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Tsukiji market's last days: Gliding into the past on rusty rails

Old rails repurposed as barriers are seen in Tsukiji market in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, on Sept. 6, 2018. (Mainichi/Naoki Watanabe)

TOKYO -- Along a road inside Tsukiji market stands a long line of iron barriers, their yellow paint flaking away in a slow and losing battle against rust.

Once upon a time, a 1.1-kilometer rail spur extending from a station in Tokyo's Shiodome district carried freight cars loaded with fish and vegetables into the heart of the market. The line was in service for 52 years before being abandoned in 1987, its relevance dimmed by the growing domination of transport trucks.

"The achievements of the market line are immortal," said the head of the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market when the rail spur was taken out of service.

Those yellow-painted iron barriers are one of the old spur's last traces. Atsushi Takahashi, a Tokyo Metropolitan Government staffer then in charge of market facilities, decided to make the barriers from the line's rails. In whatever form they take, the stout iron rails will soon pass into history. They've done a "great job," said Takahashi.

(Japanese original by Kentaro Mori, 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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