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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



Noge "Whale Row" in Asahi news

Tena koutou again,

Isanatori let me know about this article here in the Asahi's Kanagawa edition, covering latest developments with regard to this project. (I wrote a bit about it before here.)

Visit the original page to check out the picture of the juicy whale cutlets, but here's a summary of the story:

- A group of shops situated in the Noge area in Yokohama city is working on a project to promote their district with whale cuisine.
- The "Whale Map" which was being prepared is now completed.
- A total of 30 restaurants are participating, with traditional menu items such as bacon and cutlets being served in izakayas and western style eateries, and sushi shops and cafes have introduced new recipes for their menus.
- The participating shops have also secured a bulk distribution route for good quality whale meat.

The article covers the background of the story (see here), some of the new recipes being created, etc.

However, Masanobu Tai (53) who is a member of the co-operative notes that "the biggest problem was securing whale meat". "Commercial whaling was put on hold in 1987 ... ", the article continues, "... leaving only research whaling left. Domestic whale meat supply, which peaked in 1962 at 220,000 tons, had decreased to 4,000 tons in 2007 (Fisheries Agency figures). Whale bacon too became a luxury, and not often seen at the dinner table."

The article says that until now apparently around 50 shops had been serving whale cuisine on their menus. "Each restaurant was ordering in whale meat independently, however this time a new bulk supply route has been secured. The town has made a framework for serving whale."

Mr. Tai was surprised that they were able to muster 30 shops to join the co-operative. The article elucidates that "whale meat that the co-operative orders in is frozen at sea, and isn't thawed out until it reaches each shop. At around 4,000 yen per kilogram, it costs about twice the market price, but compared with whale meat that is thawed out during it's path through the distribution chain, the meat is said to have much less smell, and better flavour."

As for the "Whale Map", it is set to be laid out at main Keikyu train line stations from the end of this month. Restaurants that are featured in the map will all share a common logo. And they have plans to hold a cooking contest at the Noge district's annual "Daidogei" event.

* * *

Good luck to them!

Pictured are a couple of dishes some friends and I enjoyed at an unrelated Shinjuku restaurant (Hatsumomiji) back in March this year.

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Foreign students eat whole whale

Four students from abroad were in Japan recently, according to this Mainichi article.
Apparently they are studying at a Copenhagen business university, and in Japan were focusing on whale consumption here.

A 25-year old German student joked:
"I had never eaten whale back in Germany, but the 4 of us have eaten as much as a whole whale while we've been in Japan"
That's the spirit :)


Whale meat inventory update - March 2009

*** UPDATED 2009/05/31

Tena koe everyone, again struggling to make time at the moment but here's a brief update for the March figures that were released last Friday.

March was again not a good month if you are looking for big decreases in existing inventory, but if you are an anti-whaling propaganda merchant then it's time to put your hat on and go to town as the inventory volumes will be peaking around about now or with the April figures.

March 2009 outgoing stock: 278 tons

Again - another low figure for outgoing inventory. Just 51% compared with the prior year month.

March 2009 incoming stock: 1,861 tons

This month is clearly unusual, and the regional stockpile breakdown figures included in the Ministry's release show that Tokyo's inventory increased by a net of 1,645 tons for the month. Didn't see it in the media (may have missed it), but the JARPA II fleet's supply vessel appears to have returned to Japan during the month of March, and unloaded perhaps as much as 1,750 tons of whale meat by-product in facilities in the Tokyo region. As always, note that this new inventory does get made available for sale on the market until early summer however (and some of it gets set aside for public purposes).

March 2009 end-of-month inventories: 4,402 tons

A 56% increase from February indicates that the previous month's inventory level of 2,819 tons is likely to be a low for 2009.

* * *

Will look to get back to this with graphs etc if the time presents itself - maybe on the weekend.

* * *

---- UPDATE 2009/05/31

Almost June, and the April figures will be out in on the 10th, but here are some of my regular items.

March 2009 top inventory regions

Stockpile size at
month end
Stockpile size at
previous month end
Tokyo city wards2,9121,267+1,645

Graph: Inventory ratio

The inventory ratio spike continued in March.

Graph: Annual volumes

Graph: Monthly volumes

Graph: Outgoing stock (cumulative)

This year sees outgoing inventory figures the weakest they have been in some years.

Graph: Incoming stock (cumulative)

On the incoming stock side 2009 is shaping up to be second only to 2006, but we'll have a better idea once the April figures are released.

Graph: Regional whale meat inventories

Around half of the inventory shown here in the Tokyo figures was not for sale as of March month-end, and won't be until sometime in June or July.
Funabashi's seemingly static inventory levels remain a mystery.




IWC 61 Scientific Committee docs

For those interested in the IWC Scientific Committee advice for IWC 61 (which is much more interesting than the IWC meeting itself), you can find docs here:


Note that the page is being updated every couple of days, so it's worth checking back frequently if you are into this stuff.

Drop a comment if you see anything there of interest.



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