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