Snow Crab – A Taste of the Sea of Japan
For more than a thousand years, pilgrimages have been important in the Japanese culture. In today’s modern Japan, a “snow crab pilgrimage” occurs during the winter months. The goal of these pilgrims is the Sea of Japan coast on the northern side of Japan. The undersea geography from Hokkaido to western Japan is perfect for crabs because the crabs prefer colder and deeper waters. The purpose of the pilgrimage is to get as close as possible to the source in order to get the freshest crabs possible. Snow crab fishing is allowed only during the winter months (November to March). Go to any travel agency in Japan during the winter, and you will find tours dedicated to eating snow crabs.
Restaurants, hotels and ryokans prepare the crabs many different ways: crab shabu-shabu, crab nabe (hot pots), grilled crab, crab nigiri sushi, crab donburi (rice bowls) and even crab sashimi to name just a few. We don’t have a specific restaurant we would recommend. But rather, we recommend going someplace like Kinosaki Onsen on the Sea of Japan in western Japan during the winter months. All of the ryokans there will be serving crab at dinner freshly caught from the nearby fishing port of Tsuiyama. And after a great crab dinner, go for a long, hot soak during the cold Japan winter months!