Going, going, gone! Tokyo's Tsukiji holds last tuna auction before move

Mae Love
October 8, 2018

But when business wraps up for the day on October 6, the streets and businesses of the sprawling complex will go silent for good, as the 83-year history of the market comes to an end.

The Tsukiji fish market, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Japanese capital and the world's largest wholesale fish market, had its last day of operations on Saturday before it is relocated to a new site 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) away.

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

But the move also has its detractors, with concerns about everything from Toyosu's location, far from clients, to pollution at the new site.

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Some 2,600 haulage vehicles and forklifts used at the aging Tsukiji market are scheduled to move to the Toyosu market from Saturday to Wednesday.

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About 900 intermediate wholesalers at the Tsukiji fish market will resume their businesses at the Toyosu market. Tsukiji is within walking distance of the upscale Ginza district, where some of Tokyo's top restaurants are located.

In the weeks before the move, hundreds of protestors demonstrated against the relocation, and legal challenges have been filed. Also daily, some 1,500 metric tons of sea products pass through its shops and wholesalers, making Tsukiji one of the highest-volume markets on Earth, while sales run at some 1.6 billion yen.

Fishmongers fear they may lose clients with the move to the less accessible new site.

And the crowds of tourists who have mobbed the market, including groups who lined up for hours to win one of just 120 spots for the tuna auction, have irked wholesalers by interfering with the actual business of Tsukiji.

Beyond that, the site's future is more uncertain, though Koike has suggested it could be transformed into a kind of culinary theme park, commemorating the market's colourful history.

Authorities temporarily opened a section of a new road that connects the old and the new sites.

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