Every year, food industry heavyweights gather at Tokyo’s legendary Tsukiji fish market to participate in one of the country’s most distinguished holiday traditions.

In Japan, making the winning bid on the first fish auction of the year, always a prize catch, means serious bragging rights for buyers who are locked in a stiff competition to feed Japan’s insatiable appetite for fresh fish.

But buying the first fish of the year can also also good standing with the sushi gods who, according to the superstition of goshugi soba, which translates roughly to “congratulatory price,” or “paying way too much.” In fact, paying exorbitant prices is customary on Tsukiji’s big day.

Needless to say, this unique blend of macho competition and superstitious overpaying leads to all kinds of piscine drama, which is exactly what happened earlier this week at Tsukiji market.

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