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Nemesis, Thy Name Is Squid Guts

I was in Kamakura today, happily waiting for the arrival of my sesame soba and a mountain of crispy burdock root…


…when they delivered my beer along with the usual unwanted  (yet always-delivered) “beer snack.” Just my luck, it was my most un-favorite appetizer. Squid guts.

I shouldn’t have been surprised – in the pantheon of Japanese beer snacks, fish innards are distressingly popular WHY

All right. Ugh. Don’t be That Foreigner. Get it over with.

Lesson One: Never chew.

Lesson Two: Always travel with your own private state-of-the-art toothpick.

Because much to my horror, in the process of dispatching the wiggly things as quickly as possible, an unholy fishy filament got stuck between my back teeth. I grabbed one of the wooden toothpicks from the table dispenser to fight back, but that turned out to be about as effective as trying to pluck my eyebrows with a set of pliers. I finally managed to get rid of the nagging little bastard hours later, when I got back to Tokyo and rustled up the proper tool:

My kingdom for a multi-toothed flosser!

Which is how I’m able to bring you a little-known fact that I hope you never have to learn for yourself: even the tiniest shred of squid guts stuck in your teeth gives you cephalopod breath ALL DAY LONG.

When not taking one for the team, Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

Nine Years. Nine death anniversaries. Tomorrow will be the tenth. He always visits her grave early, to avoid crossing paths with her family. He always comes on the day he actually killed her…read more


Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

10 thoughts on “Nemesis, Thy Name Is Squid Guts Leave a comment

  1. Yes, there are few things more repulsive than squid guts, which by all that is holy should be saved for our feline friends. But I admire your gumption–I never managed to choke my way through any.

    As for cephalopod breath, early in our relationship, my husband came home from work smelling strongly of sex. We weren’t married yet, not even engaged, and I’m pretty open-minded, but did suggest that if he’s going to fool around on his own time he should at least shower before coming back to me. There was much puzzlement on both our parts until we realized he’d been noshing on dried squid.

    • That is a GREAT story! And huh, I don’t think I’ve ever smelled dried squid when it wasn’t coming from the stuff itself, but divorced from the obviously tentacle-y bits in a conbini bag, the mind makes its own associations! (You know I’m never going to be able to smell squid snacks again without thinking of this ><;;)

  2. Good for you for not being THAT foreigner, and thanks for the tip on how to do it ! Is it at least smothered in enough “sauce” of some sort to mask the worst of it?

  3. Good thing you’re writing as I’m looking desperately for that bungu shop you recommended and I can’t find it. I’m having cow intestines btw on the 16 th with some Japanese friends it’s in a pot ( the cow innards not the friends) so I guess it will be more appealing than the squid guts….

      • Arg, sorry to be so slow answering! I was in Yokohama, and Google won’t let me make a map with my iphone (grrr!) Here’s a link:

        It’s called Shimojima, and I think the sign is in katakana(シモジマ).

        Go out the Asakusabashi station exit that’s for both the subway line and the JR line, and turn left. It’s about halfway down the block, on your right. The ground floor doesn’t look like a stationery store – it’s got all kinds of seasonal crap, sort of DonKi-like. But if you go up the stairs and look at the display windows on each floor, you’ll see what they sell on that level. (Note: This store isn’t fancy, it’s just got EVERYTHING. Sort of like Ito-ya used to be.)

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