National | IN PICTURES

Vision failing, Tsukiji wholesaler carries on

Kyodo

Yutaka Kadono, 80, was supposed to retire from his business as an intermediate wholesaler at the Tsukiji fish market last October.

Kadono has glaucoma in his left eye, which means it takes more time to judge a good fish, prompting him to decide to throw in the towel.

Wholesalers cut tuna in blocs before selling them to sushi restaurants or other customers.
Wholesalers cut tuna in blocs before selling them to sushi restaurants or other customers. | KYODO

But after Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike decided to shelve the relocation of Tsukiji to the Toyosu district over fears of soil pollution there, his plan was dashed. Sushi restaurants and other clients who have relied on Kadono’s expertise begged him to stay just a little longer.

“I owe it to my clients for supporting me throughout the years,” Kadono said. “I’ll stay on until the relocation issue is resolved.”

The Tsukiji fish market is at its busiest in the early morning hours.
The Tsukiji fish market is at its busiest in the early morning hours. | KYODO

For more than six decades since he graduated from junior high school, Kadono has been working at Tsukiji. And what he has witnessed through the years is the history of Tsukiji itself.

After the 1954 U.S. hydrogen bomb test in the Bikini Atoll, fallout contaminated the catches of many fishing boats — a heavy blow to the market. During the rapid economic growth in the 1960s and 70s, Tsukiji enjoyed a boost in business. Now Tsukiji is a popular site for foreign tourists.

Rows of tuna are displayed at the Tsukiji market on Jan. 5. Tails are severed so that wholesalers can judge the quality of the fish.
Rows of tuna are displayed at the Tsukiji market on Jan. 5. Tails are severed so that wholesalers can judge the quality of the fish. | KYODO

At 4 a.m. on a cold December morning, Kadono, as usual, was walking through rows of tuna to look for the best fish, at times rubbing his left eye.

“I am just doing what I need to do for my clients,” Kadono said.

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