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Iconic Osaka puffer fish restaurant to close September after century in business

Zuboraya's Shinsekai main branch, set to close in September, is pictured here in Osaka's Naniwa Ward on June 11, 2020. (Mainichi/Saori Moriguchi)

OSAKA -- A renowned puffer fish restaurant in business for 100 years and under temporary closure since April due to the novel coronavirus outbreak is now set to close for good in September, it has been learned.

According to the restaurant, Zuboraya, known for its large puffer-fish-shaped lantern that hangs above the shop, opened in 1920 as the "first puffer fish restaurant in Osaka." The view of the around 3-meter tall puffer fish lantern hanging from the third floor of the restaurant's Shinsekai main branch in Naniwa Ward, against the backdrop of the Tsutenkaku tower, was a familiar one in the western Japan city of Osaka.

Puffer fish hot pot is one of the restaurant's most popular dishes, but recently, sales had been down. With the spread of the novel coronavirus, both the Shinsekai main branch and the Dotonbori branch have been closed since April 8. Now, neither shop will reopen before they officially close for good on Sept. 15. No decision has yet been made as to what will happen to the stores or the lanterns.

"There are a range of reasons for why we're closing," said Zuboraya chairman Ryuji Matsuda, 72. "I apologize to all the people who have supported us."

A 46-year-old man who said that he frequented the Shinsekai main branch said, "When you think of Osaka, the puffer fish lantern is the first thing that comes to mind. It's sad to think that because of the novel coronavirus, such well-established restaurants can disappear."

(Japanese original by Manami Negishi and Saori Moriguchi, Osaka City News Department)

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