The Japanese capital prepares itself for the 2020 Olympic Games, and the historic Tsukiji fish market is now closed forever.
Following years of delays and plenty of controversy, Tokyo’s Tsukiji wholesale fish market, one of the city’s most popular destinations for tourists closed definitively its doors.
A revolution that, it seems, did not like anyone, not because of passatism, but because of identity.
Saturday 29 September 2018 was the last day of the largest and most famous fish market in the world. And from that day on, the public could no longer enter to the Tsukiji Fish Market, to facilitate the final moving operations.
On 11 October the Toyosu Market was inaugurated, just over two kilometers as the crow flies from its former location.
According to the governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, Tsukiji Fish Market was also a public health problem: all that fishery products were in a huge covered area always wet on the ground, where fishermen sold, ate, fillets and smoke. Ironically, the Toyosu market was originally supposed to open up in November of 2016, but was delayed for various reasons, including worries over contaminated soil, in fact the area where the new market was being constructed used to house a gas production plant.
The new market is a kind of aseptic and sanitary hangar, while the fish, which is the heart of Japanese culinary culture, can no longer be bought directly from fishermen.
Anthony Bourdain, an American chef who more than any other had understood the link between Japanese food and tradition and culture, was a Tsukiji’s frequenter, and fought when american’s Health wanted to impose the use of the gloves for the chefs: without the direct contact with the heat of the hands, he said, the sushi is simply no longer sushi.
And the same thing could happen at the Tokyo fish market.
The Tsukiji wholesale fish market opened in 1935, though similar venues have existed in the surrounding area since the early 1600s. Its relocation project has been going on since the fifties, and periodically, someone spoke about its problems: the market was too central, too old, too little up-to-date to be kept there.
Over the years, however, Tsukiji has become one of the main tourist attractions of the Japanese capital, and perhaps one of the most visited place, and around which dozens of business moved: sushi restaurants and tourist guides were among the most fruitful.
The Tsukiji experience was one of the busiest on the AirBnb platform, and those who had the courage to take foreigners to the infamous tuna auction were charged a lot.
The tuna auction, in fact, was one of the first things that has stopped.
It will also be at Toyosu Market, but tourists will see it from behind a glass, they will not smell fish and splash water and above all will not hear the screams and noises of the auction, which have remained the same since 1935.
In eighty-three years Tokyo has changed, not only the Showa era has ended with the death of Emperor Hirohito, but 2019 is also the year of Akihito’s abdication. Tsukiji is one of the very few places in the Japanese capital where everything, however, has remained the same.
So, Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji wholesale fish market has closed its doors, marking the end of an era. Below some exclusive photos (October 2018) of the Tsukiji Fish Market few days later its closure to the public.