Soviet first lady Raisa Gorbachev stepped up her mission to charm the Japanese people Wednesday, visiting them at work in a fish market.

Her first stop was Tsukiji, Japan's biggest fish market, where she was cheered by weatherbeaten fishermen in high rubber boots.Raisa Gorbachev walked among mounds of freshly cut tuna and boxes of shrimp, crab and flounder, picking up fish and shaking hands with workers.

"I heard she was one of the elite, but she came across as a very normal kind of person," said one fishmonger. Other workers said they were impressed by the enthusiasm with which she asked questions.

"What time do you start work in the morning?" she asked Miyoshi Sudo, 42.

"Three o'clock," he replied. "And I finish at one in the afternoon." He said he worked every day except Sunday.

Stall owner Teruo Ojihara, 51, gave her a 6.6 pound flounder and got a Russian ceramic ornament in return. He put the fish in a plastic bag and a KGB guard carried it over his shoulder as the Soviet first lady walked to the next stall.

"She seemed very housewifey," he said.