This season’s Okushiri sea urchins are nice and plump

This season’s landing of sea urchins, a specialty of Okushiri Island in southern Hokkaido, has begun. The first sea urchins are farmed but, from mid-July, they will be replaced by natural ones. Every morning at the processing factory, fishing industry workers are busy cracking open and shipping the sea urchins, and a new initiative will be launched to offer tourists the chance to experience hands-on sea urchin cracking activities.

The Hiyama Fisheries Cooperative began landing the sea urchins on June 8. On June 9, seven members of the cooperative were at work, cracking open the 7- to 8-cm-diameter ‘Kitamurasaki’ sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus nudus) with special tools and removing them with spatulas. The contents are then washed in seawater that has been UV sterilized, and the entrails and debris are carefully removed using tweezers. After inferior sea urchins have been removed, they are divided into 100-gram portions and placed in packs filled with seawater, and shipped throughout the island and to Hakodate and other destinations.
 
Sea urchins cultivated on the island of Okushiri are grown in an environment similar to that of the natural environment. “This year’s sea urchins are plumper that those of last year. Okushiri sea urchins are sweet and delicious, and we hope that many people will enjoy them,” says the head of the fisheries cooperative.
 
This season, the cooperative is offering a reservation-only ‘hands-on sea urchin cracking activity’ aimed at tourists. Participants can crack open three fresh sea urchins under the guidance of one of the workers, and then eat the contents right there. At 3,000 yen per person, the activity program is part of a ‘Free return-ferry fare campaign.’

Members of the fisheries cooperative busy cracking-open the sea urchins

Location

Hiyama Fisheries Cooperative

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