A 467-Pound Bluefin Tuna Just Sold for $275,000 at Tokyo’s Fish Market Ceremonial New Year’s Auction

It looks like six-figure fish is back on the menu in Japan.

A gigantic bluefin tuna sold for $275,000 (¥36 million) in the ceremonial first auction of the new year at Tokyo’s Toyosu fish market on January 5, bucking a recent downward trend that was caused by the pandemic, as reported by Bloomberg.

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The prized bluefin, which was caught off Oma in northern Aomori prefecture, tipped the scales at a hefty 467 pounds. For comparison’s sake, the 459-pound bluefin tuna at last year’s event sold for $202,000. In 2020, meanwhile, a 600-pounder hammered down for $1.8 million. The auction record was set in 2019, when a bluefin sold for a staggering $3.1 million.

Oma’s bluefin tuna, nicknamed “black diamonds” on account of their high value, are routinely snapped up by the country’s top chefs. For several years, Kiyoshi Kimura, the president of the Japanese sushi chain Sushi Zanmai, has ruled over the first tuna auction of the new year. This year, however, Hiroshi Onodera, owner of the luxe Sushi Ginza Onodera chain, has taken home the prized bluefin. The winning tuna will be cut and served at an Onodera restaurant in Tokyo’s shopping district of Omotesando.

Sushi chefs look at a bluefin tuna - which was purchased earlier in the day for over 270,000 USD at the first tuna auction of the New Year - after it was unloaded outside the Sushi Ginza Onodera main store in Omotesando in Tokyo on January 5, 2023. - Michelin-starred sushi restaurant Onodera Group and Japanese wholesaler Yamayuki forked out 273,000 USD for the 212-kilo bluefin tuna in the auction at Tokyo's Toyosu fish market early morning on January 5. (Photo by Richard A. Brooks / AFP) (Photo by RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)
Sushi chefs look at a bluefin tuna - which was purchased earlier in the day for over 270,000 USD at the first tuna auction of the New Year - after it was unloaded outside the Sushi Ginza Onodera main store in Omotesando in Tokyo on January 5, 2023. - Michelin-starred sushi restaurant Onodera Group and Japanese wholesaler Yamayuki forked out 273,000 USD for the 212-kilo bluefin tuna in the auction at Tokyo's Toyosu fish market early morning on January 5. (Photo by Richard A. Brooks / AFP) (Photo by RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)

Although prices in the annual auction do tend to fluctuate widely, this year’s gain could signal the return of dining out in the city. Japan’s lengthy lockdowns have wreaked havoc on the restaurant industry. Even the event itself was forced to change during the pandemic. With the easing of restrictions, however, things appear to be picking up.

Whether or not bluefin ever hits $3 million again remains to be seen. The pandemic is by no means over, and there have also been questions raised in recent years about the sustainability aspect of fishing for species such as bluefin tuna. The number of tuna continues to drop as the global demand for the delicacy grows.

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