Japan – The land of the rising sun is frequently synonymous with-rising absurdities. This country of inventions has created some of the most bizarre things that exist on the planet with food habits topping the list. I give you a firsthand experience of the most outrageous edibles (rather inedible) that have excited my taste buds.
10. Wacky flavored kit-kats
Looking at the reputation of Japan, Nestle created the most creative only-in-Japan product of 19 unique flavors for kit-kat. Besides the regular chocolate flavored kit-kat (which must seem mundane to Japanese), Japan has other wacky and bizarre flavored kit-kats including soy sauce, grilled corn, red potatoes, wasabi flavoured white chocolate kit-kats, green tea kit-kat, to name a few.
9. Wasp Cracker
Since Japanese are so good with mixing and matching to create another product altogether, they mixed wasps with rice crackers and created the wasp crackers. In the Japanese town of Omachi, around 100 miles outside of Tokyo, wasps are caught, boiled, dried and infused into crisps. This new snack craze is the product of a rice cracker producer who decided to spice up their recipe a bit, by adding wasps. If you trust the Japanese, these wasps are very much edible and tasty. The texture of the wasps blends in with the crunchiness of the crackers. The saltiness of the wasps can also coincide with the saltiness or sweetness of the cracker. These crackers make a weird sight as you can see the wasps on the crackers. A bag of 20 crackers costs around ¥320. Since wasps used in these crackers are caught in the wild and only the best are used, the supplies of wasp crackers are limited. So, if you get your hands on some, never mind trying it.
8. Curry Lemonade
When it comes to drinks in Japan, it’s like a freaky carnival sideshow. Curry and lemonade are two separate things. But in Japan, they believe in unity. So they made a drink out of their unison and they called it Curry Lemonade. This bizarre drink tastes more or less sweet than salty. But again most of the times, the flavour of curry tends to overpower the taste of lemonade. The only thing similar about these two products is their yellow golden colour. But there’s no use fighting this creation, after all, it has become quite popular with the locals.
7. Roasted Crab Babies
This is perhaps the saddest of them all. These are actual crab babies that are caught from their hiding place and roasted alive to fine perfection. In Japan, this is considered to be one of the best snacks. Known as “Rosuto Akachan No Kani” in Japan, which literally translates to Roasted crab babies, this may sound disturbing. These baby crabs have very little meat and their shell is mostly edible since they aren’t as hard as most crabs, especially the bigger and older ones. They are packed in plastic and sold in Japan as one of the best ready to eat snack.
6. Placenta Drink
Ladies, if you want to stay young and beautiful, Placenta 10000 is your thing. This jelly drink contains Pig Placenta, which is supposed to have regenerative properties. Sold at approx. ¥1000 for a 30 ml bottle, this drink is available at any corner store or pharmacy in Japan. The company that offers this high-end version of pig placenta is Nihon-Sofuken, whose main selling point is that this product conceals the horrible smell of pig by the smell of peach or apple (the flavours it comes in). Although I couldn’t convince myself to try this, my Japanese friends believe that a bottle a day has noticeably improved their appearance.
5. Rose Sweat Gum
This gum is created for those summer days in Japan when the weather becomes sticky and sweaty. This gum aptly named as “Otoko Kaoru” meaning “Man Smelling Sweetly”, is a brand of chewing gum that makes your sweat smell like roses. This gum contains rose and menthol ingredients to keep chewers smelling minty floral fresh right through the scorching summer days. It causes a rose fragrance to be emitted from the chewer’s body for about one to two hours after its chewed. Japanese men are very concerned about the way they smell as it is often reported that young women cannot stand the odour of men. The gum proved so successful, that the manufacturer, Kanebo, published a statement to say that they were unable to keep up with demand and the gum had been pulled from the shelves until further notice.
4. Eel Soda
Unagi-Nobori Soda is brought to you by the folks at Japan Tobacco who are known for “healthy products” with smoky flavours. Eel is supposed to give an instant energy boost and in late July when the temperature reaches 30-35 degree C (low to mid 90’s F), and the humidity bears down at over 90%, the Japanese celebrate “doyo no hi”, a day on which Japanese traditionally eat unagi, a.k.a eel, to combat natsubate or the lethargy that many suffer. Leave it to Japan to create something creative and useful at the same time. It is sold as a “nutritional supplement carbonated beverage.” This yellow coloured beverage contains eel extract and vitamins commonly found in eel. Now, eel is a delicacy in Japan but bottling it up is plain bizarre.
3. Meat Flavoured Ice-cream
Your typical ice cream flavours would be vanilla, chocolate or strawberry but when in Japan, you know they are not going to serve you with something as normal as vanilla or chocolate. They will get you meat flavoured ice-creams, for example, beef tongue, chicken wings, shark fins (with real shark fins), octopus and the weirdest of them all – horse meat ice cream. The mere thought of eating ice cream with raw horseflesh in is flat out horrible. The chunks of meat inside it offer ample proof of why horseflesh is usually used in dog food. But people in Japan are buying more and more of these.
30% Milk+ 70%Beer= Bilk. This drink is Japan’s answer to oversupply of milk in Hokkaido region of Japan. Trust the Japanese to solve their problems instead of lamenting. When the milk is spilled, they don’t cry over it, they make beer out of it. Milk consumption had been declining steadily in Japan. After facing the problem of discarding the over-produced milk, the son of the manager of a liquor store in Nakashibetsu, whose main industry is dairy farming, suggested the idea of producing the milk beer to local brewery Abashiri Beer. Bilk looks like beer with a soft golden colour but has a distinct milky smell. Like a lot of Japanese beers, Bilk is low malt and tastes a bit fruit, even a bit like tea. It is sold for ¥380.
1. Diet Water
Exposed: This is Japan’s secret to stay slender. When I heard about “Diet Water” back in 2004, it dawned on me that I have been drinking fattening water all my life. Imagine the horror! Diet water is manufactured by Sapporo-the company renowned for beer. Diet water, completely an oxymoron, perhaps has negative calories. This product claims to have all the taste but none of the calories of regular water. Though I’m not sure how did they manage to find calories in usual mineral water!
Japanese are really weird people with their obsession with high technologies, freaky fashion and mysterious culture. There is no such phrase as “going too far” for the Japanese people. They have created some of the most bizarre products and have lately become the motherland of bizarre foods. However, if you do go to Japan and if you palette permit, do try these nowhere to be found snacks and drinks.