Our reporter gets her finger bitten by a sturgeon yet lives to tell the tale.

Shibetsu Salmon Science Museum is an aquarium dedicated to, as the name suggests, salmon, and has over 30 species of salmonids (a type of fish in the salmon family). But as well as being an educational space, the museum is also home to an experience so thrilling, so exciting, that our reporter Haruka Takagi knew she had to try it out as soon as possible.

You see, the museum boasts an exhibit that allows visitors to get their fingers bitten by a sturgeon!

Haruka didn’t know much about sturgeons, or salmon for that matter, despite it being one of her favourite things to eat. Still, getting the opportunity to experience such a hair-raising experience like being bitten by a sturgeon is exactly the kind of weird that we love here at SoraNews24, so Haruka knew she had to try it.

The first hurdle was actually getting there, though. Shibetsu is a town in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture. On top of that, Shibetsu is on the east coast of Hokkaido, and is half a day’s drive away from Hokkaido’s big cities like Sapporo. In fact, it might be easier to get to Shibetsu from Russia, like this man did.

Still, Haruka wanted nothing more than to get her fingers chomped by a sturgeon, and eventually arrived at the museum. Admission was pretty cheap, at 650 yen (US$4.92) for adults and 200 yen ($1.50) for children.

All kinds of salmonid were on display, like Japanese dace

Japanese huchen, Japan’s largest freshwater fish…

… and rainbow trout. Whereas most other aquariums have tanks filled with colourful sea creatures, the fish at the Shibetsu Salmon Science Museum were mostly silver-coloured, which was pretty interesting.

There was also another tank filled with albino rainbow trout, rarely seen in the wild…

… and a salmon run, which acts as a natural spawning environment for salmon.

The museum’s unique exhibit means visitors can watch salmon lay their eggs up close. They can also use a viewing bridge to watch salmon swimming upstream.

But while that was all very well and good, Haruka wasn’t here to watch salmon lay eggs. She was here to get her fingers bitten by a sturgeon, and the sound of people screaming nearby told her that she was getting close.

Sure enough, she saw a poster for the “Sturgeon Finger-chomping Experience“, which for some reason was next to a statue of a bear. She followed the poster (and the sound of screaming) and reached the exhibit.

The instructional poster was faded, but clear enough to understand — first, Haruka would sprinkle some sturgeon bait on her index finger, and lower her finger into the tank. The sturgeon would come and take the bait — and bite Haruka’s finger in the process!

The sturgeon’s tank was the size of a child’s paddling pool. Inside, the sturgeons were waiting, their snouts hovering on the surface of the water, waiting to be fed. They looked kind of like crocodiles waiting to pounce on their prey, and Haruka started to feel a little nervous. She wasn’t alone, either; a young girl next to her started to cry.

Still, she had travelled a long way to Shibetsu just to try this out, and she wasn’t going to back down now. Taking a deep breath, she lowered her finger into the tank… and…


With the force of a boxer’s punch, a sturgeon rushed out of the tank and grabbed the food from Haruka, engulfing her entire finger in its mouth…

… but it didn’t hurt at all!

You see, sturgeon have no teeth, and tend to swallow their food whole. It was a weird sensation though, akin to being bitten by a silicon glove. The initial force of the sturgeon’s grip was quite fierce, but also oddly weak and slippery. All in all, it was a bizarre sensation.

Even though her finger remained attached to her hand, it was still quite an unnerving experience. But definitely worth a try, if not just to be able to say “I got my finger bitten by a sturgeon once.”

The Shibetsu Salmon Science Museum is a must-visit for fish fans and those who like weird things, and will give you a good excuse to visit Hokkaido — although let’s be fair, when you have views like the ones in Hokkaido’s Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park, do you really need an excuse?

Museum Information
Shibetsu Salmon Science Museum / 標津サーモン科学館
Address: Shibetsu-gun, Shibetsu-cho, Kita 1-jo Nishi 6-chome, 1-1-1, Shibetsu Salmon Park
標津郡 標津町 北1条西6丁目1番1-1号 標津サーモンパーク内
Open: 9:30a.m – 5:00 p.m
Open daily from May to October
Closed Wednesdays during February, March, April and November
Closed December/January

Photos ©SoraNews24
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