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Osaka's iconic fugu puffer fish lantern removed ahead of restaurant closure

Fugu restaurant Zuboraya's paper lantern sign is seen being lowered from the business in the small hours of Sept. 3, 2020, in Naniwa Ward, Osaka. (Mainichi/Shuntaro Sawa)

OSAKA -- The huge, iconic puffer fish-shaped paper lantern that served as both a symbol for the Shinsekai main branch of shuttering Osaka fugu restaurant Zuboraya and the western Japan city as a whole was taken down from the eatery by cranes in the dawn hours of Sept. 3.

    The restaurant, in the city's Naniwa Ward, will officially close down on Sept. 15. Due to reasons including that the lantern exceeded limits on how far out an item can project into the road from a building, the Osaka Municipal Government sought its removal, and it appears to have been taken down as part of preparations to close the business.

    Fugu restaurant Zuboraya's paper lantern is seen with the Tsutenkaku Tower in the skies behind it, in Naniwa Ward, Osaka, on Aug. 6, 2020. (Mainichi/Yoshiyuki Hirakawa)

    Workers used a crane truck to prize the hanging lantern, which measures 5 meters long, 3.5 meters high and 3 meters wide. It was then loaded onto the truck and transported to a warehouse in the city of Osaka.

    A banner hung up at the entrance to the restaurant read, "Thank you for your love over these many years. Please take care of yourselves, everyone. Goodbye, and see you again!" A man in his 60s who manages a nearby izakaya Japanese pub said, "It was a symbol of Shinsekai, so it's sad to see it go."

    Zuboraya opened in 1920. Due to the effects of the coronavirus, it closed temporarily in April, but it was later decided it would close without opening again. The eatery's paper lantern became adored as a tourist attraction, and there has been much attention given to the fate of the huge puffer fish after the restaurant closes. Nearby leisure facility Spa World has indicated it would accept the lantern, among others, and there are many in the local community calling for it to be preserved.

    Fugu restaurant Zuboraya is seen in Osaka's Naniwa Ward in 1951. (Mainichi)

    (Japanese original by Shuntaro Sawa, Osaka City News Department)

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