Curing Japan’s blues with bluefin

They say you can’t put a price on happiness. But Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Japan’s Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain, has given it a shot.

Kimura was the winning bidder for a 488-pound bluefin tuna, caught off Japan’s northern city of Oma, in the first auction of 2013 at Japan’s famed Tsukiji fish market, ponying up a record-setting $1.8 million for the privilege.

In the process, he shattered his own record, which he set last year, purchasing a 593-pound bluefin caught off northeastern Japan, for a mere $736,000. That 2012 purchase sailed past the previous record set in 2011, when a 754-pound bluefin was claimed for $396,000.

“I wanted to meet expectations of my customers who said they wanted to eat Japan’s best tuna,” Kimura told the Jiji Press. No doubt. The country consumes three-quarters of the world’s bluefin catch.

But Kimura wants to do more than satisfy consumer demand for bluefin. “With this good tuna,” Kimura added, “I hope to cheer up Japan.”

Kimura also sought to boost morale last year after the devastating March 2011 tsunami. He stated last year that he couldn’t let a bluefin caught in Japanese waters be sold to another country.

Normally, based on the purchase price, a single slice of bluefin sushi would cost a diner about $342, or 30,000 yen. However, Kimura reportedly plans to sell slices at a much more affordable price of $5 a slice.

That substantial a price reduction should make bluefin tuna lovers in Japan very happy indeed.

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