Perhaps befitting an island nation surrounded by the ocean, Japan seems to have a fascination with deep sea creatures. One of our favorite deep ocean dwelling critters, the giant isopod, has made regular appearances on the Japanese Internet in various forms from toys to sausage snacks, and even as actual cooked food.
Other creatures of the deep such as the oarfish and the giant squid are also relatively popular here in Japan, possibly because much about them remains an elusive mystery. So it’s not entirely surprising that someone should come up with a series of gachapon toys featuring deep sea creatures. But these particular vending machine-dispensed trinkets that have recently been released from Japanese toy manufacturer Re-ment come with a twist — they’re sushi-shaped and seriously bizarre-looking!
In case you were wondering, no, these particular deep sea creatures aren’t eaten as sushi in Japan, but the toys are being presented in sushi form anyway — for fun, we guess. Let’s take a look at the six different toys in the series:
1. The Japanese pancake devilfish (mendako) sushi
This creature is a close relative of the flapjack octopus, which is what the pink octopus Pearl that appeared in the movie Finding Nemo was. Unfortunately, these guys apparently don’t taste very good at all, so they’re not ideal sushi material.
2. The isopod (gusokumushi) sushi
Yes, the ever popular isopod (gusokumushi) has also been turned into sushi. While they may not make a good sushi ingredient, isopods are apparently tasty enough when fried.
3. The oarfish (ryugu no tsukai) sushi
The oarfish, with its long, unusual appearance, has long been a source of fascination for the Japanese. Its Japanese name, ryugu no tsukai, means “messenger of the Dragon Palace”, in reference to the castle of the dragon sea god in Japanese legend, and we have to say it’s an unusually poetic name for a fish. While certainly not a common find, just last year, we saw a Japanese Twitter user share his experience of cooking and eating an oarfish that was found washed up on shore.
4. The Atlantic footballfish (chouchin anko) sushi
Although this specific species is not consumed in Japan, some of their close relatives known as anglerfish or monkfish (anko) are eaten, and their liver (ankimo) in particular is considered a delicacy.
5. The blobfish sushi
This blobfish sushi has to be our favorite in the series! The sad-looking fish found off the coasts of Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand has the unfortunate distinction of having been voted the world’s ugliest animal.
6. The pumpkin sea star (Astrosarkus idipi) sushi
Called by the fancy name ryugu sakura hitode in Japanese, which means “dragon palace cherry blossom sea star,” only a few specimens of this sea star have ever been collected, and much about them is still unknown. They’re quite large, growing to about 30 centimeters (1 foot) in diameter.
So, there you have Re-ment’s collection of deep ocean creatures in sushi form as gachapon toys. Do you think they’re creepy or cute? Well, maybe they’re both, as some Japanese people are calling them kimo-kawaii, a combination of the Japanese words for “gross” and “cute”.
You can buy these unique toys from a regular gachapon vending machine for 300 yen a pop, but if you’re really into deep sea fauna, you can get the entire collection of six for 1,700 yen (US$14.14) from Rakuten’s Kids Room online shop.
The complete set even comes with a miniature plate of soy sauce which we think is a cute touch, and they ship overseas too. If you’re a fan of sushi and you like your toys quirky, then these unique sushi figures may be exactly what you want!