Iconic Tokyo fish market shuts after 83 years

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

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

A procession of turret trucks and forklifts departed the just-closed Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo's Chuo Ward early on October 7 bound for their new home in the Toyosu district, 2 kilometers away.

Wholesaler Kazutada Igarashi said he has been working through the night to move refrigerators from Tsukiji to Toyosu.

Tsukiji saw its last auction on Saturday, with a 162 kg tuna being sold as the most expensive fish of the day.

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"Today, Tsukiji finishes its activities after 83 years and carves its name in history", said Yoshida, followed by all members doing "ippon-jime", a conventional Japanese hand-clapping ritual, to celebrate the last day of auctions. "Tsukiji tried to meet the times, but it is getting older", he told the AFP news agency.

But while the new site promises state-of-the-art refrigeration and will keep gawping tourists away from the business of the market in a gallery behind glass, the move has still left a bitter taste for some.

The convoy headed out as work to relocate the Tsukiji market is fully under way, a day after the renowned tourist destination rang down the curtain on its colorful 83-year history there.

Almost 500 types of seafood were sold at the market in the Japanese capital. The market was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and shifted to its current location in 1935.

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.

Tuna auctions - held in the inner industrial market - attracted big-spending buyers. 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.

The so-called outer market at Tsukiji - brick-and-mortar shops selling everything from seaweed to coffee - will remain after the move.

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

In the weeks before the move, hundreds of protestors demonstrated against the relocation, and legal challenges have been filed.

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