The 82-year old market, which occupies prime real estate in Central Tokyo near the Shumida River, is a mecca for food enthusiasts who come to try freshly caught seafood and witness the daily tuna auction. While limited viewers are welcome into the early morning auction, the ‘outer market’ is home to an array of outdoor vendors and stalls selling everything from sushi to cooking utensils.
According to Japan Times, the famed market will be moved to the Toyosu site in Koto Ward, while its current location will be revamped after the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. In a recent news conference, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike explained the government’s plans to relocate the historic market, which is considered the oldest fish market in the world dating back to 1935.
“I have concluded that using both sites would be the wisest decision,” said Koike, citing a desire to maintain the market’s ‘cultural legacy’ as the drive behind the decision. “I felt [Tokyo] needs to take over the responsibility on behalf of those who have long promoted … and protected the world-class Tsukiji brand.”
While the plan to renovate the current site of the Tsukiji Fish Market will include improvements to the facilities, upgraded safety measures and contamination prevention, Koike is drawing criticism for her decision to move the market to Toyosu.
CNN reports that the move to Toyosu was planned for last August but halted when evidence of toxicity was found at the site of the former gas plant. More than 70 percent of the fish wholesalers and employees of the market oppose the move to Toyosu.
“Koike hasn’t declared it safe yet,” Eiji Ikuina, head of Eiko Suisan, a seafood wholesaler at the Tsukiji market told Japan Times. “We can’t feel safe working there. I’m sure our customers feel the same way, too.”
In addition to plans for relocation, Governor Koike announced hopes to turn the original Tsukiji Market into a culinary amusement park, with hopes it will help pay off government debt. In short, it seems another beloved local haunt may soon give way to a commercialized opportunity.