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Tsukiji market's last days: Closing intermediate wholesale shops

Yasutaka Ariga, center, the 53-year-old owner of the intermediate wholesale shop "Ariga," chats after finishing his work at Tsukiji market in Tokyo's Chuo Ward on Sept. 6, 2018. (Mainichi/Naoki Watanabe)

TOKYO -- Early one recent afternoon on the intermediate wholesale floor of the Tsukiji market, which stood calm following the day's transactions, a group of men chatted.

"We won't be able to ride motorcycles into the new market like this when we move," one of them mused. The men, who work at the intermediate wholesale shop "Ariga," are set to move to different shops when the Tsukiji market is relocated to the Toyosu area of the capital.

Ariga's owner Yasutaka Ariga, 53, sat down on a shelf that had been covered with delicacies only shortly before. The shop was founded by his grandfather. He took it over from his father and has operated it with two employees. However, he decided to close it down in line with the relocation.

"The cost of moving is high. I would suffer from debt even if I managed to move," he said.

Declining sales, more deals bypassing the market and the lack of a successor contributed to his decision. A business next to the wholesale store, and another one beside that have also closed down. Ariga and his employees will work at different intermediate wholesale shops at the Toyosu market.

"I don't feel sad," Ariga muttered, "But, it's a nice market here."

(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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