Japan’s Top 5 Stinkiest Foods

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

5 Stinky Japanese Foods 

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

The 5th place : 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 rice bran seasoned with salt. If the amount of salt is properly adjusted, Takuan never goes bad for some years. Instead, the well-pickled old Takuan is known as a stinky food and has 430 Au.

The 4th place : Kusaya (くさや) (uncooked) 

Uncooked Kusaya

Kusaya is the Japanese dried fish known as a specialty of Izu Islands. To make Kusaya, typically, mackerel scad, flying fish, and dolphinfish are prepared. It is made by soaking fish in a fermented brine called “Kusaya Eki” for 8 to 20 hours, then the fish are 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 Japanese dried fish is also a fermented food and edible even in its uncooked form. The uncooked Kusaya has 447 Au.

The 3rd place : Natto (納豆)


The famous Japanese superfood, Natto is known as Japan’s third stinkiest food. The fermented soybeans are not only smelly but also have a stringy, slimy consistency. Because of this, many Japanese dislike and can’t eat it. On the other hand, many others like eating Natto with plain white rice, despite its bad smell and stickiness. By the way, Natto has 452 Au.

The 2nd place : Funazushi (鮒寿司)


Funazushi is the ancient Sushi dish that is famous as a specialty food of Shiga Prefecture, which is made by fermenting salted crucian carp with rice. The yellow part is 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.

The 1st place : Kusaya (くさや) (right after grilled) 

Grilled Kusaya

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

The Top 5 Stinkiest Foods in the World 

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

The Top 5 Stinkiest Foods in the World
Food name Alabaster units Country
Surstromming (Amazon.com) 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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