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Tsukiji market's last days: History, energy, and a lot of fish in one small space

A turret truck lane is seen from the loft of a wholesaler's shop in Tsukiji market in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, on Aug. 30, 2018. (Mainichi/Naoki Watanabe)

TOKYO -- The wholesale floor at Tsukiji market has a certain buzz, a relentless energy that hums around the buying and selling of fish.

That energy has been flowing for a very long time, as signified by a narrow wooden staircase in Sakashu, a wholesaler that relocated to Tsukiji from the main Tokyo fish market's previous digs in the Nihonbashi district, now an enclave of upscale shoppers. Meanwhile small "turret truck" transport vehicles zip to and fro in front of the rows of wholesalers' shops.

These shops have upper rooms like lofts to boost the limited space. Some of them have elevators to carry heavy loads up and down. The loft above Sakashu is filled with cardboard boxes of packing material, while the employee locker room occupies a third-floor space.

The eye catches on one discolored spot on the shop's wall. It is said it marks the spot where an iron panel was once affixed, before being torn off to donate to the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. The market was requisitioned by the Allied occupation forces after Japan's defeat and returned later. The shop, in its last days before the big move to the new Toyosu market, retains the scars of Tsukiji's turbulent history.

(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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