Japan’s Top 5 Stinkiest Foods

When it comes to food that emits a stench, the Swedish dish of fermented herring, Surstromming is infamous as the world’s No.1 stinkiest food. In Japan, bad smells can be indicated using the Alabaster unit (Au), and based on that, the Swedish delicacy has 8070 Au.

5 Stinky Japanese Foods 

Not as stinky as Surstromming, but even in Japan, there exist delicacies that give off a strong unpleasant smell. And today, for people who want to try such things someday, I will introduce Japan’s top 5 stinkiest foods with the Alabaster unit.

#5: Old Takuan (沢庵 古漬け)

Old TakuanImage: marutake-tsukemono.co.jp

Takuan is the traditional Japanese yellow pickled radish that is commonly eaten in Japan, which is said to have been invented by a famous Japanese Zen Buddhist monk named “Takuan Souhou (沢庵 宗彭: 1573 – 1646)” in the Edo period.

The Japanese pickle is a lactic acid fermented food made by pickling dried Daikon radish in salted rice bran. If the amount of salt is properly adjusted, Takuan doesn’t go bad for years. Instead, the well-pickled old Takuan is smelly and has 430 Au.

#4: Kusaya (くさや) (uncooked) 

Uncooked Kusaya

Kusaya is the Japanese dried fish known as a specialty of the Izu Islands. It is made of fish, such as mackerel scad, flying fish, or dolphinfish, that has been soaked in a fermented brine called “Kusaya Eki” for 8 to 20 hours and laid out under the sun to dry.

Kusaya is smelly due to being soaked in the brine Kusaya Eki with a peculiar smell and flavor. The dried fish is also a fermented food and edible even in its uncooked state, and the uncooked Kusaya has 447 Au.

#3: Natto (納豆)


The infamous Japanese superfood, Natto is known as Japan’s third stinkiest food with 452 Au. The fermented soybeans are not only smelly but also have a stringy, slimy consistency because of which many people hate and can’t eat it. 

#2: Funazushi (鮒寿司)


Made by fermenting salted crucian carp with rice, Funazushi is the ancient Sushi dish that Shiga Prefecture prides itself on. The yellow part is the roe of the fish, which has a smell and texture like cheese.

The crucian carp is fermented by lactic bacteria, and the lactic fermentation process prevents the fish from rotting and makes it tasty. However, Funazushi is well-known for its distinctive unpleasant odor with 486 Au.

#1: Kusaya (くさや) (right after grilled) 

Grilled Kusaya

When the dried fish that ranks the fourth, Kusaya is grilled, an extremely terrible smell spreads and fills the air. The stench is similar to that of ginkgo nuts and, in terms of food, is said to be the 5th stinkiest in the world and the stinkiest in Japan. Right after grilled, the cooked Kusaya has 1267 Au.

The Top 5 Stinkiest Foods in the World 

Lastly for your reference, according to Wikipedia, the world’s top 5 stinkiest foods are as follows.

The Top 5 Stinkiest Foods in the World
Food Name Alabaster Units Country
Surstromming 8070 Sweden
Hongeo-Hoe 6230 Korea
Epicure Cheese 1870 New Zealand
Kiviak 1370 Greenland
Grilled Kusaya 1267 Japan


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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