World’s largest fish market reopens at new site in Tokyo

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More than 80 percent of Tsukiji fish traders oppose the move the new Toyosu location. (Reuters)
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A fishmonger works at a wholesalers’ area on the opening day of the new Toyosu fish market on Thursday, October 11. (Reuters)
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Wholesalers take part in an auction at a greengrocery area on the opening day of the new Toyosu market. (Reuters)
Updated 11 October 2018
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World’s largest fish market reopens at new site in Tokyo

  • More than 80 percent of Tsukiji fish traders opposed the move to Toyosu
  • The old site will provide temporary parking for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before becoming a tourist center

TOKYO: The world’s largest fish market resumed operations at a new location in Tokyo on Thursday, after final auctions last week at the previous facility in Tsukiji, one of the Japanese capital’s top tourist attractions.
The long-delayed opening of the gleaming new $5-billion Toyosu market on reclaimed land was marked by a minor truck fire and an early morning traffic jam.
As the new market’s first auction kicked off at 5:30am, its halls filled with the sound of bells and the shouts of traders, who also used hand signals in the scramble to get the day’s best produce.
“It might take some time to get used to,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said at the site. “Together, we would like to develop this as the core market of Tokyo, and Japan, and make the Toyosu brand better day by day.”
The 83-year-old Tsukiji market had attracted tens of thousands of visitors each year to its warren of stalls laden with exotic species of fish and fresh sushi in a tourism boom key to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic plan.
But it had become dilapidated and unsanitary, city officials have said in planning the move to Toyosu, further away from central Tokyo, a relocation delayed many times since it was conceived 17 years ago.
Kimio Amano, a 45-year-old blue tuna seller, said he was concerned about the location.
“There are some customers who said they are not coming any longer because it is too far,” said Amano. “Let’s see what happens.”
More than 80 percent of Tsukiji fish traders oppose the move, a survey by a group fighting the relocation showed.
Demolition work is due to start on Thursday at Tsukiji, but a group of fishmongers protesting the move to Toyosu forced their way back in.
In 2016, toxic substances were found in soil and groundwater at Toyosu, once home to a gas plant, prompting Tokyo to spend an extra ¥3.8 billion ($34 million) to dig hundreds of wells to pump out groundwater.
In July, Koike declared the site safe after experts signed off on additional clean-up measures, but some traders remain skeptical.
The old site will provide temporary parking for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before becoming a tourist center.


Japan’s ‘Uncle Olympics’ fan dies just short of 2020 Games

Naotoshi Yamada, above, was planning to attend the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. (Reuters/File)
Updated 18 March 2019
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Japan’s ‘Uncle Olympics’ fan dies just short of 2020 Games

  • The man attended all summer games since 1964
  • He often wore a golden hat when he attended the games

TOKYO: A Japanese Olympic mega-fan who attended every summer games since Tokyo in 1964 has died, just over a year before his home city was to host its second Olympics.
Tokyo businessman Naotoshi Yamada, 92, who died on March 9 from heart failure, was a national celebrity in his own right with his repeated, gleeful appearances in Olympic stands.
“Uncle Olympics,” as he came to be known, was an omnipresent fixture for Japanese TV watchers cheering on the Japan team at the “Greatest Show On Earth.”
Often sporting a gold top hat, kimono, and a beaming smile, Yamada also became a darling of the international media.
“After 92 years of his life spent cheering, Naotoshi Yamada, international Olympic cheerleader, was called to eternal rest on March 9, 2019,” said his web site, managed by a firm he founded.
Born in 1926, Yamada built a successful wire rope manufacturing business, and also expanded his portfolio to include the hotel and real estate sectors.
But away from work, his passion was for sport, particularly the Olympics.
He did not miss a summer games since 1964, taking in Mexico City, Munich, Montreal, Moscow, Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro.
For good measure, he also attended the winter games when it rolled into Nagano in 1998, and told local media of his strong desire to attend the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Yamada saw the first Tokyo Olympics when he was 38.
But his passion was truly ignited during the 1968 Mexico City Games, according to his website.
He donned a kimono and a sombrero hat and loudly cheered for a Mexican 5000-meter runner, mistaking him for a Japanese athlete.
Local spectators embraced the scene and loudly cheered for Japanese athletes in return, leading to an electrifying show of support that went beyond nationality, his website said.
“He saw the awesome power of cheering, and was mesmerised by it ever since,” it said.