ON A THURSDAY at 4:15 a.m. in Osaka, Japan, I stepped inside a freezing-cold hall in the middle of the city and stood before a row of whole tuna from all around Japan, the Indian Ocean, even the Atlantic. A siren sounded and a man stepped up onto a wooden bench right behind the fish and rang a large bell. The morning’s tuna auctions had begun. The auctioneer bellowed in an otherworldly voice that sounded like he had an extreme case of vocal fry. Chef Noguchi Taro, a friend and Kansai native who runs a tiny, eponymous restaurant in this city, turned to me and said: “I have absolutely no idea what he’s saying.”

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