Tokyo's Bug-Eating Club

As icky as it sounds to many of us brought up in Western cultures, the human consumption of inse...

Tokyo's Bug-Eating

As icky as it sounds to many of us brought up in Western cultures, the human consumption of insects is common in many parts of the world.

Most Japanese people are on the same page as the rest of the developed world in thinking of bugs as unappetizing—not to mention creepy, gross, and/or scary— little creatures that have no place in the home, and especially not on the dinner plate.

However, there are some rural regions of Japan where insects are are a local delicacy, and have been so for centuries. In Nagano, the prefecture this writer calls home, you can walk into any supermarket and expect to find plastic packs of grasshopper (inago) or stonefly larva (suzumushi) boiled in soy sauce, and sometimes even read-to-eat packs of boiled wasp larva mixed in with rice (hachinoko-gohan).

In the cities, eating bugs is still taboo, and even in rural areas insect cuisine is now considered fringe cuisine, especially among the younger generations. But in Tokyo, there is a group of people who believe that bugs just need to be given a chance, which is why they are hosting what is now the 4th annual Tokyo Insect Eating Festival (Tokyo Mushikui Festival) last year.

While humanity has been known to eat almost anything, nausea comes to mind when bugs are involved. It is difficult to imagine, but eating things like Wood Lice, Bee Larva, Silkworm Larva, Cicada Larva, Spiders ... and other such morsels, are a new trend in Tokyo. The bug chef Soichi Uchiyama hosts a bug eating festival in Tokyo. According to him,

"I think the time of abundant food is coming to an end. There are many issues of food safety as well. I want to throw out a question to people about the future of food, and at the same explore new sources of food like insects.

My favorite quote of his has got to be, "You can treat them like a pet and eat them when they grow big enough". You know, like your dog."

While this is completely disgusting to most of humanity, it turns out that this is a common practice throughout the world. Who knows, maybe Soichi Uchiyama is right, if a global food pandemic strikes, who knows what we will be eating afterwards?

cultured cockroach

worm soup

worm pie

friend insects

insect sushi


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