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Beautifully transparent flesh is the symbol of freshness

Japanese flying squid, which is called ma-ika in Hokkaido and surume-ika in other parts of Japan, is a food that the people of Japan have a deep familiarity with. Japanese flying squid have been fished in the waters off Hokkaido since the latter half of the 18th century and today it still stands as one of Hokkaido’s most well known seafood. Hakodate City in Southern Hokkaido is considered the capital of Japanese flying squid and the city’s official fish is actually the squid. Ika sashi and ika somen made from fresh squid feature beautifully transparent flesh that has a chewy texture and unique sweetness. In Hakodate, squid brought into port on the very same morning are used, making ika sushi a breakfast staple for many.


The spear squid, with a long, narrow body, is caught in only small amounts, making it a rare and high end delicacy. Most of it is eaten as sushi or sashimi.


Hakodate City accounts for approximately 30% of Hokkaido’s Japanese flying squid catch, while Rausu Town accounts for about 20%.


■Map / Main municipalities with fishing grounds  Major fishing grounds are marked with a flag on the map of Hokkaido

Hakodate City, Rausu Town, Kushiro City, Urakawa Town, Hiroo Town, Setana Town, Nemuro City, Samani Town, Tomakomai City, Esashi Town

New technologies for maintaining the freshness of squid

The freshness of squid is maintained by shipping them live in fish tanks or placed in a waterborne cages immediately at port. New technologies are also being developed. For example, these include oxygen packs that can preserve freshens when used during transport and tools used to more easily drain the blood of live squid to preserve freshness. These technologies have already been commercialized, making it possible to transport fresh squid caught off Hokkaido to Kanto and other parts of Japan.

Squid Family

  • Japanese flying squid
    Japanese flying squid has the largest catch of any squid in Japan. A very common sight for many, it is also called ma-ika. These squid can grow to more than 30cm in length. Known for thick and firm flesh. Japanese flying squid is delicious as sashimi, simmered or grilled, as it is ideal for a wide range of dishes.
  • Spear squid
    The spear squid has large ears on a long and slender body. It is called yari-ika, or spear squid, because it is shaped like a spear. The meat is thin and has a soft texture, making it a high end, prized delicacy.


The season for Japanese flying squid is between June and November, while for spear squid it is winter and spring.

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Processed Foods

Squid are dried overnight, dried and shredded, made into shiokara, and also Matsumae pickles. Smaller Japanese flying squid are ideal for squid and rice, where rice is inserted inside the body of a squid that is then cooked. This is dish is a served as famous station boxed meal in Mori Town in Southern Hokkaido.