You may not be able to read Japanese, and this may not be the greatest picture (it was taken with a phone camera), but trust me, it says it’s whale sushi.
My parents and I were in Shizuoka for lunch this weekend before my mom and I headed to the hot springs. We ended up at this rotating sushi place in the train station building. The fish was fresh, the cuts were generous, but imagine my astonishment when I saw this sign.
If you’re wondering, I didn’t try it. The last time I had whale was in fifth grade in elementary school. It was probably one of the last school meals that served whale in Japan. We were served whale steak, and it was pretty terrible. It sort of reminded me of liver, which I also hate.
More recently, PMK and I were once served a little bit of whale tongue as a little appetizer. According to PMK, what we ate was probably about 10 years old because that’s how much whale Japan has stocked up. His point was that I wasn’t saving any whales by not eating what was put in front of me. I’m not typically a squeamish person about eating foreign foods. I’ll try anything once, but the thing about whale meat is that it doesn’t taste good. I know some people love it, and I think that’s fine as long as they’re not driving whales into extinction, but it’s one of the few foods in the world that I don’t understand.
Getting back to the sushi place. If you’ve never been to a rotating sushi restaurant, plates of sushi are placed on this belt that moves in a circle along the counter. You pick up what you want to eat and stack the plates in front of you. But not every plate is the same. There are usually different colored plates with a different price for each color. Fish like fatty tuna or sea urchin are placed on the more expensive plates than say a cucumber roll. At the end of a meal, someone comes by to add your plates and present you with a bill.
In the case of this store, they just waved a little handheld machine near the plates and, voila, we had our bill. It turns out the plates have IC chips in them and can be scanned. I’d read about this, but never saw it before.
I wasn’t crazy about going out of my way to have rotating (cheap) sushi with my parents in Shizuoka (an hour away by bullet train, about $40 one way), but it turned out to be worthwhile.