blog and feel like you're walking in halfway through the story, you can catch up on my previous trip to Taiji here and get some background on the hunt and Sea Shepherd's opposition here.