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This is a “news of the day” post. I had intended to write on a different subject (and a much more grim one), but this caught my eye, and while sad, isn’t quite as dark or upsetting as other current news items.

I’ll get the bad news out of the way first: the Tsukiji Fish Market is shutting down.

The Tsukiji (skee-jee) Fish Market has been a common destination for the hip travel/food shows that flooded cable television in recent years, bringing it to wider popular awareness, but it has always been famous within the fishing industry and among professional chefs around the world.

And of course, it’s been a big deal in Japan since its creation…in 1935!

 

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The Tsukiji Fish Market at its founding in 1934/35

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Here’s a part of the market today. 

The Tsukiji Fish Market (officially the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market (Tokyo Chuo Oroshiuri Ichiba) is (or was) the largest wholesale fish market in the world, selling five million pounds of seafood every day. That’s about 28 million dollars. To put those numbers in perspective, it is 11x more than the Fulton Fish Market in Manhattan and 7x more that the Rungis Market in Paris. The Rungis Market is the second largest in the world, so that gives you an idea of what’s going on in Tsukiji every day. Seafood arrives from 60 countries, a lot of it still alive. Among the 1200 stalls spread out over 53 acres, you can find eels, octopus, squid, puffer fish, mackerel, salmon, the occasion hunk of whale meat, and of course the always-shocking-to-see-whole bluefin tuna.

Just this year (2018) a bluefin tuna was sold for $323,000 (36 million Yen).  The fish in question weighed an astonishing  892 pounds. That’s a lot of sushi, but it’s not even the record. In 2013 a 489 pound bluefin sold for 1.7 million dollars. It seems the value of bluefin is a mercurial, to say the least. Indeed the Tsukiji Fish Market is known for inspiring such swings in enthusiasms. They like to keep business exciting down in old Tokyo.

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Big fish. 

 

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Expensive fish! 

The Tsukiji Fish Market provided 90% of Tokyo’s seafood and 1/3rd of the seafood in Japan. That’s impressive, but it also begs the question just how much seafood is being consumed around the world everyday? That doesn’t seem sustainable, does it? A post for another time, perhaps.

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After a long and noble 83 year run, the Tsukiji Fish market is relocating to another neighborhood in Tokyo. The relocation has actually been in the works for many years, caused by the diminishing physical condition of the market. Basically, it had gotten too dirty to work in safely.

I regret I will never see the market in person, but it sounds like the move is for the best.

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