TOKYO – The first tuna auction of the year at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, the biggest wholesale fish market in the world, was held on Friday for the last time in its current location and fetched steep prices as per tradition, with a giant tuna sold for 36.45 million yen ($323,300).
The bluefin tuna, weighing 405 kilograms and sourced from the northern Aomori prefecture, was bought at a per kilo price of 90,000 yen by Yukitaka Yamaguchi, an intermediary for the wholesale fish merchant firm Yamayuki, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.
At a normal daily auction at Tsukiji market, a similar tuna would sell at less than 10,000 yen per kilo, but the prices jump in the first sale of the year, which helps the buying establishments get publicity in an event widely covered by Japanese media.
The all-time record stands at 155.4 million yen ($1.37 million), paid in 2013 by Kiyoshi Kimura, owner of a well known chain of sushi restaurants.
Kimura, who has made a habit of making the biggest bids in the New Year auction over the years, bought on Friday a bluefin tuna weighing 190 kilos for 30.4 million yen, at a staggering 160,000 yen per kilo.
The auction on Friday would be the last New Year auction held on the current premises of Tsukiji market, which was opened in 1935 in the central Chuo district on the banks of the Sumida River, but is scheduled to be relocated to Toyosu, a nearby artificial island in the bay, on Oct. 11.
The market’s transfer was approved in 2001, but was postponed on many occasions due to pollution concerns at the new site, which are currently being managed.