Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market move on track, Gov. Yuriko Koike says


After years of delays, the process of moving Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market is firmly on track, the city’s governor said Tuesday, pledging the old site’s spirit will not be lost.

The gray utilitarian complex at Toyosu is a far cry from the gritty, lively alleys of Tsukiji, where serious buyers and awestruck tourists browse for everything from record-setting tuna to root vegetables.

Still, Gov. Yuriko Koike said the decades of experience of Tsukiji’s vendors would not be lost in the move, slated to finally happen on Oct. 11.

As part of a campaign to promote the relocation, she met social media users Tuesday at the new site in Tokyo’s Koto Ward and sampled dishes prepared by experts from Tsukiji.

“We saw how best to use and cook ingredients. That reflects the accumulation of knowledge and wisdom among people who work at the market,” Koike said.

Plans to move Tsukiji, which opened in 1935, have been in the works for years, and the relocation was originally scheduled for 2016.

But a number of delays set back the timeline, including the discovery of contaminated soil at Toyosu, the site of a former gas plant.

Tokyo officials say the contamination has been remedied and Koike said she has detected a change in mindset from once-fierce opponents of the move.

“We are now receiving more concrete questions, like ‘the market doesn’t seem to have enough parking spaces,’ ” she said.

“This is proof that preparation for the market relocation is in full motion.”

The new market boasts modern sanitation and refrigeration control, a leap forward from the open-air, dilapidated Tsukiji market.

On Tuesday, the bulk of the new complex appeared to be complete, with sections set up to host fish, meat and vegetable vendors.

Now best known for its pre-dawn daily auctions of tuna, Tsukiji will be transformed into a transport hub during the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, with its future fate still ambiguous.