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Last Updated: Friday, 28 March 2008, 19:35 GMT
Tokyo scales back fish tourists
Tsukiji fish market in Japan, 2007
Fish traders say tourists distract them from their work
Japan's celebrated Tsukiji fish market is cutting back on tourists because they are hindering the work of traders.

The Tokyo market has become a big draw for tourists, who can watch as the large tuna and other fish are sold off.

But camera flashes, which distract auctioneers, and some visitors touching the fish are causing problems, say market officials.

Tourists will only be able to watch the tuna auctions from a designated area and entry times are being restricted.

From 1 April, visitors will only be allowed to watch the auctions from 0500 to 0615.

"At a place that auctions several hundred tunas in a day, this is affecting our business," said Ihei Sugita, who deals with visitors to the market.

Between 20 and 30 people visit the market each day. Foreign visitors, said Mr Sugita, were inclined to touch and photograph fish they discovered had come from their home countries.

"We do feel bad to completely turn them down since they are visiting all the way from abroad, so that's why we are keeping this window of time that will affect us the least," Mr Sugita added.

Around $20m dollars of fish and other foodstuffs are bought and sold at the market on trading days.

The tuna auctions are a particular attraction as traders can been seen closely examining the fish with torches before bidding for the best catch.

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