But what caused the huge rise in the dish’s popularity in the prefecture?

If you haven’t tried karaage, or Japanese-style fried chicken, then you haven’t really lived. Done properly, karaage is the epitome of deep-fried dishes–crispy on the outside, fluffy and juicy on the inside, with a spice combination that really brings out the flavor of the meat. It’s so good that it was ranked as the second-best accompaniment to rice by Japanese netizens.

▼ I mean just look at it…how could anyone not want to eat that?!

Such a staple is karaage in the Japanese diet that there’s actually an annual All-Japan Karaage Survey, which asks the nation’s opinion of karaage and collects data on national consumption of fried chicken. In fact, the results of this year’s survey, which was conducted by Nichirei Foods and polled 14,099 people from across Japan, caused a bit of a stir. As reported on the “Everything Search” segment of Nagoya TV program Dou Desuka, the most interesting result to come out of the survey was the fact that Gifu Prefecture jumped up 41 places to become the prefecture with the most karaage eaters in all of Japan.

Last year, Gifu, in central Japan, ranked 42nd in the ratio of the population that often eats karaage (Japan has only 47 prefectures), but this year they made it to the number one spot. It was reported that 86 percent of Gifu residents indulged in this crispy-fried treat at least once per month in 2021. But why the increase? To find out, Dou Desuka went to Gifu to ask residents directly.

“I feel like there are way more karaage shops because it’s an easy food to take out,” said one commenter, while another interviewee said, “So many karaage specialty shops have popped up, it’s like all Gifu has nowadays is ramen and karaage.” It seems the consensus was that with the opening of so many new karaage shops in Gifu these days, you can’t help but want to eat from them.

And it may be true that there are more karaage shops in the prefecture than there were before. In 2021, 43 new karaage shops opened in Gifu, an impressive number. Karaage chain Karasuke, based in Gifu’s neighbor Aichi Prefecture, opened six new branches in Gifu, and workers at the new shops report high popularity among the locals, with their parking lots always full.

The hosts of Dou Desuka also theorized that it might be because Gifu has a history of spending high amounts of money on fried chicken in general, including at the popular Gifu-based chicken restaurant chain Tori-chan. With the advent of the coronavirus and the increased demand for takeout restaurants, it was natural for karaage to dominate the takeout industry in the prefecture.

Surprisingly, though, Gifu doesn’t eat the most chicken per person per month. That title belongs to Ibaraki, one of the prefectures neighboring Tokyo, whose average citizen eats 55.4 pieces of karaage per month. That’s a lot of chicken!

Considering those numbers, it’s really no surprise karaage is Japan’s favorite dish, according to the survey at least, where more respondents chose it as their favorites than even yakiniku, gyoza, sashimi, and tempura!

Honestly, if you haven’t tried karaage yet, you’re missing out. It’s somewhat hard to find proper karaage overseas, but if you’re in Japan or are hoping to visit Japan when the borders open up again, definitely put karaage on your list of must-eat foods!

Source: J-Town Net via Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko, Nichirei Foods
Top image: Pakutaso

Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)
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