Tokyo’s iconic wholesale fish hub, Tsukiji Market, has closed down.
The market has been one of the city’s top attractions for years now and, as the world’s largest fish market, has been referred to as one of the ‘seven culinary wonders of the world’.
But don’t fear, sushi enthusiasts, a new wholesale market will open up in Toyosu on Tokyo Bay today, according to Lonely Planet, in a controversial move that’s been in the making for years.
High levels of benzene have been found in the groundwater of the site, which was built on a former gas refinery, but the Japanese government maintains that safety measures are in place.
For the uninitiated, the early morning tuna auctions drew swarms of tourists to watch fish traders bid on the gigantic fish.
The market, which initially opened in the 1930s, drew tens of thousands of visitors a year to gawk at its stalls of exotic fish and sample fresh sushi.
But on a functional level, the market was out of date. It was built for an era when seafood was brought in via small fishing boats that arrived at the markets docks, whereas now everything comes in container trucks straight from the airport.
The new location seems to be slightly less immersive, while visitors will still be allowed to watch the goings on at the market, they will have to do so from viewing platforms shielded by glass.
However, tourists won’t be able to view the tuna auction until January 2019 and will have to make do with a range of restaurants and shops outside the new market.
As Lonely Planet points out, this doesn’t mean the death of Tsukiji as a tourism hotspot; the unofficial outer market, which sprung up to serve workers, will remain in place.