No more tourist viewings at the famed tuna auctions for a while. Source: Shutterstock.
IF YOU HAVE ever gotten up in the dead of the night to prepare to leave for the world’s largest, busiest fish market to witness a lively tuna auction in Japan, you would know that it is not a memory you would soon forget.
Considered a must-see for the curious traveler in Tokyo, the exciting auctions at Tsukiji fish market see over a hundred tourists visiting on the daily, with some tourists lining up as early as 2am.
And if you have not been but it is something that you have always wanted to do, well, you may not be able to cross this off your travel bucket list soon. At least not for a while.
Tsukiji fish market has announced it will stop admitting tourists to watch its pre-dawn tuna auctions starting next month to facilitate its upcoming move east to Toyosu, the site of a former gas plant, on Oct 11, 2018.
As such, access to the tuna auction will end on Sept 15, 2018 while viewing wholesale markets for marine products and vegetables will end on Sept 29, 2018 as preparatory work for the move get underway.
The Tsukiji fish market will then officially close on Oct 6, 2018.
“In Toyosu, too, we plan to open a deck for visitors, and also there will be a special aisle for viewers where tourists will be able to watch the tuna auction through a glass wall,” AFP quoted a Tokyo metropolitan government spokeswoman as saying.
The market handles hundreds of kinds of seafood worth US$14 million daily, with is pre-dawn tuna auctions sold to everyone from top Michelin-star sushi chefs to ordinary grocery stores.
It also sells 270 types of fruits and vegetables and has fed Japan’s hunger for fresh seafood since its opening.
However, the aged facility has prompted locals to voice concerns about its earthquake resistance, sanitation, and fire safety.
In August last year, dozens of Tokyo firefighters battled a blaze that engulfed a couple of buildings in an area adjacent to the market.
Also known as the outer Tsukiji area, it is usually packed with restaurants where visitors can tuck into fresh seafood plates and sushi.
The move was originally scheduled for November 2016 in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but several delays set back the timeline, including the discovery of soil contamination at Toyosu.
In June 2017, plans to move were restarted but the move was again delayed to autumn of 2018.
After the move, the original Tsukiji fish market land area will be transformed into a transport hub during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.