The Toyosu market opens with traditional prayers for success on Oct. 11. Auctions of seafood, vegetables and fruit were held at the new facilities. (Tsubasa Setoguchi)

Lively bidding calls resounded at the newest incarnation of "Japan's kitchen" early Oct. 11 as the first auctions at the Toyosu fish market got under way.

The state-of-the-art facility, located in Tokyo's Koto Ward, opened for business at midnight after a costly two-year postponement.

Its predecessor, the aging Tsukiji market in Chuo Ward, formally closed Oct. 6 after 83 years in operation.

Bidding on tuna at the relocated market started at 5:30 a.m., and several hundred fish went under the proverbial hammer.

The room temperature in the auction hall was set to 14.5 degrees to keep the fish fresh. The floor is painted green to make it easier for prospective buyers to check the red flesh of the fish.

A small fire broke out on a turret truck around 2:50 a.m. but was extinguished about 30 minutes later, according to the Tokyo Fire Department. No one was injured.

Unlike the old market, the new buildings have a closed structure to ensure stable room temperature control and improved hygiene.

Bidders bumped up the prices as a gesture of celebration of the grand opening of the new market. A 214-kilogram tuna from Minmaya wharf in Aomori Prefecture fetched the highest price of 4.28 million yen ($38,000) among the tuna, while a 400-gram box of sea urchin meat fetched 200,000 yen.

Eager buyers from restaurants and fish retailers celebrated with their familiar dealers in the intermediate wholesale section, comprising about 490 stalls.

Banners reading "First Shipment" fluttered at the shopfronts as turret trucks went back and forth carrying the inaugural purchases.

"There are problems to be sorted out, but I'm excited that we are the first traders to start the history of the Toyosu market," said Hiroshi Utagawa, the third-generation owner of Daiyoshi, an intermediate wholesale business founded in 1940.

The Tokyo Metropolitan government spent 570 billion yen to build the facility, which sits on 40.7 hectares of land, making it about 1.7 times the size of the Tsukiji market.

A few buyers could be seen holding a map to navigate their way through the sprawling complex.

“It's going to be backbreaking until I get used to it,” said a sushi restaurant owner with a laugh.

A woman who works at the market and lives in Arakawa Ward said, “It used to take me 30 minutes to get to the Tsukiji market, but it took an hour today, and the train fee is also double.”

Sushi restaurants, along with other eateries and shops that were at Tsukiji market, have also moved to the new location. They will open to the public and tourists from Oct. 13.


The metropolitan government decided on relocation of the Tsukiji market in 2001.

In 2008, high concentrations of benzene, about 43,000 times the environmental safety standard, were detected at the site formerly occupied by a Tokyo Gas Co. factory.

After being elected governor of Tokyo in 2016, Yuriko Koike decided to postpone the relocation due to safety concerns.

Steps to decontaminate the site were not done properly, and benzene concentration levels remained high, pushing back the opening by two years.

Work to dismantle the Tsukiji market started Oct. 11. The area will be converted into a car depot by 2020 to transport athletes and coaches for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

(Naomi Nishimura, Noriyasu Nukui and Yuka Ariyoshi contributed to this article.)