Nara Kenko Land is a well-known spa here in Japan which offers pools, baths, massages, and exercise equipment.

However, for a limited time they are holding the “Big Amazon Mysterious Fish Exhibit” giving us a rare chance to eat the South American river’s fish, including the deadly piranha.

Suspicious that a health spa would offer edible piranhas, our lovely reporter Usagi went down to check it out and perhaps eat a fish that eats people.

During Nara Kenko Land’s Big Amazon Mysterious Fish Exhibit you can order one of three limited dishes. Up to five Pirania No Amazonesu Plates can be served per day, or you can order one of 10 Amazon Chatfisshu Burgers also served per day. These can be washed down with a smoothie made from South American fruit.

As Usagi approached the entrance to Nara Kenko Land, she noticed a banner was hung advertising the event. Adorned with images of the razor-toothed fish, she still couldn’t get past why a health spa was serving these things up on a platter.

Taking a seat in the second floor restaurant called “Heaven”, she quickly ordered up one of each of the special dishes.

The first to arrive was the Brazilian Forest Smoothie made with umbu. Umbu is also known as Brazil plum and is rich in vitamin C and minerals. Usagi was really pleased with its sour and refreshing taste, but she was eager to move on.

Then came the piranha.


The piranha was fried with sauce but still clearly resembled a whole piranha, ravenous jagged mouth agape. Usagi squeezed a twist of lemon over it with a shaky hand. The fish looked as if it could suddenly reanimate and take its revenge.

Realizing that was silly, Usagi took a breath and got ready to eat. By this time she thought the whole scene was a little too chic to being eating such a vicious predator.

Laughing to herself, she cut into the body. Her knife and fork clattered onto the plate as she suddenly let them slip out of her hands. From within the fish came a foul odor which stopped her in her tracks. Composing herself, our reporter tried to push through and, spearing a morsel of fish with her fork, she tossed it into her mouth… Try to enjoy it as she might, the smell completely overpowered the fish’s taste.

Looking around, Usagi suddenly noticed that no one else was eating anything from the Amazon fair menu. Maybe this really was some kind of joke as she had originally suspected. She called a restaurant worker over.

“Excuse me, this piranha is fried?” she asked.

The worker replied, “Yes, it’s lightly sprinkled with flour and fried.”

“I seem to be the only person here eating it. Is it really popular?”

“Sure, it’s pretty popular. At least one person a day orders it.”

Usagi decided not to dwell on it. After pushing the food around a little, it was time for the fish burger. According to this menu the Amazon Kyatfisshu Burger is made from Barred Sorubim, a species of catfish that dwells in the Amazon basins.

Particularly following the sensory horror that was the piranha, this dish looked pretty tame. A breaded piece of the freshwater fish with the usual fixings of tomato, lettuce, and tartar sauce with a side of French fries sat before her.

Trying it, the catfish tasted strange… It was kind of like ham.

The experience was enlightening at least. Usagi hadn’t known these fish were used as food before now.

The Big Amazon Mysterious Fish Exhibit runs through 12 May. According to our reporter, it’s worth trying the piranha for the experience alone.

Original Article and Photos by Usagi Yumeno
Source: Nara Kenko Land (Japanese)

Nara Kenko Land is also known for its catchy jingle. Na-ra-ken-ko-lan-do!

A redtail catfish was on display at the entrance.
Heaven’s menu for the event
Brazilian Forest Smoothie [Umbu] – 450 yen (US$4.58)
Pirania No Amazonesu Plate – 1,800 yen (US$18.30)
It looks pissed.
In true Rocket News fashion Usagi is using electronics to give a sense of scale to the fish.
It looks like ordinary fish meat, but the smell…
Amazon Kyattfisshu Burger – 1,200 yen (US$12.20)

[ Read in Japanese ]