After years of delays, Tokyo's 80-year-old Tsukiji fish market is closing on Saturday to move to a more modern facility on reclaimed industrial land in Tokyo Bay. The new $5 billion facility at Toyosu will open on Oct. 11, over the objections of many working in Tsukiji who contend the new site is contaminated, inconvenient, and unsafe, the AP reports. "What's wrong with Tsukiji? Tsukiji for another hundred years!" hundreds of workers chanted during a recent protest. Much of the angst over the move has to do with closing down a beloved local institution. A labyrinth of quaint sushi stalls and shops selling everything from knives to ice cream encircle the huge wholesale market famous for its predawn haggling over deep-frozen tuna and other harvests from the sea.
Tsukiji has been supplying Tokyo's fancy restaurants and everyday supermarkets since 1935. Its origins date back nearly a century. Around 40,000 people visit the market each day, and opponents of the move fear tourists will be less likely to visit out-of-the-way Toyosu, which resembles a huge, modern factory. Makoto Nakazawa, 54, who has worked in Tsukiji for more than 30 years, said he dislikes the new space and is angry over the closure of a market that has "fed Tokyo for years." Tsukiji is special, a place of unusual diversity in conformist Japan where misfits like avant-garde theater actors and convicts are accepted, Nakazawa says. "People who want us out want to redevelop this place. I can't imagine any other reason," he says. "There's obviously money to be made."
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