Japan’s Top 5 Stinky 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, the Alabaster unit (Au) can quantify bad smells and shows that the Swedish delicacy has 8070 Au.

5 Most Stinky Japanese Foods 

Not as smelly as Surstromming, but in Japan too, there are delicacies or Chinmi (珍味) that give off a strong unpleasant smell.

And today, for those who want to try such things someday, I will introduce the five most stinky Japanese foods with the Alabaster unit.

#5: Old Takuan (沢庵 古漬け)


The food that ranks 5th is Takuan Furuzuke (沢庵 古漬け), or long-pickled old Takuan.

Takuan is a traditional Japanese pickle commonly eaten in Japan, invented by a Zen Buddhist monk named Takuan Souhou (沢庵 宗彭: 1573-1646) in the Edo period.

It consists of Daikon radish lactic-fermented in salted rice bran and has a yellow color.

When the amount of salt is right, Takuan doesn’t spoil for years. Instead, the well-pickled old one stinks with 430 Au.

#4: Kusaya (くさや) (uncooked) 

Uncooked Kusaya

With it ranked 4th, Kusaya is a specialty of Izu Islands made of fish, such as mackerel scad, flying fish, or dolphinfish,

soaked in a fermented brine called Kusaya Eki for 8 to 20 hours and laid out under the sun to dry.

The brine Kusaya Eki has a characteristic smell and flavor, making fish soaked in it smelly.

Kusaya is a dried fermented fish eaten as it is, and the uncooked one has 447 Au.

#3: Natto (納豆)


The superfood, Natto, is the third smelliest Japanese food with 452 Au.

The fermented soybeans not only stick but also have a stringy, slimy consistency, because of which many people can’t eat them. 

#2: Funazushi (鮒寿司)


Funazushi is an ancient Sushi that Shiga Prefecture prides itself on, made by Lacto-fermenting salted crucian carp with rice.

The yellow part is the roe, which is like cheese.

Although the lactic fermentation prevents the ingredients from rotting and makes them tasty, the resulting dish has a distinctive smell with 486 Au.

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

Grilled Kusaya

A terrible stench wafts when you grill the Kusaya fish that ranks 4th.

The odor is similar to ginkgo nuts, and the Kusaya right after being grilled has 1267 Au, making it the 5th stinkiest in the world and the most stinky in Japan.

World’s Top 5 Stinkiest Foods

For your information, the world’s top 5 stinkiest foods are as follows, according to Wikipedia.

World’s Top 5 Stinkiest Foods
Food Name Alabaster Units Country of Origin
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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