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"A penny for your thoughts"

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tuna-Licking Tourist Closes Down Tokyo Fish Market

Tokyo fishmongers in December 2008 temporarily banning all visitors as the result misbehaving tourists from one of the most popular tourist destinations in Tsukiji city, the world's largest seafood market -- their predawn tuna auctions. On Jan. 5, a premium bluefin tuna fetched 9.63 million yen(98,957.88 U.S. dollars), the highest in nearly a decade, no tourists were anywhere in sight. A drunken British tourist caught by a Japanese TV crew licked the head of a frozen tuna while two others, also caught on TV, rode on a trolley used by wholesalers. Fed up, the market decided to impose a ban on visitors to tuna auctions for its peak season at New Year's. The restriction was lifted on Jan. 19, despite some grumbling from the fishmongers. The most common complaint from auctioneers is tourists using flash cameras, which makes it difficult for them to read the finger signal code used for bidding. The market put up English signs saying "No Flash!" but that was widely ignored. After the ban was lifted, the market began distributing leaflets at the entrance of the tuna auction site in English, Chinese, Korean and Russian, as well as Japanese. Along with the no-flash warning, it tells visitors to stay within the observation area and leave promptly after the auctions, which open at 5. Today, Japan is the world's biggest consumer of seafood. The market handles 480 kinds of seafood, bringing around 40,000 buyers and sellers daily. The value of its seafood trade amounts to 1.8 billion yen ($20 million) per day on average, making it the heart of the national seafood distribution system and the biggest fish wholesale market in the world.

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