It’s probably safe to say that the tuna purchased by Japanese restaurant chain Sushi Zanmai for $117,000 dwarfs even your priciest sushi dinner.
“It was a little more expensive than expected, but it’s the highest quality for its shape, color and fat,” Kiyoshi Kimura, the owner of Sushi Zanmai, told reporters at the market. “I want our customers to be happy. It was the last auction at Tsukiji so there were many people there, and I feel everyone in the auction was deeply moved.”
The tuna was especially expensive because it was caught off the country’s northern coast in Aomori prefecture, which is famous for its abundance of richly fat tuna that fisherman there refer to as “black gold.”
Another reason the tuna fetched such a huge sum was because it was the first auction of the year, of which the Japanese have a superstition of overpaying for — called “goshiga soba,” which means “congratulatory price” — to usher in a prosperous year.
Kimura is also no stranger to overpaying for a prize catch. In 2013, he paid nearly $1.8 million for a 490-pound tuna after engaging in a bidding war with a rival sushi chain owner.
Although the price paid for the tuna is impressive, marine conservation groups have warned that overfishing and rising prices could mean future extinction for the endangered bluefin tuna species. Japan consumes 80 percent of the bluefin tuna caught worldwide, which has caused their population levels to dwindle.