The Yomiuri ShimbunThe iconic Tsukiji market, part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, marked its final day of operations in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, on Saturday, drawing the curtain on 83 years of history.
The final auctions were held from the predawn hours of Saturday morning. By noon, the move to the Toyosu market had begun. The new wholesale market in the Toyosu district of Koto Ward, Tokyo, is scheduled to open early Thursday. Before then, an “unprecedented transfer operation” will have to be completed.
“The Tsukiji brand was established with the dreams and hopes of producers, wholesalers and intermediate wholesalers coming together,” said Shigeo Yokota, 51-year-old chairman of Omono Gyokai, an organization of fisheries’ intermediate wholesalers, during a ceremony held at the unfrozen raw tuna auction site at 5:10 a.m. “I owe them my gratitude.”
Subsequently, the final auctions started and the voice of auctioneers from wholesalers echoed within the site. A total of 146 unfrozen raw tuna and 728 frozen tuna were sold at the auctions.
On Saturday, so-called turret trucks — small electric transport vehicles that have become symbols of Tsukiji market — were busy moving around in the intermediate wholesale market for seafood, where intermediate wholesalers sell fish they bought in auctions to buyers from restaurants and others.
At 6:30 a.m., Toshio Awatake, third-generation president of Kanatatsu, an intermediate wholesale company for shellfish, was sorting out scallops. Awatake, 64, has been helping his father’s business since he was a fifth-grade elementary school student and has been working in Tsukiji market for about 50 years.
“I’m filled with emotion when I think that I won’t come to Tsukiji anymore,” Awatake said.
Business hours on the final day lasted until noon, but some intermediate wholesalers ended their work earlier to start packing. Some of them took photographs in front of their stores.
On the final day, 1,308 tons of marine products and an estimated 812.5 tons of fruits and vegetables were traded. Among the 874 tuna traded that day, a tuna caught off the town of Oma, Aomori Prefecture, was sold at ¥4.385 million (about $38,560), or ¥27,000 per kilogram, the highest price of the day. A box of sea urchin roe was sold at ¥160,000, which was the highest on record in Tsukiji’s history.
Moving started at noon and will continue around the clock until Wednesday night.
The Tokyo metropolitan government estimates that the total volume of items that will be transported to Toyosu market would be enough to fill about 5,300 2-ton trucks.