For a proper taste of the weird and wonderful, you can’t beat Japan. Whatever your personal preferences, you can guarantee that somewhere in a Tokyo backstreet is a shop selling something that sounds like it was made just for you. If you can think it, they can cook it. As you might imagine, this has led to some seriously strange foods making it onto the marketplace.
Many of the things on this list might not sound particularly appetising to you. Some of them might not even seem edible. But, no matter how horrible they seem and how tricky they are to get your head around, it’s worth remembering that at least one person out there thinks that they’re amazing. Here are seven of the weirdest snacks that you can buy in Japan.
On the surface, there’s nothing that strange about a Kit-Kat. Who doesn’t enjoy a milk chocolate-covered wafer finger every now and then? But, as ever, the Japanese aren’t content with one standard Kit-Kat option. Over the years, Japanese Kit-Kats have instead blossomed into a bewildering variety of different flavours, including soybean, tea and grilled potato.
2. Placenta Jelly
There is no “health food” more horrible than a human placenta. Though the benefits of consuming your own afterbirth have been the subject of intense debate, the Japanese seem to have no qualms with the practise whatsoever. For around $150, you can get your hands on edible, carefully packaged placenta jelly, complete with any and all supposed health benefits. Actually made from pig, rather than human placenta, this is clearly not a snack for the squeamish.
3. Tuna Eyes
Say what you will, you could never accuse Japanese society of being wasteful. This snack epitomises using every last bit of the animal, no matter how disturbing it might look. Typically sautéed or braised, tuna eyeballs are often served as a pre-dinner snack to grateful seafood-loving patrons in the many bars that line the streets of downtown Tokyo. They are apparently quite delicious, once you get over the initial shock.
4. Boob-growing gum
In recent years, the nutritional supplement industry has gone through something of a boon. Even though they taste like ground up dinosaur bones, people are obsessed with protein-heavy shakes and bars. Is there really any difference between these and a gum that can apparently grow your boobs? Probably yes. But maybe nutrition business “B2Up” are just ahead of the curve.
5. Candy Squid
Candy, good. Squid, good. Both eaten together? The jury’s out. But, even though everything about this snack sounds horrendous on paper, there’s no denying that it has found an audience. Sold all over Japan, this is one food that belongs firmly in the “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it” pile.
6. Diet Water
For years, scientists have been puzzling over just what it is about the Japanese diet that makes them that much more healthy and long-lived than the rest of us. This drink could be the answer. Little did we know that it was all the poisonous, non-diet water we’ve been drinking this entire time that’s been killing us. What a plot twist.
7. Horse Ice Cream
Technically, there is no good reason why we shouldn’t all be eating horse. Looking at it objectively, there’s no difference at all between a cow and My Little Pony - we’ve just become more attached to one species over the other. That being said, putting a horse into ice cream just feels wrong. Clearly, the Japanese are miles ahead of the rest of us when it comes to comprehending unorthodox cuts of meat.
It’s easy to look at many of the more extreme Japanese snacks and recoil in horror. But, before you swear off tuna eyes and diet water forever, it's worth remembering that there are at least a few people out there who think that they are absolutely delicious. If you don't try it, you'll never know.