Eating insects in Nagano Japan

Insects are a popular dish in many parts of the world, but not so much in Japan.  However, in the Nagano prefecture it really has its own subculture and place in Japan.

In Ina city, the town I was staying at, it was famous for it:s insect dishes.  Especially grasshopper and bee larva.   Personally I couldn’t image eating a grasshopper because of the crunchy texture, and the fuzzy legs, and hard head…*shivers*.  But I thought that I just had to try the local food and eat something…

The hotel I was staying at recommend me to try hachinoko or in English, bee larva.  At first I thought “Ya… I’ll get right on that crazy lady.”  But after my friend came to Nagano to meet me and go on a trip to Kamikochi, I found myself telling him about the culture of eating insects in Nagano over dinner and as we looked at the menu at the restaurant we were at we noticed they had it there as well.   He then got really obsessed with the idea of eating it convinced me to try it.  I then soon found myself ordering a bowl of bee larva.

Hachinoko

The idea of eating insects to most North Americans is probably looked down on by most of the population due to our own cultural beliefs.  But in order to enjoy another countries culture, it is important to understand the differences in in that culture with  your own and accept and respect it as being unique.  In Japan a lot of people have problems with going to the onsen, eating certain foods, or the toilets that shoot water up your butt, but although they may seem strange and outside your comfort zone, they all have health benefits and are really not that bad.  It’s hard to erase your  own cultural beliefs and adopt a new but without doing so you miss out on really “experiencing a culture”.

Now back to the food…

The larva looked awkwardly cute.  It kept reminding me of that pokemon Kakuna. The larva were all bunched up in the bowl with beady black eyes staring out at us.  My friend quickly took his chopsticks and shoved some in his mouth, chewed it, and said “it’s not bad!”  So I quickly grabbed my chopsticks and tried it for myself.  And he was right!

The taste

Eating Hachinoko

First bite!

The texture was a little bit chewy and slimy but overall it was soft as you would expect for baby bee larva.  Luckily, the restaurant served the larva marinated in a miso sauce.  Which if it wasn’t, it might not have been as enjoyable or delicious.  The miso sauce gave the larva a distinct sweet taste which really went well with the texture to create an almost desert like dish.

In the end

By putting my cultural beliefs that an insect is not worthy for my mouth and that it’s disgusting, dirty, or whatever.  I was able to instead think of it as just a food source like chicken (I believe the larva is a good source of protein too!) and eat that little pokemon.  I now realize that insects can really be a delicious and healthy snack!

Maybe one day I’ll try the grasshopper… But definitely not raw haha.

Thanks for reading.  Comment below and let me know if you ate grasshopper or any other insect while in your own or another country.