- Main lore areas
- Main ingredients used
- History/origin/related events
Whales fed and fattened up in high latitude waters head for low latitude waters after summer to engage in breeding activities, passing through the Kumano-nada Sea in midwinter. This was the target of Kumano's traditional whaling. Wada Yorimoto started organized whaling in 1606 and is regarded as the founder of whaling.
In 1675, Yoriharu, Yorimoto's grandson, invented the netting method, which enabled him to catch humpback whales that would sink after death, in addition to right whales and sperm whales that would stay afloat after death. Because this method required the use of many seko-vessels and ami-vessels, it developed into a large-scale fishery involving more than 300 men. Eventually, the netting and poking method was introduced to Tosa and Kyushu, and the lords protected and encouraged whaling, which led to whaling in many parts of Japan.
Even after the end of the Edo period and major changes in society, whaling continued to be practiced in Taiji. However, in December 1878, the Taiji whaling team was swept out to sea in pursuit of right whales with calves, and although they succeeded in capturing one on the second morning, it took a long time to return, and in the afternoon the weather broke and the fleet drifted away, with over 100 people missing. The accident, later called "Seminaregawa," put an end to the old-style whaling in Taiji, and modern whaling methods developed in the U.S. and Norway were soon introduced. Whaling continues in Taiji to this day, albeit in a different form.
The people of Kumano have consumed whale meat and entrails, as well as bones and skin, without wasting anything. The most expensive meat is the "tail meat," a rare part of the whale, and its marbled meat is tender and sweet.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
The meat of the "rokku whale" landed in Taiji was a commodity, and most of it was shipped to the city in barrels, sprinkled with salt. However, it is thought that some of the meat was also distributed to the local people for consumption under various names. The meat of small toothed whales such as Gondoh whale, which is not included in the "six whale" category, must have been distributed locally for private consumption, so to speak, and is still very popular today.
- How to eat
Tail meat" is also called "oniku. It is the meat at the base of the tail fin, and only a small amount is harvested. It is a finely marbled meat with fine tannins, and is usually sliced into thin slices and eaten as sashimi. Whale meat is classified into various parts, such as back meat, belly meat, and breast meat for red meat, "unesu," "kawasu," and "skin" for fat meat, and "heart," "tongue," "esophagus," "hyakujo (stomach)," and "hyakuhiro (small intestine)" for viscera. Various cooking methods that take advantage of the characteristics of each part have been handed down throughout Japan. Rare marbled meat is subdivided into "tail meat," "aburasunoko," "kanoko," "shiofuki kanoko," etc., according to texture, taste, and amount of fat, and is treated as a luxury item.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
In Taiji Town, historical sites of old-style whaling, such as the remains of "Yamami", which was used to watch for migrating whales, have been preserved, and at the Whale Museum, there are exhibits of whale biology outdoors and whaling biology and historical materials related to whaling indoors. The town also has specialty stores selling whale meat, a supermarket directly operated by a fishery cooperative, and restaurants and lodging facilities serving whale dishes.