To read this content please select one of the options below:

Tastes for blubber: diversity and locality of whale meat foodways in Japan

Jun Akamine (Graduate School of Social Sciences, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, Japan)

Asian Education and Development Studies

ISSN: 2046-3162

Article publication date: 16 September 2020

Issue publication date: 23 December 2020




This paper aims to discuss how whale meat foodways in Japan is a local practice, contrary to the prevailing political belief that it is national, and to examine two local whale meat foodways in Japan by focusing on the usage of blubber. To understand complexity of whaling issue, one needs to be careful of species rather than general “whale.”


By investigating two kinds of recipe books, one published in the early 19th century and the other the early 20th century on whale meat dish, the paper clarifies blubber has been widely consumed rather than lean meat, and blubber was more important than lean meat as whale meat.


The western part of Japan has rich whale meat foodways compared to other parts of Japan. It is because of their history of whaling since the 17th century. They have inherited rich whale meat foodways.


Although whale sashimi and deep-fried lean meat are popular nationwide regardless of their communities' history, former whaling communities in the western part of Japan developed a preference for blubber, skin, tongue and offal over lean meat. Whale meat foodways in Japan, therefore, is a local heritage. This fact should be the starting point for analyzing Japanese whaling and whale meat foodways.



This research was supported in part by JSPS Kakenhi grants JP15H02617 and JP19H00555.


Akamine, J. (2021), "Tastes for blubber: diversity and locality of whale meat foodways in Japan", Asian Education and Development Studies, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 105-114.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles