Travel Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for road warriors and seasoned travelers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Where can I eat fish eye in Japan? Ideally, they'd be pickled and come with rice, like I've heard it was during WW2, but I'm not sure whether it's available like that nowadays.

Is it generally available in most parts of Japan, or only in specific areas?

What kind of eatery am I most likely to find this dish?

share|improve this question
Few days ago, in Jakarta, I was in the queue for the security check at the gate, the Chinese lady in front of me was asked by the security guy to take the liquids out of her bag, she took a jar full with eyes, it looked like it was pickled. I swear the security guy was so disgusted he didn't even want to touch the jar, he asked her to pour the whole thing in the garbage, she did pour the liquid and kept the eyes, she was so mad.. I am not sure what kind of eyes they were, but they looked like human eyes I swear.. – Heidel Ber Gensis Jun 2 '14 at 17:25
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I'm aware of only one fish eye dish in Japan, namely maguro no medama-ni (マグロの目玉煮), "stewed tuna eyeballs". It's occasionally branded as the more palatable "マグロのDHA煮" after DHA, a fatty acid found in eyeballs and fish oil that's supposedly good for you. Like the name says, this consist of tuna eyeballs (which are pretty big!) stewed for hours on end in the usual Japanese soy-mirin-sake-dashi base until they more or less completely fall apart into mush, as shown in this picture (not CC so I can't copy it in, alas). Incidentally, the pupils and eye sockets stay hard, you only eat the stuff in the middle.

This is not an everyday item by any means and it falls squarely into the category of chinmi ("rare tastes"), meaning odd foods/acquired tastes meant primarily as accompaniment for drinks, and the kind of thing that makes an occasional appearance in the daily specials, not a fixture of the regular menu. A search on restaurant review site Tabelog reveals 15 hits in the entire country, all in reviews where people claim to have eaten this. The only place I could find (and I didn't look all that hard, mind you) that has this on their website menu is a tuna specialist called Hanamaguro (花まぐろ), rather inconveniently located in Kochi city on the southern coast of the island of Shikoku, whose まぐろ漁師の賄いもん 目玉の煮付け ("Tuna-fisher's catering item, eyeball stew") will set you back ¥680. Itadakimasu!

share|improve this answer
Traveling to Shikoku to eat fish eyes... Gosh seems overkill. – Aditya Somani Jun 3 '14 at 1:14
I would suggest watching this video by Andrew Zimmern once. He's a specialist in Bizarre Foods and he talks about Fugu and a lot of other things as well. I don't recall him specifically talking about fish eyes, but might find fish eyes in the same place he finds all that stuff. – Aditya Somani Jun 3 '14 at 1:17

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.