MINAMIBOSO, Japan – Whale cutlets, sliced raw whale, deep-fried whale nuggets, whale bacon and whale jerky feature on the menu at P-man, the restaurant Yoko Ichihara runs – and that’s just a small sample of the ways Japan eats whale.
Though Japan’s government maintains that eating whale is a cherished part of its food culture, nationwide consumption didn’t really take off until after World War II and peaked in the early 1960s before falling as other protein sources became cheaply available.
Japan resumes commercial whaling on July 1.
A 1986 global whaling moratorium made whale a pricey food that rarely appears on family tables or in ordinary supermarkets, with vendors relying on Japan’s scientific research whaling for their supply.
“A lot of people came in after hearing that the research whaling had ended, worried that they couldn’t get whale anymore,” Ms Ichihara said. “They were surprised to hear whale is taken in Japan too.”
True aficionados have endured, sating their whale cravings largely through speciality restaurants such as the one Ms Ichihara, 42, operates in Minamiboso, just east of Tokyo.