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Many years ago I chanced upon a delicacy segment on "Japan Hour" featuring Takifugu or better known to most us as the blowfish or puffer fish. In Japan, it is widely known as fugu or "river pig"! The puffer fish can be found worldwide in salt water and is best characterized with its defense capability of inflating its body to several times its normal size and by poisoning their predators. The fish contains lethal amounts of the poison tetrodotoxin and is thus highly toxic. Tetrodotoxin poisoning has no known cure. Poison can be found in the fish's internal organs, especially the liver and the ovaries, but also in the skin and the testicles. The poison paralyzes the muscles while the victim stays fully conscious, and eventually dies from asphyxiation. A six-pound tiger fugu has enough poison to take out at least 32 healthy adults. And perhaps because there is a certain risk in consuming fugu — it is considered a delicacy in Japan.

I was left with the impression from "Japan Hour" that fugu was a soft bodied fish with a texture that melts in your mouth. Connoisseurs say that fugu, an extremely lean fish, has a pure, almost pristine freshness. A meal to experience this 'deadly' fish was a definite must on my 1st visit to Japan.

Japan Dotonbori Street Osaka 2010
Osaka, Japan Dotonbori

In the bustling food street of Dotonbori, a popular tourist destination in Namba, Osaka; hangs the infamous Zuboraya giant puffer fish sign. The lantern sign is now an icon of Osaka in its own right. I figured if I wanted to walk out of dinner alive, I must eat at a reputable specialized restaurant. Only specially licensed chefs can prepare and sell Fugu to the public after a very rigorous examination process.

Japan Zuboraya Fugu Dotonbori Osaka 2010
Tecchiri (fugu hot pot)

From the pictured menu, I picked Tecchiri; fugu hot pot. Various slices of fugu meat to be boiled at different lengths of time in a hot boiling pot of water.

Japan Zuboraya Fugu Dotonbori Osaka 2010
Fugu Sashimi

And you really haven't eaten fugu till you consume a plate of fugu sashimi. A combination of thinly sliced raw fugu meat, bits of tiny bones and skin.

Japan Zuboraya Fugu Dotonbori Osaka 2010
My first piece of fugu (which could also have been my very last!)

The thrilling gastronomical adventure begins when you take your 1st bite into a piece of boiled fugu which brought about a certain excitement and fear. It was the taste of possible death!

I read that tetrodotoxin can cause a pleasing numbing sensation when eaten in tiny amount. I felt... nothing... it was like eating fish... with a resilient chewiness. After swallowing my first few pieces of (potentially) lethal fish flesh, I was happy to be still alive. Then I tried to decipher the taste which resulted in me admitting that fugu tasted really 'blah'. Perhaps it was the sensory of the clean, light taste that one starts to enjoy its unique rubbery texture. The gastronomical experience was ordinary... and then you think to yourself... was the notorious Japanese fugu worth dying for?

Love Japan for...
Pontochō: Where Geishas used to roam
Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル) Floating Garden
Tully's Coffee Japan - Bean There
Fugu - The Forbidden Fish
Panoramic Japan 2010
HDR Japan 2010
Footprints in Japan


  1. but it was worth the bite i guess X3

  2. Well... I lived to tell the tale of my meal of a poisonous fish. I suppose that is a story I could bring to my grave...


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