Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Eviction Notice for Tuna ; Tokyo's Venerable Fish Market Will Be Moved to Accommodate a Glitzy Shopping Complex

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Eviction Notice for Tuna ; Tokyo's Venerable Fish Market Will Be Moved to Accommodate a Glitzy Shopping Complex

Article excerpt

It's a Tokyo ritual: Before dawn, in the center of the city, tuna is lined up like torpedoes on the concrete floors of seven auction houses. Buyers in rubber boots swing and prick fish with long hooks to test for prized fatty flesh. Multimillion-yen deals get under way.

The world's largest fish market - and perhaps its noisiest - is coming to life.

But change is wafting through the drafty warehouses, steamy noodle stands, and honking trucks of Tsukiji market. After decades of controversy with neighbors, the decision was made to move Tsukiji outside of Tokyo. A shopping theme park will take its place, marking the end of a gritty landmark in a city where taxi drivers wear gloves and clean streets bathe in neon.

No Bubba Gump operation, Tsukiji is big tuna business. The market's 57 acres handle 1 million tons - $6 billion worth - of marine products, fruit, and vegetables a year. One record bluefin tuna pulled in upwards of $100,000. More than 50,000 people come on business every day to the bustling spot, home to the market for more than 65 years.

Wholesale buyers and sellers aren't the only clients. Chefs come to find the best bargains, and consumers turn up with shopping baskets. Hundreds of tourists pour in every morning to wander the waterlogged aisles filled with buckets of crabs, heaps of purple octopuses, piles of silver eels, and an endless variety of fish.

City planners hope to draw even more people - and income - with a complex modeled after San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, featuring shops, museums, housing, restaurants, and a cooking school. It will also include a souvenir shop and cultural facilities for visitors.

Not everyone thinks this is a step forward. Antirelocation posters dot Tsukiji market. Many workers have strong emotional ties to Tsukiji and worry about how to cover the hefty moving costs.

"I don't know how I can save money to buy a refrigerator, a counter, and other things at the new location," says one restaurant owner. "I'm just trying to survive now."

The sukijinakaoroshi (middleman's) Union, which represents 900 wholesale companies, has voted against the move to the 93-acre location, slated to open in about eight years. …

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