Sep 15, 2017

Whale Meat in Japan

You may have seen, heard about, or even eaten whale meat in Japan. 

Whale Meat in Japan photo

I have not eaten it, and am sort of on the fence about it, as it’s unique but also feels wrong to me. I can find whale meat, or kujira, in a local supermarket on a regular basis for around 700 yen per 100 gram pack. Sometimes restaurants serve it as sashimi.

Culturally for foreigners, it sounds strange to eat some of the meats which are common in Japan and around the world. Pork, whale, and horse meat are the first ones that come to mind. In addition, I’ve heard of many other meats eaten around Asia: snake, frog, dog, cat, and bear. Even rabbit, deer, and moose seem strange for me, although in some parts of the US, it’s completely normal to eat these.

As a former vegetarian, maybe I’m a little more sensitive than some people, but I’m also interested in trying new foods, especially as part of a cultural experience. If someone is feeding me, I would rather be polite and not so picky about what they are providing. (For example, in general I would avoid eating duck, but it was served as part of a fancy meal while I was working in Korea, so I tasted it.)

The world’s supply of fish is decreasing and I don’t think it’s healthy or sustainable to eat meat all the time, so we usually only eat it once a week at home. When it comes to animals I think of as pets or endangered animals, I have to draw the line. In addition, I really like whales and bears, so it seems too sad to eat them. (If I think about it too much, I still feel bad eating animals at all.)

So what do you think about eating whale and other ‘culturally different’ meats? How do you make that choice (as long as you have it) and where would you draw the line? What’s the weirdest meat you’ve tried? (I have eaten basashi, which is horse sashimi, in Japan and crocodile meat in the US.)



What if whales don't communicate with whale calls & they're just farting?