Asia Minute: Tokyo’s New Fish Market

7 hours ago

The Tsukiji fish market as seen from Shiodome
Credit Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a week of some dramatic developments in Japan. These changes have nothing to do with politics or diplomacy, but a lot to do with the cultural history of the country’s capital city.

An era of Tokyo history came to an end Saturday — with the closing of the Tsukiji fish market.

Bluefin tuna weighing hundreds of pounds were sometimes auctioned for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Now the city of Tokyo has moved the auction action to a new location, Toyosu, about a mile and a half away from Tsukiji — and also worlds away.

Visitors now have to watch the fish auction from a glassed-in perspective upstairs—rather than on the floor of the market.

But there also should be no more horror stories of clueless foreign tourists putting grimy hands on fresh and valuable fish.

The Tsukiji market opened in 1935, not far from Ginza, surviving firebombing, the bubble economy, and an explosion in visitors.

The government has been trying to move the market for years, but there were delays — including some related to soil contamination — which have now been addressed.

Credit Humanoid one / Wikimedia Commons

The new location is nearly twice as large, with modern facilities, better able to handle the nearly 4-billion dollars of business that comes through the market each year.

The old market did have its issues with space, and capacity, and rats.

But it also had charms – that may or may not make it cross town to Toyosu.