What is Saxitoxin?

a photo of Midgut gland hotategai
The black area of the Scallop is the midgut gland.

Scallops sometimes eat a type of toxic dinoflagellate (known as the cause of the red tide), accumulate this toxin in their bodies and become poisonous. This toxin is called Saxitoxin and it has a high fatality rate.

Symptoms of poisoning start with numbness in the lips, tongue and side of the face as well as a burning sensation that eventually spreads to the ends of the limbs and causes loss of sensation. When it gets even worse, the victim loses the ability to move their body. Even in end stage, the victim maintains consciousness until breathing ceases and then finally dying from suffocation. There have been a number of cases of death from Saxitoxin on either coast of the North American continent, but there are very few cases of poisoning in Japan.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: November 25, 2022

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List of sea urchin producers in Japan

In Japan, six types of sea urchins are caught: “Bafun uni”, “Ezobafun uni”, “Murasaki uni”, “Kitamurasaki uni”, “Aka uni”, and “Shirahige uni. At sushi restaurants, “Bafun uni” and “Ezobafun uni” are sometimes called “Aka uni (red sea urchin),” while “Murasaki uni” and “Kitamurasaki uni” are called “Shiro uni (white sea urchin). Generally, red sea urchins are considered more expensive than white sea urchins because red sea urchins are sweeter and last longer, but recently, due to the effects of sea desertification, the place of origin has become more important than the type of sea urchin.

The “Kitamurasaki uni” is distributed north of the Tohoku region and the “Murasaki uni” south of the Tohoku region, the “Ezobafun uni” north of the Tohoku region and the “Bafun uni” south of Matsushima Bay, respectively.

The “Kitamurasaki sea urchin” is distributed north of the Tohoku region and the “Murasaki sea urchin” south of the Tohoku region, the “Ezo-bafun uni” north of the Tohoku region and the “Bafun uni” south of Matsushima Bay, respectively.

“Ezobafun uni” and “Kitamurasaki uni” are caught on Rishiri Island and Rebun Island, “Bafun uni” and “Murasaki uni” on Shakotan Peninsula, “Bafun uni” on the four northern islands (Kunashiri Island, Etorofu Island, Shikotan Island and Chimai Islands) and Sakhalin Island, “Kitamurasaki uni” on Sanriku, Hakodate, Matsumae, Esashi and Okushiri Island, and others. Aka uni is caught in Yura, Karatsu, Hagi, Iki, and Amakusa. In Kagoshima and Okinawa, the word “sea urchin” refers to the “Shirahige uni”.

The price of that sea urchin has not stopped soaring. It is said that the price of sea urchin has doubled over the past few years. Combined with the weak yen, we hear that the Toyosu market is losing out to foreign sushi restaurants and other buyers. Increasing conflicts and rising sea temperatures are probably part of the reason for this. And foreigners visiting Japan are beginning to understand the deliciousness of sea urchin, so the number of foreigners who do not eat sea urchin is decreasing. The situation is such that the price of sea urchin is rising more and more.

We have made a list of sea urchin producers as far as we know. We honestly do not know how we should utilize this information, but we hope it will be useful.

Higashizawa Suisan (東沢水産)a photo of higashizawa uni
種類:Kitamurasaki uni

Hadate Suisan (羽立水産)a photo of hadate uni
〒049-2222 北海道茅部郡森町砂原2丁目19−1
種類:Kitamurasaki uni

Tachibana Suisan (橘水産 まるひろの生ウニ)a photo of tachibana unii
種類:Kitamurasaki uni

Daisen Komamine Kaisan (ダイセン駒嶺海産)a photo of daisen uni
種類:Kitamurasaki uni

Kaneyo Ouyo Suisan (カネヨ鴎洋水産)a photo of ouyou uni

Ichikawa Hokkai Suisan (イチカワ北海食品)a photo of ichikawa uni
種類:Ezo-bafun uni、Kitamurasaki uni

Marukuni Suisan (銀次郎 マルクニ水産)
a photo of hakouni

Okumura Suisan (マルタツ 奥村水産)
a photo of itauni
種類:Ensui uni

Ogawa foods (丸雅 小川フーズ)
 a photo of itauni

Kimura Suisan (カネキ 木村水産)
a photo of hakouni
種類:Ezo-bafun uni

Akiyama Suisan (マルケイ 秋山水産)
a photo of hakouni

Takahashi Shoten (マルタカ髙橋商店)
a photo of hakouni
種類:Nemuro・Northern territories(Murasaki uni、Ezo-bafun uni)

Konishi Shoten (丸幸 小西商店)
a photo of itauni

Ogawa shoten (小川商店)
a photo of ogawa uni
TEL 0142-76-2323
種類:Kitamurasaki uni、Bafun uni

Kawakatsu uni kakou (川勝うに加工)
a photo of akauni
種類:Murasaki uni、Aka uni

Hirakawa Suisan (マルキ 平川水産)
a photo of hako uni
種類:Farmed Bafun uni

Taisho Bussan (泰匠物産)
a photo of itauni
種類:Ensui uni

マルキョウ あかつき水産
種類:Northern territories

柊流海産 生ウニ
種類:Northern territories

種類:Kitamurasaki uni


マルカワ 川村水産

種類:Northern territories




Basically, even if you contact us, we are not sure if you can deal with us directly. As far as we know, for example, you would have to buy from an Intermediate wholesaler at the Toyosu market. And the ones with images are the Ita-uni (basic means of distribution are two types: on a plate and in salt water) that you often see at sushi restaurants.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: March 15, 2023

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What is Ichthyohemotoxin?

a photo of anago blood
Fillet Anago and then make nigiri sushi.

Among the fish that belong to the Anguilliformes order such as Eel, Conger eel, and Moray eel, some contain toxic components in their blood serum. This type of serotoxin is called Ichthyohemotoxin and indicates lethal and hemolytic actions. However, this is not the official name of the toxin, and the chemical structure is also not clear.

If a human were to drink a large amount of fresh blood from these fish, they would suffer from symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, cyanosis, arrhythmia, paresthesia, paralysis and respiratory distress, and it would then sometimes result in death. If the blood gets in your eyes, it causes an intense burning sensation, swollen eyelids, and a foreign body sensation that last for days. Sufficient caution must be practiced when preparing these fish, but there is no concern for toxicity if it is cooked. Incidentally, in case of Ichthyohemotoxin, found in eel’s blood, the toxicity completely disappears when cooked for 5 minutes at 60℃, so there are no issues with eating eel Kabayakai.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: November 15, 2022

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What is Matcha?

A photo of matcha tea
Matcha tea is placed in front of you.

The definition of “Matcha” according to the Japan Tea Central Public Interest Incorporated Association is, “Fine powder made by grinding up Tencha with a handmill made from un-rolled, dried raw leaves that were cultivated under cover and shaded from sunlight.”

To put it simply, Matcha is made by grinding up Tencha with a tea grinding handmill, into fine particles 1 to 20 μm in size. Tencha is grown in mostly the same way as Gyokuro but covered for 5 days longer than Gyokuro. The initial steaming method is also the same as Gyokuro and Sencha, but the difference is that after steaming, it is just dried, without any kneading.

After steaming, a device called a tea leaf spreader is used to spread them over 5 to 6 m in warm air, the moisture from the steaming is removed, and then they are cooled. This process is repeated 4 to 5 times and then it is normally dried in a Tencha oven. The finished Tencha is then left to rest in a cool place until November.

Matcha produced at the beginning of November is ground using a handmill as “newly picked tea,” but since it had been resting, it emits the refreshing scent of new tea, giving it a mellowness. Meanwhile, lately, newly picked tea is ground with a handmill immediately to make Matcha that retains the refreshing scent, creating a flavor that differs from that of the tea ceremony world.

Consuming the actual Matcha leaves allows you to take in all the non-water-soluble components, so it’s gained attention as part of a health boom lately. In order to keep up with that demand, Matcha that strays from the original definition is mass-produced using mills.

Matcha is a drink used at places like tea ceremonies to enjoy with Japanese-style sweets. It goes without saying that this is not to be drunk with Nigiri sushi. When enjoying Nigiri sushi, you will be served Konacha, Mecha or Roasted green tea.

Related contents:
Japan Tea Central Public Interest Incorporated Association


What are Konacha and Mecha?

Why are the teacups at sushi restaurants so big?!


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: December 9, 2022

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