A History of Violence

Yesterday, I was supposed to go and eat lunch at either the infamous coffee ramen joint or Tokyo’s oldest horse stew restaurant with other contributors of MF. Instead, I was called on a family excursion to a different type of interesting cuisine—Banya, a cafeteria next to a local fish market in southern Chiba managed by a fishing union cooperative that has recently gained cult status among gourmet followers. The restaurant, which seated hundreds, was crowded, and for good reason—it was delicious. But the grotesque nature of the meal made me think about the inherent violence in the way food is often served in Japan.

In the West, it’s no secret where meat comes from—animals. Often the beasts are harvested and processed in the same way as agriculture. And there has long been a certain Puritan virtue associated with vegetarianism. As many as 20% of the U.S. population believed to be vegetarian. Yet we rarely see evidence of the kill in our meals. Most meat is well processed. We rarely see evidence that the meat we eat was once alive.

Vegetarian advocates have long said that, if the public was aware of the violence inherent in consuming animal flesh, they would realize that “meat is murder” and more people would be vegetarian. The case of Japan, where there is much violence in food yet low prevelance of vegetarianism, suggest otherwise. In much of Japan’s cuisine, the violent inherent in meat is more obvious, and this is no more so the case than with raw fish. At yesterday’s lunch we had an assortment of freshly slaughtered fish, often prepared ikitsukuri style, freshly slaughtered and with the carcass, sometimes wriglign, on display on the same plates from which we ate. Read more below, but viewer discretion is advised.

First there’s this Ise Ebi, a lobster-esque shrimp, served up with the tail as sashimi.

Even after we finished the meal, the creature’s arms were still clearly twitching:

Once we finished, they took the plate back and turned the shrimp’s head into soup.

Then we’ve got a fish that has been filleted and fried whole.

Then we’ve got a hirame flounder, with its gills still flapping and appearing to be breathing. While it’s common to serve aji, the smaller makerel, in this manner, this was the first time I saw a fish as large as a flounder skewered (still breathing) with its body served before us on a plate.

The cafeteria-style restaurant seated hundreds of people, and at the many surrounding tables I saw similar examples of all types of fish, including wriggling shellfish meat. Together, this was by far the largest display fish served raw still alive and quivering. You can see some truly crazy example here. While the fish fried whole above is clearly different, as is the shrimp head used for soup, but both are in the same theme.

DISCUSSION: What are we to make of this gruesome scene? Japan, despite having one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world, nonetheless has an extraordinary amount of violence in its food (and its comic books). In most modern and western societies, this would be deemed too revolting to witness, let alone see while consuming a meal. When a Japanese chef demonstrated the technique on a Los Angeles television station several years ago, the station received hundreds of angry calls and the chef received death threats.

Even without ikitsukuri , as the fried fish and shrimp head soup show, Japan’s customers basically don’t blink when the carcass of their meal is right in front of them. Personally, I generally find ikitsukuri fun on occasion, and great to entertain visitors to Japan, but the flesh is tougher, and I prefer meat cut from prepared filets to be tastier, as the meat has relaxed and is less tough. But this occasion, where I was literally surrounded by the fish (and where my 1 year old son was clearly freaked out by the squirming shrimp head) left me thinking—is this right? What do readers think of this type of gruesome display?

See more past posts on this topic at ComingAnarchy:

63 thoughts on “A History of Violence

  1. You’ve made me hungry. I’m not a fan of the western lack of connection between animal and meat – if you are going to eat it, you should know where it comes from.

  2. I don’t find it gruesome. I remember being kind of amazed the first time I saw some food try to run away (awabi writhing on a hot rock). But, I think being appalled by this sort of thing just indicates a certain degree of (unhealthy) detachment from the natural world.

    I know I’m stating the obvious, but many of those cheap-looking places in fishing towns can’t be beat. One of my best food memories was a place on Notojima in Ishikawa pref… right across the bridge from Nanao city, on the right. Parking lot full of kei trucks and a bus stop. You can’t miss it. Cheap as hell and better than any fancy expense account feed, in my very limited experience of fancy expense account feeds.

  3. Do you think the same applies to non-aquatic animals? I haven’t noticed any live Kobe beef butchering… I think there is a mystique associated with the process of sashimi as it is such an art, and performed on lowly fish with relatively low levels of blood (and no screaming or serious fighting).

    I think the sashimi cutting process is beautiful. It is far more entertaining than a magic act to watch the guys in the supermarket cut up tuna at those demonstrations (I even saw a tuna sashimi’d up at a high-end supermarket in Bangkok…) Call it the gourmet equivalent of a Spanish bull fight.

    But in the end this process even when the animals are moving is probably on the level of watching an insect die. I don’t think there is any concept that “fish feel pain” or merit much in the way of humane treatment. There is no emotional attachment or sympathy for the fish. Otherwise, however, I think Japanese people are just as sheltered from the messy realities of food preparation as Americans. Obviously this attitude is hypocritical as we just push the messy business on other parts of society (See the awesome film “Our Daily Bread” to see how palpably off-putting it is to see people treating the slaughter of animals as no more than the daily grind of a full time job).

    In China and other places where people actually eat to survive instead of as a way to pass the time, the mental distance from the slaughter to the dinner plate is as short as the killing process is perfunctory and boring.

    Taking this a step further into hot-button territory, perhaps this attitude accounts for some of the whaling conflict between Sea Shepherd and their Aussie backers on one hand and the Japanese government and its whale lunch box nostalgia-having backers on the other. In the US (and I assume Australian) media the ratio of “whales are intelligent whale-song singing sea-humans” messages to “whale meat is a delicious part of a balanced and patriotic diet” messages is at best inverse that found in Japan. Most likely in Japan its 20 “delicious” messages to 1 “intelligent whale-songs” message, where as in the US it is probably 10,000 whale songs for every “delicious” (and even then the idea will probably be sneered at). In this instance I think the Japanese public has a much more balanced take on the matter.

  4. “I don’t think there is any concept that “fish feel pain” or merit much in the way of humane treatment.”

    “In this instance I think the Japanese public has a much more balanced take on the matter.”

    Yes and yes. I strongly second both of these points.

  5. Notice that “Ikizukuri” is considered as grotesque even among in Japanese.

    And once crucial advantage the fish have over livestocks when killing.There will be no blood.

  6. I think exactly this kind of separation between fish/seafood and land based mammals exists in the West as well. I think most people have, at some point, at least seen a fish being gutted and have very likely gone fishing, but I can’t imagine that more than 1-2% of the modern population has ever seen a mammal being slaughtered live (probably much higher which chickens among the older generation or two, as it used to be common to slaughter chickens in the market).

    The large number of pescavores or pescetarians, or whatever you call people who are “vegetarian + fish” is something to consider for a moment. Is there anything that is inherently more moral about killing a fish than a chicken, or is it simply easier because they look less like us, and don’t scream? Take my two pescetarian cousins. As they explained it to me, they explicitly draw a line in their diet between sea creatures and mammals/birds not based on an inherent moral difference between the cases but because they have have gone fishing, killed fish, and feel OK with the process, but do not believe they would be able to slaughter a mammal or bird, or at least have no interest in trying.

    I’ve seen plenty of chickens killed/plucked/gutted in person, but mammals only on video. I’m not sure I would want to go through that kind of effort myself to eat meat, but really that’s more out of laziness than any moral repugnitude. I also don’t want to have to drill for the oil to make the plastic for this keyboard, or do whatever the hell you do to make an LCD.

  7. Aceface: true. In the online research for this article I found lots of anti-ikitsukuri blogs/2ch threads/essays on the topic. Many were also revolted that this, along with whaling, is prominently associated internationally with “being Japanese.”

  8. Live beef butchering, eh? Sounds expensive. For me, there’s not that much difference. But, I was raised by hillbillies, so the only problem I’ve ever had with cutting up critters has been the occasional stray bit of shot that makes it to the plate.

    Damnit, I can’t find the old Dan Akroyd bit about killing your own steak. “Mel’s Char Palace” or something like that.

  9. “prominently associated internationally with “being Japanese.””

    Indeed.However it is better to slice down a shrimp than a passer-by Nanjing citizen to satisfy our inner Japanese lust.

    And American’s should read more violent comic book.It helps fight crime,me thinks.

  10. I blame kid’s lit like Charlotte’s Web and Babe for spreading vegetarian propaganda. Western cartoons should have more non-farm mascots like Totoro so they don’t feel sorry for killing an animal’s mommy and daddy. They’re missing out on all the bacon!

  11. Two things come to mind. The first time I had extra-fresh fish was with a Japanese teacher of English friend of mine. As we ate our still twitching aji he told me how his Chinese ex-girlfriend refused to see or talk to him again after he made the mistake of ordering ikitsukuri one time.

    A few weeks ago I went to a similar restaurant in Chiba with the whole family. I thought the kids might get a bit freaked out seeing as how the love the movie Nemo and have a tank full of fish and shrimp at home. Instead they loved it and wouldn’t stop sticking flowers and pieced of daikon in the flounder’s mouth.

    I guess the key is to start young.

  12. Hey, Charlotte’s Web is a great piece of American children’s lit. I enjoyed it as a kid, but I might well have done so while eating a ham and cheese sandwich.

    Seriously though, Charlotte’s Web, which was written in 1952 LONG before the modern vegetarian movement took off, was not intended to be any kind of vegetarian propaganda. It was a celebration of the now virtually deceased American family farm, as well as trying to teach children to treat animals respectfully, which is a goal that we meat eaters should also strive for. Take a look at the inspiration for the novel: http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/08/03/lifetimes/white-designs.html

    The design of “Charlotte’s Web” is more intricate, a fact that would surely please Charlotte. In 1948, White wrote “Death of a Pig” which appeared in Atlantic Monthly, an oddly affecting account of how he failed to save the life of a sick pig, made ironic by the fact that the pig had been bought to act its part in the “tragedy” of the spring pig fattened for winter butchering. Since literature is not life, White set out in “Charlotte’s Web” to save his pig in retrospect, this time not from an unexpected illness but from its presumably fated “tragedy.”

    (White’s Atlantic article can be found here by anyone with an archive subscription, which I don’t have.) Point is, E.B. White was someone that was keeping pigs for the slaughter, not a vegetarian activist. While one can certainly find Charlotte’s Web to be inspiration towards vegetarianism, one can just as easily be instead inspired to seek out sources of meat that avoid factory farms and industrial feedlots in favor of ranches or farms that allow the animals to live a little before being eaten.

    That said, My Neighbor Totoro is hands down the single greatest children’s film of all time. I wish I had seen it as a child.

  13. Have you read The Omnivore’s Dilemma? One of the author’s main arguments is that the prevalence of processed foods has utterly warped the way Americans think about their meals. And a big part of that is how disassociated we’ve become from the origins of what appears on our plates. Death is an inevitable part of being a carnivore, and while I can sort of see where you’re coming from by calling this “a gruesome scene,” why does hiding it behind the closed doors of a kitchen suddenly make everything all right?

    I’d submit that the odori-gui approach is if anything more natural (as defined by eating an animal in its natural state) and arguably less “violent” (given that the fish was probably caught in its natural habitat than raised on a factory farm) than eating a Chicken McNugget.

  14. There’s no screaming or spurting blood when fish are killed in this protracted manner, maybe what matters is if they are sentient? Research at the University of Guelph suggests they are.

  15. Adamu,

    Kobe beef cows are not butchered. From the lore I’ve heard, they are fed beer and caviar, they listen to Mozart, and when “the time” comes, they are killed in the same way Edward G. Robinson died in “Soylent Green”. It all adds to the taste.

  16. treblekickeresq: Chinese from where? Needless to say the most barbarous treatment of living animals I’ve ever witnessed, both aquatic and land-based, was in the markets of mainland China.

  17. Beef and most meats taste better when properly hung after slaughter. It can be two weeks or even longer for game. My grandmother liked her game green. Whereas for fish, the fresher the better.

    I enjoy raw oysters, moules mariniere, clam soup, crab and lobster. All require the eating or cooking of live creatures. I’ve never eaten live fish in the Ikizukuri. I would try it once if it were presented to me, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.

    My wife is a pescetarian, or fishitarian as I like to say. He reason is simply that she finds land animals too cute to kill.

    Our aversion to eating creatures is based on the degree of empathy we have with them. We naturally have less empathy with creatures which are less like humans. Who worries about the millions of yeast cells slaughtered whenever a loaf of bread is baked?

  18. “Our aversion to eating creatures is based on the degree of empathy we have with them.”

    Very true. I am willing to eat most animals, but I absolutely draw the line at anything in the primate family (barring threat of imminent starvation anyway), and a few other highly intelligent animals (elephants, dolphins). I also feel sqeamish about eating any sort of dog or cat, even though there’s no rational reason for it since I have heard that pigs are easily as intelligent as your typical pet dog. Cat’s I don’t even particularly care for, but I’m highly allergic, which makes the prospect of eating one very unappealing.

  19. Adamu, provider of financial advice to the peasant class, writes:

    “Do you think the same applies to non-aquatic animals? I haven’t noticed any live Kobe beef butchering… I think there is a mystique associated with the process of sashimi as it is such an art, and performed on lowly fish with relatively low levels of blood (and no screaming or serious fighting).”

    Suprised no one’s brought up the Taiji dolphin slaughter. It seems to be the only manifestation in Japan of the penchant among a small but significant number of Koreans for beating and torturing dogs before eating them in the belief that the meat tastes better if it’s been flooded with fear-driven endocrine output.

    Sashimi violence seems benign by contrast.

  20. Hmm…Just got this from the wikipedia entry for “dog meat”:

    “Dog meat was consumed widely in Japan until 675 A.D. when Emperor Temmu decreed a prohibition on its consumption during the 4th-9th months of the year.[40] Today, it is exclusively consumed by Korean people in Japan. China is the only exporter of dog meat to Japan and exported 31 tons in 2006.[41] In Japan dog meat is available in Koreatowns such as the ones found in Tsuruhashi, Osaka and Okubo, Tokyo. Korean residents in Japan frequent dog meat restaurants there.[5]”

    Wonder if this is hormone-rich dog meat, or if the dogs were slaughtered “humanely.” It certainly doesn’t seem to faze anyone here; it’s the first I’ve heard that dog is on the menu in Okubo, etc.

    (No, I don’t want to be accused of culinary imperialism – I wouldn’t make a very good Hindu, in any case. I can even accept eating dogs and dolphins. But torturing them seems a bit over the top, even if it does make them taste better.)

  21. Haven’t seen a live slaughter, but there was on-site butchering at the 牛牛フェア in the town where I used to teach English. Definitely gave me more of an appreciation for the meat. Not dissimilar from the effect of many trips to Tsukiji…even if the tuna are already dead, watching a 解体 is pretty impressive.

  22. Matt: I have not read that book, but I read Pollan’s more recent book, and several of his articles including that very long one in the NYT Magazine recently, so I have a pretty good idea of his arguments. I think your characterization of it is correct, and I think that it would be a very good thing if everyone had a better idea of where their food comes from. I actually just listened to the audiobook of “Fast Food Nation” on my recent trip to Tokyo, and it makes many similar points.

  23. Wow, I had no idea that you could even get dog meat in Japan, must less that it was imported from China! My impression is that the thing where dogs are beaten to death to make them more delicious or give you a viagra-esque hardon or whatever is something that’s done on premises, in restaurants that keep live dogs around. Could be wrong though. Speaking of dogs, I’ve heard that dog meat was banned in Taiwan a little while back, and it can now only be purchased on the DL.

    On a related note, the US ban on horse meat is truly comical and aggravating. I guess it came about from some misguided horse lovers, but anyone who actually wants to do something about animal abuse by the meat industry should work on improving ranch/feed lot/slaughterhouse conditions, not banning the consumption of animals that practically noone wants to eat anyway.

  24. “and a few other highly intelligent animals (elephants, dolphins).”

    Are dolphins intelligent? And if they are, are they as intelligent as pigs, which can be taught to do many, if not more, of the same tricks as dogs?

    They problem with claiming “intelligence” is that it is a anthropomorphic concept. By a dog’s conceptualisation of “intelligence” – that is, the ability to distinguish and act upon a range of different smells – humans pale in comparison.

    There have been all sorts of tests devised to determine animal intelligence and “sense of self”. The most popular is putting a spot of ink on an animal’s “forehead” or front quarters, showing the animal their reflection and seeing if it responds by trying to remove the spot. Dolphins and primates do this and apparently it was used as a guage to show intelligence. That is, until somebody tried it on a Magpie:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080818220557.htm

    My feeling is that if you are going to decide what animals to eat based on a scale of human intelligence from 1 to 10, you will have humans at 10 and everything else below .01 on that scale. Still, I probably wouldn’t go for primates myself.

  25. “Needless to say the most barbarous treatment of living animals I’ve ever witnessed… was in China”

    For the record I am a devoted, happy omnivore and not a particular fan of odori-gui or of Chinese live markets. But I do find it ironic that an (I presume) American such as yourself, from whom the treatment of factory-bred cattle/poultry is hidden safely out of sight and mind behind industrial slaughterhouse walls, is taking the moral high ground over Japanese odori-gui purveyors or Chinese who have the temerity to catch and kill their food out in the open.

  26. “Are dolphins intelligent? And if they are, are they as intelligent as pigs, which can be taught to do many, if not more, of the same tricks as dogs?”
    All I have to go on is a mixture of what I’ve read about in tests and my own gut reaction from seeing them. I’m not going to pretend it’s a real objective standard that other people should follow, just what I can justify to myself.

    Regarding the dot test though, at least in mammals it is limited to primates, dolphins and elephants, which are also the same animals that score highest on various other intelligence tests such as language/pattern recognition, memory, etc. In mammals this sort of behavior seems to actually be indicative of a generally high level of general intelligence. In the case of magpies, it just seems to be a fluke of this particular (or perhaps many) bird species, but not correlated with high results on other intelligence tests. Take a look at the long list of positive indicators of elephant intelligence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_intelligence

  27. ”But I do find it ironic that an (I presume) American such as yourself, from whom the treatment of factory-bred cattle/poultry is hidden safely out of sight and mind behind industrial slaughterhouse walls, is taking the moral high ground over Japanese odori-gui purveyors or Chinese who have the temerity to catch and kill their food out in the open.”

    I think you can say the same about Japanese.Slaughtering animals has been religious taboo for centuries which is why meat eating was prohibited and profession of handling dead animals have been burakumin’s task.
    Today,we have huge media cord on describing slaughterhouse and occupation related with these business due to defacto media censorship by burakumin affiliated organization,a sort of political correctness measure.

    There is a book called “世界屠蓄紀行” and this is about the illustrator travelling around the world and reporting how the animals being slaughtered differently.The publisher is 解放出版社,a Burakumin liberation movement related publisher.
    http://library666.seesaa.net/article/37506976.html

    I was watching “Skai Ururun Kikou” the other day and this Mongolian nomad family had let Japanese talento stays with them in their gel in the stepp where they butcher sheep almost everyday.Japanese girl couldn’t watch and very reluctant to eat but the nomads insisted.Then in the next episode,the nomads came to Tokyo and visit the talento’s house in Ropponigi.And they were taken to sushi bar in Tsukiji where the sushi master slice the still live aji.The nomad woman said “No.no,it’s still moving,I can’t watch”.

    I have similar experience myself.When I was in Ulaanbaatar in 2003,I was taken to local market by the translator and she told me there is something she really wants to buy for lunch.We went to one corner where huge barrel of oil drum is on fire.Inside there was something boiling and the shopowner used shovel to took one out on the plate.
    It was boiled sheep’s head with potatoes and carrots.And the translator used her finger and took out an eyeball and chewed it.I instantly had the flash back from a scene in “Indiana Jones and the temple of doom”,but try not to put any emotion on my face.Well,this woman is now my wife and she so dears the dish and wants to cook it herself here in Japan if the occasion arrives.

  28. MattAlt—with due respect, that’s the worst comment on this thread so far. You wrongly assume my citizenship*, then claim I’m unfit (or say it’s ironic, whatever) to start a discussion on marine vivisection because America has factory farming. As every developed country has factory farming, and as basically every human society engages in some sort of slaughter of animals, you’re actual saying that no one can engage in debate on this topic at all.

    And as for the “national origin” logic, Aceface has taken you up on that, but I think that even a cursory application of that logic shows how silly it is. “How dare you, an Indian, complain about how dirty Detroit is, when human poop flows openly in the streets in New Dehli!” or, “Chinese can’t criticize how the Bush administration handled due process for enemy combatants in the U.S.—you don’t even have a bill or rights!” etc., etc.

    As for the rest of your comment, you appear to not have even read the post—the discussion I started here was not about the morality of killing animals for meat, but the morality of displaying a twitching carcass or animal cadaver in front of a person in the process of eating the flesh from the displayed animal, thus bringing the violence inherent in all flesh consumption to the direct attention of the person eating.

    *=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Curzon,_1st_Marquess_Curzon_of_Kedleston

  29. Catoneinutica, for the record your goofy out-of-context quoting has apparently led someone on FuckedGaijin to call me a “sheltered cat from the “middle”” whatever that means!

  30. Knowing I’m the last guy on this blog who has the right to ask gentle debate.But still not uneasy to see two friends(whom themselves never met with each other) of mine arguing.

    Bringing debate back to Ikizukuri.Like I said in my first post.It’s not exactly the traditional Japanese way of taking life with blessing to the nature.It’s more like tourist attraction intending give shock and awe response by people seeing the sliced fish still moving.

  31. “sheltered cat from the “middle”.

    Translation:Privileged white collared dude working in Tokyo Midtown.

    Well,you earned it,you deserved it,and they don’t.That’s why they are F@;ked gaijin and you are just plain gaijin,Adamu.

  32. Aceface, I was hoping that you would weigh in here as you’re such a library of interesting information: what is the history of ikizukuri?

  33. This may not be the official history of Ikizukuri,however,I was told from Chiba fisherman that in postwar period all the fish can be sent elsewhere in the country in fridge trucks,so the local tourism industry has to invent something that can only be experienced in the coastal resort area.So they started Ikesu,the fish tank where the customar can pick the fish to cook.

    Chiba is known for tourism and fishing,however it doesn’t have onsen.Meaning they can’t get corporate trips coming on weekends.Lots of Japanese company dispatch tours to near destination as sort of employee welfare and in many cases that will be to onsen resort.It’s always Izu that gets these tours from Metropolitan area and not Chiba.Izu had developed wide range of local cuisine from sushi to wild boar stew(another disadvantage to Chiba,becasue wild boars are extinct in Chiba,though recently hybrid boars are being secretly introduced and causing troubles)thanks to ever flowing money coming in from Tokyo and Yokohama.So all Chiba got is fresh fish.There are no stats I have in my hand,but there are more Ikizukuri restaurant in Chiba than Izu for that reason.

  34. Dog in Okubo:

    I had boshingtan in Korean restaurant run by Korean emigre in Okubo once.Not exactly tasty.Maybe the meat wasn’t fresh enough?The owner thinks the white dog is the most tasty,somehow I’m skeptic on that…..

  35. “you’re actually saying that no one can engage in debate on this topic at all.”

    “With due respect” (give me a break!) I’m actually saying nothing of the sort. You asked if odori-gui is “right” or wrong. I merely asked: in comparison to what?

  36. One of my law professors cautioned against using the phrase “with due respect” because it often ends up literally insulting the person you’re talking to (since you tell them you are giving them their due respect, and then disrespecting them with the punchline).

    Anyway, I ate dog meat once, in a hot pot at a Korean restaurant in Tianjin. It was all right, although I was drunk out of my mind for most of that trip (Tianjin has awesome beer) and welcomed any sort of hot spicy meaty food. Walking around China made me less sympathetic to the dogs, though. In Japan, you get used to seeing incessantly cute purebred dogs, often wearing clothes and/or riding in a stroller. The dogs in China are, for the most part, dirty little long-haired tribbles that rummage around the streets. So I usually qualify the statement by saying “Yeah, I ate dog, but it probably wasn’t a cute one.”

    On the other hand, I used to date a Peruvian girl who refused to eat the national delicacy, a type of guinea pig, because it reminded her of her pet chihuahua.

    Back on the original topic: I like to think of eating from a Freudian perspective. I follow the classical “seafood diet” (you know, “I see food, I eat it,” yuk yuk yuk), so my decision-making is probably 80% id and 20% ego, with the ego only taking control when I make myself sick from too much fried oysters and Guinness. Ikizukuri is 100% id-driven—our animal tendencies get aroused by the sight of prey writhing in agony before us—and since I get into id mode when I’m hungry, ikizukuri naturally fits in the picture.

    Sure, it’s possible to ask “What about the fish’s feelings?” But then again, what about the damn rice plant—who’s to say it doesn’t have feelings? Or the amoebas getting chlorinated to death every second in your city drinking water? While we’re on the topic, what’s up with the self-centered attitude of religious believers who think they should thank their deity of choice for giving them food? They took the food, cut it up and put it on their plate themselves! Might as well send a thank-you note to someone you raped.

    This is why I can’t eat in superego mode. It saves a lot of philosophical effort just to say “Delicious!” and focus my cognitive skills on trying to predict who will die next on “Heroes.”

  37. “One of my law professors cautioned against using the phrase “with due respect” because it often ends up literally insulting the person you’re talking to (since you tell them you are giving them their due respect, and then disrespecting them with the punchline).”

    Well,judging from meeting Matt Alt in person twice,insulting other person is highly unlikely of him.And he does write on cute animal character used in Japanese working environment in his professional work and also a keen naturalist in personal life so I can understand his disgust on abuse to lifeform of all kind.

    However,I’m more of a flame thrower than a peace maker in personality.And I’m taking liberty of switching the subject into more emotional issues.
    How about your opinion on “Eat whale and save planet”?
    http://blogs.reuters.com/environment/2008/03/04/eat-a-whale-and-save-the-planet/

  38. “If I get a craving for mercury, I’ll eat a thermometer.” – Harvey Keitel in Rising Sun (the greatest Japan movie* of all time)

    But I wonder about that study. They single out toothed whales for no apparent reason in the first paragraph of the article. I was under the impression that most of the whale meat in Japan comes from baleen whales, like minke whales.

    • In this comment, “Japan movie” means “suckfest.”
  39. Aceface wrote:

    “I had boshingtan in Korean restaurant run by Korean emigre in Okubo once.Not exactly tasty.Maybe the meat wasn’t fresh enough?The owner thinks the white dog is the most tasty,somehow I’m skeptic on that…..”

    The owner didn’t happen to be named Sagawa, did he?

  40. Adamu wrote,

    “Catoneinutica, for the record your goofy out-of-context quoting has apparently led someone on FuckedGaijin to call me a “sheltered cat from the “middle”” whatever that means!”

    You gotta admit, Adamu, that’s pretty funny! Still, I can see that goofy, out-of-context quoting can have unintended consequences – kinda like unprotected sex. I’ll be sure to put a rubber on all my future quotes.

    -catone
    -chastened

  41. Catone:

    Like I said the owner was Korean and since Sagawa is a Japanese name,I find the possibility highly unlikely.

    Tell you what C,if you want to play smartass on internet,first you need to prove yourself that you are actully “smart”.
    Otherwise your impression to others would only be the latter part.Which is what’s happening here right now.

    And you might also want to google the meaning of the phrase “まな板の鯉”in your spare time.

    There are more than four friends of Adamu in real life reading this right now and we are sharpening our knives to make an ikizukuri out of someone,if you don ‘t get my words soon,like NOW.

  42. Aceface wrote:

    “Like I said the owner was Korean and since Sagawa is a Japanese name,I find the possibility highly unlikely.”

    You might find the possibility highly unlikely, but a lot of zainichi Koreans in Japan find the use of a Japanese name to be well within the realm of possibility – indeed, sussing out Japanese-named Koreans seems to be a major raison d’etre for 2-Chanellers.

    But enough digression. Spare a thought for the poor dog in China, bred to be eaten at a restaurant in Okubo!

    -catone
    -”Bred to Be Eaten” – sounds like a good name for a punk band!

  43. And read the word “emigre” my friend.Okubo is the town of “new comers”,not exactly “zainichi” neighborhood like Ueno.The owners were South Koreans from South Korea.

    Funny.I’ve always thought Fucked Gaijin is 2ch minus Japanese and switching the target of hate from Korea to Japan.Pot calling kettle black,eh?

    Talk about dog industry,most of the puppies are destined to be killed once they got left over and grown too big.Not exactly sure which is worse.Killed and eaten and join the circle of great chain of being or simply incinerated.

  44. Aceface wrote:
    “Talk about dog industry,most of the puppies are destined to be killed once they got left over and grown too big.Not exactly sure which is worse.Killed and eaten and join the circle of great chain of being or simply incinerated.”

    You make a good point. Eating the poor mutts is, at least, less wasteful than simply incinerating them. I just hope the, uh, emigres in Okubo didn’t bring with them their various fear-hormone-stimulating skills. Did you hear any plaintive howling while you were there?

  45. Well,dog meats are delicacy consumed as aphrodisiac in Korea and not exactly an everyday meal.So any plaintive howling I heared at the restaurant must be that of the poor souls viagra couldn’t save.

  46. “So any plaintive howling I heared at the restaurant must be that of the poor souls viagra couldn’t save.”

    Well played, Aceface. I like your style. (And I always enjoy reading your posts, my smart-assery aside.)

  47. In addition to ‘Save the planet, eat a whale’, make sure you drive there instead of walking- it’s better for the environment: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article2195538.ece

    As far as ikitsukuri goes- personally I’m not a fan. I’m definitely not opposed to killing animals for food, but I do think it should be done as humanely as possible. I hear the argument that fish don’t experience things the same as humans, other mammals, or fowl, but I’d claim there is more discomfort than there needs to be going on here, all for entertainment and ‘wow’ factor.

    That being said- I do think it’s good to have a connection between consumer and consumed (other than the actual act of consumption). There is definitely too much of a disconnect between most Americans and their food (and I assume its similar in many other countries). The pictures of small, rural, farms we see on packaging, commercials, menus, etc., are facades for grotesque industrial farms that few think about or aware of.

    Personally, I don’t think slaughter can ever be made into an art form as ikitsukuri seems to attempt, but it can be done with as little stress, pain, and suffering to animals as possible.

    Roy brought up the ban on horse slaughter in the US, and while there definitely were some misguided horse-lovers to blame, there were also a lot of non-horsey people that don’t like to think of Black Beauty (or more likely Barbaro) on the table. There is definitely a large portion of the horse industry that recognizes that the ban is doing lots of harm. Better to let them starve and suffer from neglect than to have them slaughtered? Now horses are getting it worse than cattle and swine as they’re getting transported to Canada and Mexico to meet the same fate, but without the oversight that the process was given in the US.

  48. I think vlprince has a point here.But a part from “wow”factor,there is an undeniable fact that the fish taste better when it’s fresh.Not exactly an ikizukuri,but I remember eating lobster in Maine and softshell crabs in Delaware.They were both boiled in hotwater when they were alive and the victims were hand picked by the consumer,or so we did.So this may be the shared idea both in America and Japan.

    I’m just getting back a dozen poster here,but RMilner was mentioning about animal meat is different and that reminds me of a sequence in mini-series James Clavell’s”Shogun” when Richard Chamberlain got a pheasant as present,Shimada Yoko insists to cook at once,but Chamberlain halts and says”Let’s hung the bird on the tree here until the eyes get buried within the flesh,it tastes a lot better eight before it gets rotten”or something and Yoko shows disgust on her face.

    Also reminds me of another film,Chinese American film director Wayne Wang(Smoke,Joy Luck Club) made in 1989 called “Life is cheap….but toilet paper is expensive”.This is filmed on location in Hong Kong where Wang was born and raised,and protagonist is an american born Japanese-Chinese man trying to pick up a suitcase from the triads.And there is a long sequence of ducks being slaughter with their throats being cut off and used as the metaphor of cultural alienation of Asian American coming to the parent’s homeland for the first time and also telling the audience that this is the land where life is indeed cheaper than a role of toilet paper.Could be a troublesome portrayal of Hong Kong had it been shot by someone who is non-Hong Konger and I thought Wang was bending too much into the taste of American audience since purchasing live poultry and asking the butcher to kill it before taking it home is pretty casual shopping in HK.

    The film was out of print at the time I saw it in the 90’s for Wang used Mickey Mouse ear caps in the film as cultural infiltration of America and Disney wanted the film dead.Even without the Disney factor,the film may have difficult being widely distributed because there must be countless numbers of ducks being sacrificed in the process of making this film.Anyway the one I saw in Shibuya was the only remaining copy in the world at the time and the condition was so bad.

    Never knew about horses are being elevated in the status of cats and dogs in the U.S.
    Mongolians are also known for the love of horse,but they do eat them.However horse meat is considered as the diet for poor people.The exception is Kazakh,the tukish minority who consume the horse jerky regularly.So it’s horse meats are abundant and cheap in Mongolia.Which is the reason why a Japanese company operating there and exports horse meat for horse meat sashimi,we call basashi,to Japan.

  49. I hereby suggest that we continue this discussion at “Zauo” in Shinjuku, which provides customers with fishing rods to capture their favorite seafood out of a well-stocked pool. (And yes, iki-tsukuri is most definitely on the menu.)

    http://www.zauo.com/

  50. “While we’re on the topic, what’s up with the self-centered attitude of religious believers who think they should thank their deity of choice for giving them food? They took the food, cut it up and put it on their plate themselves!”

    I believe Bart Simpson said it best with “Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing!”

    Of course, some people have no sense of humour:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=tGCcH2l4jUUC&pg=PA8&lpg=PA8&dq=Dear+God,+we+paid+for+all+of+this+stuff,+so+thanks+for+nothing&source=bl&ots=ZZ60PWrpCq&sig=b11SjLmp1pRHOKYYdNGGsBgpRe0&hl=en&ei=fYX4SYuWKZPaMb33kcQP&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1

  51. MattAlt and others: Friday night work?

    Ace: Sorry, but hey, whenever you come to town we always hold a special dinner regardless of anything else in the schedule.

  52. “The creature’s arms were still clearly twitching…”

    “Clearly twitching”? They look to be tapping impatiently, wondering when this business of being eaten will finally be over – the noodle dress is sooo embarrassing.

    Regarding the Bryce and Berman comments on intelligence – what about the Octopus? There is evidence out there that this is one smart invertebrate, and yet we eat them all the time. You can buy them canned. But in the UK they are “honorary vertebrates” for science procedures purposes.

    At any rate, their intelligence is deeply different from ours and that of other mammals.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cephalopod_intelligence
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octopus
    http://www.slate.com/id/2192211/

    http://discovermagazine.com/2003/oct/feateye
    “That Steve was named Steve was also revealing: Octopuses are the only animals, other than mammals like cuddly seals, that aquarium workers bother to name.”

  53. “Mongolians are also known for the love of horse,but they do eat them.However horse meat is considered as the diet for poor people.The exception is Kazakh,the tukish minority who consume the horse jerky regularly.So it’s horse meats are abundant and cheap in Mongolia.Which is the reason why a Japanese company operating there and exports horse meat for horse meat sashimi,we call basashi,to Japan.”

    I had quite a lot of horse meat when visiting Kazakhstan. It wasn’t particularly good as meats go, but that’s certainly no reason to ban it.

  54. Eat animals by all means, but why torture them? Kill it, eat it. Do fish feel pain? We don’t know, but we may as well wait until they’re dead before we cut them up. It makes no difference to the taste.

    This thread mostly consists of insecure guys rubbing their hardened dicks up against other guys’ hardened dicks and saying “I’m harder than you, I plunged my cock into a goat’s carotid moments after it was slit by a carbide circular saw, and it was winking at me with its dying eyes, urging me to come quickly into its bloodstream, so that the enzymes in my semen would break down its fine proteins, tenderising the meat, as well as seasoning it. Oh, and it would be the closest thing to a pussy that I would ever feel”.

    Really macho, guys. No, wait. Really pathetic. Not so much what you’re saying, but the desperate self-respect which you derive from it.

  55. @that guy who thinks you’re pathetic

    “Eat animals by all means, but why torture them? Kill it, eat it. Do fish feel pain? We don’t know, but we may as well wait until they’re dead before we cut them up. It makes no difference to the taste.”

    Well, as mentioned above, a lot of Koreans, inter alia, seem to think that beating the shit out of a dog before killing it floods its body with tasty, erection-enhancing hormones. Don’t know if it’s true. Ask Aceface; he’s partaken of dog.

    -catone
    -George H. W. Bush (pere) was once told by a Japanese politician that he would’ve likely been eaten if he’d been shot down over Japan when he was a WWII airman. The liver of a downed airman was considered a particularly tasty delicacy.

  56. I have been looking for a place like this to eat in Japan, I am currently staying in Tachikawa and would like to find both a Nyotaimori restaurant and a restaurant that serves Ikizukuri.

    Any recommendations, also what is the price range?

    thanks – T

  57. Despite the vast amount of media coverage, there is no such thing as a nyotaimori restaurant. On the very rare occasions it is actually done, it has to be specially arranged, with a model hired to serve as the “table.”

  58. I really don’t think the disapproval of Ikizukuri is rooted in a fundamental disconnection between slaughter and produce in the public consciousness. On the contrary, people understand very well that an animal dies before you eat it. That’s the problem, this is an aberration of that chain of events.

    More than that, there is no good reason not to kill the animal before eating it. You’re not in any rush to eat it, no predator is going to rip it from your mouth, nor could it conceivably run from you. Which means the fact that it’s live is a novelty. You’re actually taking pleasure from the fact that it’s alive while you’re eating it. You’re taking pleasure in it’s pain, torture and slow death. That is truly barbaric.

    There’s no way in hell i’m buying the ‘it tastes better’ crap. of course it doesn’t. fresh is one thing, live is another. And even if it did taste better, that’s not a good enough reason to torture a creature. by that logic, your boss should whip you while you work, because it will make you go faster.

    I love sushi and i love meat and god help me i will have a lobotomy before i become vegetarian, but i will never endeavour to eat live creatures. It’s appalling.

    And to those of you who brought up whaling, I’m Australian and have no issue with eating whales. I have issues with the extinction of an animal because some people think it’s tasty. So what i’m saying is, I have an issue with stupidity.

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