I lived in Japan for one year and one of the best parts of Japan is eating food. If there was one thing I did a lot of I’d say it was eating food. I got to eat a lot of unique food that maybe one wouldn’t normally eat, but hey, I’m in another country, I gotta try all the foods there is to offer! I was offered to try turtle soup once though, and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’ll be honest, maybe if it was put in front of me I would have. But because it was something I had to seek out, I didn't ever try it. But I did eat some weird stuff! Snails included, but not quite as weird as the things listed below. Take a look!
(If you are more of a visual learner, scroll to the bottom to find my Youtube video on the subject)
Mochi is a glutinous rice that has a chewy, spongy texture. It's almost like you're taking that first bite into your bubble gum, only it's not sweet and it disappears after chewing it for a while. It's used in all kinds of Japanese cuisine such as ice cream, soups, and even desserts. They even have a festival for it in the north of Japan.
Daikon translates as "big root" and actually isn't that strange of an item since it's just a bigger, longer version of the radishes we know in the US. It's used in many different ways though: in soup, on salad, as an appetizer, or marinated by itself. It goes great with anything and is definitely the most normal thing on this list. It's a big part of Japanese cuisine though and when you go to Japan, you'll probably start to see it everywhere.
Nankotsu (fried chicken cartilage)
Nankotsu can be found when eating yakitori, grilled meat skewers. It's fried chicken cartilage which makes it softer than bone, but way crunchier than meat. It's basically like biting through the end of a chicken bone, but with much more ease. I looked forward to eating nankotsu when I ate yakitori because it was always a nice break from eating the regular meat.
Natto (fermented soybeans)
Natto was something that I ate for breakfast whenever possible. Natto is made from fermented beans, so when you open it up, the beans are covered in a slimy material that, once stirred, turns into a sticky mess. Sometimes the packaging came with a Japanese mustard and soy sauce which helped get pass the strong flavoring of the beans. It was my absolute favorite thing to eat. It was smelly, it was messy, and not everyone liked it. My idea of an adventurous meal.
Horumon (pig intestines)
Horumon can be served for BBQ, but I found it most often at festivals and was my favorite things to eat when attending festivals. I searched for it. Horumon is pig intestines all sliced up and covered with some seasoning. It's chewy, but it doesn't taste like you're eating the guts of a pig, where their food is processed and later digested through their behind. It actually has a nice flavoring to it, albeit and isn't that bad once you get over the idea of what you are eating.
Sakuraniku (raw horse meat)
Yup, you read that right. Raw horse meat is served in Japan in restaurants and, ladies and gentlemen, I liked it. It could be an acquired taste, but I found it to be creamy and delicious especially because I had it with raw egg. This dish is completely normal in Japan, but I know it could be controversial in the US. Out of respect for the Japanese people who ordered it though, I could not refuse. It can be ordered at a yakiniku restaurant or an izikaya, but are more popularly found in certain regions like the Kumamoto prefecture.