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Covid-19 pandemic leaves New Year’s tuna auction in Tokyo with no jaw-dropping bidding war & costly purchases

The auction, held every January at Tokyo’s main fish market, Toyosu, has been overshadowed by the raging coronavirus pandemic, which has slashed tuna prices, leaving the event without a showy bidding war for its delicious lots.

The priciest tuna went for just 10 percent of last year’s top catch at Tokyo’s biggest fish market, as restaurant owners hardly need to compete for the biggest fish, given that diners are being forced to stay at home.




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The most expensive fish of the day, a prized bluefin weighing 208 kilograms (459 pounds) that had been caught off the coast of the northern Aomori region, was sold for only 20.84 million yen ($202,000).

In 2020, a 276-kilogram bluefin sold at $1.8 million, marking the second-highest price on record. It was purchased by Kiyoshi Kimura, a sushi businessman known as the ‘Tuna King’. In 2019, he paid a record $3.1 million for a 278-kilogram fish.

Kimura said he had to demonstrate some restraint this year as the Covid-19 pandemic was having an enormous negative impact on restaurants and other businesses.




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“I didn’t go for the highest bid this year because this is the time for self-control. I didn’t think it was appropriate to go all festive this time,” Kimura told journalists.

This year, the most expensive tuna was bought jointly by a well-known wholesaler named Yukitaka Yamaguchi, a frequent TV guest who supplies major sushi restaurants, and one of Japan’s top food businesses, local media reported.

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