Echizen Gani

▲Photo by Fukui Prefectural Tourism Federation

Ask anybody in Fukui and they will tell you that Echizen Gani are the “taste of winter.” Echizen Gani are a type of male snow crab (zuwaigani) caught in the waters off Fukui. Famous for its tightly packed, delicate and sweet flavored flesh—particularly their rich crab livers—these crabs are widely considered to be the best tasting crabs in Japan. As such, it is the only crab in the whole country that has been dedicated to the Imperial family. The dedication began in 1909, in Echizen-cho (town), and continues its hundred-plus-year history today of presentations to the Royal Family. In September of 2018 Echizen Gani became the first registered crab under the Geographical Indication (GI) protection system of Japan. This system is designed to protect local producers whose products are directly aligned with the “Names of Specific Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Products and Foodstuffs.” Although already famous, this designation has attracted even more attention to Echizen Gani.

▲Photo by Fukui Prefectural Tourism Federation

The secret to the delicious nature of Echizen Gani is the unique geography of the Echizen coast and the optimal environment it presents for crabs with abundant food and perfect sea temperatures. Fishing from Echizen Port is made easy by the proximity of the best fishing grounds only an hour or two from port. This ability to bring the catch to market so easily has resulted in Echizen being the busiest fishing port in Fukui. Come and enjoy this exquisite freshness at traditional Japanese ryoutei (high-end eateries) and inns around the port.

▲The Echizen Gani with “Kiwami” written on a yellow tag. Photo by Fukui Prefectural Tourism Federation
▲The picture of the first auction. Photo by Echizen-cho Tourism Federation
▲The picture of the first auction. Photo by Echizen-cho Tourism Federation

Technically speaking only the male snow crab is known as Echizen Gani, the female snow crab is known by the name Seiko Gani. The female crab’s size is only about one third that of the male (approximately one foot, or 30 cm); however, it has a rich taste of its own and Is not as pricey as Echizen Gani. The female’s roe is considered a delicacy and gourmets travel to Echizen during the strictly enforced 2 month “resource protection” crabbing season.Visitors to the area should not miss a chance to try Zubo Gani which are only eaten locally. Zubo Gani are snow crabs which have just shed their shells, and their name derives from the fact that when you extract the flesh it makes an onomatopoeic sound in Japanese, “zubo!” The flesh of the Zubo Gani is very delicate and it must be served soon after being caught to preserve its fresh and sweet flavors. Zubo Gani have not fully developed their livers so only the legs and shoulder flesh are eaten. Happily, the price of Zubo Gani is very affordable, so it is a familiar diner time meal for locals. There are about 70 crab restaurants in Echizen-cho (“crab town”). Many of these are located right on the Echizen coast within an area of about 15 km (about 9 miles) so it may be difficult to choose which shop to enter.

▲Kokonogi fishing port in Echizen Town. The fishing port on the day when there is a fish haul comes to life from early in the morning. Photo by Fukui Prefectural Tourism Federation

Another important stop while in the area is the Echizen Gani Museum. Located near Michinoeki-Echizen, here it is possible to learn more about crabs. Simulator games allow you to experience the thrill of working on a fishing boat. A tunnel aquarium allows visitors to see the various types of fish caught off the coast of Echizen so both adults and children can enjoy themselves while learning about the local environment.

▲The crab-shaped Echizen Gani Museum exterior. Photo by Fukui Prefectural Tourism Federation
▲The simulation of fishing is popular for children. Photo by Fukui Prefectural Tourism Federation
▲Photo by Fukui Prefectural Tourism Federation


INFORMATION(Echizen Gani Museum)【Address】
Kuriya 71-324-1, Echizen-cho, Nyu-gun, Fukui.

From JR Takefu Station, it takes 65 minutes on Fukutetsu Bus Takefu Echizen Coastline. Get off at Michi no eki Echizen.
As the number of buses is small, cars are recommended.
The bus timetable is here

【Business hours】
9:00 – 17:00
Close on Tuesday

大人(中学生以上) 500 yen
小学生(3歳以上~小学生) 300 yen

【Web site】 (Only in Japanese)


NOTEThis article was written based on the information when it was published. Since there is a possibility that it differs from the content at the time of posting, be sure to check information by yourself in advance.


One thought on “Echizen Gani

  1. Fukui Prefectural Government officials have expressed hope that people all over Japan and the world will visit the prefecture to taste Echizen Gani, which is a local specialty.

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