$117,000 Tuna Marks the End of Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market

© AFP/Getty Images

By Adam Campbell-Schmitt Posted January 05, 2016

Restaurateur Kiyoshi Kimura bought a bluefin for $117,000.

The Tsukiji Fish Market, a top destination for sushi masters and curious tourists alike, is leaving its hallowed location on the banks of Tokyo's Sumida River. And it started its final year with the bang of a gavel: The year's first bluefin tuna, weighing 200 kilograms (440 pounds), sold for $117,000. The winning party was not a first-time bidder. Restaurateur Kiyoshi Kimura has won five New Year auctions in a row and made headlines in 2013 for his record-setting bid of $1.76 million. There's nothing particularly special about these first-of-the-year fish (though bluefins are endangered), but it's believed that they bring good luck. "It makes it even more memorable [to win the auction] considering that this is the final year," Kimura told the Wall Street Journal.

The market has been in business since the 1920s, though people have bought and sold fresh fish the banks of Tokyo's Sumida River since the 16th century. In November, the market's vendors will head southwest along the bay to a new spot in the Toyosu district, leaving the Tsukiji name behind. While this move has been decades in the making, owing to growth limitations in the current market area, the city has fast-tracked the relocation to revitalize the aging Tsukiji district for the 2020 Olympics. The vacancy makes way for a new train line, a public park space and ferry terminal, allowing future visitors more direct access to the games.

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