The auction, held at the Toyosu market in the capital's Koto City, came less than three months after the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market moved there from Tsukiji, ending its 83-year long history.
Under a computerized system, hygiene management of seafood is strictly maintained along with air and temperature conditions in the new market buildings. Authorized personnel are allowed for business only.
The auctions of tuna used to attract a great number of visitors, especially from abroad, in the former Tsukiji market as they were allowed to be near the fish wholesale area.
In Toyosu, however, visitors are off-limit there for the purpose of maintaining hygiene. Instead, they can watch them through glass windows and take pictures. Admission is free.
To choose the best fish, intermediary wholesalers were closely examining rows of tuna fish laid out on the green floor beforehand. The green floor is intended to draw a sharp contrast of colors with the fish to highlight the quality of them.
Historical records show that Teyari (hand signals) have been used in auctions since around 1600s when the Tokugawa shogunate allowed a group of fishermen exclusively to catch fish in the Edo Bay (present Tokyo Bay) and sell some of them downtown Nihonbashi.
The Nihonbashi Fish Market was completely destroyed by the 1923 earthquake. A few years later, the market was relocated to Tukiji to have a lot of riding on shipping and land transportation such as train.
The fish has long been the staple food with rice for the Japanese. They love to eat tuna as sashimi (raw fish) or a main ingredient in sushi that is called NETA in the jargon of the sushi world.
The winning bidder of the tuna, which was caught off Japan's northern coast a day before the auction and transported by truck, is a major sushi-restaurant operator in Tokyo.
The Toyosu market opened on Oct. 11, following a two-year respite, during which time authorities added measures to thoroughly check the underground water. The facilities stand on a former gas-producing plant site on reclaimed land.
The fruit and vegetables wholesale markets are in a separate building on the same waterfront site.
About 600 wholesalers and dealers have their respective offices in the markets, and 39 restaurants and 70 shops also operate there.
On the rooftop garden of another six-story market structure, you can view Mt. Fuji, Japan's highest mountain. It is visible, especially in the wintertime. The turf garden also commands a fine view of Tokyo skyline. Don't miss it when making a visit.
In the years ahead, a large commercial complex, including a hotel and posh restaurants, will be built on a current vacant lot.
Starting Jan. 15, the tuna auction will be more closely observed from the observation platform adjacent to the auctionfloor. A total of 120 people will be selected by lottery per auction day. An advanced reservation is needed in the previous month. Please check the following website:
Station: Shijoumae (Yurikagome Line). You can access each of the three buildings directly from the station.
Open: 5 a.m.-5 p.m. everyday except Sundays, public holidays and most Wednesdays and other special days when the market is closed.
++ KEV is now planning and preparing a new walking tour to visit this fish market. We will introduce it in the near future. Stay tuned to our website.