JSPS Quarterly
No.58 2016 Winter


Introducing Japan: Kobe City, Octopus Capital of Japan

Dr. Marco Pellitteri

Kobe, together with its environs, is well known for a lively seafood industry, which boasts the largest production of octopus (tako) in Japan. Akashi-dako is a local octopus, uniquely named for its short, chewy tentacles, harvested in the Akashi port and along the coast of Hyogo Prefecture, of which Kobe is the capital city. Akashi-dako is representative of the local seafood cuisine that I enjoy.

Kobe and its surrounding fishing ports remind me of my hometown in Sicily, located in the southern part of Italy where local seafood is considered to be among the best in the country as well as across the entire Mediterranean region. We eat a variety of fish, shellfish, octopus and other seafoods as much as the Japanese people do, although we rarely eat them raw.

 
Akashi-dako at local seafood market             Akashi-Yaki

It is always interesting to find differences between the Japanese way and our way of preparing seafood. One such example is Akashi-yaki. It is an egg-based dumpling with chopped Akashi-dako octopus inside and served with a specially seasoned soup (dashi) for dipping. It is one of the unique seafood delights of this area. Loved by the locals as a mouthwatering dish, Akashi-yaki of course requires dexterous maneuvering of one’s chopsticks to eat!

My Japanese friends and acquaintances are shocked when they see how much I know about fish and the sea, and how skillful I am in cleaning and eating fish. They thought Japan had somewhat of a “monopoly” on seafood culture. I’ve shown them that Sicilians are a little bit akin to people in Kansai (Osaka-Kobe area)!

 on the map of Japan


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JSPS Quarterly No.58 2016