Unhappy about government-mandated move to new facility, wholesalers occupy part of the market to do business as usual.

October 6 was the last day of operations at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Inner Market. With its replacement, the brand-new Toyosu fish market, opening on October 11, the Tsukiji facility, which attracted attention and visitors from around the globe, was shut down after more than 80 years as the world’s premiere sushi source.

Or at least that’s what was supposed to happen. On October 18, though, Tsukiji was restored to a bit of its former glory, as a team of guerrilla fishmongers occupied a part of the now condemned Tsukiji Inner Market to do, what else, sell fish.

While the Tsukiji Inner Market was shut down at the close of business on October 6, merchants were still allowed access to the facility during a transitional period established by the Tokyo municipal government, granting wholesalers (who have had their licenses transferred to the Toyosu market) extra time to make the move to Toyosu, which lies further from the city center than Tsukiji. October 17, though, was the very last day of the transitional period, meaning that as of the morning of October 18, the Tsukiji Inner Market was now off-limits to everyone except demolition crews and city officials.

▼ Security guards and officials lined up at one of the now-closed entrances to the Tsukiji Inner Market on the morning of October 18.

But on the morning of October 18 a crowd of about 50 people, made up of fish wholesalers and other people opposed to the market’s closing, gathered at the entrance to the Inner Market. After arguing with security guards and finding all five official gates closed, the group managed to gain entry by going through a partially demolished section of the market and hopping a fence. Once inside, the merchants went right back to selling fish, just like they had for decades up until the Inner Market’s closure earlier this month.

With demolition just getting underway, parts of the Tsukiji Inner Market still have refrigeration equipment and water tanks. That said, the Tokyo government’s reasons for closing the market, concerns over sanitation, fire hazards, and earthquake-proofing, are only bigger potential problems now that the facility is nothing more than a group of condemned, empty buildings. Once reports came in that the Tsukiji Inner Market was open for business again (with four wholesalers sharing a single stall they’d claimed), city officials arrived and told the merchants and their customers to disperse, with the crowd breaking up around 2 p.m.

Actually, though, even in its heyday the Inner Market usually shut down at around 2 in the afternoon, so maybe the merchants were simply keeping to their regular working schedule. However, no commercial activity was spotted in the facility the following day, so maybe Tsukiji’s Inner Market really is shut down for good this time.

Sources: The Sankei News via Hachima Kiko, Nifty News
Featured image: Twitter/@SiamCat3

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