Photo/IllutrationTrucks and cars are stuck in a massive traffic jam on a slope leading to a parking lot at a wing of the Toyosu fish and seafood market early on Oct. 11. (Shiro Nishihata)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Traffic chaos reigned at Tokyo’s new Toyosu market on its official opening day of Oct. 11 as wholesalers and their customers encountered a raft of problems with parking and orientation.

Roads leading to the market in the capital’s Koto Ward were gridlocked from dawn as cries of the tuna auction rang out when bidding for fish and seafood kicked off.

Trucks and cars were caught up in a massive traffic jam on a slope approaching a parking lot at one wing of the market. Some vehicles could not even reach the lot even after crawling along at a snail’s pace for about two hours.

“It’s just outrageous,” said a worker from a delivery company transporting fish and seafood products.

Some customers gave up on the idea of using the parking lot at the market and parked their vehicles on the streets near the market.

The havoc appeared to have been wreaked by a series of trucks that went to the wrong parts of the market to deliver their loads, as well as other factors, according to a Tokyo metropolitan government official.

The Tokyo metropolitan government spent about 570 billion yen ($5.07 billion) to build the facility as the replacement for Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market, which brought the curtain down on its 83-year history on Oct. 6.

Toyosu market occupies a 40-hectare site, 1.7 times larger than Tsukiji market, and boasts facilities designed to regulate the internal temperature and keep it hygienic with an enhanced sanitary management system.

However, Toyosu is far from the center of Tokyo compared with Tsukiji, making it inconvenient for many.

In addition, the fish and seafood market is across the road from the separate fruit and vegetables market, meaning it takes time for buyers to move between the two facilities.

The legacy of the “Tsukiji brand” could be difficult to maintain at a facility that may be shunned by customers.

Yoshiharu Toyama, 57, the owner-chef of Otsuka Takase, a sushi restaurant in central Tokyo, took an indirect route to the new market to avoid traffic jams.

He had visited the new site ahead of the opening day, ruminating about how he would go between his regular shops.

Despite such preparation, he became confused by the unfamiliar facility on the opening day with so many people going back and forth.

“I got totally lost in the market and had no idea where I stood,” Toyama complained.

After going around shops in both the fish and seafood market and the fruit and vegetables market, Toyama finally got back to his restaurant more than an hour later than when he used to returning from Tsukiji.

The current confusion at the market has made running lunchtime operations at his restaurant “impossible” throughout this week, Toyama said.

Many customers visiting intermediate wholesaler Tsukiji Kushiya to buy domestic “matsutake” mushrooms, wasabi and other goods also have seafood items on their shopping lists.

“Toyosu market is inconvenient for customers to go around different shops to purchase various products,” said Masahiro Sugimoto, 58, head of the shop, on its inaugural day at the new venue.

At around 10:30 a.m., water gushed from a drainage ditch in front of another intermediate wholesaler’s shop on the first floor of the fish market where a worker was washing an electric saw for cutting frozen tuna. The flood was caused by a fine metal net under the drain getting clogged with pieces of fish.

While removing the waste, the worker lamented on his possible future routine, saying, “How can I do such a task every single day?”

DEMOLITION BEGINS AT TSUKIJI

Eaves at a parking lot and other debris were removed during demolition work that began at Tsukiji market in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward on Oct. 11.

The Kanjo Nigosen (Loop Road No. 2) route, connecting central Tokyo and Toyosu market, is scheduled to open early next month.

(This article was written by Noriyasu Nukui and Yuka Ariyoshi.)