Osaka's iconic pufferfish lantern removed as restaurant closes after 100 years of operation

End of an era.

Ashley Tan | September 04, 2020, 11:38 AM

Osaka has lost an icon in the form of its famous pufferfish lantern.

No more fugu

The gigantic paper lantern strung up above the streets of Shinsekai has transformed into a landmark and been the site of numerous photo opportunities by tourists.

Photo by Tan Guan Zhen

Photo from osaka-info website

But that will be no more as of Sep. 3.

The huge fugu — which measures five metres long, 3.5 metres wide and three metres high — was taken down with a crane in the wee hours of the morning, according to the Mainichi.

Videos on social media showed the fish being loaded by workers onto the back of a truck.

Fugu restaurant drawing shutters

A banner hung on the outside of the restaurant read: "Thank you for your love over these many years. Please take care of yourselves, everyone. Goodbye, and see you again!"

Photo from jcahiro / Twitter

Zuboraya's main branch, which specialises in fugu dishes, will be ceasing operations on Sep. 15, after having been in business since 1920.

It opened as the "first pufferfish restaurant in Osaka".

This year would have been its 100th anniversary.

According to Timeout, Zuboraya's restaurants have been closed since April earlier this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The restaurant’s owners said that although the pandemic had been the tipping point for the business, they had already been considering closing due to a tight market, Soranews reported.

However, Mainichi also reported that the lantern was taken down as it exceeded regulations on how far out an item can project onto the road from a building.

The loss of the cultural icon has led to many expressing their sorrow on Twitter.

"Ah, it’s gone back to the sea.

It was the symbol of Osaka in my opinion after all, feels a bit lonely now."

"I was really delighted to see the real deal during my first trip to Osaka last year. I wanted to bring it back to Kanto (region) because it was so cute.

Really, thank you for all these times (your hard work)"


However, this might not be the end of the giant fugu.

Timeout reported that the company behind the onsen theme park Spa World, located nearby, had expressed interest in taking over the pufferfish lantern after the restaurant's official closure.

Spa World reportedly suggested installing the lantern in front of the theme park's entrance.

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Top photo from namakemonodamon Twitter and BaldyRuddRudd / Twitter