SDHF Newsletter No.273 Counting the Blessing of Whales No.2
Counting the Blessing of Whales:
Insights from a Chopsticks-Wielding Patriot
Series No.2: Chapter 1 Whales Saved the Japanese
April 9, 2020
Unearthed relics of the Jomon period clearly demonstrate that Japanese ate whales about 8,000 to 9000 years ago. Japanese have nurtured a peculiar whale-related culture through a long history tied to whales.
Many whale cookbooks were published during the Edo era. Geiniku Chomikata explains how to prepare and cook virtually all, or 67, different parts of the whale including internal organs and skin (with different ways of cooking the various parts including the skin of the head, side and back, breasts, uterus, eyeballs and penis, not to mention red whale meat and the tail meat. Japanese ate every part of the whale and utilized even the bones, teeth, and baleen.
In other words, the Japanese wasted nothing and expressed their gratitude to the whales in various ways. There are many grave mounds and tumulus for whales. A posthumous name was given to each whale and memorial tablets were made. Sometimes towers were erected for their souls. These acts reflect a unique, whale-related Japanese culture.
In June 1853, American Naval officer Matthew Perry led the East India Squadron to Uraga and demanded that trade with the U.S. be opened. In those days, American whalers frequently caught whales off the Sanriku coast, Hakodate coast and Izu Peninsula. The main purpose behind the demand was to build supply bases for whalers. American whalers harvested only the fat for candles and lamps, dumping everything else. When oil was struck in America, the need for whaling declined. Today, Americans see the Japanese as “barbaric” for killing whales and demand that whaling be banned. The American view on whaling is really racist and self-centered.
By the way, the Japanese owed much to whales immediately after the World War II. In those days, Japan was short of food and everybody was poor. During the postwar period, around 1947 to 1948, about 46 to 47% of each person’s source of meat was whale meat. Without whales, Japanese would have been severely malnourished and the miraculous postwar Japanese recovery would not have been possible.
Questions are welcome.
MOTEKI Hiromichi, Acting Chairman
for KASE Hideaki, Chairman
Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact