Fugu, the poison fish ふぐ

  • Published on : 06/11/2019
  • by : G.L.
  • Rating :

"Puffer fish", "sunfish", but what is this fish?

It is rare, expensive, and in principle unfit for consumption. It is not that it is specially tasty, but the moonfish attracts the curious and fans of strong sensations. The secret: the poison running through his veins, that only qualified cooks know how to neutralize… and finally, they are the stars of the moonfish.

Only fugu prepared by specialists recognized by the prefectures can be served to consumers. Fugu cooks must undergo a minimum of three years and up to five years of training before passing a very difficult test, which, if they pass, will enable them to obtain the necessary state certificate.

The preparation consists of cutting the fish which are still alive, avoiding piercing the liver or the reproductive organs, where the poison is nestled. To do this, the chefs use a special knife, the fugu hiki, which they store separately (for sanitary purposes). In addition, the poisonous parts prohibited for consumption are thrown in a bin that locks with a key for added security!

Fugu must be prepared very carefully

Du fugu chez un poissonnier.

Du fugu chez un poissonnier.


Without going as far as Shimonoseki or Oita, there are very famous restaurants in Tokyo, for example, the famous Usukifugu Yamadaya (starred by the Michelin guide, very pricy...) or in Osaka, at Zuboraya.

In general, chefs display the certificate on the wall of their establishment certifying their expertise. Since the fugu is prepared alive, most restaurants display the unsuspecting fishes in the aquarium. 

The level of qualification and expertise of the chefs and the strong demand from consumers make this fish an expensive, even exorbitant, food.


Restaurant Zuboraya

Fugu storefront chain Zuboraya restaurant.


Fugu, vervit restaurant Usukifugu Yamadaya, can be lethal if improperly prepared.

Fugu, vervit restaurant Usukifugu Yamadaya, can be lethal if improperly prepared.


The fish is then eaten boiled, including the muzzle, immersed in a nabe (pot) with mushrooms, vegetables, and tofu, all washed down with a glass of hirezake, a sake whose bottle contains a fin of fugu.

It is at the end of this meal that the essence of the pufferfish is revealed, once the lips are slightly anesthetized by the tiny dose of poison that it still contained. Bland for some, subtly exquisite for others ... The idea of having tasted death and living to tell about it is the irresistible appeal!

Fugu sashimi

In the Osaka area, fugu sashimi is served.

Raita Futo

Fugu nabe (stew) is one of the most traditional ways to enjoy it.


The slats of fugu (sashimi) are a delicacy very refined.

Fugu strips (sashimi) are a very refined dish.


Latest Articles

L'artisanat traditionnel du Tohoku - les poupées Kokeshi

Traditional Arts & Crafts of Tohoku

Located north of the main island of the Japanese archipelago, the northern part of Honshu known as Tohoku has its own cultural identity and traditions passed down from generations for years.

Summer in Japan: Furin

5 tips for surviving the Japanese summer

With its temperatures reaching 40°C in the sun and its humidity... the Japanese summer can be unbearable when you are confronted with it for the first time.

Torii Gates

Shinto & Shrines

A guide for travellers to Japan on Shintoism and visiting shrines with information sourced from a 17th generation Shinto Priestess. 

See All (368)


Rate the content

  • Star
  • Star
  • Star
  • Star
  • Star

Your comment

Enter the characters shown in the image.
* Required fields