Food Producer Debuts Tuna Alternative: This Week in Osaka June 14th to 21st 2024

Each week, here at, we bring you a selection of some of the top stories about Osaka making the local and national news here in Japan. Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s funny, but it’s always direct to you, from Osaka.

Here’s a look at some of the stories hitting the headlines in Osaka this week.

Osaka Food Company Produces “Meat-Free Sashimi”

Konnyaku, one of the key ingredients in the alternative sashimi.

An Osaka food manufacturer promised to revolutionize the city’s seafood industry this week. Their plan: to sell seafood that doesn’t actually contain any seafood!

Osaka residents love a good bowl of sliced raw tuna, known locally as sashimi. However, demands for this delicious food are matched by growing concerns over sustainability. Decades of over-fishing has devastated stocks of certain types of tuna. In turn, this also led to higher prices for both consumers and restauranteurs.

However, one Osaka food company this week announced plans to do something about it. NH Foods, based in Osaka City, began selling their plant-based sashimi alternative this week. They claim it captures both the flavor and texture of classical tuna sashimi, but without the use of any actual fish.

The recipe utilizes konnyaku, a highly pliable root vegetable extract. Among the other ingredients are dietary fiber and seaweed extracts. The product began development back in the summer of 2023.

Alternative Food Market Grows Amid Shortages

Plant based food continues to impress. These burgers are entirely meat-free.

NH Foods believe they have identified a gap in the market, as demand for plant based alternatives to staple meat and poultry products continues to grow. Research by analysts at the research firm Fuji Keizai suggests the global market for such food products will exceed US$41 billion by 2030.

However, previous attempts at similar food products have yet to gain traction in the wider marketplace. Plant based alternatives to beef, chicken and pork have been around for a few years already, but still struggle to gain a real foothold in the market. There is also the negativity around “genetically-modified” food to overcome. Scientists point out that most of the food we consume every day is, in-fact, genetically modified to some extent. However, public perception remains skeptical, despite the obvious environmental and health benefits.

More generally, people are extremely sensitive when it comes to their favorite foods. Although differences are often intangible, various taste tests of plant based alternatives have drawn similar responses from food enthusiasts. “It’s a bit dry,” and “I can’t say what exactly, but something is just a bit off with the flavor and texture.” Are the kind of common retorts we hear from customers trying these new food groups.

However, blind taste tests, where the diner is unaware which is the normal meat and which is the plant based alternative, consistently draw far more positive results. However, whether the bias is conscious or unconscious, this bias will nonetheless need to be overcome if the “alternative food” market is to realize its potential in the years ahead.

Heavy Rain Leads to Travel Disruption

Osaka looks set for a rainy weekend.

After some of the hottest early June temperatures on record, it seems the rainy season has finally come to Osaka. Heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday led to localized disruption of Shinkansen services and some local transport links in Osaka City too. However, by Thursday temperatures once again soared to almost 30 degrees as the dry heat returned.

Forecasters predict further heavy rain for this weekend though. So, anyone planning a weekend getaway should probably check the weather, and with their travel provider before heading out. Japan’s rainy season typically lasts about 2 weeks, and is the precursor to the long, hot summer, that usually runs until the end of August. However, unseasonably warm, dry weather throughout late May and early June has delayed the start of the rainy season somewhat.

And Finally

Seiya Maikuma in action for the Japan national team earlier this year.

With Japan’s next World Cup Finals just two years away, and qualifying well underway, one of Osaka’s emerging soccer stars prepared this week to take the next step in his career.

Cerezo Osaka’s 26 year old right-back, Seiya Maikuma, looks set to join Dutch Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar. Ironically, he is set to replace the clubs current right back, and fellow rival for a starting berth with the national team, Yukinari Sugawara.

Sugawara looks set to move on to a new club this summer, with several European clubs expressing interest. Maikuma made his debut for the Japan national team last summer and put up an impressive showing at the Asian Cup at the beginning of this year. With the next World Cup set for summer 2026, both players will hope to stake their claim for the coveted right-back slot in the months ahead.

That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!


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