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Tsukiji market's last days: A hearty greeting from a broker's counter

Chisae Washizawa works at a pay desk with a loud voice at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, on Aug. 28, 2018. (Mainichi/Naoki Watanabe)

"Thanks!" said 69-year-old Chisae Washizawa, who has handled customer accounts at a broker's outlet at the Tsukiji fish market for 41 years.

Eight sauries, six ark shells ... She scrawls down the numbers and names of marine products provided by a seller on an invoice, and her nimble fingers quickly add up the amount on an abacus. She works on 300 invoices a day. "This job comes naturally to me," she says. "I don't need to try to be genteel, as my customers are all gruff men."

At a broker's outlet, the person working at the counter usually sits on a small wooden box at the back. However, there are several such workers in this spacious and crowded outlet, each with their own small counter. Washizawa, who has her counter at the front, is the face of the shop.

Although shops will likely have new counter boxes when they move to the new Toyosu market, Washizawa is taking her old desk with her. "I love Tsukiji so much. I don't want to move but I have to do," she said.

(Japanese original by Akiyo Ichikawa, City News Department)

* This series introduces scenes from the last days of the Tsukiji market in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, which is scheduled to end 83 years of history when it closes for relocation to the new Toyosu site in the capital's Koto Ward on Oct. 6, 2018.

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