Open and Eat the Freshest Sea Urchin in Sai Village!

Have you ever tried raw sea urchin? I mean, the freshest and delicious one just collected from the sea! EVEN Japanese people (country of  Sushi) occasionally misunderstand the taste of sea urchin.  Imported or frozen sea urchin is soaked in alum water for preservation and disinfection, which makes the taste rather bitter and awful. Since reasonable sea urchin you can buy at supermarkets or can eat at the reasonable belted sushi restaurants are mostly imported ones, people think sea urchin tastes bitter and regard as “learn to like” kinda food.   No, the taste of sea urchin is sweet, rich and creamy!!!  As you may know, sea urchins are a delicacy in Japan. Today I’d like to introduce one of the best way to enjoy the freshest sea urchin in Sai-village.  

Sai-light Cruise Ship

Sai-light cruise ship is operating three times a day from the Sai Port, which takes you to Hotokegaura.  Only the passengers of this ship are applied to the “Open and Eat Sea Urchin” optional hands-on from May 1 to July 31, during the best season of sea urchin. It is only 1,050 yen to open and eat 5 pieces of sea urchin.  I want to say it is incredibly reasonable!  

Fresh sea urchins moving their spines


Tools, aprons, gloves and everything else you need to open the sea urchins were provided.  There were some instruments I didn’t quite understand how to use them. BTW Please don’t continue to read this if you don’t like messy pictures.  

Pliers-like tool and tweezers

 The instructor told me to use the instrument like this…..  

Stabbing the tool into the top of the urchin

 Then squeese handles together….  

The urchin split open!


 Wow- this tool is great!  I didn’t even have to touch the spines to break open it.  

The white piece in the center is a mouth of sea urchin

Next, you have to scoop out the orange gonads, the edible parts of sea urchin.  I thought there must have been a special tool to scoop out the gonads, but unexpectedly, we got this one.    Plastic spoon, definifitely the high quality tool! 

Plastic spoon to scoop out the edible parts

 Have you focused on the sea urchin served at sushi bars? The shape of orange gonads have to be perfect as they are, which means you can’t scrape up roughly. The instructor told us to try to scoop out beautifully and but quickly like the selling products. The gonads are thoroughly attached to the shell and it was a little difficult to finish promptly.     

Guys struggling to scoop out the gonads beautifully

 Here is my work – well done for the first time!  Then you have to remove black innards and seaweeds that sea urchin ate. I heard sea urchins eating good kelp taste better and get more expensive as products.   

Removing the black innards and seaweeds to clean up

Finally, put the prepared sea urchin in the container and we are done!   Considering this amount of effort and time it takes to collect and to prepare, I now understand why sea urchins are a bit pricy. 

Finally Ready to Eat!

I ate my sea urchin as “Sea-Urchin Rice Bowl”, serving sea urchin over rice and seaweed.  This is very popular way to eat raw sea urchin in Japan, with wasabi and soy sauce. 


Delicious...I’ll have a second helping, please!

To be honest, I’m not a country lover, but I feel so happy and blessed when I eat the fresh, safe and delicious foods in Aomori.  Since Aomori is surrounded by the sea on three sides, you can actually enjoy delicious sea urchin in other areas too.  But if you ever visit Shimokita Peninsula in early summer, please don’t fail to eat sea urchin! 

Sai-light Cruise Ship for Hotokegaura 

Route: Sai Port – Hotokegaura(30 min tour) – Sai Port 

Period of Operation in 2010 :  April 20 – October 31 

Fare per Person:  One-way 1,200yen   Round-Trip 2,300yen 

Time Schedule:  Departing Sai Port at 9:00am, 10:40am and 1:40pm(subject to cancel due to the bad weather) 

Optional, Preparing Sea Urchin  Hands-on 

Period: May 1 – July 31  around 12:10pm – 1:40pm 

Place: Tsugaru Straits cultural Hall “Arusasu”(located in the area of Sai Port) 

Fee: 1,050yen for 5 pieces of sea urchin(only for hands-on, not for sale) 

Reservation: 5 days prior to your desired date  

Contact: TEL 0175-38-4513  Sai Teiki Kanko Corporation(not confirmed if speaking in English is available)

3 Responses to “Open and Eat the Freshest Sea Urchin in Sai Village!”

  1. Nice post. We love Sea Urchins here in Santa Barbara, California too. Divers bring them to the dock daily and offer samples to tourists. They taste best fresh out of the shell.

  2. Thank you for visiting our blog Jeff-san. I would love to try the delicious sea urchin in California!

  3. cruise ships are the best, they have their own live entertainment and some pools on the deck .

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