A giant bluefin tuna was sold for 20.84 million yen ($202,000) on Tuesday in the ceremonial first auction of the year at Tokyo’s Toyosu fish market, a price representing just a 10th of last year’s bid.
The 208.4-kilogram (459 pounds) tuna, caught off Oma in northern Japan, was sold for 100,000 yen per kilogram, according to Masahiro Miura, an official at the Tokyo market. The drop reflects a slump in demand as the coronavirus pandemic forced people to refrain from eating out and as authorities ask restaurants in some urban areas to close early.
The auction also comes at a time when a state of emergency is being considered for Tokyo and surrounding areas as daily virus cases hover at record highs.
Japanese wholesaler Yamayuki won the auction, the Nikkei newspaper reported earlier. The price for the closely watched bluefin New Year auction had been soaring in recent years amid intensifying competition. Kiyomura Corp., which runs the Sushizanmai restaurant chain across Japan, paid a record 333.6 million yen in 2019 and 193.2 million yen last year. The tuna this year is being cut and will be served at the sushi restaurant Ginza Onodera.