Japan’s biggest fish market adds spa and 65 restaurants in bid to attract more visitors

Japan's biggest fish market adds spa and 65 restaurants in bid to attract more visitors

Japan’s biggest fish market has opened a long-awaited seafood restaurant and spa, in a bid to attact more visitors.

Toyosu Senkyaku Banrai includes a food court resembling a samurai-era street, lined with about 65 restaurants serving fresh catch from the market next door. 

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Together with visitors to the spa and hotel, Tokyo authorities to attract 2.6 million visitors annually.

“I’m confident that Tokyo residents and visitors from in and outside Japan will enjoy our diverse food culture as they savor fresh and high-quality food that only the fish market next door can serve,» Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said in a speech at an opening ceremony.

“I hope the inside and the outside together will further energize this neighborhood,» she added.

Guests attend the ribbon cutting ceremony of newly opened «Toyosu Senkyaku Banrai,» an Edo Period-themed hot spring complex on opening day at Toyosu Fish Market, Feb. 1, 2024AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

Visitors flooded in as soon as the doors opened on Thursday, many of them taking photos of the Edo-style restaurants and stalls, while others lined up outside stalls selling tuna sashimi on sticks and other seafood, or having an early lunch at an eel restaurant.

Where is the Toyosu market?

The new Toyosu market offers modern technology and careful safety screening of fish, including those from Fukushima. But it lacks the open-air, bustling atmosphere that Tsukiji, where the market used to be, had.

Toyosu is also less accessible from downtown Tokyo compared to Tsukiji, which is within walking distance of Ginza and whose outer market stalls and restaurants during lunchtime used to cater to office workers and tourists from around the world.

Toyosu saw the amount of seafood it handled drop to 310,000 tons in 2023 from about 400,000 tons before the relocation, in part because of dwindling catches and a growing move by retailers and restaurants to buy directly from suppliers.

Market officials and experts expect Toyosu Senkyaku Banrai (which means “thousands of customers, bustling business”) to continue to attract more visitors, especially from abroad. Some wholesalers recently invented new menus seeking to create further appeal.

The market opens behind schedule

Originally planned to open in 2019 before the Tokyo Olympics and along with the fish market’s relocation from Tsukiji, Toyosu’s outer section is about four years behind schedule due to planning delays and the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

The fish market’s relocation from Tsukiji, initially slated for 2016, was also postponed after the detection of toxic chemicals in the groundwater at the new site, which was formerly a gas plant.


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