Fishmongers, customers and tourists bid a sad farewell to the famous fish market, which was a Tsukiji mainstay for 83 years.

Tsukiji Market is famous for being the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Located in a huge facility first constructed in 1935 between Ginza and the Sumida River, the famous site has been a hub of activity for fishmongers, customers, and curious tourists for 83 years, but on Saturday, the market closed its doors at its decades-old location, giving up its prime real estate after the government decided to move the market to Toyosu, roughly 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles) away.

So it was a sad day when the locals bid farewell to Tsukiji, and people from around the world made the pilgrimage to experience one final taste of the market before it closed the curtain on the end of an era. Photos from the final day captured all the atmosphere that made the market so enticing for so many people.

“Well…it’s the final Tsukiji!”

As always the day started early, as trucks, forklifts and turret trucks were spotted transporting goods around the facility shortly after midnight before the last opening of business.

While most people in the city were sound asleep, the market was a hive of activity at 3 a.m.

Then it was time to prepare for the pre-dawn auctions, as fishmongers went about their business inspecting samples, only with a much larger crowd of spectators and photographers on hand to witness the momentous last auction at Tsukiji.

At 5:20 a.m., the prawn auctions began, and four tonnes of prawns were completely sold in just 50 minutes.

▼ And then at 6 a.m., it was time for the frozen tuna auction.

Outside, the sun had barely risen when traffic around the market and nearby Namiyoke Inari Shrine came to a standstill as cars attempted to enter parking lots in the area.

Buses also dropped tourists off at the site, with people lining up in droves at restaurants along the market’s famous Uogashi Yokocho to taste the freshly caught fish.

As the morning progressed, it all looked like business as usual, and many found it hard to believe that this was actually the final day at Tsukiji after so many years.

But as the market drew to a close around noon on Saturday, the mood was markedly different, as wholesalers said their goodbyes to the small spaces where they had spent so many hours of their working lives.

“Bye for now” can be seen written on the stall in the image on the left-hand side below

While many workers expressed sadness at having to move their businesses to Toyosu, they also say they are now hoping to continue sales with their regular clientele at the new location. Some businesses, however, have decided not to make the move and have chosen to close after generations of trading. This has had a ripple effect on other businesses around Tokyo, like one local fishmonger, who decided the change was enough to push forward an early retirement by several years.

The open-air style of Tsukiji Market was one that many stallholders said they liked, given that it allowed them to chat with the other stallholders during the day, creating a casual, community-like feel.


Unlike the Tsukiji location, the new market will be an indoor facility, with individual booths that workers say will limit interaction with other stallholders. It’s a change that fishmongers and customers will have to adapt to, as they currently move to the new site, which is due to open for business on October 11, and to tourists on October 13 at 10 a.m.

While the details of the Toyosu market site are yet to be revealed, at Tsukiji it’s predicted that the old market facility — which was said to be a concern due to fire safety, sanitation and earthquake resistance issues — will be demolished and transformed into a transport hub for the 2020 Olympics.

Though the old market may be gone, its memory will never be forgotten, and hopefully the outer market will retain its original charm so visitors during the Olympics will be able to experience at least a portion of the market as it once was, when people like Mr Sato visited.

Source: Togetter
Featured image: Twitter/@otoma100HP

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