tokyosushi
President of sushi restaurant chain Sushi-Zanmai, Kiyoshi Kimura (R), displays a 278kg bluefin tuna at his main restaurant in Tokyo on January 5, 2019.
KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market was once known as the “Wall Street of fish.”

Every day, fishers, wholesalers, and the owners of Japan’s top sushi restaurants used to gather to buy and sell more than $21 million of the freshest fish in the world.

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In recent decades, the market unexpectedly became one of Japan’s top tourists attractions. Thousands came to try to get a glimpse of the market’s world-famous tuna auction, where a single tuna once sold for $1.76 million.

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Last October, the Tokyo government moved the market from its original location in central Tokyo to a new $5.42 billion site east called Toyosu Market.

The Toyosu Market has continued with the world-famous tuna auctions. Last week, Kiyoshi Kimura, who owns the Sushizanmai restaurant chain, paid $3.1 million for the first tuna sold in the new year, a 613-pound fish.

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Though Toyosu has improved refrigeration, earthquake resistance, and sanitation facilities, it isn’t the legendary Tsukiji Market.

I took a walk through before dawn at Tsukiji two years ago — when it was off-limits to tourists — to see what the iconic market was like in action.

Here’s what it was like:

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