Last updated Thursday, February 23, 2017 1:10 pm GMT+8

Thursday January 5, 2017
12:09 PM GMT+8

UPDATED:
January 05, 2017
09:22 PM GMT+8

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TOKYO, Jan 5 — Japan’s self-styled “Tuna King” has done it again — paying more than US$600,000 for a single fish.

Sushi entrepreneur Kiyoshi Kimura paid top price at the first auction of the new year at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market today, bagging a prized bluefin tuna for an eye-watering 74.2 million yen (RM2.8 million).

Kiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura (centre), who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, poses with a 212 kg (467 lbs) bluefin tuna at his sushi restaurant outside Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo January 5, 2017.— Reuters picKiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura (centre), who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, poses with a 212 kg (467 lbs) bluefin tuna at his sushi restaurant outside Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo January 5, 2017.— Reuters pic

The head of the Sushizanmai chain is now the proud — if temporary — owner of a 212-kilogramme (467-pound) fish.

At that price a single piece of fatty tuna sushi would cost roughly US$85, or 25 times the US$3.4 that Kimura charges for the product at his 51 stores across Japan.

“I feel it was a bit expensive, but I am happy that I was able to successfully win at auction a tuna of good shape and size,” Kimura said.

In the Gallery


  • Wholesalers check the quality of fresh tuna displayed at the Tsukiji fish market before the New Year's auction in Tokyo January 5, 2017.— Reuters pic

  • Wholesalers check the quality of fresh tuna displayed at the Tsukiji fish market before the New Year's auction in Tokyo January 5, 2017.— Reuters pic

  • A wholesaler checks the quality of fresh tuna displayed at the Tsukiji fish market before the New Year's auction in Tokyo January 5, 2017.— Reuters pic

  • An auctioneer (right) raises his hand as he starts the New Year's auction of the frozen tuna while wholesalers check the quality of frozen tuna displayed at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo January 5, 2017.— Reuters pic

  • Wholesalers check the quality of fresh tuna displayed at the Tsukiji fish market before the New Year's auction in Tokyo January 5, 2017.— Reuters pic

  • Kiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura (right), who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, is surrounded by media as he speaks next to a 212 kg (467 lbs) bluefin tuna at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo January 5, 2017.— Reuters pic

  • Kiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura (centre), who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, poses with a 212 kg (467 lbs) bluefin tuna at his sushi restaurant outside Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo January 5, 2017.— Reuters pic

Kimura has built his successful chain into a national brand by paying big money at Tsukiji’s first auction every year — he has now won for six straight years — essentially using the event for publicity.

He paid a record US$1.8 million for a bluefin — a threatened species — at the New Year auction in 2013, outbidding a rival bidder from Hong Kong.

Last year, he faced no formidable rival and paid a bargain US$117,000 for a 200-kilogramme tuna.

The prices may seem enormous, but Kimura makes sure to get the most out of his money.

Every year, the boisterous auction, which takes place in the small hours, makes national headlines.

Today, Kimura made the rounds of Japan’s major networks, telling viewers the tuna will be cut and distributed among his restaurants.

The 2017 auction could be the last at Tsukiji, the world’s largest fish market.

It was originally supposed to move to a new location in November, but the plan was put on hold until at least late this year over concerns about toxic contamination at the new site.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said in November that the move could even be delayed until the “spring of 2018” depending on results of health and environmental tests.

But she also held out the possibility of scrapping the relocation altogether. — AFP

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