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Enjoy tasting the difference between the three types of shrimp caught off Hokkaido

Hokkaido has one of Japan’s most prominent fishing grounds for various species of shrimp, including deep-water shrimp, humpback shrimp, and Hokkai shrimp, among others.


Deep-water shrimp and humpback shrimp are particularly well suited for sashimi and tempura, and also popular in sushi. In addition, during the winter spawning season, shrimp with eggs inside are sold at market, with the roe a transparent blue color, making for a rare delicacy.


Hokkai shrimp are known to have a stronger flavor and taste better when boiled rather than raw. Generally this variety is eaten immediately after being boiled in salt water.


Nearly 70% of the deep-water shrimp caught off Hokkaido are from the Sea of Japan coast and in the waters off Rumoi. Most humpback shrimp are caught in the Sea of Japan. Hokkai shrimp are mainly caught in the Okhotsk Sea.


■Deep-water shrimp
Haboro Town, Mashike Town, Yoichi Town, Furubira Town, Tomamae Town
■Humpback shrimp
Haboro Town, Mori Town, Rebun Town, Yakumo Town, Monbetsu City
■Hokkai shrimp
Yubetsu Town, Nemuro City, Saroma Town, Kitami City, Bekkai Town

Deep-water shrimp account for a majority of the shrimp catch

Deep-water shrimp account for the largest portion of Hokkaido’s overall shrimp catch at nearly 60% of the total. Nearly all deep-water shrimp and humpback shrimp are caught in shrimp cages.

Alaska pollock are added to these cages as bait and then they are sunk to the bottom of the sea. They are then picked up the next day with shrimp inside. Some fishing boats carry up to 2,000 cages.

On Bekkai Town’s Notsuke Bay, a fishing ground for Hokkai shrimp, fishermen use traditional trawl nets first used in the Meiji period. One of the seasonal sights of Notsuke Bay is the white sales of shrimp boats during the fishing season.

Shrimp Family

  • Deep-water shrimp
    A rather small shrimp with a light crimson color, deep-water shrimp is known by the common name amaebi in Japan, which means sweet shrimp. As the name indicates, when eaten raw, this shrimp offers a unique sweetness and is known for its soft and springy meat. This is because the deep-water shrimp contains a larger amount of glycine, an amino acid key to sweetness found in fish and shellfish, than other shrimp species.
  • Humpback shrimp
    Known by the common name poeny ebi in Japan, humpback shrimp are the largest in Hokkaido, growing close to 30cm in length. When eaten raw, they offer a refreshing sweet taste, but a different flavor compared to deep-water shrimp. Humpback shrimp are often eaten as sushi and sashimi, but they are also great in tempura, seasoned with salt and grilled, and boiled in Japanese rice wine.
  • Hokkai shrimp
    Called Hokkai shima ebi, this species lives in shallower water with large concentrations of seaweed. When alive the shrimp is colored greenish blue, but when boiled it becomes a vivid red. When boiled in brine, the shrimp offers a thick and savory taste. The season is short, so shrimp caught locally are boiled and frozen immediately before being shipped to market.


Deep-water shrimp and humpback shrimp are caught year round, but the season for Hokkai shrimp is restricted to early summer and autumn to protect the stock.

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Processed Foods

All varieties of shrimp are frozen, while deep-water shrimp are pickled in brine or dried and processed into furikake, a topping for rice. Additionally, a number of new shrimp products are appearing, including curry, ramen and dashi soy sauce flavored with shrimp essence.