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Pictures | Mon Jun 24, 2019 | 5:20pm EDT

The ways Japan eats whale

A set menu of pickle-grilled whale meat is prepared at the restaurant P-man in Minamiboso, east of Tokyo, Japan. When Yachiyo Ichihara was a child in Wada, one of Japan's oldest whaling villages, she'd go down to the harbor with a bucket and carry it home full of freshly butchered whale meat. "It's really delicious; that's what I grew up eating," the 72-year-old said. "Whale is something you'd gather your family together and eat. It's real home cooking."

REUTERS/Issei Kato

A set menu of pickle-grilled whale meat is prepared at the restaurant P-man in Minamiboso, east of Tokyo, Japan. When Yachiyo Ichihara was a child in Wada, one of Japan's oldest whaling villages, she'd go down to the harbor with a bucket and carry it...more

A set menu of pickle-grilled whale meat is prepared at the restaurant P-man in Minamiboso, east of Tokyo, Japan. When Yachiyo Ichihara was a child in Wada, one of Japan's oldest whaling villages, she'd go down to the harbor with a bucket and carry it home full of freshly butchered whale meat. "It's really delicious; that's what I grew up eating," the 72-year-old said. "Whale is something you'd gather your family together and eat. It's real home cooking." REUTERS/Issei Kato
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In those days, men would peddle the meat from carts, calling "Whale, whale" as they went door to door. But in 1986, a whaling moratorium drove prices up and made whale a luxury food. Ichihara, pictured checking whale products at a roadside store named WA-O!, now runs a whale restaurant in the Wada district of Minamiboso, on the Pacific coast just east of Tokyo, and should be celebrating Japan's decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and resume commercial whaling on July 1. Instead, she and others involved in the business worry about the future. "I'm really anxious, not expectant," Ichihara said.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

In those days, men would peddle the meat from carts, calling "Whale, whale" as they went door to door. But in 1986, a whaling moratorium drove prices up and made whale a luxury food. Ichihara, pictured checking whale products at a roadside store...more

In those days, men would peddle the meat from carts, calling "Whale, whale" as they went door to door. But in 1986, a whaling moratorium drove prices up and made whale a luxury food. Ichihara, pictured checking whale products at a roadside store named WA-O!, now runs a whale restaurant in the Wada district of Minamiboso, on the Pacific coast just east of Tokyo, and should be celebrating Japan's decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and resume commercial whaling on July 1. Instead, she and others involved in the business worry about the future. "I'm really anxious, not expectant," Ichihara said. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Sweets packaging featuring whale are displayed at a roadside store named WA-O! in Minamiboso. Though Japan's post-Christmas announcement sparked widespread condemnation and fears for the world's whales, the prospect of growth in whaling is far from certain, both environmentalists and whaling advocates say. "In the past 30 years, all kinds of foods have come into Japan; there are so many things to eat," said Kazuo Yamamura, president of the Japan Whaling Association. "It's no longer a situation where if you produce lots of whale meat, you're going to make lots of money."

REUTERS/Issei Kato

Sweets packaging featuring whale are displayed at a roadside store named WA-O! in Minamiboso. Though Japan's post-Christmas announcement sparked widespread condemnation and fears for the world's whales, the prospect of growth in whaling is far from...more

Sweets packaging featuring whale are displayed at a roadside store named WA-O! in Minamiboso. Though Japan's post-Christmas announcement sparked widespread condemnation and fears for the world's whales, the prospect of growth in whaling is far from certain, both environmentalists and whaling advocates say. "In the past 30 years, all kinds of foods have come into Japan; there are so many things to eat," said Kazuo Yamamura, president of the Japan Whaling Association. "It's no longer a situation where if you produce lots of whale meat, you're going to make lots of money." REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Yoko Ichihara prepares whale bacon at the kitchen of her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Barely 300 people are directly connected to whaling, and whale represented only about 0.1 percent of Japan's total meat consumption in 2016, according to government data. About 4,000-5,000 metric tons of whale meat are supplied to Japan annually, amounting to 40-50 grams of whale for each Japanese person, said Joji Morishita, Japan's retiring IWC commissioner. That's about the mass of half an apple. "The question is, is there enough demand, enough feasibility and enough viability for commercial whaling - or commercial whale eating - to take place in Japan?" he said.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

Yoko Ichihara prepares whale bacon at the kitchen of her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Barely 300 people are directly connected to whaling, and whale represented only about 0.1 percent of Japan's total meat consumption in 2016, according to...more

Yoko Ichihara prepares whale bacon at the kitchen of her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Barely 300 people are directly connected to whaling, and whale represented only about 0.1 percent of Japan's total meat consumption in 2016, according to government data. About 4,000-5,000 metric tons of whale meat are supplied to Japan annually, amounting to 40-50 grams of whale for each Japanese person, said Joji Morishita, Japan's retiring IWC commissioner. That's about the mass of half an apple. "The question is, is there enough demand, enough feasibility and enough viability for commercial whaling - or commercial whale eating - to take place in Japan?" he said. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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A man walks at Wada fishing port in Minamiboso. Japan has not yet set its hunt quota. But many in the industry believe the number taken will fall between the 180 minkes and sei whales taken in the Northern Pacific and the 330 minkes hunted in the Antarctic.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

A man walks at Wada fishing port in Minamiboso. Japan has not yet set its hunt quota. But many in the industry believe the number taken will fall between the 180 minkes and sei whales taken in the Northern Pacific and the 330 minkes hunted in the...more

A man walks at Wada fishing port in Minamiboso. Japan has not yet set its hunt quota. But many in the industry believe the number taken will fall between the 180 minkes and sei whales taken in the Northern Pacific and the 330 minkes hunted in the Antarctic. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Wada fishing port in Minamiboso, east of Tokyo. In Wada, though whales are everywhere - including a giant skeleton by a museum and metal whales on a seawall - most people there on a recent afternoon were either surfing, driving, or fishing near the concrete dock where whales are drawn up to be butchered.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

Wada fishing port in Minamiboso, east of Tokyo. In Wada, though whales are everywhere - including a giant skeleton by a museum and metal whales on a seawall - most people there on a recent afternoon were either surfing, driving, or fishing near the...more

Wada fishing port in Minamiboso, east of Tokyo. In Wada, though whales are everywhere - including a giant skeleton by a museum and metal whales on a seawall - most people there on a recent afternoon were either surfing, driving, or fishing near the concrete dock where whales are drawn up to be butchered. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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A set menu of deep-fried whale nuggets are prepared at the restaurant P-man in Minamiboso. A recent informal Yahoo Japan poll of nearly 20,000 people said 58.2 percent liked eating whale and 28.3 did not, while 13.5 percent had never eaten it. Older Japanese remember eating whale in school lunches but few seek it out.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

A set menu of deep-fried whale nuggets are prepared at the restaurant P-man in Minamiboso. A recent informal Yahoo Japan poll of nearly 20,000 people said 58.2 percent liked eating whale and 28.3 did not, while 13.5 percent had never eaten it. Older...more

A set menu of deep-fried whale nuggets are prepared at the restaurant P-man in Minamiboso. A recent informal Yahoo Japan poll of nearly 20,000 people said 58.2 percent liked eating whale and 28.3 did not, while 13.5 percent had never eaten it. Older Japanese remember eating whale in school lunches but few seek it out. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Yoko Ichihara cooks deep-fried whale nuggets inside the kitchen at her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Whale cutlets, sliced raw whale, deep-fried whale nuggets, whale bacon and whale jerky feature on the menu at the restaurant Ichihara runs - and that's just a small sample of the ways Japan eats whale. Aficionados say whale tastes somewhat like beef, but with a stronger flavor. Whaling advocates point to its high protein content and low carbon footprint compared with other meats.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

Yoko Ichihara cooks deep-fried whale nuggets inside the kitchen at her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Whale cutlets, sliced raw whale, deep-fried whale nuggets, whale bacon and whale jerky feature on the menu at the restaurant Ichihara runs -...more

Yoko Ichihara cooks deep-fried whale nuggets inside the kitchen at her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Whale cutlets, sliced raw whale, deep-fried whale nuggets, whale bacon and whale jerky feature on the menu at the restaurant Ichihara runs - and that's just a small sample of the ways Japan eats whale. Aficionados say whale tastes somewhat like beef, but with a stronger flavor. Whaling advocates point to its high protein content and low carbon footprint compared with other meats. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Yoko Ichihara takes order from customers at her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Though Japan's government insists eating whale is an important part of the country's food culture, consumption did not become widespread until after World War Two, when the occupation authorities encouraged it to feed the impoverished population.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

Yoko Ichihara takes order from customers at her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Though Japan's government insists eating whale is an important part of the country's food culture, consumption did not become widespread until after World War Two,...more

Yoko Ichihara takes order from customers at her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Though Japan's government insists eating whale is an important part of the country's food culture, consumption did not become widespread until after World War Two, when the occupation authorities encouraged it to feed the impoverished population. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Yoko Ichihara cooks deep-fried whale nuggets inside the kitchen at her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Eating whale peaked in the early 1960s, falling off as other meat became more available. Many older Japanese nostalgically recall eating fried or stewed whale in school lunches.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

Yoko Ichihara cooks deep-fried whale nuggets inside the kitchen at her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Eating whale peaked in the early 1960s, falling off as other meat became more available. Many older Japanese nostalgically recall eating...more

Yoko Ichihara cooks deep-fried whale nuggets inside the kitchen at her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Eating whale peaked in the early 1960s, falling off as other meat became more available. Many older Japanese nostalgically recall eating fried or stewed whale in school lunches. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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A menu featuring whale meat dishes are seen at a restaurant P-man in Minamiboso. Traditional recipes include blubber with vinegar-miso sauce, thinly sliced whale tongue, whale steak, a hotpot where slices of whale meat are simmered with mizuna greens and, the simplest, raw whale dipped in soy sauce. Several restaurants have come up with whaleburgers, a patty of whale meat sandwiched between buns or pressed rice. Ichihara's restaurant offers many of these, as well as a unique take on traditional whale treats: fried whale dressed with slivered vegetables and vinegar, grilled marinated whale steak, and raw whale chopped with miso and scallions.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

A menu featuring whale meat dishes are seen at a restaurant P-man in Minamiboso. Traditional recipes include blubber with vinegar-miso sauce, thinly sliced whale tongue, whale steak, a hotpot where slices of whale meat are simmered with mizuna greens...more

A menu featuring whale meat dishes are seen at a restaurant P-man in Minamiboso. Traditional recipes include blubber with vinegar-miso sauce, thinly sliced whale tongue, whale steak, a hotpot where slices of whale meat are simmered with mizuna greens and, the simplest, raw whale dipped in soy sauce. Several restaurants have come up with whaleburgers, a patty of whale meat sandwiched between buns or pressed rice. Ichihara's restaurant offers many of these, as well as a unique take on traditional whale treats: fried whale dressed with slivered vegetables and vinegar, grilled marinated whale steak, and raw whale chopped with miso and scallions. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Yachiyo Ichihara, 72, waves to her friends at a roadside store featuring local whale products named WA-O! in Minamiboso. Ichihara's mother-in-law, Yachiyo, praises it as an ideal food. "When it's in your mouth, it's meat, but when it's in your stomach it's like fish, it's light," she said. The Ichiharas have taken part in whale-cooking contests to develop new dishes, with prizes going to items such as whale-filled spring rolls. A Minamiboso roadside store stocks whale-stuffed Chinese buns and whale ham along with more traditional items and cookies sold in boxes decorated with whales.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

Yachiyo Ichihara, 72, waves to her friends at a roadside store featuring local whale products named WA-O! in Minamiboso. Ichihara's mother-in-law, Yachiyo, praises it as an ideal food. "When it's in your mouth, it's meat, but when it's in your...more

Yachiyo Ichihara, 72, waves to her friends at a roadside store featuring local whale products named WA-O! in Minamiboso. Ichihara's mother-in-law, Yachiyo, praises it as an ideal food. "When it's in your mouth, it's meat, but when it's in your stomach it's like fish, it's light," she said. The Ichiharas have taken part in whale-cooking contests to develop new dishes, with prizes going to items such as whale-filled spring rolls. A Minamiboso roadside store stocks whale-stuffed Chinese buns and whale ham along with more traditional items and cookies sold in boxes decorated with whales. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Yoko Ichihara cooks whale meat dishes inside the kitchen at her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Ichihara wishes more people ate whale at home, but is reassured by the restart of commercial whaling. "I'd be concerned if I heard we couldn't eat whale in Japan, but since we'll be able to take them here, I have no worries," she said.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

Yoko Ichihara cooks whale meat dishes inside the kitchen at her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Ichihara wishes more people ate whale at home, but is reassured by the restart of commercial whaling. "I'd be concerned if I heard we couldn't eat...more

Yoko Ichihara cooks whale meat dishes inside the kitchen at her restaurant named P-man in Minamiboso. Ichihara wishes more people ate whale at home, but is reassured by the restart of commercial whaling. "I'd be concerned if I heard we couldn't eat whale in Japan, but since we'll be able to take them here, I have no worries," she said. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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A visitor walks past a whale products corner at a roadside store named WA-O! in Minamiboso. The 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. REUTERS/Issei Kato

A visitor walks past a whale products corner at a roadside store named WA-O! in Minamiboso. The 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...more

A visitor walks past a whale products corner at a roadside store named WA-O! in Minamiboso. The 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. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Whale ham is displayed at a roadside store named WA-O! in Minamiboso. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Whale ham is displayed at a roadside store named WA-O! in Minamiboso. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Whale ham is displayed at a roadside store named WA-O! in Minamiboso. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Canned whale meat is displayed at a roadside store named WA-O! in Minamiboso. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Canned whale meat is displayed at a roadside store named WA-O! in Minamiboso. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Canned whale meat is displayed at a roadside store named WA-O! in Minamiboso. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Sign boards featuring Baird's beaked whale are displayed at the entrance of a restaurant P-man in Minamiboso. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Sign boards featuring Baird's beaked whale are displayed at the entrance of a restaurant P-man in Minamiboso. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Sign boards featuring Baird's beaked whale are displayed at the entrance of a restaurant P-man in Minamiboso. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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An area for landing captured whales at Wada fishing port in Minamiboso. REUTERS/Issei Kato

An area for landing captured whales at Wada fishing port in Minamiboso. REUTERS/Issei Kato

An area for landing captured whales at Wada fishing port in Minamiboso. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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