back to article Seven Japanese poisoned by blowfish 'nads

Seven Japanese gourmets in the northern city of Tsuruoka required hospital treatment after ill-advisedly ordering grilled blowfish testicles at a restaurant not licensed to serve potentially-fatal fugu, as the piscine delicacy is known locally. Police official Yoshihito Iwase explained to AP that the men tucked into said 'nads …


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  1. captain kangaroo


    And people say vegetarians are crackers...

    Eating fish + Eating Gonads of any kind = plain stupid...

    Nature fights back and wins... again...

  2. Andus McCoatover
    Dead Vulture

    "It was a brave man who first ate an oyster" - J Swift

    How the hell do we find out??

    Take mushrooms, for example. Eat the wrong one, and croak. Unless you've being trying the different ones with your mates for a bet, how's anyone gonna find out???

    I went with my girlfriends brother and his lady to a wood in Finland in Autumn last year, and we picked mushrooms. To me they looked similar, even from the same patch, but the aforementioned g/f told me - yep, this one's OK, but this one (almost similar) will put you in hospital.

    Same with these blowjobs/fish/whatever.

    How the hell can you tell which bit to remove, and which is safely edible without the 'angel of death' perched on your shoulder like a dead Norwegian Blue?

    Evolution? Creation? Some other force?

    Tombstone, natch.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Jason Harvey

    death by newt

    "The agency notes "at least one report of a fatal episode when an individual swallowed a California newt", but does not elaborate on how this unfortunate incident occurred."

    I would think it was something along the lines of...

    "dude, I dare you to eat that lizard."

    "no way"

    "I'll give you a $20"

    "ok" *gulp*

  5. Sam


    The fish had 'em by the balls, then?

  6. Doug Southworth
    Paris Hilton

    Interesting choice of food

    They must taste good when properly prepared...but I don't think I'll be the one to find out...

    Paris, 'cause she knows all about bad nuts.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    I can explain...

    >The agency notes "at least one report of a fatal episode when an individual swallowed a >California newt", but does not elaborate on how this unfortunate incident occurred.

    I believe what happened what that the poor fellow licked a frog, and was then told by the big blue octopus to follow the crabs to the wise newt, where upon eating the newt he would acquire all the wisdom of the world.

    Who knows if he did - perhaps he's sat in the after-life feeling all smug and wise wondering why he hadn't eaten a poisonous newt earlier!

    < Mine's the one with a map to the nearest newt colony in the pocket.

  8. Matt Thornton


    What a load of bollocks.

  9. Kenny Swan


    How can ANY food taste so good that it's worth risking death for? Especially when that food is raw fish bollocks. Japan is a very, very odd country.

    I'm off out for some deep fried fish with no bollocks in sight.

  10. Mark Sutton

    grilled testicles? really

    I doubt a gourmet could even find fugu testicles, much less grill them. I can understand the British prejudice, what with all the creative and colourful colloquial expressions for mans pride and joy , but in this case gonads == ovaries. And while people are injured or killed from fugu, most are not at licensed restaurants, but rather home prepared and often with the intent of "chasing the dragon", where one intentionally eats the bad parts.


  11. ratfox

    Isn't there a harmless fugu now?

    I remember reading there's a different subspecies, or maybe normal fugu with a special diet, which contain no poison. But this is heavily decried by licensed restaurants who do not want to lose privilege and aura...

  12. Eugene Goodrich
    Thumb Down

    It's scary...

    >>>He added: "It's scary. If you go to a decent-looking restaurant that serves a fish half-filled with neurotoxin, you would assume a cook has a proper fugu license."<<<

    Yeah, it'd be his proper license I'd be worried about.

    Thumb-down because it doesn't have a jaggy edge like the thumb-up.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    It's obvious, really...

    "The agency notes "at least one report of a fatal episode when an individual swallowed a California newt", but does not elaborate on how this unfortunate incident occurred."

    He got newted, then went for a mystery-meat kebab.

  14. Peyton

    my understanding of this "delicacy"

    Is that part of its appeal is due to trace amounts of toxin in the flesh - just enough to give your mouth a numbing sensation; though I'm not sure why this would be desirable/worth the risk.

  15. John

    A newt?

    "at least one report of a fatal episode when an individual swallowed a California newt"

    He got bettah... ;-)

  16. Chris C

    Darwin near-hit

    So they willingly and voluntarily ate something that they knew was poisonous (or knew that it was very likely to be poisonous), and they ended up hospitalized. Sounds like a Darwin near-hit to me. Why do we bother interfering in such natural-selection processes?

  17. Chronos
    IT Angle

    Re: Isn't there a harmless fugu now?

    Nope. OpenBSD is still secure out of the box. And there, my friend, is your IT angle: Don't mess with Puffy.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Testes of Japanese Manliness

    What better test(es) of Japanese manliness than to eat something that can kill you.

    One mans right of passage/proof of bravery is another mans "WTF, Are you out of your feeble mind?"

    No wonder white devils have so little understanding of other cultures, it's bred in.

  19. Tim Blair


    Sounds a bit fishy to me. I'll stick to crack thanks...

  20. Matthew

    the sea fight's back

    against its worst enemy - JAPAN :)

  21. garbo

    Machismo - Japnese-style

    Lived in Japan & regularly went to sashimi bars with Japanese colleagues. Eating fugu - usually the raw liver - is a bit macho, a dare. Not a game to play after too many bottles of sake.

    The meat is quite tender, I hear, though I never tried it, even if the "sushika" did have his fugu license up on the wall.

    For pure taste, toro (fatty Blue fin tuna) is unbeatable. And very pricey.

  22. Jason

    CIA's new weapon

    You will be newt-ralised

  23. Tom

    Now I understand...

    .. the ubiquitous health warnings on eerything edible these days..

    "May contain traces of nuts"

    Will the chef get the sack?

  24. TeeCee Gold badge


    I've always wondered about kidney beans meself. How does that one work?

    "Nope, soaking in water for two hours still leaves 'em dangerous. Let's try four. Any volunteers?"

  25. Darren Sandford

    Dangerous? Pah!

    They should come and have a good old Death Wagon (tm) doner at 1:30AM. Now -that's- dangerous.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Interesting choice of food

    Personally, I think the fugu meat is pretty bland: a bit dry and chewy. There are far nicer fish to eat. So I guess the appeal really is in the difficult of preparing it (and the slight risk - which is pretty much zero if prepared properly).

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think what is most puzzling

    Is who took the time to establish which bits of the fish where safe to eat and which bits would kill you......

    Scratch that mystery solved, they feed it to animals.

  28. Lee
    Thumb Up

    I reckon they were after the buzz

    and the "move towards the light" experience.

    Fuguoos - the 21st Century's Flatliners?

  29. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: I think what is most puzzling

    >feed it to animals.

    Wouldn't necessarily work. Porcupines can scarf down several times the amount of opium that would kill a person if they smoked it, cats die from eating paracetomol, etc etc.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Re: I think what is most puzzling

    Guinea Pigs die from penicillin..

    So no by todays medical testing routines it would fail at the first hurdle...

  31. Ed Blackshaw

    @captain kangaroo

    "Eating fish + Eating Gonads of any kind = plain stupid..."

    Sorry, but I'm going to have to bite on this one, and just point out the existence of poisonous plants and fungi which presumably your cult does allow you to eat? Following your logic, because the leaves of the potato plant are poisonous, containing toxic levels of teh alkaloid slanine, I could say that eating members of the solanaceae family of plants (potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, etc.,e tc.) or eating leaves of any kind is 'plain stupid'. The fact is that a much higher percentage of plants, and in particular fungi are poisonous to eat than animals. The attraction of eating fugu is the fact that it contains a toxin as a defence mechanism that causes a tingling sensation in low doses.

  32. Psymon
    Dead Vulture

    From what I've heard..

    the preperation of Fugu is a delicate balance.

    The Chef will cut away the poisenous parts in such a way to leave just enough to cause a bit of a buzz.

    The near-death experience can be intoxicating (pun intended ;)

    I remember as kids there is a 3 mile long railway tunnel leading into Grantham that goes under Belton golf course.

    We used to sneak in at night, and climb the 18ft concrete ventelation towers, then lie on the rusty mesh waiting for a train. the wind coming up would be so strong it'd lift you off the mesh.

    If you were unlucky enough to get 2 trains going in opposite directions, you'd have to hang onto the mesh for dear life!

    One school chum flew 30ft through the air, breaking both legs, fractured skull and a shattered collar bone.

    One less fortunate lad fell through the mesh and plumeted 150ft to his death.

    After that, I stopped, but others didn't

  33. Mike Crawshaw


    I'm genuinely surprised at the number of people saying "WTF? Eating poisonous fish? No way!" here. I expected more net machismo about how people ate live fugu straight from the sea, and washed it down with acid whilst juggling knives...

    I've tried fugu (yes, from a licenced restaurant), and, like jsp above, I'm not hugely keen - I prefer other types of Japanese food. But the attraction is the danger, not the taste. Y'know, like the extreme sports that westerners are so keen on. Take away that "danger-buzz", and there's not a lot else there to attract.

    On the subject of "how did they think that up?", I've always wondered who first thought it was a fine idea to:

    1. pick some leaves

    2. dry said leaves

    3. shred them

    4. roll them up in a piece of paper

    5. put tube of paper filled with shredded dried leaves in mouth and set fire to it

    6. inhale the smoke

    Whoever that person was, they were a lunatic. But I'd like to thank them for making my mornings so much more bearable.

  34. Eddie Edwards

    Yeah it is a bit bland

    I ordered it when I had the chance (in a very expensive restaurant in Tokyo) and it was pretty bland really. Quite a meaty texture, no particular flavour. No toxin remained as far as I could tell. Meh. Should have gone to a cheaper restaurant. Might have been a more exciting tale.

  35. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Wow....

    Balls to the danger-buzz. If I'm going to have a self-induced near-death experience to really feel alive, I'd prefer it to be something a bit more challenging or enriching or poetic or extraordinary than munching on an expensive bit of sashimi.

  36. Andus McCoatover

    @Sarah Beeh (one extra 'h' for the one I missed a few months ago)

    Cats die from Aspirin.

    Oddly, one of my wife's Friends and Other animals was Howard Walter Florey, the _true_ discoverer of penecillin. Forget Fleming. Opportunist.

    Florey was a fascinating and extremely modest man, his beautiful Filippino's wife's name was (IIRC Mercy.) Lived near Oxford, where they invited my wife and myself for a wonderful dinner. Fantastic people to know. Sadly, both deceased.

    He told me the story of penicillin, and I sat on the floor, rivetted. I was in the presence of a god. One evening I'll never forget.

    He explained how he and his team tried to cure a policeman, but with so little penicillin in production, they worked day and night to extract what they could from the policeman's urine. Sadly, it was unsuccessful.

    What I learned from Mr. Florey was that penicillin can be fatal to Guinea Pigs.

    Google for his book "Rise up to life" if you want to know more. Make sure the hankies are near.

  37. Wize

    Re: Wow....

    If you want a near death experience, try Glasgow on a Friday night.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re. Yeah it is a bit bland

    @ Eddie Edwards

    "Should have gone to a cheaper restaurant. Might have been a more exciting tale."

    For your companions to tell maybe?

  39. Chika


    As I understand it, the places that do this particular delicacy legitimately are licenced and strictly regulated as to how they prepare fugu.

    Not totally sure who gets the Darwin Award nomination here; the restaurant for preparing and serving the dish or the idiots who ordered it!

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Kenny Swan

    "How can ANY food taste so good that it's worth risking death for?"

    One word: Kebabs.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    How did they start this?

    Fugu has been eaten for many centuries in Japan, in times when morals were a bit different to those held these days.

    If in times past it was considered reasonable to test samurai swords on criminals, feeding them fugu till you find the method that works was also probably an option.

  42. Dapprman

    It's the texture, not taste that counts with the Fugu flesh

    If prepared properly, the fish has a very light and delicate flavor (which goes nicely with spring onion ;) ). This of course is after it has been properly prepared (i.e. removing all the poisonous bits). I believe the liver has a rather rich flavor and also provides a mild anathalatic (spelling?) experience though this can be deadly and the more livers you eat over a short time the worse the effects get.

    I like the way the article just says the chef was being questioned. It's illegal in Japan to server the poisonous bits of a Fugu. It's also illegal to prepare the fish with out a current license. Oh and if one of his customers were to die, the chef could be charged with murder.

    BTW Fugu is just one type of puffer fish, just a very poisonous one.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Food testing

    There are a number of ways you can test foodstuffs for toxicity, such as feeding to animals (the more human like the better), making cuts in your skin and rubbing food into those and generally observing what happens when other people eat said foodstuff.

    The only way to tell for sure though is to eat it, so you start with very small doses and move upwards until you start to feel ill or die or something like that.

    It would be nice to know if cooking out poisonous foods, or soaking them (etc.) was discovered by accident or done as a planned experiment by early humans.

    There is a place in Africa (IIRC) where a clay occurs naturally that neutralises the toxins in one of the fruits that grows in the area. Many of the local fauna have worked out that if they eat some clay they can then eat the otherwise poisonous fruits without adverse dying. And these are things like parrots, boars and small deer we are talking about. It was on a David Attenborough program so it *must* be true.

  44. MinionZero

    how to tell if its safe...

    "How the hell can you tell which bit to remove, and which is safely edible"

    Darwinian natural selection? ... as this case nearly demonstrated.

  45. Iain
    Thumb Up

    From the US FDA website analysis:

    "This toxicosis may be avoided by not consuming pufferfish"

    That's some well-spent tax payer's money

  46. Mike

    Re: I think what is most puzzling

    Supposedly, if you are planning to eat something that you are unsure of the safey of it, you place a piece on your skin for 10 minutes or so, if you have no redness/itchinf etc. then you place a very small piece under your lip, again for 10 mins or so, no reaction and then you swallow the small piece, this time leave it a few hours, consuming slightly more each time, but then this is meant to be a survival technique, you'd never eat anything potentially unsafe unless you have to.

    Fugu is quite frankly crap, the "very light and delicate flavour", is boring and needs something like spring onion to liven it up (then you can't taste it at all).

    ps. Developing penicillin was a team effort, Flemming discovered it in 1928, Florey didn't know about it until he read Flemings paper ten years later, Florey (who turned it into a medicine) is by definition the opportunist.

  47. Jonathan Richards


    If I remember correctly, the pufferfish doesn't synthesize the tetrodotoxin itself, it acquires it from coral or algae that it eats. That being so, the toxicity of different individual pufferfish of this particular species varies enormously, and if you were to raise one in the absence of a supply of the toxin, it would be perfectly safe.

    Disclaimer: experiment at your own risk, aquarium-owners. Skull & Crossbones, obviously.

  48. Matt Clary

    Suicide attempt?

    So three old dudes go into a sushi bar and order highly toxic, unlicensed fish testicles. Sounds like maybe they wanted to euthanize themselves.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "...this is meant to be a survival technique, you'd never eat anything potentially unsafe unless you have to.

    Fugu is quite frankly crap, the "very light and delicate flavour", is boring and needs something like spring onion to liven it up"

    I can imagine the survival situation you were in... "damn, stranded in Tokyo, all there is to eat is Fugu".

  50. Mike

    Re: @Mike

    >>I can imagine the survival situation you were in... "damn, stranded in Tokyo, all there is to eat is Fugu".

    Picky picky, I said "if you are planning to eat something that you are unsure of the safety of it", the whole point of the article was that the poisonees were sure of the safety (as everybody else who eats Fugu would normally be), besides, I didn't order it and I wasn't told what it was before I ate it, probably another reason why I'm non-plused about Fugu.

    It's not like someone with a peanut allergy playing russian roulette with a bag of revels (when they used to have peanuts in them that is... sigh)

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Andus McCoatover

    I saw a photo of the unfortunate policeman in a book once. Dying in a "septic ward" he was. Poor chap.

    I read somewhere that Flemming had chucked out the petri dish with the penicillin because nothing had happened. Florey came along to throw the stuff away (part of his job) and found the stuff was working. So he claims to have discovered it. Sounds a bit tenuous, really. I mean, it was Flemming who actually thought to use the culture in the first place.

    I guess it all depends on whose memoirs you read.

    P.S. Love the pseudonym!

    Thumbs up because I wanted to check out the jaggy outline

  52. ian

    Mild facial paralysis?

    I've felt the same effect often enough - after dental surgery, after a night at the boozer, and no need to go to Japan and risk my life eating over-priced undercooked fish.

    My thrills are cheap.

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