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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



Ishinomaki children get introduced to whale meat

Here's another news item in relation to whale meat in Ishinomaki (I have details of a previous item from earlier in January here):
First whale meat lunches in 25 years 2007.01.24
Ishinomaki region day care centres
City hopes to see culture passed on

On the 23rd, Ishinomaki city provided whale meat lunches in 30 child care centres throughout the Ishinomaki region. According to officials, similar lunches are provided in Oshika once a month, but this was the first time in 25 years for whale meat lunches to be provided in Ishinomaki.

The meat used was from minke whales caught in Antarctic ocean research whaling. The menu was "whale meat shigure-ae" - seasoned diced whale meat, coated with potato starch then fried, dressed with shoyu flavoured sauce, and sprinkled with white sesame seeds. To ensure the meat is tender and odorless, seasoning with miso and ginger was used.

At Minato child care centre, 50 children from ages 1 to 5 ate the whale meat lunch for the first time. Ishinomaki Mayor, Kimio Doi dined together with 26 children of ages 4 to 5. "Whale meat is good for your body, so make it a favourite", he urged them, and children
with smiling faces responded saying "it's soft and tasty", as they maneuvered their chopsticks. Some children were back for seconds.

The aim of the provision of whale meat in child care centre is to see the whale food culture of Ishinomaki, once a whaling post, carried on by the regions' children. The city plans to provide 3 further whale meat lunches in child care centres during the next fiscal year.
This sort of thing enrages western environmental groups, but the question for them is simply, "Why should communities choose to give up what they see as their local traditions?" The western environmental groups are obviously yet to come up with any convincing reasons. They can't even convince me, let alone the people to whom it really matters.

The Ishinomaki region is home to the old whaling post of Ayukawa, one of four small coastal whaling communities around Japan that requested a relief quota of 150 North Pacific minke whales for a three year period at the IWC 2006 meeting, without success.

According to official stockpile statistics, Ishinomaki had the largest frozen whale meat stockpile as of the end of January 2006, but by the end of November 2006, stocks had fallen to around 500 tonnes, in fourth place, behind Tokyo, Hakodate and Kushiro.

Mayor Doi of Ishinomaki, who features in the article, appears to be a strong supporter of whaling if a google search (sorry, in Japanese) is anything to go by.

UPDATE: Mayor Doi features in this article in the aftermath of the IWC 2006 meeting, which has some interesting comments from a whaler from Ayukawa (I'll translate it sometime later maybe).

UPDATE 2007/01/24: There is more coverage (in Japanese at Kahoku Shinpo) of the story about whale meat for kids in Ishinomaki (more translation from me below):
"Whale meat is tasty isn't it" / Provision at child care centers in Ishinomaki

Miyagi prefecture's Ishinomaki city is to revive the use of whale meat in school lunches from fiscal 2007 in 13 of the the city's public child care centers, as a part of efforts to see whale food culture continued and propagated. It is the first time in 25 years for whale meat to be used in school lunches at municipal child care centers, and plans will see it provided 3 times a year. Prior to the full launch, whale meat appeared in the lunches on the 23rd, and found popularity amongst the kindergarteners.

At Ishinomaki City's municipal Minato child care center, the kindergarteners munched through the fried "whale meat shigure-ae", flavoured with miso, soy sauce, ginger and garlic, leading to a chorus of "tasty". Many of the children ate whale meat for the first time, but some went back for seconds, and others noted with pleasure that they'd like to eat it again.

The city children's household section says "we plan to try various recipes, and also expand use of whale meat into municipal child care centers in other areas".

In the city's primary school lunches, whale meat menus are provided once a month, including in the child care center of the once prosperous whaling region of Oshika. Since fiscal 2006, provisions have been increased from 2 times a year to 4 times a year, and provision has expanded into all areas of the city.
- 2007/01/23 (Tuesday)
Well, those kids sure look to be enjoying themselves :)

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