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The rasp of tuna saws, the whirr of electric carts and the patter of the fishmongers — on Saturday they will all fall silent, as Tokyo’s legendary Tsukiji fish market closes for the final time.

ATTENTION: This Image is part of a PHOTO SET Mandatory Credit: Photo by FRANCK ROBICHON/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9899123e) Frozen tuna are carried after been auctioned at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, Japan, 02 March 2018 (issued 28 September 2018). The inner market of Tsukiji, considerate to be the biggest fish market of the world, will close to the public on 29 September before closing permanently on 06 October after 83 years of operation at its actual location to move to new facilities in Toyosu. Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, Japan - 02 Mar 2018
Frozen tuna are carried after been auctioned at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market. © Franck Robichon/EPA

By the end of the following week, the market known as “Japan’s Kitchen” will be up and running again at its new location, an austere concrete hangar located 2km across the bay at Toyosu.

Tsukiji is a symbol of the global food trade, the home of Japanese cuisine, and is one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist attractions. Its gritty, shitamachi (downtown) atmosphere exemplifies an older Tokyo that is gradually disappearing in favour of glittering high-rise towers.

A wholesaler washes a tuna at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. After more than 80 years, on Oct. 6, Tokyo's iconic Tsukiji fish market will close and relocate to a new site at Toyosu Market, scheduled to open on Oct. 11. Most businesses are set to make the move but many shops and restaurants surrounding Tsukiji Market will remain at their current location. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
A wholesaler washes a tuna at Tsukiji fish market. © Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Losing the market — and the abdication of Emperor Akihito next year — has prompted a moment of introspection and nostalgia in a nation that is normally quick to embrace the new.

“Tsukiji is closely attuned to the subtleties of Japanese food culture and to the representations of national cultural identity that cloak cuisine,” wrote the Harvard anthropologist Theodore Bestor in the introduction to his 2004 book, which helped add to Tsukiji’s fame.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JANUARY 05: A sushi chef, center right, holds a section of tuna at a Sushi Zanmai sushi restaurant, operated by Kiyomura K.K., after the year's first auction at Tsukiji Market on January 5, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan. Kiyomura K.K., which operates the Sushi Zanmai sushi restaurant chain, bid the highest priced tuna weighing 200 kilogram (441 pound) for 14 million yen ($117,306) at the year's first auction. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
A sushi chef holds a section of tuna after an auction at Tsukiji fish market. © Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty

“But this is also the market that drives the global fishing industry,” Mr Bestor wrote. “From sea urchin divers in Maine to shrimp farmers in Thailand, from Japanese longliners in the Indian Ocean to Croatian tuna ranchers in the Adriatic.”

Fish and seafood are seen on display in the outer part of the Tsukiji fish market, the Jogai Shijo, in Tokyo January 4, 2015. The famous Tsukiji wholesale fish and seafood market, is scheduled to leave its fabled 80-year-old halls to move into bigger, more modern facilities next year ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The outer part of the market, the Jogai Shijo, that caters to the public will stay in its old place, but critics wonder about its chances for survival without the world's biggest fish trading place at its doorsteps. Picture taken January 4, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Peter (JAPAN - Tags: ANIMALS BUSINESS FOOD SOCIETY) - GM1EB161D1R01
Fish and seafood on display in the outer part of the Tsukiji fish market, the Jogai Shijo.

Opened in 1935, the ramshackle market processes thousands of tonnes of fish from around the world every day, before shipping them out to the world’s most demanding sushi chefs.

Japanese dock hands at the Tokyo Central Fish Market load crates of frozen whale meal on trucks, after the whaling ship Banshu-Maru docked in Tokyo on Feb. 12, 1947. The ship is one of the first Japanese whaling fleet operating in the Antarctic area, to return with whale meat for the people of Japan. (AP Photo/U.S. Army Signal Corps, Dargis)
Japanese dock hands at the fish market load crates of frozen whale meal in 1947. © AP
ATTENTION: This Image is part of a PHOTO SET Mandatory Credit: Photo by FRANCK ROBICHON/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9899123i) A young man carries a case at the live fish area of the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, Japan, 02 March 2018 (issued 28 September 2018). The inner market of Tsukiji, considerate to be the biggest fish market of the world, will close to the public on 29 September before closing permanently on 06 October after 83 years of operation at its actual location to move to new facilities in Toyosu. Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, Japan - 02 Mar 2018
A young man carries a case at the live fish area of the Tsukiji fish market. © Franck Robichon/EPA

Its unique structure — seven central wholesalers sell to an array of specialists, who in turn prepare the fish for restaurants and shops — made it a theatre of seafood.

Jet-lagged tourists would queue to watch the early morning tuna auction before a sushi breakfast.

A customer, left, sits as a chef works in a sushi restaurant at Tsukiji Outer Market in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. After more than 80 years, on Oct. 6, Tokyo's iconic Tsukiji fish market will close and relocate to a new site at Toyosu Market, scheduled to open on Oct. 11. Most businesses are set to make the move but many shops and restaurants surrounding Tsukiji Market will remain at their current location. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
A customer, left, sits as a chef works in a sushi restaurant at Tsukiji market. © Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

The inner wholesale market supported an outer market of restaurants and shops. They will stay behind in Tsukiji when the wholesalers move to Toyosu, leaving tourists the choice of visiting one, both or neither.

Women take pictures of themselves as they hold seafood in the outer part of the Tsukiji fish market, the Jogai Shijo, in Tokyo January 4, 2015. The famous Tsukiji wholesale fish and seafood market, is scheduled to leave its fabled 80-year-old halls to move into bigger, more modern facilities next year ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The outer part of the market, the Jogai Shijo, that caters to the public will stay in its old place, but critics wonder about its chances for survival without the world's biggest fish trading place at its doorsteps. Picture taken January 4, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Peter (JAPAN - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD SOCIETY) - GM1EB161C1G01
Women take pictures of themselves as they hold seafood in the outer part of the Tsukiji fish market.

Fish consumption in Japan is falling as the population ages and the young choose to eat more meat, but Tokyo remains the gourmet capital of the world, with twice the Michelin stars of any other city.

The new Toyosu site may never achieve the Tsukiji mystique. But some things will never change. As Hiroyasu Ito, chair of the market association, points out: “It’s going to be us working there. That humanity isn’t going to disappear. We’ll be just the same.”

A man walks past a seafood restaurant at Tsukiji Outer Market in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. After more than 80 years, on Oct. 6, Tokyo's iconic Tsukiji fish market will close and relocate to a new site at Toyosu Market, scheduled to open on Oct. 11. Most businesses are set to make the move but many shops and restaurants surrounding Tsukiji Market will remain at their current location. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
A man walks past a seafood restaurant at Tsukiji market. © Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

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