American crawfish and weed in Japan

According to Shinano Mainichi Shimbun, shipping of amerika-zarigani is now at its peak around the Lake Suwa. "Amerika-zarigani "or simply "zarigani" is a Japanese name for red swamp crawfish (Procambarus clarkii) that is native to North America.

When I was a kid, it was one of the pastimes to fish amerika-zarigani in the pond in my neighborhood. According to Japanese Wikipedia, this crawfish was first introduced into Japan from America in 1927 as a food for cultured bullfrog. The crawfish escaped from the cultivation pond and propagated in the nature. Now we can see amerika-zarigani everywhere in Japan. Although I didn't think of eating that crawfish when I was a kid, according to the Shinano Mainichi Shimubun article it is used for French cuisines in some restaurants nowadays.

Another common organism in Japan that has "amerika" in its name is the weed "devill's beggarticks" (Bidens frondosa) that is called amerika-sendangusa in Japan. After the Japan's surrender in WWII, American occupation force came to Japan. At the time, seeds of amerika sendangusa also came to Japan being attached to the soldiers and cargoes. The seeds of the plant have hooked barbs that attach onto clothing. When I was a kid, it was also a pastime to play with the seeds of america-sendangusa throwing them onto the clothes of friends each other.


Jun Okumura said...

You may be aware that the crawfish is a very important element in Cajun cuisine. You make me wonder if the French (Acadians) who migrated to Louisiana had already been using crawfish when they arrived there.

I also remember visiting Wangfujing and seeing boiled crawfish being sold in one of the food stalls. That was in the mid-90s, just before they tore the place down for redevelopment.

Aki said...

Thank you for the comment, Jun. I didn't know the crawfish is edible.
When I was a kid, there was a rumor that someone ate it and suffered from disease caused by some parasite. Even though there was such a rumor, Japanese kids loved that organism. That is perhaps the reason Allian Baltan in the SF drama series Ultraman has been one of the most loved monsters among Japanese people.

According to the following articles, red swamp crawfish was introduced into Spain in 1973 that was the first time that it entered Europe. Perhaps the French who migrated to Louisiana didn't know the crawfish, althaough it does not exclude the possibility that they had been using other species of crawfish that is native to Europe.

"The red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, native to northeastern Mexico and southcentral USA, is today the dominant macroinvertebrate in several European countries. While the first introduction of this species into Spain is well-documented, little is known about its pathways of invasion and the reason for its rapid spread in several European countries."

"The red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), native to the south-central United States, has spread through Europe since 1973, when it was introduced illegally into Spain. Today, dense populations inhabit central and southern Spain and Portugal, and are abundant in France, Italy, and, to a lesser degree, England, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands."