Tokyo fishmongers yesterday gathered before dawn for one final tuna auction at the world-famous Tsukiji market before it closed its doors to move to a new site.
It was an emotional moment for veterans of the market, the beating heart of Tokyo’s culinary scene for decades, which many acknowledged had become too rundown to support its mammoth operations.
“I’m almost crying,” said Hisao Ishii, a retired seafood auctioneer who was at the market for its final day.
“Today is a sad day of goodbyes. Tsukiji tried to meet the times, but it is getting older,” the 68-year-old told reporters. “I came here today to tell Tsukiji thank you and goodbye.”
In the weak, early-morning sun, traders filed into a warehouse for the last tuna auction, an indispensable ritual in Tokyo’s culinary world and a major tourist draw.
Hundreds of fresh and frozen tuna tagged with their weight and port of origin were laid out in lines in a refrigerated warehouse as buyers in rubber boots quietly inspected the wares.
They rubbed slices between their fingers and shone torches into the fish, swapping information with rivals before the showdown began.
At 6am, handbells rang to signal that the auction was under way and the air filled with the sound of auctioneers yelling prices at buyers, who raised fingers to indicate interest.
The highest bidder at yesterday’s auction paid ￥4.4 million (US$38,700) for a bluefin tuna weighing 162kg caught off Aomori, northern Japan, the market said.
It was far below the record ￥155.4 million paid at the first auction of 2013.
Buyers traditionally offer eye-watering prices as a “New Year gratuity” when the market resumes operations after winter holidays.
Fish wholesaler Takeshi Yoshida said that Tsukiji had left “its mark on history,” but it was time to “pass the baton.”
Tsukiji’s inner market, known as “Japan’s Kitchen,” is to move to Toyosu, a site in eastern Tokyo, where operations are to begin on Thursday.
“It will be the first massive move in our history,” said Hiroyasu Ito, chair of the market association. “We want to club together and get through it.”
SOLVED: Domestic orders have already overtaken the total sold to China last year, while the Canadian and US representative offices posted messages of support A joint effort by groups and individuals in Taiwan and abroad to prop up sales of pineapples after China announced a ban on imports of the fruit succeeded in just four days, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday. China on Friday announced that it would suspend imports of Taiwanese pineapples starting on Monday, citing biosafety concerns. Following the announcement, the council urged the public to assist farmers by purchasing pineapples, saying it hoped to sell 20,000 tonnes of the fruit domestically and 30,000 tonnes in exports. “Domestic orders have already surpassed the total sold to China last year,” COA Minister
‘UNFRIENDLY’: COA Minister Chen Chi-chung said that Beijing probably imposed the sanction because the pineapple production season is about to start in Taiwan More than 99 percent of pineapples sold to China passed inspections, the government said yesterday, after China earlier in the day abruptly suspended imports of pineapples from the nation, which Taipei called an “unfriendly” move. From Monday, China is to stop importing pineapples from Taiwan, the Chinese General Administration of Customs said. The regulation is a normal measure for ensuring biosafety, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said in a news release later yesterday. Since last year, Chinese customs officials have repeatedly seized pineapples imported from Taiwan that carried “perilous organisms,” Ma said. Were the organisms to spread in China, they would
Taiwanese netizens and politicians yesterday mocked a Chinese plan to build a transportation network linking Beijing and Taipei, calling it “science fiction” and “daydreaming.” Their comments were in reaction to the Chinese State Council’s release last week of its “Guidelines on the National Comprehensive Transportation Network Plan,” which include several proposed transportation links, with one map showing a line running from China’s Jingjinji Metropolitan Region (Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei) across the Taiwan Strait to Taipei. “This is the Chinese leadership daydreaming again of [fulfilling its] fantasy of extending China’s transportation network to Taiwan. I suggest people regard it as science fiction,” Democratic Progressive
‘ONE PERSON PER UNIT’: People undergoing home isolation cannot stay in a housing unit in which non-isolated people live, unless they have special approval Starting tomorrow, people under home isolation would be required to follow the “one person per housing unit” rule if in private housing, or stay at a quarantine hotel or centralized quarantine facility, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the rules require people under home quarantine to be quarantined with one person per housing unit, or at a quarantine hotel or centralized quarantine facility. “Starting on March 1, individuals under home isolation will also be subject to the ‘one person per housing unit’ rule,” he said. “We