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If you’re into eating whales, Kouji Shingru’s shop is the place for you.

Located on a pedestrian-only street in Tokyo’s bustling Asakusa neighborhood, Shingru’s compact establishment has it all: deep red whale steaks and fillets in vacuum-sealed packages, cured whale on a stick, snack-sized bags of whale jerky, and a wide selection of canned whale morsels packed in brown sauce. A steady stream of customers — most of them over 50 — flows through the Yushi Special Shop in Whales, one of the capital’s only retail outlets for whale products.

Whale for sale in Shingru’s shop.

Photo: Colin Woodard.

“Almost all those who like whale meat are middle-aged and older,” says Shingru, a middle-aged man himself. “Young people have no experience with eating whale. In fact, my shop is one of the only places where young people have a chance to eat it.”

The problem, says Shingru, is with the supply. Since 1986, commercial whaling has been banned by the International Whaling Commission, and whale-eating nations have had to make do with the byproducts o... Read more

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