Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Whale On Food Festival Menu

When tourists think of Japan, images of dramatic landscapes, futuristic cities and world-class sushi may spring to mind.
But one Tokyo district is hoping to reel in outsiders with one of the country’s more controversial traditions: slaughtering whales.
Ebisu, a Tokyo gastronomic hub, is hosting an annual food festival aimed at introducing foreigners to the culinary delights of whale meat.
But few tourists visiting the district seem willing to tuck into the dark meat, with some saying the concept put them off visiting the festival entirely.
Japan's culinary relationship with cetaceans is both controversial and complex. The nation has hunted whales for hundreds of years but the commercial industry only took off after WWII, to help feed a hungry country.
In recent decades it has used a legal loophole in the international ban on whale hunting that allows it to continue catching the animals in order to gather scientific data. But it's no secret that the whale meat from these hunts ends up on dining tables, even though consumption has fallen sharply in recent years.
The country’s influential Japan Whaling Association has given the festival its blessing. Chairman Kazuo Yamamura: "If foreign visitors actually see the food being served at restaurants, I hope they say it may be all right to use it as resources as long as the animals are not endangered."
Around 30 Ebisu restaurants are serving whale dishes throughout the festival, which closes on 18 October.

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