Japan’s self-styled ‘Sushi King’ Kiyoshi Kimura paid a whopping $3.1 million for a rare (and endangered) giant bluefin tuna at auction at Tokyo’s new fish market in Toyosu on New Year’s Day.
Toyosu, the replacement for the city’s iconic Tsukiji held its first New Year’s Day auction and immediately set a new record for the sale of the fish.
Kimura, who owns a chain of sushi restaurants had his bid of 333.6 million yen accepted for the enormous 278-kilogramme (612-pound) fish. It is not unusual for giant fish to fetch eye-watering prices at auction, especially at the first auction on the first day of the year. The pre-dawn auction saw a media scrum as Japan’s news outlets jostled for position to cover the auction.
"The tuna looks so tasty because it's fat and (looks) very fresh. It is a good tuna. But I think I did too much," said Kimura.
Japan is the world’s biggest consumer of the bluefin tuna, which is known as ‘kuro maguro’ (black tuna) or as the ‘black diamond’ because of its scarcity. A cut from the tuna’s fatty underbelly known as “otoro” can be very expensive and is highly-prized amongst sushi connoisseurs.
The fish is endangered, however, and Japan draws much criticism from environmentalists for its continued practices of fishing for it.
This giant specimen was reportedly caught in the waters of Japan's Aomori prefecture and once sold at auction, ended up on the chopping board of Kimura’s sushi restaurant just outside Tsukiji, where Itamae used samurai sword-like knives to dismember the fish and transform it into sushi for their very lucky customers.