Enjoying a Dangerous Pleasure: The evolution of pufferfish consumption in modern Japan

Chung-Hao Kuo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter addresses how pufferfish evolved in the culinary context of Japanese history from a dangerous foodstuff to a safe and enjoyable cuisine in the modern era. The consumption of pufferfish boomed in China in the early modern era, and cultural interactions between China and Japan subsequently spread the dietary custom to Japan. However, without sufficient knowledge of the pufferfish’s toxin, people consuming the future delicacy suffered from bouts of food poisoning. The Japanese government banned consumption of pufferfish until the Meiji era when Japanese physicians uncovered the science behind pufferfish toxin. The consumption of pufferfish became a delicacy in twentieth-century Japan. Pufferfish consumption reflects how Japan skillfully absorbed foreign culinary cultures and afforded them with Japanese characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Food in Asia
EditorsCecilia Leong-Salobir
PublisherBrunner - Routledge (US)
ISBN (Electronic)9781315617916
ISBN (Print)9781138669918
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

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