If you invited friends over and served them cuts from a $1.8 million Bluefin tuna, you'd surely be the envy of all of your dinner guests. But in Kiyoshi Kimura's case, that's practically a bargain fish—at least compared to last year. On Saturday, the owner of the Sushizanmai sushi chain paid the second highest price ever for the top Bluefin tuna at the famed first-of-the-year fish market auction in Tokyo, Japan. However, the $1.8 million selling price was still significantly less than the $3.1 million he forked over in 2019.
Of course, nearly $2 million on a single tuna is nothing to scoff at. And to be fair, these annual events are auctions, so the value depends on how many interested buyers emerge, as well as natural factors like the size and quality of the tunas. As a result, the price of the first tuna of the season—which is believed to bring good luck (and at the very least, always brings good publicity)—has fluctuated significantly over the years. Until 2019, the previous record had been $1.76 million set in 2013, and during the intervening years, these tunas sold in the six-figure range. In fact, in 2016, Kimura—who has been involved as a winning bidder most years over the past decade—paid a mere $117,000 for the tuna, though that fish weighed just 440 pounds.
The sale of this year's fish—which, at 608-pounds, was similar in size to last year's record setter—marks the second time the auction has taken place at the Toyosu fish market. Previously, the annual auction had taken place at the Tsukiji fish market, which opened in the 1920s, but that market was shut in 2018 (after many delays) to make room for construction for the 2020 Olympics. As for the man behind the fish, it was caught by Masahiko Yamamoto, who works out of the Oma port in Aomori Prefecture. "[It's] the dream of every fisherman to get the tuna with the highest price in the first auction," he said according to NHK News.
Meanwhile, if your dream is to eat the tuna with the highest price in the first auction, according to The Japan Times, Sushizanmai said the fish will be served at the chain's Tsukiji location, near the home of the previous fish market. No word on the price, but expect it to not be cheap.