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Tsukiji aims to transplant brand

Publication Date : 18-05-2014


Officials of the Tokyo metropolitan government are wondering about how to shift the brand image of Tsukiji market when the iconic tourist spot is relocated to Toyosu district in Koto Ward two years from now.

The project to relocate Tsukiji market in Chuo Ward, which has been popular among a large number of foreign tourists, entered a full-fledged stage this spring.

The Tsukiji market opened in 1935. In 2012, the wholesale market handled about 500,000 tonnes of fishery products and the number of fish varieties traded there from Japan and abroad was about 480. Both these figures make the market top class on a worldwide basis.

The new wholesale market will be built on the former site of a Tokyo Gas Co. plant about 2.3 kilometres southeast of the current Tsukiji market.

The total cost of the new market will exceed 500 billion yen US$5 billion). That amount is more than three times the about 157 billion yen used for construction of the Tokyo metropolitan government office building, and the same as the construction cost of Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Hyogo Prefecture connecting Honshu and Awajishima island.

To shift the world-famous brand image to the new Toyosu market, metropolitan government officials began in 2012 a public relations strategy so that people know of the plan to relocate the wholesale market.

Masafumi Makimura, 64, is the producer of the strategy. He also worked as the chief producer of the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi Prefecture and has engaged in many other large projects.

“Tsukiji includes the essence of the culture in Edo period, such as ‘iki’ sophistication and ‘inase’ stylishness,” Makimura said.

What is the attractiveness of the Tsukiji market? Makimura said he still cannot forget the scenes he saw about 40 years ago at the market. Professional brokers were making deals in a very tense atmosphere.

“Now, the tense atmosphere between sellers and buyers has not changed,” he said. It is a source of attractiveness peculiar to the Tsukiji market.

Masafumi Makimura in the Tsukiji district in Chuo Ward, Tokyo
The intense atmosphere is created by the proximity of sellers and buyers, as the Tsukiji market occupies a compact 23 hectares. The metropolitan government considers this too small and officially decided in 2001 to relocate the wholesale market to Toyosu.

The size of the planned new market in Toyosu will be about 41 hectares, which is 80 per cent larger than the current market.

Some people working in the wholesale market voice concern that the larger area may dilute the intense atmosphere and, as a result, positive aspects of the Tsukiji Market may be lost.

People engaging in the project to build the new market in Toyosu aim to utilize the larger area to attract visitors. The new wholesale market building will accommodate about 140 restaurants and specialty goods shops for tourists. The people expect that the new market will lure 4.2 million visitors annually.

The metropolitan government also plans to make the new Toyosu market a pillar of tourism ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Makimura and his colleagues are planning events and other attractions to create fans of Toyosu before the new market opens.

At the site where the new market is scheduled to be built, pollutants in densities greatly exceeding environmentally safe limits, such as benzene, which can cause cancer, were detected in the soil.

As work to improve soil conditions is necessary, the construction period has been significantly delayed. Work to improve soil conditions was anticipated to take nearly three years, and the metropolitan government aims to finish the activity by the end of this summer.

In addition, a surge in construction materials prices in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake caused difficulty for the construction of the new market. It is still not officially decided when the Toyosu market will open.


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