Fugu is loved in Japan to the point that there is a special detoxifying license for it.

There are many different food cultures around the world. However, there are not many countries whose culture includes eating poisonous creatures. The Japanese, who willingly eat fugu, might look queer in the eyes of people from other countries.
Nevertheless, Japanese people do not happen to have an exclusive antibody for this. They eat only fugu that has been properly detoxified. This is a process that can only be performed by a specialist with a professional license.
As for its taste, it does not have much fat, so it is rather light. Another of its characteristics is how beautiful it looks when cut for sashimi, since it is very resilient and it has to be thinly sliced, to the point that one can almost see the color of the plate through it. It is also used in deep-fried and hot pot dishes.


Shimonoseki deals with 80% of the fugu that circulates in Japan.

Shimonoseki, in Yamaguchi Prefecture, is an area famous all over the country for its fugu. Shimonoseki is located at the westernmost of Honshu, the main island of Japan, and has flourished as an important sea port because of its position facing the Sea of Japan and the Seto Inland Sea. Even today, this is an area with a prosperous fishing industry, with fugu at its head.
In Shimonoseki, there is a fish market called Karato Marketplace, which is open to the general public. It is a must-visit place for anybody interested in fugu. The auction starts at 5 am. This is extremely early in the morning but, in return, it gives you plenty of time to go sightseeing in the afternoon. You can go to Fukuoka in one hour and a half, or to Hiroshima in a little over two hours, so try and drop by before you go visit the standard sightseeing spots.


Let’s look for “fuku” at Karato Marketplace!

Karato Marketplace is not only about its lively auctions, but it is also an energetic market where the voices of sellers calling out to customers and the voices of those negotiating for the best deal can be heard everywhere. On Sundays and national holidays, street stalls line up, and one can enjoy eating fresh seafood while walking around. Of course, they also sell fugu. During winter, which is the best season for fugu, you are likely to find it at many of the shops.
At Shimonoseki, it is typical to pronounce “fugu” as “fuku.” This comes from “fuku (福,)” another word which means happiness or good fortune, so fugu is considered a very auspicious thing to eat. It may even be a sin to avoid it just because one is scared of the poison. How about trying some Japanese “fugu” at its best place?


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Kenichiro Asai

Kenichiro Asai


I’m a wanderer who suddenly found himself working as a writer. I normally teach junior high school students at a preparatory school.


Address 50-5 Karatocho, Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Pref.
Access 10 minutes from JR Shimonoseki Station by car