6 Odd Things Eaten in Japan

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Because it’s surrounded on all sides by water, it makes sense that much of what the Japanese eat comes from the sea. We all know they eat whales and dolphins, but how about fish sperm and poisonous puffer fish? The short list below also includes a few specialties found on land that I just had to include. As always, if you’ve tried any of these, please let us know how they taste in the comments below.

1. Zazamushi (Aquatic Insects)

Zazamushi isn’t just one kind of insect; rather, a catch-all name applied to the larvae of insects that live at the bottom of rivers. The name “zazamushi” literally translates to “insects (mushi) that live in a place where the river makes the sound zaazaa as it flows.”

2. Fugu (Poisonous Puffer Fish)


The Japanese have been eating fugu for centuries, which means they’ve had plenty of time to figure out HOW to eat this poisonous fish. Fugu flesh is edible, but the skin, liver and ovaries contain lethal amounts of the poison tetrododoxin. If any of these elements are consumed, then the poison paralyzes the muscles while the victim stays fully conscious, and eventually dies from asphyxiation. Good times. For this reason, it’s imperative that a special, qualified fugu chef prepares your meal.

3. Shirako (Fish Sperm)


Shirako, a common item found in most Japanese pubs consisting entirely of the male genitalia of fish still fat with seminal fluid.

4. Basashi (Raw Horse Meat)


While Japan isn’t the only country that eats horse meat, I believe it’s the only one that eats it raw, as sashimi.

5. Hachinoko (Bee Larvae)


This crunchy, maggotty bee larvae is served in pubs the way we serve beer nuts. Yum!

6. Shirouo no Odorigui (Dancing Icefish)

Shirouo are very small transparent fish that are eaten alive. They dance in your mouth - or rather do the odorigui (dancing while being eaten).

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September 27, 2011 - 5:06pm
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