It is expected that a mass exodus of tens of thousands of rats will be unleashed in Japan as the world's largest fish market closes.
Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market is also a big tourist magnet for its pre-dawn tuna auctions, some 900 companies that handle 480 types of seafood worth $ 14 million daily, as well as 270 types of fruits and vegetables.
But the huge market will close after 83 years and will move over a period of five days to a new facility in Toyosu, approximately 1.4 miles away (2.3 km) on the waterfront.
The move is unprecedented and you will see thousands of trucks and forklifts participate in the move, with tons of waste produced in the process, which is heaven for the hairy rats that run through all the sewers of the city.
Fishmongers review bluefin tuna before the first auction of the new year at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, which will close after 83 years
A rat near the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, which will soon close after 83 years, is expected to unleash a mass exodus of tens of thousands of rodents
The Tsukiji fish market, the world's largest fish market, has long been a tourist magnet for its tuna auctions before dawn
Tatsuo Yabe, a rat expert in the city, says the 23-hectare market near the Ginza district of Tokyo is home to "not thousands, but tens of thousands" of rats, attracted to the fish and market maze of sewers.
Authorities say the operation must be ruthless, thorough and silent, with a unit of highly trained Japanese agents to launch a steel ring to block any escape from the vast battlefield.
Despite being vastly outnumbered, the commander-in-chief of the unit relies on total victory against the enemy army, which is expected to run loose when the world-famous Tsukiji fish market closes next month.
A Tokyo government official who commands the operation against the Tsukiji rat told AFP: "They are likely to start moving en masse once they notice something unusual … The week after the market close on October 10 will be the main battle.
Some 900 companies handle 480 types of seafood worth $ 14 million daily, as well as 270 types of fruits and vegetables in the famous market.
Pest control workers will use hundreds of kilos of poison as part of their extermination plan
Tokyo officials, aided by veteran rat exterminators, will block outlets from pipes and sewers and plug holes in fences with corrugated sheets to address the rat problem.
To prevent a mass exodus from Tsukiji, Tokyo officials, aided by veteran rat exterminators, are busy blocking the outlets of pipes and sewers and plugging holes in fences with corrugated sheets.
Before breaking down the market, they will raise an impregnable 10-foot steel wall around the site and move slowly across the perimeter to "corner and trap". to the rodents, said the operation commander, who asked not to be identified.
In addition, they will install 40,000 adhesive sheets to trap rodents, along with traps and use 47 (300 kilograms) of rat poison.
Restaurants and bar managers in the area surrounding the market are on red alert for a possible influx of unwanted rodent visitors.
A 56-year-old restaurant in Ginza, one of Tokyo's finest food and beverage neighborhoods, a stone's throw from the market, said: "It's scary, we heard rats digging when an old theater building was torn down in this neighborhood.
Move the unprecedented market and you will see thousands of trucks and forklifts participate, creating tons of waste in the process – unleashing rats from all city sewers
The Japanese Tsukiji market will be moved over a period of five days to a new facility in Toyosu, approximately 1.4 miles away (2.3 km) on the seafront.
& # 39; Some of our neighbors are even feeding stray cats now. This is how we are on the defensive. "
The Ginza Street Association, which brings together local businesses, even set up a special working group against rats last year.
Kazuya Takahashi of the exterminator of Tokyo GP Corporation said: & # 39; We are calling them [clients] Stay alert and do not even keep the doors open because sewer rats can enter once the movement starts. "
Hiroyasu Ito, a veteran fish merchant as old as the Tsukiji market itself, has known Tsukiji since the days when buyers and sellers communicated by telegram.
Now president of the Association of wholesalers of seafood, Ito knows the problems of the venerable market.
The new and bright fish market of Toyosu has doors and blinds controlled by sensors and "air curtains". thrown from the roof that keep fresh air in and must keep dust, insects and rats out
Fish brokers at the Tsukiji fish market before its closure and relocation next month
He said: & # 39; We have many problems. Birds fly and many things, like rats, come and go freely.
"We've barely had any incidents of food poisoning in this market, and we're proud of that."
In recent decades, market players have made the greatest health efforts, with special inspectors wearing white jackets that control food safety every day.
The gigantic complex is located on reclaimed land almost twice as large as Tsukiji, and is fully air-conditioned and ready to welcome its new tenants as part of the new facilities of Toyosu, equipped with state-of-the-art cooling.
Masataka Miyake, a Tokyo official preparing for the new facility, said: "The biggest difference is that Toyosu is a closed market, so all purchases and sales will be made in this building.
"I hope that the new Toyosu brand will soon become a world-known name."
Originally planned in 2016, Tsukiji's relocation has been postponed several times, halted by revelations of heavy soil contamination in Toyosu, a former gas plant.
The doors and shutters of the new facility are controlled by sensors, and when they are open, the air is fired from the ceiling, like an invisible screen.
"The air curtain prevents cold air from escaping outside," Miyake added, and also avoids unwanted intruders, such as dust and insects, and rats.