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Friday, 30th May 2014
In General Japan News,

Tsukiji ponders over market move

Tsukiji fish market has long been considered one of the must-do activities for tourists looking to explore Tokyo. Getting up at 5am in order to get there in time for the tuna auction is deemed a rite of passage for visitors to this incredible megatropolis. However, officials of the Tokyo metropolitan government are currently pondering the question of how they're going to maintain the market's distinctive image after it shifts to the Koto Ward in two years.

The move, which has long been popular as it will take into account the increased tourist numbers making this part of their trip, will see buying and selling carried out in a brand new environment that is said to cost more than 500 billion yen.

Masafumi Makimura, producer of the strategy, spoke to The Japan News this week about his determination to keep the branding of Tsukiji intact, despite the fact the new site is situated more than two kilometres from its original location.

Tsukiji includes the essence of the culture in Edo period, such as 'iki' sophistication and 'inase' stylishness," he said on the topic. "Now, the tense atmosphere between sellers and buyers has not changed." It is this atmosphere that tourists long to sample, and it is likely created by the close proximity of the sellers to one another. Recreating the conditions on a larger site, Mr Makimura says, may prove challenging.

The size of the new market will be 41 hectares, significantly larger than the current incarnation, which by contrast occupies a compact 23 hectares. A larger setting was deemed necessary particularly after Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Olympic Games, which will see increased visitor numbers in the city. 

With the metropolitan government planning to make the new market - which will likely be renamed Toyosu to reflect its new location in the Toyosu district - a pillar of the tourism during this highly exciting time, there is a lot of pressure to recreate the crowd-pulling atmosphere of Tsukiji.

To reflect increased tourist numbers, a whole host of shops and restaurants catering exclusively for visitors is being planned on the new site. In the run-up to the grand opening, an extensive programme of events will be created to inspire fans of the new market before the transfer.

While a date has yet to be confirmed for the move, visitors have received a guarantee they can experience the magic of the fish market in Tsukiji for at least two more years. Each morning, representatives from restaurants across the city converge here to buy the freshest ingredients for sushi, sashimi and other dishes. The market handles 500,000 tons of fishery products and almost 500 different specimens of sea life every year. Witnessing all that is quite an incredible experience.

Written by Mark Smith



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Tsukiji ponders over market move (23rd May 2014)