Riverside Redevelopment to Showcase Japanese Cuisine; Park Your Flying Car at Former Tsukiji Market Site

Artistic conception of transportation hub incorporating land, sea and air functions

A new international exchange base will be created on a large plot of land owned by the Tokyo metropolitan government in a prime location in central Tokyo.

The major redevelopment project will be undertaken by a consortium led by Mitsui Fudosan Co., picked Friday by the metropolitan government. Utilizing the 19-hectare lot, the former site of the famed Tsukiji Market, the new facility is expected to be a center for staging sports and entertainment events and showcasing Japanese food culture, attracting tourists and highly skilled people from across the world. It is expected to contribute to enhancing Tokyo’s international competitiveness.

Japan, with an increasingly aging population and a low birth rate, has seen a significant drop in its global economic influence. Up to 1992, the nation was ranked No. 1 in the competitiveness ranking of the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development. But last year, Japan ranked only No. 35, its lowest ever, surpassed by such nations as Thailand at No. 30 and Indonesia at No. 34.

The metropolitan government therefore asked applicants to present plans for the project to bring to Tsukiji such functions as transmitting attractive new aspects of Tokyo and serving as a base for international exchanges, so the international competitiveness of Tokyo and Japan could be enhanced.

One of the pillars of the redevelopment project is to stimulate economic activities with a large-scale facility, which can accommodate about 50,000 people, where sports and other large-scale events will be held.

The nation’s sports industry was worth ¥13 trillion in 2019, according to the Development Bank of Japan, while the nation’s market for “live and entertainment” events, including music concerts and stage performances, was worth about ¥630 billion for the same year, according to PIA Research Institute. Both of these industries have seen remarkable growth.

Large-scale events generate significant economic ripple effects. It is estimated that the 2019 Rugby World Cup held in Japan generated such effects worth about ¥650 billion. Taylor Swift’s four days of concerts in Tokyo in February are believed to have generated about ¥34 billion. In light of this, there are high hopes for the Tsukiji redevelopment.

Another pillar is to create a town that builds upon the food culture inherited from the Tsukiji Market era, when the district was a bustling center of seafood and vegetable wholesaling. When the Japan Tourism Agency’s Consumption Trend Survey for Foreigners Visiting Japan for the October-December period in 2023 gave visitors a range possible responses to a question about what they had wanted to do in Japan, the one picked by the greatest number, at 35.2%, was “Eat Japanese food.”

The redevelopment project is planned to have bases to carry on the food culture of Tsukiji, in such forms as a food hall with connections to the Tsukiji Outer Market — a concentration of food-related retailers that still exists adjacent to the site and is crowded with foreign tourists — and a food lab that has food research functions, aiming to attract even more visitors.

To redevelop the area as a gateway to Tokyo, a “city of water,” and also as an international exchange center, a transportation base with links to widespread areas is planned to be built on the Sumida River, incorporating land, sea and air transportation functions.

The transportation aspects of the project include a new boat transport facility linked to a pier to be built by the metropolitan government. There will also be arrival and departure points for flying cars, with an eye on their practical future use. A waterfront subway station will be built to connect Tokyo Station and the waterfront area, and the development will also be served by a facility linked to the exit of the Harumi Route of the Metropolitan Expressway.