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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Whale for Sale in Tokyo

クジラ肉 東京

Japan's state-sponsored whaling industry has brought Japan unwanted criticism and condemnation worldwide. Japan's protestations that its hunting for whales is for "scientific" purposes does not dampen that criticism.

Nangeihonpo Whale Meat, Ueno, Tokyo.
Nangeihonpo Whale Meat Shop, Ueno, Tokyo

I was walking through a shabby shopping mall in the north exit of Okachimachi Station in Ameya-yokocho (or, "Ameyoko") in Tokyo's Ueno district on the weekend when the kanji for whale 鯨 (kujira) caught my eye. I then noted the katakana for mink ミンク, and, sure enough, there in the glass showcase was an array of different cuts of shrink-wrapped whale meat, including mink whale (photo below).

Mink whale meat, Geinanhonpo, Ueno, Tokyo.
Mink whale meat on sale at Geinanhonpo, Ueno, Tokyo

There were even packets of whale jerky (くじらジャーキー) (next photo below)

Whale jerky, Geinanhonpo, Ueno, Tokyo.
Whale jerky on sale at Geinanhonpo, Ueno, Tokyo

and packets of instant whale curry (くじらカレー):

Whale curry, Geinanhonpo, Ueno, Tokyo.
Whale curry

The shop, Geinanhonpo (鯨南本舗, "Whale South Main Store") is quite new, having opened on February 24 2012. Geinanhonpo has a glossy, stylishly designed catalog on hand of its range of whale wares,  a fairly goodlooking Geinanhonpo website, and even a @geinanhonpo Twitter account. According to that glossy brochure, the Geinanhonpo whale meat shop is owned and operated by the Mistral Group based in the Nihonbashi-kakigaracho area of Tokyo's Chuo ward.

For a hole-in-the-wall shop in the decidedly downmarket Ameyayokocho area, Geinanhonpo it is surprisingly up there when it comes to marketing savvy.


Okachimachi North Exit Shopping Mall, Tokyo.
Okachimachi North Exit Shopping Mall


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