5 Strange yet common food in Japan

Coming from Southeast Asian country, I often get the comments from Japanese friends about how strange we eat. Yes, in my country, frogs, insects (silk worms, grasshoppers), chicken feet and so on… you named it!


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Yet, I can’t help but feel amazed every single time I get the comments. Japanese eats some strange food too. They might not think it’s strange or might not even realize it.. but to me, many of them are hard to swallow.

Below I summed up 5 kinds of interesting yet weird food I’ve tried in Japan. Check it out!


1.Raw egg


Prior to coming to Japan, I have never tried raw egg before in my life nor that I fancy to try it. I love soft boiled egg or onsen tamago though. My first encounter with raw egg, I remember it clearly, was a breakfast at the hotel.

Typical Japanese style breakfast

Raw egg

At first glance, I thought the egg is boiled egg. As I tried to crack the shell, I found out it was raw. I was like… “what do you expect me to do with it?” Japanese gentleman who sat next to me started to eat his meal so I observe him.

Ok, he put it on top of his rice, add a bit of shoyu (soy sauce) and ate it just like that.





photos by H.Shikichi



Japanese egg is clean neatly to make sure there is no germ before packaged and sold in supermarket. This is because Japanese people has a culture to eat raw egg. Not only Tamago-kake-gohan, Japanese people also eat raw egg with menu such as sukiyaki. There is no sukiyaki sauce in Japan. Meat and veggie are dipped in beaten raw egg. Hot content with raw egg, yummmmm.

If you don’t live in Japan, don’t go and try this at home. You could have some serious food poisoning afterward.


2. Horse meat 


Horse sashimi is called Basashi (馬刺) in Japanese.

One of my really good friend’s mother own Izakaya in Kyoto and she introduced this menu to me. Oh my, if I know this is horse meat I wouldn’t try it. I know many people who doesn’t like raw food like sashimi or sushi but this horse meat sashimi is a total new level.

Typical sashimi is served with shoyu (soy sauce) but horse meat is served with salt and sesame oil (at least the one I tried). My impression was… it tasted like raw beef just a little more chewy. It smelled a little different too but hard to explain how.


Basashi – Horse meat sashimi

horse meat
photo courtesy of monthly.diaryclub.com with full permission to use on TIC blog


For me, once in a life time is more than enough. It is very very yummy but I think there are many more food I can fully enjoy more than horse meat.


3. fresh squid sashimi 


Ok, more of raw stuffs.

This menu is only available in Kyushu and some part of Hokkaido where the fishing is main industry. How fresh does the squid has to be to be considered as fresh squid sashimi? answer is … very very fresh… aka very alive one.

Fresh squid


You pick your favorite one. After that the chef is going to take care of it. The place I’ve been to, they serve squid meat as sashimi then later the tentacles are cooked as Tempura.

Not bad, not bad at all (FYI : my personal opinion)


Squid sashimi




I believed the squid is long dead before we eat it. (well, it was beheaded, have the skin peeled off and cut into pieces) the movement you saw in the video is merely muscle reflex. I like to believe that it doesn’t feel any pain anymore but I wouldn’t know that for sure…

Try it if you are in Japan. you won’t be disappointed!


4. Natto or fermented soy bean 


Natto is one of the most common Japanese breakfast similar to raw egg topped with rice. It’s very very healthy.

The taste is not a problem… the texture and smell are what I could not stand. How hypocrite I am! There are many many more stinky food in my country that I don’t seem to mind (Durian? stink much? lol)  Just this one Nutto, I am sorry, I am gonna have to pass.

There are many other food that I grown to like as I start living in Japan but unfortunately nutto is not one of them.

How to make nutto

Source : Peaceful cuisine Youtube channel


5. Shirako 

What is shirako?

In short, it’s fish sperm!

The taste isn’t so bad… well, to be honest with you it’s quite delicious. However, when I found out which part of fish it is, I can’t help but lose my appetite …

Winter is Shirako season. If you are visiting Japan soon and wish to try, ask the shop assistant;)


photo courtesy of Y.Nashimoto




How to cook shirako

source : 無駄なし!まかない道場(MAKANAI DOUJYOU) Youtube channel


See you next post!

For optional tour reservation and inquiry, please contact tic-tokyo@his-world.com or visit one of our Tourist information center in Tokyo.

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