July 6th, 2011
12:15 PM ET
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A restaurant in Tokyo is crowded with customers, but on the menu isn’t raw fish, but raw meat – chicken, pork, beef and even horse meat.

About half the customers at “Niku Sushi” (Japanese for “raw meat”) are women like Aya Kanazawa, who comes three times a week and proudly calls herself “a carnivore girl.” It’s not just her culinary tastes she’s talking about. In an odd way, the battle between meat and fish parallels the battle of the sexes and Japan’s moribund economy.

Japan's so-called “carnivore girls” are young, aggressive women. They call the shots in love, act independently and – like Kanazawa – are proud of it.

Girls like Kanazawa are in contrast to Japan’s so-called "herbivore boys," the generation of Japanese youths who are less interested in sex. Borne out of 20 years of national economic stagnation, herbivore boys eschew traditional macho notions of masculinity and employment, choosing not to fulfill the salarimen role of their fathers.

For a country with one of the world’s lowest birthrates – and one of the fastest aging populations – the "herbivore boys" embody the nation’s societal fears.

Read Raw meat sushi brings out Japan's 'carnivore girls'

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Filed under: Asia • Asian • Cultural Identity • Culture • Japan • Japanese • Travel

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. A

    Japanese health codes are very, very stringent, so it wouldn't surprise me that they would serve raw chicken or pork.

    July 22, 2011 at 4:59 am |
  2. matt

    Um, I don't think it's really remarkable that 50% of his customers are women. Just saying...

    July 21, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  3. JK

    Nonsense, I cant believe people will eat raw meat or horse for that matter!

    July 8, 2011 at 6:22 am |
    • NlGGER

      I agree, those damn uncilivized french people disgust me

      July 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
      • Jerv

        You fail as a human being. Go away troll.

        July 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  4. ToadInAustin

    These are very traditional dishes in Japan, nothing new or surprising. Raw beef is also a traditional dish in Western cultures–are there adults who really don't know that Steak Tartare and Carpaccio are mainstream dishes?

    The chicken is seared on the surface, left fully raw in the middle, and I remember it best with ume and shiso–a taste combination that is a highlight of Japanese cuisine for me. Served at yakitori places as a basic, traditional menu item. This nearly-raw chicken with ume and shiso, tori sashi, is ridiculously delicious. I ate it often when I lived there, never got sick from it that I know of, any more than I get sick from sushi or sashimi.

    Horse meat, as far as I know, is pretty much always served raw or nearly-raw in Japan, when served at all. It's called basashi, and it is very similar to carpaccio. I don't think of it as a meal item, but rather as an item to eat at an akachochin–a 'red lantern' drinking tavern, where you order little tapas-like dishes while you drink. Wonderful–the Japanese akachochin is a beautiful place to enjoy food and drink.

    I haven't been to Japan in over a decade, but I ate these things all the time when I lived there–they are very traditional, as mainstream as sushi itself. There may well be a trend making these traditional dishes–and I'm sure new variants as well–popular these days, but there's nothing new about this style of preparing food, and it's as safe as any other.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  5. brandy

    I'd eat it! I love raw meat. Would love to know how the prep the chicken for safe consumption though! Also, did you notice how she said half the customers are women! LOL...really...

    July 7, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  6. Truth

    Oh, good Lord, now we are going to be hearing from the horse meat/vegan crowd again.

    Kat/SLT, sometimes I swear you are closet sadists who just love watching the feathers fly...:)

    July 6, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  7. Evil Grin

    I'd try it. I practically eat steak raw now anyway.

    July 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
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