Bluefin tuna sold for $800,000 at auction

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This is the highest price paid for a fish at the annual sale since the start of the pandemic.

A massive bluefin tuna was sold at Tokyo's largest fish market for an astonishing 114.2 million yen, or $788,440, as reported by Bloomberg on Thursday. The first-day-of-business auction has become somewhat of a New Year's tradition in Japan. This year, the 220-kilogram fish was sold to seafood wholesaler Yamayuki and the sushi restaurant company Onodera Group.

"If we were going to do it, we wanted to win," said Yukitaka Yamaguchi, president of Yamayuki, to Bloomberg about bidding for the fish.

The price paid for the tuna was three times higher than the final amount of last year's fish and the fourth highest since records began in 1999, said Hiroki Matsushita, an official at the Toyosu fish market. The fish, caught off the coast of Aomori Prefecture, will be served at the Michelin-starred Onodera restaurant in Tokyo's Ginza district.

Onodera Group has been the highest bidder at the fish auction for the last four years, but this year they paid more than ever since the start of the pandemic. While nearly $800,000 is a high price for a fish, it is nowhere near what the sushi restaurant group Kiyomura paid in 2019 - an extraordinary $3.1 million.

The price offered this year may reflect Japan's recovery from the worst of the pandemic. COVID restrictions have been lifted and more local residents and tourists alike are filling restaurants across the country, noted Bloomberg. Visitor numbers have already returned to pre-pandemic levels, with over 2 million tourists entering Japan each of the last six months, according to the National Tourism Organization.

Now, those visitors seeking a bit of luck at the start of the year will likely head to Onodera, hoping to taste the bluefin tuna, said to be a lucky fish.

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