Japanese are outraged that mere foreigners would dare to criticise their culture of eating live animals after seeing a video of a vivisected squid struggling for life on a plate, even if many of them appear to be of the opinion that it is the very acme of bad taste.
The video behind the spat:
Odorigui, “dancing eating,” is a relatively uncommon form of sashimi in which the animal is still alive when eaten, similar to the better known “ikizukuri.”
The best known examples include various species of squid, octopus, shrimp and goby, which are served live in various stages of dismemberment (or in the case of goby, swallowed whole with a mouthful of soy sauce).
The practice is somewhat notorious for the risk of parasitic infection it carries, although in Japan the animal welfare implications appear mostly to be considered a non-issue.
The video’s original uploader comments that he believes “the sodium in the soy sauce is causing the legs to move and that it is at least incapacitated,” and a Japanese commenter also scathingly comments that a mere foreigner would not know this (evidently not having read the poster’s original comment).
Whether this is true or not, it is clear from other odorigui cuisine that this is at best unintentional and the intent is that the animal be live and moving around on the plate.
Supposedly most of the culinary appeal is from the freshness of the animal’s flesh, but the evident glee which most odorigui/ikizukuri diners display before actually tasting their meal does tend to suggest other motivations are at play:
Predictably, the original response to the video from western audiences was largely one of disgust and outrage at this flagrant cruelty to ika-chans, but when Japanese were recently made aware of this disapproval they soon became outraged themselves (although given the rarity of the practice it is doubtful whether many of them have ever actually eaten odorigui themselves):
“This is traditional. Foreigners, don’t force your values onto us!”
“I agree. But I could never eat this!”
“How pitiful for foreigners to have to deny themselves such a delicious meal just because of religion!”
“People who say this is cruel have had their brains eaten by maggots. Eating any living thing is like this. If you think this is cruel, have some sympathy for the other meat and vegetables you eat!”
“Living squid are gross…”
“Even amongst Japanese I think many would consider this cruel. I wouldn’t want to eat this.”
“Damn Japs are crazy!”
“We should stop this. It makes me feel ill to see it.”
“I understand why people want it fresh, but having its head dance around on your plate and then uploading videos of the spectacle is bad taste. You can’t help but think they are enjoying tormenting it on their plates.”
“Gross, and sick!”
“Westerners have no right to criticise us! They killed whales just for oil, cats for being black, burned old women for being ugly and Africans for sport!”
“I’ve eaten live octopus on a fishing boat, it’s delicious, supermarket stuff can’t compare. Freshness makes a huge difference to seafood. But I’ll admit, this is gross.”
“Poor Ika-chan. This is a miserable thing to do to it. At least make it into a splendid sashimi display.”
“If you don’t like it, don’t eat it! Shut your mouths, foreigners!”
[In English:] “I have never eaten this, but DO NOT CRITICIZE other country’s culture. White people eat meat. Japanese eat fish.”
[In English:] “This is not a typical Japanese cuisine. It is a joke in bad taste cuisine of some pervert made. I am Japanese. Almost all Japanese can not eat that food like this.”
[In English:] “This is the way of eating depending on which it is very primitive and should be criticized.”
“I’d like to try icefish odorigui.”
“This is seriously poor taste. It’s just like playing with your food.”
“They have bullfighting in Spain! Europeans exploit Africans for their resources! America slaughters the middle east for its oil! If you think doing this to a squid is cruel, you have no business living in modern society.”
“I’m Japanese, but this is messed up.”
“I live in Hokkaido and I can’t believe this outrageous stuff is happening in the same place!”
“How barbarous to complain about a nation’s culinary culture. You can really see how aggressive these Americans and Europeans are.”
“This is sick, even most Japanese would get culture shock from seeing it. Some morons are just trying to show their supposed patriotism by supporting it.”
“Delicious. Sashimi is Japanese culture. Japanese who say they couldn’t eat this are just ethnic Koreans.”
“This is how those Koreans eat octopuses. Some ethnic Korean probably imported the practice here.”
“People who say they couldn’t eat this are just ethnic Koreans or foreigners.”
“Overseas they have no culture of eating things alive so they’ll never understand.”
[In English:] “Shit American cannot understand Japanese culture. I like to eat fish arive.”
“I don’t understand why roasting a squid isn’t cruel but eating it alive is?”
[In English:] “No cruelty, such as from a nuclear bomb.”