Ueno Snake Cuisine

Chinese people eat snakes, and Japanese people also used to eat snakes. There are still snake restaurants in Tokyo now.

ueno

There was a habit of eating snakes and eels for energy in the old days in Japan. There were 300 snake restaurants in the heyday all around Japan, but because of a ban on snake imports and a decrease in snake masters, there are only 2 snake restaurants left in Tokyo. Bunkyudo (文久堂) in Okachimachi (御徒町) and Hebizen (蛇善) in Kuramae (蔵前) are the only ones still open.

ueno

There was a snake restaurant called Kyumeido (救命堂) in Ueno (上野), but unfortunately it closed in 2015.

ueno

In front of the restaurant, there was a show window where snakes moved around. Inside the restaurant, there were several seats and one elderly owner. On the menu were mamushi pit viper (マムシ), habu (ハブ, yellow spotted pit viper), and shimahebi (シマヘビ, Japanese striped snake). The prices were about 6000 yen each.

ueno

We ordered habu, and the owner took out a live habu, and killed it with a practiced hand.

ueno

ueno

He squeezed the habu, and served habu blood and fresh liver with red wine.

ueno

He skinned the snake, and ground it with a machine. Habu has bones, so it needs to be ground.

ueno

Then the meat was cooked. It tasted like chicken and was delicious.

ueno

ueno

In the restaurant, there were snake sake (alcohol) and powdered mamushi. They are said to be effective when you are tired and need energy.

ueno

Habu and mamushi are venomous snakes, so they are extremely dangerous to handle. The owner was bitten by mamushi, so his fifth finger is permanently curved.

okachimachi

The restaurant was closed in 2015, but Bunkyudo in Okachimachi also serves snake dishes.

okachimachi

okachimachi

There are snakes in front of the restaurant. This shop is a drugstore rather than a restaurant.

ota

The most famous specialized snake facility is the Japan Snake Center in Gunma. Snake masters and reserchers gather there, and the Kyumeido owner trained there.

ota

There are many snakes, and you can see snake shows.

ota

There is also a snake restaurant, and you can eat snake dishes.

ota

ota

This is shimahebi stirred with green onions and fried shimahebi bones.
[How to go]  Near Ueno Station (上野駅)

Venomous Snakes of the World: A Manual for Use by U.S. Amphibious Forces
Department of the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
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