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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



Shinjuku whale restaurants - Taruichi

One of the most well known whale restaurants in Shinjuku, and indeed all of Tokyo is Taruichi. Often featured in western coverage of the whaling issue in Japan, I had the distinct pleasure of having a meal at Taruichi recently, and didn't miss the opportunity to snap some mobile phone photos for a blog entry.

* * *

First, some photos of the exterior.

There's some more when you arrive on the 5th floor:

And above the entrance is this big sign board:

I couldn't stand far away enough to get the "ichi" of "Taruichi" into the picture, but more interesting on the left is the picture of a whale and some Japanese text, which I will translate as something like...
Food is not logical
Food is human existence itself
And, it is each people's culture
Inside, one finds that Taruichi is larger than one expects from it's exterior, and at least on the Saturday night that I went the place was pretty much packed. We hadn't bothered to ring and book a table in advance (there are other whale restaurants nearby which you can fall back on), and so we found ourselves limited to about 2 hours until just before 9 p.m. when another reservation had been made.

Taruichi is apparently a 2nd generation restaurant now, and the interior is true enough to this. There are several tatami mat rooms available, and also lots of whale related decoration. Take the lamp displayed to the right. Maybe the whale attached as the base of the lamp will catch your eye first, but take another look at the lampshade - that's baleen that it's made out of.

There are also whale illustrations on the walls and door, as you see in the picture below, so you can enjoy some whale watching as well as enjoy your whale meal.

Moving along to the actual food. Japanese whale cuisine culture proponents love to illustrate that with whales, every part you can imagine is used for something (as also seen with the baleen lampshade). Here's a page from the menu pointing out the names of different parts of whale, all of which are available on the menu. Below it is the menu from one section of the wall in the room we were in.

The array of dishes on offer here is rather overwhelming. Even though other restaurants also have a variety of different meats available, Taruichi seems to have the greatest range that I have seen. Whale parts available on the menu include the normal meat you can find in any whale restaurant (red meat, bacon), and additional choices include whale heart, whale brain, and whale phallus.

Below is a picture of one set of dishes we ordered. There's "kujira tatsuta-age" (fried red meat) at the back left, a salad (can't remember if there was any whale in it, but there may have been), and "kohhaku ozohri" (a dish of whale sashimi including both red and white meats). The whale bacon (the white slices with the pink tinge) had more oil in it than any whale bacon I've ever had before.

Again if you take a close look at the sashimi plate, you can see a piece of baleen used for decoration, more easily identified in the "after" shot below.

As I mentioned above, there were various dishes using various whale parts on the menu. I'll leave it to your imagination as to what these two items below were.

One other thing that caught my attention was a sticker on the wall, which for some reason is partially damaged. What we can make out from the remains is:

...ve the Tongans
...ed Them Whales!

But I digress.

Overall, although our time at Taruichi was unfortunately limited, we were able to sample 8 different types of whale dish, and if you happen to have any non-whale eaters with you there is also more typical fare on the menu, such as plain old fried chicken.

Taruichi's dishes generally have a traditional look to them, and it gave me a sense that the menu items there are true to the restaurant's history. Other newer restaurants, such as neighbouring Akanedoki a few minutes walk away that started serving whale items and courses 2 or 3 years ago, appear as if they have put effort into producing dishes for the 21st century whale diner, rather than sticking with older traditional style dishes. But when it comes to items such as whale sashimi there is essentially not a great deal of difference. It's the other dishes such as steaks with sauces that provides the distinguishment.

* * *

Official homepage: www.taruichi.co.jp

Address: 5F, Daiichi Asakawa Bldg., 1-17-12 Kabuki-cho Shinjuku-ku Tokyo
Google Maps link

When to go: Any day except Sunday and Holidays

Labels: ,

Whale dishes - I've had the standard cut a couple times. Dipped it in soy sauce. Didn't seem like anything special.

Google search- "Tonga is one of the few places where you can legally join the world's largest mammals in the water. "

...ve the Tongans
...ed Them Whales!

Long Live The Tongans
Tamed Them Whales?
Saved Them Whales?
Bathed ? Shaved? Cured? Stored?
Wait wait - PROTECTED??

I got it!
"Save the Tongans. Feed Them Whales"
That last one could be close!
Dirty, ignorant, glutton. Stop eating fucking whales dude! it make's you wonder what other shit your into with an attitude like this.
Thanks for your comment Katieg, I have noted your opinion down here on my list.
The Japanese culture is base and uncivilized, WW2 is an example of their behavior to other races. We cannot expect anything else but Whale eaters
That's great, Mick. I have noted your opinion down here as well, right after Katieg's.
But David, you aren't Japanese (I assume). You just wanted to eat a whale. No crappy cultural connection to cling to just a desire to eat something bigger than you. Like a caveman.
Thanks for that extra analysis Katieg, no coincidence that you are still waiting around for replies to this post no doubt.

Well, I've still got that scrap of paper with your opinion recorded on it somewhere, so feel free to run along back to your Sea Shepherd fan club club house and wring your hands over the publicity disaster that Paul Watson has created for your beloved "anti-whaling" religion. Cheers.
I have not been waiting around, a notification comes via email. David I am not an animal activist nor am I in anyway associated with animal rights.

I came across your blog, as a tourist, looking for information about Japan.

As a human being, not in association with any organisation and guided only by my own sense of morality; I am sickened by your ignorant whale eating.

Oh I see. Execuse me for suggesting that you were an SS supporter, I obviously went too far!

Nonetheless, if you are a tourist looking to come to places such as Japan, it will help you enjoy you stay and enrich yourself if you would drop your own ignorant, bigoted views about whales as food.

People who eat whales are ... human beings too, ya' know... If you need more information, please feel free to leave further comment.
Yep, we are all human beings, capable of logical thinking beyond superstision and in a unique position of responsibility for our environment.

Killing whales - to eat, to experiment on, to have stuffed and framed or whatever you like is one of many things that humans do though they know better, as the impact of removing these animals from the ocean is devastating.

Tell me you work in whale conservation on the side and you're eating only whales from a sustainable source and I'd feel differently.

It's never smart to hide behind the veil of culture. We are intelligent enough to look at culture and take the parts that we know to be right. Many many outdated customs are best left in the past (would you defend female circumcision?)

We grow and learn. Ecological issues aside - it was your comment that the meat 'didn't seem like anything special' that vexed me initially. It's very very hard to understand why you would eat it.

I can't imagine we can reach a mutual understanding here and I appreciate your right to post whatever you like on the internet.

I hope you consider the ethics of cultural practices in the future - this may help you to grow and develop as a person. I could see every country in the world and practice the addage 'when in Rome' but I don't think I could stand by all of my actions when later reflecting upon them.
Katieg, thanks for your very good comment. Here is my response.

Most whale species are "naturally renewable resources", and thus can be harvested on a sustainable basis. Some are not, and ought remain protected. There is little to disagree on here, hence no one is currently harvesting, for example, Blue whales in the Antarctic thought to number only around 2 to 3 thousand and in need of much more time to recover.

On the other hand I eat Antarctic minke whales, Western North Pacific Minke, Sei and Bryde's whales, and the odd bit of North Atlantic fin whale. All of these stocks of whales are with very high certainty in enough abundance to support some level of sustainable harvest. Current levels of harvest are general conservative relative to what is sustainable.

Take this from America's IWC commissioner under questioning:

"... the IWC calculates what is a sustainable amount that could be harvested for each of these stocks. And what we are looking to do is cap the number of whales taken underneath that sustainable number."

"... there could be thousands harvested sustainably in the southern ocean. ..."

(Japan of course harvests less than a thousand, let alone any number of thousands.)

This is not from the Japanese or myself, but from the mouth of the USA's own IWC commissioner. Alas despite this the USA has what I consider bogus reasons to oppose such harvests anyway, but it should be clear that this is not an issue of conservation given that the USA commissioner concedes this much.

So, instead of eating these whales, one of which provides a large amount of food, I could eat something like a piece of a chicken, cow, or pig instead. But those animals don't live the free happy lives that the whales do, and the amount of food generated per life of animal is far worse than for whales in each case. So why should I not eat whales to the extent possible, but be regarded as civilised if I eat the others exclusively instead?

None of this has much to do with culture; much country of birth is young and I am free of mind. This is my personal philosophy, but others including Japanese people have their own way of thinking when they decide what to eat.

"would you defend female circumcision?"

Why do you choose to equate eating whales with female circumcision?

Is there no activity in which you partake that I could just as easily arbitrarily equate with female circumcision?

Is not the western idea of raising animals in captivity before eating them interchangable with the marine nation idea of harvesting life from the ocean for food?

The 'didn't seem like anything special' comment was from Mark, but whale *is* just another type of food. Horse is eaten here in Japan too, along with western favourites. Because unfortunately it is not possible to eat foods like whale exclusively. But when you think about the life of the animal from which the whale meat comes from versus the life of the animal from which other meats come from, it is hard to understand how one could rationally feel that it is "wrong" to eat a whale. No natural forest is destroyed to secure land to lock the animals up in captivity on for them to be raised - the whales are produced essentially by the power of the sun. This is organic food, with no growth hormones. And if we are to eat it we are incentivised to work to keep the ocean clean. This is all good stuff.

On the contrary if we are able to ensure for other animals the kind of good living that whales have, then we will truly have achieved something worthwhile. Unfortunately in a world where some people think they know better than others, such an enlightened future seems a long way off yet.
While you are enjoying your next bite of whale, maybe you could at least take a moment to remember the suffering that went into your meal. It can take 20 minutes of agonizing torment from when the first cold harpoon penetrates its body. As it writhes in agony, numerous bullets add to the pain. As it thrashes and dies, its pod--its family--panics. Sometimes, these intelligent, sentient beings even try, in vane, to protect their dying family member. Bon appetit, David.
You are welcome to consider what your beef steak went through during the time the meat's original owner was alive, too.
I really like this site, it's so important to know more about this topic, keep it up and of course every time I have time I'll love to check out again
Thank you for a great article
I am visiting japan this year and look forward to trying whale
Hi David,
Thank you for suggesting this restaurant. I went there with my wife and enjoyed it a lot. We ate whale cooked in different ways. Deep fried, boiled, even raw… All of them tasty, but the sashimi of whale’s heart was quite difficult to chew.
It was difficult to find the restaurant since they have moved their location. Thanks to a friendly policeman we learnt that Taruichi is now situated on the -B1F very close to best Western Hotel at Shinjuku (I have some photos of the new entrance if you want to update this post). It is 3 or 4 blocks from its previous location, not far away.
I think you will be happy to know that your post has been printed by the restaurant manager and placed at all the tables as a kind of prestigious advertising for their customers.
This restaurant is fully recommendable for those who want to experience a part of Japanese culture because of the food, atmosphere, service… even the price is not too high. We recommend to book in advance.
Just a few word regarding the discussion on this post. There are a lot of different species of whales, some endangered and some in good conservation status. I think and we should eat them the same way we eat beef, pork, dog,… or any other animal such as fish or birds, as long as their conservation as an specie is granted.
Best regards

I tried whale recently, but wasn't too fussed on it, but this article shows some interesting ways to make it, and I've always enjoyed eating heart, so I'll definitely try these places soon.
Thanks for the great article.
Hi Anonymous,

Yes, I found some time ago (last year perhaps) that Taruichi had moved.

But I didn't know this post has been reproduced at the restaurant :)

These days I don't have time to update this blog. I leave it as an exercise for younger souls with more free time to pick up the torch!

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