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Tsukiji market's last days: Sunshine through the backbone of a dragon

A peaked roof is seen in Tsukiji market in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, on Aug. 30, 2018. (Mainichi/Naoki Watanabe)

TOKYO -- The steel beams supporting the long, curved triangular roof look like the backbone of a dragon. Underneath stand stalls of fish wholesaler arranged in the shape of a large fan, lying under gentle rays of sunshine coming through the skylights.

When the floor plan for the stalls was proposed 89 years ago by the then Tokyo city government, the association of some 1,300 middlemen mounted a stiff opposition, demanding that the shape of each stall be rectangular, not like the fan in the city plan. Stalls near the rivet of the fan are closer to the market entrance but smaller, while those near the outer edge are bigger but far from the door.

Some of the skylights were closed because certain middlemen insisted that the light was damaging to their merchandise.

The stalls for middlemen in the new Toyosu market are all rectangular. Recently, a middleman in his 70s looked up at the Tsukiji ceiling he has been working under for decades and said, "We need to say goodbye soon."

(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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