Sashimi (Raw Fish) has probably been eaten by lots of cultures other than Asian but, it’s more popular in Japan than anywhere I’ve ever been. In fact, now that I’ve become accustomed to eating fresh Maguro (Tuna) I can’t understand how anyone can eat that grey stuff called Tuna out of a can.

There is a type of raw fish I’ve seen being eaten while still alive. This was in an expensive sushi bar on the island of Kyushu. The size of a small child’s hand, the fish is filleted by the sushi chef so you can pick up slices with your chopsticks. The frame of its body is still intact and the head and tail are still moving while it is being consumed. Named Iki Zukuri, it’s one dish I’m in no hurry to try.

Beef Sashimi

Beef Sashimi (Gyu-sashi) is simply the same beef you get when you order a hamburger. It doesn’t take as long to prepare. Just cut fresh beef into extremely thin slices with a sharp knife and it’s ready to serve. Served with a bowl of soy sauce and wasabi for dipping, it’s probably close to a really rare prime rib with horseradish, the difference being, no oven is required.

Goat Sashimi

Goat Sashimi (Hija-sashi) in Okinawa is considered a delicacy. Folks from mainland Japan would probably have much the same reaction to eating raw goat as most Westerners. It is prepared in the same fashion as the cow above. This is one I can only pretend I’m eating, just to be sociable. Often served at a house-warming party or company picnic, the goat is brought to the party alive and butchered at the start of the event. From my observations among the locals it seems about evenly divided, either you love or hate raw goat meat. With plenty of spices and soy sauce to disguise the strong flavor, it’s manageable but, I’d never go somewhere I had to pay for the stuff.

Horse Sashimi

Yes, they eat horses here! Horse Sashimi (Ba-sashi) is another delicacy in Japan. Actually, I’ve been served thinly sliced horse and thought I’d gotten an expensive cut of beef. Once told what it really was, being an American and a horse lover, I politely declined a second helping. Americans don’t eat horses, we ride them.

Red Dog

This is my dog. Walking on the beach one day, with my red dog and his brother, a black dog, a local fisherman pointed at the red dog and said “Oishii” (delicious). I’d never heard of anyone eating dog in Okinawa so, asked around about it. One of my friends related how his wife, as a child, had Asthma. Her father brought home a little red puppy. She thought it was going to be her pet. That evening Papa boiled the dog for supper. It cured her Asthma.

Dog meat isn’t something you’d see sold anywhere in Japan and to the best of my knowledge it is probably against the law to butcher and sell dog meat.

An animal that you call a pet could be considered food in another culture.

Have you encountered any visitors surprised at what’s on the menu in your country?

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About the author

Mike is a freelance photographer and writer who has been living in Okinawa, Japan for over 30 years.