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Tsukiji market's last days: The ad hoc charm of little market shops

A small shop on Tsukiji market's wholesale floor is seen in Tokyo's Chuo Ward on Aug. 30, 2018. (Mainichi/Naoki Watanabe)

TOKYO -- Tucked among Tsukiji market's wholesalers and fishmongers are five little shops doing a brisk business in less aquatic items -- snacks, breads, instant noodles, drinks and sports tabloids, all closely packed together.

Polystyrene boxes keep the soft drinks cool in their ice water baths, tempting parched market denizens in the summer months. Come winter, they are filled with cans and bottles of hot coffee, waiting to warm chilled fingertips. However, the shops' biggest seller is tobacco, the various brands stacked on shelves behind the storekeeper.

"Miss, cigarettes please!" "Yes, menthol as always." The quick exchanges are smooth and wonderful to watch, the salespeople able to remember the preferred flavors and brands of several hundred customers.

When they move into Toyosu market in October, the little shops will lose some of their ad hoc charm, the new shop spaces equipped with modern refrigerators and warmers.

(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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