Workers drive vehicles known as Turret Truck to Toyosu market during a relocation from Tsukiji market in Tokyo, Japan, October 7 2018. Picture: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON
Workers drive vehicles known as Turret Truck to Toyosu market during a relocation from Tsukiji market in Tokyo, Japan, October 7 2018. Picture: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON

Tokyo — Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji market, the world’s largest fish market and a major tourist attraction, held its final tuna auction on Saturday before a controversial move to a new site next week.

Hundreds of fishmongers are packing up and preparing to leave Tsukiji for a gleaming new $5bn market set to open on Thursday on reclaimed land farther from central Tokyo.

The most expensive fish — a 162kg tuna — sold for ¥4.3m at the early morning auction, Kyodo News reported.

A man is seen at Toyosu fish market during its relocation from Tsukiji to Toyosu in Tokyo, Japan, October 7 2018. Picture: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON
A man is seen at Toyosu fish market during its relocation from Tsukiji to Toyosu in Tokyo, Japan, October 7 2018. Picture: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON

"I am very grateful and happy that we could have continued business smoothly all these years until today. I would like to thank Tsukiji from the bottom of my heart," Hiroyasu Itoh, chair of the seafood wholesalers’ association, told reporters.

The 83-year-old Tsukiji market drew tens of thousands of visitors a year to its warren of stalls with exotic species of fish and fresh sushi. But it had become dilapidated and unsanitary, city officials said in planning the move. A survey by a group opposed to the relocation found more than 80% of traders were against the move to Toyosu, an artificial island.

Takeshi Ohashi, 44, a former Tsukiji worker, went to the market with his wife to bid farewell.

"I am sad to see Tsukiji close, but I do look forward to seeing what the land will be used for." The site will be used as temporary parking for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Reuters