TOKYO - As most of Tokyo sleeps, men in rubber boots haggle over tuna in the cavernous halls of Tsukiji market.
The clang of a bell around 5:30 am kicks off the action at the world's biggest fish emporium. Traders flash hand signs and bellow out prices as they buy and sell what will soon end up on plates in the Japanese capital and beyond.
Fins are lopped off to expose the red flesh among rows and rows of the hulking tuna carcasses, which are still moved around the market by wooden cart.
In all, about $18 million (S$22 million) worth of fish, seafood and vegetables - over 2,900 tons - change hands each day at the market.
"Do you see how we use hand signs?" asks one bidder, seconds after another man violently rings the bell and starts yelling out bids.
"This is exactly how people used to trade stocks in the old days."
Major stock markets have shifted to computer trading while Tokyo mushroomed into one of the world's biggest cities over the decades, but little has changed in the way business is done at Tsukiji since its opening in 1935.
Now, almost 80 years later, the city plans to move the market to a new location and give the popular tourist draw what advocates say is a badly-need technological update.
But not everyone is happy about the move away from prime-real estate in the centre of the teeming metropolis.
Relocating the market and building to a modern facility about 40 per cent larger with state-of-the-art refrigeration will cost upwards of $3.8 billion.
And the move, now scheduled for 2016, has been marred by revelations of heavy soil contamination at the site, once formerly a gas plant about 2.3 kilometres away (1.4 miles).
That has saddled Tokyo with more than half a billion dollars in cleanup costs at the less-than-central location.
It is unclear what will happen to the current site beyond building a new road linking downtown with some 2020 Olympic Games venues.