A fishmonger analyzes a tuna before the last New Year auction on the Tsukiji market in Tokyo on January 5, 2018
The iconic Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo celebrated its last New Year’s auction on Friday, before moving in October, in a session in which the highest bidder paid more than $ 320,000 for a giant tuna.
After more than 80 years of operations, the largest fish market in the world, which is also a tourist attraction, will be moved on October 11 to Toyosu, east of its current location.
The market is famous above all for its tuna auctions before dawn, which is the same afterwards in decorated restaurants in Tokyo than in neighborhood stores.
Gathered in a large hangar lined with impressive giant tuna, both fresh and frozen, the buyers carefully inspected the quality of the merchandise before a bell marked the start of the sale this Friday at 05h30 (20h30 GMT on Thursday ).
The highest bidder paid 36.5 million yen (268,000 euros) for a fish weighing more than 400 kilos in front of the Aomori prefecture (north).
Thus, it did not beat the sales record, established in 2013 at 155.4 million yen.
„It’s a very nice feeling,“ reacted Akifumi Sakagami, chef of the sushi restaurant who paid the sum, after tasting the delicacy before the cameras.
„We wanted to take the best tuna because they were the last new year auctions here,“ he explained, stating that his boss was willing to pay up to 100 million yen (735,000 euros).
Kiyoshi Kimura, owner of the Sushizanmai restaurant chain and the highest bidder of the last six years – what he earned the nickname „king of tuna“ – was more discreet this year.
However, he paid 30 million yen (220,200 euros) for a tuna weighing 190 kilos, the most expensive of the auction.
The market of Tsukiji welcomes every day some 42,000 visitors who opt for an offer of 480 types of fish and seafood, in addition to 270 varieties of fruits and vegetables.
In total, 3,000 tons of goods are sold daily, generating tens of millions of euros in revenue.
For years, there has been speculation about the relocation of the Tsukiji market, an old, unhealthy and dangerous establishment in the event of an earthquake.
Initially planned in November 2016, it was postponed on numerous occasions due to health problems and the opposition of some merchants, very close to the current location.
„We all have the responsibility of building a new brand ‚Toyosu‘ while retaining the Tsukiji heritage,“ said Shigeo Yokota, representative of wholesalers on the market, on the occasion of the auction.