You’ve probably heard that the iconic Tsukiji Fish Market will cease operations
later this year sometime soon, and reopen as the Toyosu Fish Market. Here are the top tidbits regarding the relocation of this historic landmark in Tokyo.
When one market closes, another opens only slightly farther east …
… you know that old saying.
First, the Tsukiji Fish Market was slated to close its doors in November, 2016. Then the move got pushed back. And back. And back some more. The latest official word is that it’s relocating to the Toyosu waterfront district in Fall 2018. Or maybe Spring. Notice a pattern, here? There have been mixed reports, with much confusion, claims and retractions. Watch this space—we’ll let you know as soon as we do.
Regardless of when it eventually happens, the move means that time is running out for those keen on seeing the live tuna auction and experiencing the market in its original state. It’s unclear whether the auction will be open to visitors at the new site, so it’s best to make your way to Tsukiji while you still can. Check out our comprehensive Tsukiji guide for opening hours, closures and what to expect.
The new Toyosu Fish Market will be in Tokyo’s Koto Ward—about 2km east of Tsukiji’s current location.
Relocating from Tsukiji to the Toyosu Fish Market costs a lot of clams
(Clams, fish market … get it? We’re punny like that.)
The expected cost of transplanting the wholesale market from Tsukiji to Toyosu is upwards of 600 billion yen (approx. 5.42 billion USD). This includes construction (fun fact: the new market will feature solar panels and a green rooftop), infrastructure (including a new expressway), land costs, and soil decontamination measures.
Wait, go back—what’s that about soil contamination?
The Toyosu site was formerly home to a gas production plant, and a survey conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government confirmed that the soil is, unfortunately, heavily contaminated. Clean-up efforts are underway, but in March 2017 a groundwater sample reportedly contained benzene at levels 100 times the safe limit. Other nasty chemicals like arsenic and cyanogen have also been found lurking about.
Naturally, there’s been concern—especially from business operators—about food safety at the relocation site, and over 70% of Tsukiji wholesalers have opposed the move. Nothing can happen until the ground pollution issues are sorted out (we hope).
What will happen to the old Tsukiji Fish Market?
The Tsukiji Fish Market is closing for a few reasons: its facilities are old (it opened in 1935), and the current layout is inefficient. The government says this is hurting the market’s “image”, in addition to causing health and food safety concerns. Tsukiji attracts more than 40,000 visitors daily, so the latter concerns kind of make sense.
But another big reason (and most likely the main reason) for the move is that Tsukiji Market is currently sitting on prime real estate. There’s been all sorts of talk about having the site operate as a temporary bus terminal during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and then be redeveloped into a sports stadium and retail shops. There’ve also been rumblings about relocating the famous fish market back to Tsukiji by 2025, with an added food theme park. The state-of-the-art Toyosu facility would then become a distribution center.
Keep in mind, though, that no redevelopment plans have been 100% confirmed yet. We’ll update you when we know more.
This post was updated in July 2017.
What do you think about the relocation of the Tsukiji Fish Market? Share in the comments below.
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