List O’ Ten Strangest Japanese Foods

Japan has given the world such cool stuff as bizarre game shows, traumatizing sex fetishes and surreal foods. Oh yes, there are a lot of things that are stranger than raw octopus and uncooked squid. Sushi is not even close to the stuff on this list. Check it out:

10. Candy Squid

top ten list-top ten strangest Japanese foods-candy squid

When you are living on an island, its natural that most of your daily diet will come from the sea, and in Japan, if it swims, it will be eaten – without exception. This is the nation that willingly eats pufferfish, a fish so poisonous that unless you prepare it correctly you will die very painfully. Compared to that, squid really does seem like just candy.

You can get these at any convenience store or on a stick during a traditional Japanese festival. Despite its name, the candied squid isnt actually sweet and comes in such flavors as Cod Roe or Spicy Korean Cabbage.

9. Hachinoko

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Hachinoko (bee and wasp larvae) is a popular delicacy in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan. After being harvested from their nests, the wasps are cooked in soy sauce and sugar, making a sweet, crumbly snack to nibble on between meals. Omachi, a city in Nagano, is particularly famous for crackers made with a certain type of wasp called the ‘digger wasp’. Locally know as ‘jibachi senbei’, they go down a treat with the old folks who have formed an appreciation fan club for digger wasp treats.

It is said that the late Emperor Hirohito used to enjoy eating fried wasps served traditionally with boiled rice seasoned with sugar and soy sauce.

8. Rose Sweat Gum

top ten list-top ten strangest Japanese foods-rose sweat gum

Hot, humid summer days – hey, be honest – who wants to get all sweaty and sticky and smelly? Not Japanese men, that’s for sure! Kanebo, Japan’s second largest cosmetics company, invented a gum containing fragrance essences that are emitted from your body’s pores when you perspire. Aptly and yet very disturbingly named Otoko Kaoru (Man Smelling Sweetly) this product is a brand of chewing gum that makes your sweat smell like roses.

Now, keep in mind that the Japanese spend a great portion of their lives in busy offices and overcrowded public transportation systems. Suddenly the gum doesnt sound so crazy after all. In fact, it should probably be made mandatory for some people, you know who…

7. Bread In A Can

top ten list-top ten strangest Japanese foods-Canned-Bread

Vending machines are everywhere in Japan, selling virtually anything that can be fit inside. So why not? Canned bread for those moments when you forgot to make a sandwich and all you have is the meat.

6. Shishamo

Imagine a skinny little smelt with its entire body cavity crammed with millions of small crunchy eggs. These small fish are grilled and served on a platter with their heads and tails still on.

No chopsticks here shishamo is finger food. Rip the fish head and tail off and nibble everything in between.

5. Shirouo no Odorigui

top ten list-top ten strangest Japanese foods-Shirouo no Odorigui

Shirouo no Odorigui (dancing fish) is a dish found almost exclusively in Japanese traditional restaurants. Shirouo is a small transparent fish which you eat not just raw but also alive. These dancers are famous for wriggling, jiggling and squirming around your mouth before you swallow them down.

4. Bizarre Beverage Flavors

Curry lemonade, Wasabi beer and Pepsi flavors as yogurt, cucumber and shiso (which is something like a cross between basil and mint). Or a favorite – the Surging Eel fizzy pop, a carbonated yellow liquid made out of – you guessed it – eel.

3. Dry Roasted Baby Crabs

top ten list-top ten strangest Japanese foods-Tamagogani-Dried-Crabs

In Japan rather than crunching on potato chips, people crunch on dried hermit crabs called Tamagogani which roughly translates to egg crab or baby crab. So next time you are at the bar in Tokyo, don’t look for the pretzels or beer nuts – ask them to pass the Tamagogani.

2. Basashi

top ten list-top ten strangest Japanese foods-horse meat ice cream

Basashi – raw horse meat!

Due to its deep pink color raw horse meat is called sakura or sakuraniku. Sakura means cherry blossom, niku means meat. However, when your equine is ponied up raw in thin sashimi slices it is called basashi. The prefectures of Kumamoto, Nagano and ?ita are famous for basashi, and it is common in the Tohoku region as well. Nice with some ranch dressing.

And the horse tartar isn’t enough, there is also desert: made from the same horse meat, it is, of course, called called basashi ice cream.

1. Shirako

top ten list-top ten strangest Japanese foods-shirako

Shirako is the male genitalia of fish, a sack that contains its seminal fluid. A popular dish at most izakaya (Japanese pubs) and sushi bars. A few years back I had my own encounter with fish ejaculate that didnt end too well.

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