First Day at Toyosu Market

I have written an article regarding the move from Tsukiji to Toyosu for AFAR magazine. It lists some of the shops and restaurants in the new Toyosu Market and more about the move. This post is about the issues that came up today.

Toyosu Market, replacing the historic Tsukiji Market, opened today, Thursday, October 11, 2018, for its first official business day. Naturally there will be some growing pains as everyone learns their way around the market. The reaction was mixed amongst the workers and customers coming to buy seafood and produce. There are a mountain of issues, too many to cover, but here are some of the pressing concerns:

  • Access. While Tsukiji Market is conveniently located in the heart of the city near Ginza and is accessible with two subway lines. The new Toyosu Market is on an island that must be accessed over a few bridges. Public transportation is via the monorail or limited bus service. The monorail is not only expensive it is inconvenient to access. Many vendors expect what used to be a 15-minute commute will now be over an hour. Today there were big problems with traffic. Some truck drivers said it took over two hours to get into the market. Another commuter said it took him over an hour just to exit the parking lot. A major road accessing the market, Kanjo 2-go Sen, is not completed so traffic is rerouted around. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.
  • Parking. It is estimated about 40,000 people came to Tsukiji Market, both workers and customers. There is not nearly enough parking spots in the new market.
  • Cold chain. The new Toyosu Market is supposed to be cold-chain-temperature controlled but today the fishmongers shared on social media of temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity high enough that mold could grow, today reported at 75%. There are no dehydrators in the market. This is not an issue for the seafood but there is concern for the building and equipment molding.
  • Contamination. Toyosu island is polluted with contaminants and already there are issues with water drainage not working properly and water overflowing on site. This is a safety concern for the workers for walking or driving through the water. There is also a major concern about the safety of the water and if it is clean or contaminated.
  • Lighting in the tuna auction. An 8th-generation tuna vendor commented that the overhead lights in the tuna auction room are LED and that it is hard for the tuna buyers to get a true sense of the color of the tuna. He added that the temperature of the auction area is hotter than it should be.
  • Logistics. Several issues with the design of the buildings. The vendor space for some shops are too small and overflow boxes are being put into the roads meant for the turrets to drive around creating a traffic jam within the market. Some of the slopes are too steep for turret drivers to drive up without possibly having product fall off their turrets. Some of the roads within the market for turrets have curves that are too sharp.

For tourists, it will open on Saturday, October 13th from 10 a.m. There are 70 retail shops and 39 restaurants. There is very limited viewing of the seafood and produce market. Regarding the tuna auction access will be given based on reservations made through the internet. The first day of public viewing is not until January 15th, 2019. This space is right next to the tuna auction area. There is a different window overlooking the tuna auction space that opens from Monday. This is on the 2nd floor looking down onto the auction. Access for tourists is only via public transportation via the monorail or buses.

The Tsukiji Inner Market is already being torn down and is scheduled to be used for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games as a transportation hub. Most likely buses will be used here for parking and staging as it is located near the Olympic Village, several venues and near downtown Tokyo. Following that nothing has been confirmed.

As for Tsukiji Market, the Outer Market is still open for business. The first few days after the Inner Market closed down and started its move to Toyosu, the Outer Market was like a ghost town. Tsukiji Market is in the heart of the city and worth visiting. Plenty of restaurants and shops. There are 60 seafood and produce shops from the Inner Market who have opened a branch in a newer market area called Tsukiji Uogashi. Please come and visit!

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2016 Tsukiji Market Record Tuna by Numbers

Tsukiji 2016 tuna.JPG

  • This year’s most expensive tuna sold at 14,000,000 JPY or roughly $117,220 US dollars.
  • The bluefin tuna weighed about 200 kg (about 440 pounds).
  • The price per kilogram was about 70,000 JPY or roughly $585 US dollars.
  • The tuna came from Ohma in Aomori prefecture and was caught on January 3rd.
  • The tuna was bought by the sushi chain, Sushi Zanmai. Kimura Shacho (president) commented that 3 days of aging makes it for perfect eating for today.
  • Sushi Zanmai has bought the winning tuna the last four years in a row.
  • The 2013 year’s record tuna sold for 155,400,000 JPY or roughly $1.76 million US Dollars.
  • This year’s tuna came in at about 3 times last year’s record-winning price.
  • This is the last opening tuna auction to be held at Tsukiji Market. Next year the tuna auction will be held at the new market, Toyosu Market. The name Tsukiji will stay at the current location. The current Tsukiji Market’s outer market will remain and can keep the famous brand name that is named after the area.

Tsukiji tuna graph

Graph of the winning tuna price over the last ten years.

Tsukiji Sushi Zanmai

Kimura Shacho (president) of Sushi Zanmai. Proud owner of the best tuna at Tsukiji’s last opening tuna auction. Each year he brings the winning tuna to his main shop in the outer market. The shop is just behind him in this photo, with the winning tuna waiting to be cut into.

Japanese:

初競り はつせり first auction

黒鮪 くろまぐろ bluefin tuna

大間 おおま Ohma port

 

The Future of Tsukiji Market – Tokyo Ichiba Station – Toyosu Market

Image

It is no news that Tsukiji Market’s Inner Market, Tsukiji Jōnai Ichiba,  will be moving in the next few years. While the government is saying 2016, our friends who work in the market are telling us it is more likely to be 2017. For sure the market must move by 2018 so that preparations for the 2020 Olympic Games can start. Last I heard the media center would be stationed here. The media center then would be taken down after the Paralympic Games and high-rise condominiums will be built here. UPDATE as of 23 Aug. 2014: Recently did a tour with some clients who are in Tokyo with the International Olympic Committee and they tell me that the press center will NOT be going to where the current Tsukiji Market is. Of course, that could always change. Also, yesterday while visiting this Tokyo Ichiba Project we queried the staff and they tell us the market will not move until 2017.

As for the Outer Market, Tsukiji Jōgai Ichiba, it will stay as it is. The Outer Market is always open to the general public. It is the Inner Market where the wholesale seafood is, as well as the famous tuna auction.

What is up with the future market? To get a better idea, be sure to stop by the Tokyo Ichiba Project museum which is located inside of the market. The museum has pictures of the future market as well as a three-dimensional models.

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Here is an overview of what the Toyosu Market will look like. One of the attendants in the museum said that the market name will change from Tsukiji to Toyosu once it moves. Perhaps the current Outer Market will continue to be called Tsukiji. It is very interesting as the models also show how the new market will be broken up into three different complexes with each building having a few floors. The monorail is also shown so that visitors will have an idea of how to access the Toyosu Market.

Toyosu1

A photo of the tuna auction at Toyosu. Visitors will be able to view from a second floor viewing platform and from side windows.

Toyosu2

The brand new facilities will be temperature controlled.

Toyosu3

There will be many restaurants for visitors.

What is not shown at the museum, but what has been shown on television is that a hotel will also be built here. There will also be a hot springs at the hotel with an outdoor onsen on the rooftop that will overlook Tokyo Bay. It is slightly more convenient for the delivery trucks to access, especially for those that make the trip to Narita airport. This PDF has a map of the new facility compared to the current location.

* The new market is only 2.3 kilometers from the current location.

* Toyosu Market will be accessible by the Yurikamome monorail.

* The stop for the Toyosu Market is called “Shijo Mae”.

Tokyo Ichiba Project Museum

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1

open from 9 a.m. to about 2 p.m.

2014 Tsukiji Market Record Tuna by Numbers

  • This year’s most expensive tuna sold at 7,360,000 JPY or roughly $70,325 US dollars.
  • The tuna weighed about 230 kg.
  • The price per kilogram was about 32,000 JPY or roughly $305 US dollars.
  • The tuna came from Ohma in Aomori prefecture.
  • The tuna was bought by the sushi chain, Sushi Zanmai.
  • Sushi Zanmai has bought the winning tuna the last three years in a row.
  • This tuna however was NOT the most expensive tuna per kg. The most expensive tuna per kg. sold at the new year’s first tuna auction went for about 40,000 JPY or about $382 US dollars. This tuna weighed in at about 168 kg.
  • Last year’s record tuna sold for 155,400,000 JPY or roughly $1.76 million US Dollars.
  • This year’s tuna came in at about 1/20th of last year’s price.

Two other interesting points that came up in today’s news. One, was that the last few years Sushi Zanmai would compete against a Hong Kong sushi shop called Itamae Sushi. This year Itamae Sushi did not participate in the auction for the winning tuna.

Also, it was noted that last year, due to poor weather conditions, that there were only 4 bluefin tuna from Ohma were offered at the auction. However, this year, fishing conditions were more agreeable and each tuna wholesaler each brought in about 30 fish.

 

More information on 2013’s Tsukiji Market Record Tuna by Numbers.