A Japanese perspective

Roving reporter Emily from the blog Hey from Japan- Notes on Moving, “filed” this report following my posts about shark finning in Mozambique and the primary reason for it i.e. shark fin soup. I use the term “filed” but what she actually did was send me some photographs she took, added some interesting notes, and told me to do what I wanted with them. She was (and I assume currently still is) too busy first playing tour guide in Japan, and then travelling to the United States for a home visit, to use the material herself. All the quoted bits are Emily’s words . . .

I was in Yokohama Chinatown and saw this – of course I immediately thought of you! Shark fin soup restaurants everywhere. [One] picture has a dried fin at least 5.5 feet tall in the window – Great White?

[Ah, how sweet . . . she sees shark fin soup and her first thoughts are of ME?! Have I been talking about it that much?!]

It’s a Chinese dish originally but like so many things came to Japan via China. The Japanese also eat shark fin cooked in different ways – it is considered a delicacy but is not a “Japanese” dish.

Just a note – although the Chinese think the soup has aphrodisiac properties – the Japanese aren’t nearly as suspicious and eat it purely for taste.

Restaurant in Yokohama Chinatown serving shark fin soup. The mounted fin is real, the different sized bowl dishes are wax. That's one big shark fin! A Great White, perhaps? ©Emily Cannell

Interestedly the shark here is fished off the coast of Sendai – the epicenter of the earthquake – and North. Most of the fisherman lost their boats or homes – or both – in the tsunamis that followed or can’t fish in the waters close to Fukushima due to radiation concerns. Therefore shark prices have skyrocketed – shark fin soup more expensive than ever . . .

Andretti-san [Emily’s driver and guide to all things Japanese] loves shark fin and says the consistency is like jelly fish – crunchy – and must be cooked a long time once it’s been dried for it to be edible.

Andretti-san’s perspective on shark fin is that it is the same as harvesting roe – apparently the fish are cut open alive, eggs removed, then the fish is thrown back.

Shark fin soup advert in Yokohama Chinatown, Japan. ©Emily Cannell

So there you have it . . . a Japanese perspective on shark fin soup.

Emily is an American currently living with her family in Tokyo, Japan. She writes with a great deal of humour about the challenges of moving to Japan, and their daily lives there, while they attempt to adapt to the Japanese way of doing things.

If you would like to read some of Emily’s writing, I recommend starting with her latest posts on acting as a tour guide (from hell?!) in Japan:

My own personal recent favourite was a hilarious post about Emily’s challenges in learning the Japanese language called:

Caught in the Throes of More Language Woes

Thank you to Emily Cannell for providing the photographs and information for this post!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: Lifestyle/Travel, Nature/Environment, Random


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at https://notesfromafrica.wordpress.com and http://southerncape.wordpress.com (my photoblog)


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14 Comments on “A Japanese perspective”

  1. July 6, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    I didn’t know about the eggs. Is there no end to the cruelty? I think we all need to eat more lettuce.

    • July 6, 2011 at 8:34 am #

      It looks like method of roe production varies, and humane production methods are not adhered to in all countries. According to Wikipedia:

      Commercial caviar production historically involved stunning the fish (usually by clubbing its head) and extracting the ovaries.

      Nowadays most commercial fish farmers extract the caviar from the sturgeon surgically (compare caesarean section) and then stitch up the wound to keep the sturgeon alive, allowing the females to continue producing more roe during their lives.

      Other farmers use a process called “stripping”, which extracts the caviar from the fish without surgical intervention. This is the most humane approach towards fish that is presently available but not all farmers use it due to the lack of knowledge in this field.

      From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caviar#Production

  2. July 6, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    Ah, our dear Emily and her family, including the Nose, will be meeting Sara and I next week here in Lexington. But I don’t think there will be any shark fin soup involved in that event. We’ll keep you posted though.


    • July 6, 2011 at 8:36 am #

      Watch out for dear Emily . . . think she might not be as sweet and innocent as she looks! (See her comment on this post.) I look forward to reading both your accounts of your get-together. Have a fun time!

  3. July 6, 2011 at 4:14 am #

    If I’d known you’d refer to me as the “Tour Guide From Hell” I might not have sent those pics along… Although, there are several family members nodding vigorously in agreement at your assessment! Thanks for the highlight! I’ll send you pics of Kathy in a compromising position of some sort….

    • July 6, 2011 at 8:42 am #

      LOL I was wondering how carefully you would read the post. Obviously when your name is mentioned VERY carefully! 😉 Well, you know if you had written a guest post, I wouldn’t have been able to make that comment . . .

      About taking compromising pics of Kathy: that could just backfire! 🙂

    • jacquelincangro
      July 9, 2011 at 3:18 am #

      Thanks for the info on the shark fin soup in Japan, Emily. It’s interesting to get another perspective on the issue. And thanks, Lisa for keeping us up to date on the topic.

      Can’t wait to see these photos from your meet-up with Kathy and Sara. I’ve just been in Tennessee, and I should have hopped on I-75 North to catch you all by surprise!

      • July 9, 2011 at 8:34 am #

        Thanks for your comment! I don’t want to get too “preachy” about the topic, just make people aware of what is going on.

        I’m going to make sure that Emily sees this comment.

  4. Lu
    July 6, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Thank you Lisa, and thank you Emily! It’s very cool that you can share material on common interests – helping to expand our understanding of different cultures and traditions (whether or not we agree with them)… I’m now off to visit Japan via amblerangel’s blog… 🙂

    • July 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

      Yes, I also think it’s good to get different views about a subject. See how other people feel about things.

      Because I can’t travel much at this stage, I really enjoy it when my “roving reporters” send me photographs and/or stories. First time I’ve had somebody send me something from so far away though.

      Emily is hilarious! She started blogging a year or so ago. It’s really worthwhile delving into her blog archives.

  5. July 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    Haha – your comments are so amusing – popping over to read amblerangels blog too.

    • July 6, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

      The comment section is often the best part of my posts! Sometimes I feel like a tennis referee watching readers lob comments back and forth. You can tell that some of them have some “issues” between them! 😉

  6. July 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    Just you wait, Missy! No compromising pictures allowed!

    • July 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

      LOL Well, as I said to Emily that scheme could just backfire on her. You’re both armed with cameras!

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