Last orders as Tokyo's Tsukiji market relocates

09 October, 2018, 14:53 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Each New Year's Day high-profile buyers vied to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the top tuna at the first auction of the yearMore

This series introduces scenes from the last days of the Tsukiji market in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, which is scheduled to end 83 years of history when it closes for relocation to the new Toyosu site in the capital's Koto Ward on October 6, 2018.

It was an emotional moment for veterans of the market, which many acknowledge is now too rundown to support its mammoth operations but has been the beating heart of Tokyo's culinary scene for decades.

The operators of the low-speed mini-vehicles drove them on a 2.3 kilometre stretch of road to the new Toyosu fish market, including a section that has yet to be opened to general use, with permission from the Tokyo metropolitan government.

The highest bidder at Saturday's final auction paid 4.4 million yen ($38,700) for a bluefin tuna weighing 162 kilograms (357 pounds) caught off Aomori, northern Japan.

In Tokyo closed the world's largest seafood market and fish "Tsukiji".

The move has been in the works for years, prompted by the dilapidated state of Tsukiji.

The new location for the market is Toyosu, a man-made island built for $5bn in Tokyo Bay.

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Wholesalers had raised concerns about the antiquated facility's natural disaster resistance, sanitation and fire safety, as well as the structure's use of asbestos and its crumbling walls.

Shortly after 5 a.m. on Saturday, before the start of the auction of tunas, Takeshi Yoshida, president of "Tsukiji Uo-ichiba" (fish market) gave an address on behalf of all wholesalers. Special doors will help keep halls cool and sterile, while gawping tourists will be confined to a viewing gallery behind glass.

But the move has proved controversial, with rows breaking out over pollution and the loss of Tsukiji's globally recognised brand.

The move affects not only the famed fishmongers, but also fruit and vegetable vendors, restaurants and other shops in the inner market.

"I feel nostalgic as Tsukiji has been my home ground for 15 years". While some shop owners have made a decision to relocate to the new site, others have chosen to close down. "I'd like to express my gratitude to Tsukiji once again", said Hiroyasu Ito, chairman of Tsukiji Market Association which consists of leaders from main business groups in Tsukiji. The outer market shops and vendors sell everything from dried foods to kitchenware.

The old market, which covers an area of more than 230,000 square meters (57 acres), will be used as a transport depot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and possibly turned into a culinary theme park after that.

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