Squeeze his finger to let him know how much fugu you want
April 4th, 2014
04:00 PM ET
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Under the bright lights of the waterfront Haedomari warehouse in Shimonoseki, Japan, tails twitch and bodies writhe in defiance of the onset of death.

The floor is awash with seawater as Yoshi Yanagawa moves down a line of 20 boxes, each containing about 15 puffer fish of varying values, lengths and states of coveted plumpness.

"Eeka! Eeka!" he chants, as 20 or so interested parties put their hands up to bid.

The puffer fish, or "fugu" in Japanese, gulp in more air, ballooning out their white belly sacs.
Shimonoseki is Japan's fugu capital.

Its Haedomari market is said to be the only one in the country that specializes in the infamous Japanese delicacy, famed both for its high price tag and lethal insides.

Throughout the fishing season from early September to April 29, the market is open six mornings a week in the ancient port, 1,126 kilometers west of Tokyo in Honshu's most southwesterly part of Yamaguchi prefecture.

For 15 years, 55-year-old Yanagawa has been the chief auctioneer ("seri" or "sekagi") here.

"My job is unusual," says Yanagawa.

"Grown men squeeze my hand and fingers. They touch me every morning! It's the traditional way of fugu bidding.

"I hold my slipover sleeve or 'fukuro zeri' out to them and they put their hands inside and tell me how much they want to pay. It's all done by finger pressure."

Read - Japan's puffer fish capital: Delicious and deadly

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Filed under: Asian • Japanese • Stunt

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. RC

    That looks like something my cat threw up after a night of mouse binging. Blech! AND it could kill you. Bonus!

    April 4, 2014 at 7:08 pm |
    • MicheleG™

      I agree with you most definitely. Yuck.....

      April 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
  2. Thinking things through

    Fugu is probably wonderful and tasty, but I think I'll reserve it for my Last Meal should I ever end up on Death Row.

    (The photos on the linked main page for this article are wonderfully artistic, btw.)

    April 4, 2014 at 4:46 pm |
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