Workers at the new Toyosu wholesale food market in Tokyo are having to hold their noses as disgusting stenches, mainly of fish, have started to emanate from some locations in the site.
At the market, which opened last month to take over the wholesale market functions from the world-famous Tsukiji market, also in Tokyo, the foul odors are so bad that even a seasoned auctioneer who is used to the smell of fish winced, describing them as “sickening.”
People at the new market have voiced bewilderment over the bad smells, which were never an issue at Tsukiji, the now-defunct open-air market in neighboring Chuo Ward.
The smells are especially unbearable around the fish wholesale area, where a variety of fresh products are displayed.
Workers describe corners of passages, staircases, elevators and some other places as being filled with a smell like dried squid mixed with takuan (pickled radish) and a combination of chemical and fish odors.
“I’ve become accustomed to the new market, but I’m having a hard time getting used to the smells,” an employee at a wholesale company said.
“Bad odors that I’ve never smelled at Tsukiji hang in the air in some places” in the intermediate wholesale area, a tuna trader complained.
A Tokyo Metropolitan Government official who oversees the market said the smells are “inevitable” to some extent given the building’s airtightness.
The official speculated that the problem may be partly caused by the smell from mats to disinfect workers’ rubber boots, which were not used at Tsukiji.
Toyosu’s hygienic features and building structure, which blocks out outside air, had been considered strong assets of the market.
The smells have not affected seafood or changed the quality of products significantly as selling spaces are relatively well ventilated, an official at a wholesale company said.
The impact has also been limited on restaurants and viewing areas for the public, both of which are crowded with tourists, because the facilities are partitioned with glass and walls.
Some workers, however, have grown concerned about possible health risks from the odors and the potential impact on their professional discernment in judging food quality, which relies in no small part on the sense of smell.
Some local residents have complained about the foul smells that have permeated into the clothes and footwear of Toyosu market workers.
To combat the bad odors, the metropolitan government is trying to improve the ventilation by investigating the market’s air flows and adjusting the air conditioners, officials said.