By FLETCHER, Hargreaves

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Tsukiji exemplifies the institutional frameworks of Japanese economic behavior and organization more generally, a case study of institutional structure and the social and cultural embeddedness of economic life. But I have broader purposes as well. I am concerned with the anthropological analysis of institutions more generally: as elements that define and constrain complex societies, not just markets for seafood and not just in Japan. The elaborate institutional infrastructures that frame the operation of a market have precisely—albeit not exclusively—economic purposes.

Bestor 1990). qxd 4/13/2004 3:22 PM Page 8 8 / T O K YO ' S PA N T R Y my fieldwork among small shopkeepers and their networks of suppliers led me back to Tsukiji to interview a few wholesalers about their connections with retailers and to ask them some questions about supply and demand and market access. 5 People in the whale business introduced me to a few Tsukiji traders whom I could interview about the structure of the marketplace. TSUKIJI SNAPS INTO FOCUS In February 1989, an official I knew at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (henceforth TMG) sent me to meet a colleague who was a senior administrator at the marketplace.

From that stay I had gained an abiding interest in the shitamachi districts of Tokyo, in workaday neighborhoods where ordinary people lead unremarked-upon lives, and in the small shopkeepers and independent entrepreneurs who make such neighborhoods work. A few years later, in 1979, equipped with Japanese language skills for intensive ethnographic research, I returned to Tokyo to work on a doctoral dissertation about daily life in just this sort of neighborhood, though it wasn’t in Fukagawa nor—except in the minds of its residents—even in shitamachi (T.

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