Feast on Hokkaido Crab! Types of crab and how to eat them.


publication date:03/01/2019



When it comes to cuisine in Hokkaido, crab “kani” is the first thing that comes to mind. If you plan on going to Hokkaido, you definitely have to try some.

In Hokkaido you can  get  typical Japanese varieties of crabs such as horsehair crabs, red king crabs, and snow crabs as well as the more peculiar blue king crabs and hanasaki crab varieties to try.

The best fishing grounds for a variety of crab in Japan can be found spread across Hokkaido.

As the climate is different in each area the type of crab that can be caught varies by region and by season. Whenever you are in Hokkaido you can eat the crab variety particular to that season.

We will inform you more about the pick of the Hokkaido crabs, the fishing zones, what makes them special and more about the different seasonal varieties. And also let you know our recommendations.


1. Red King Crab
2. Blue King Crab
3. Horsehair Crab
4. Snow Crab
5. Hanasaki Crab

Red King Crab

タラバガニ The first crab you will meet is the red king crab. With stand out features such as a spiky rough shell, and thick long legs. The image that comes to mind when people think of crabs is usually one of the red king.

The season for them in Hokkaido is  January ~ May and September ~ October. The Wakkanai port located in Hokkaido”s northernmost city Wakkanai is the number one place for catching red king crab.

After the Okhotsk drift ice season is over  the fishing season opens “Umiake”. At this time, between April and May, the red king crab is said to be in it’s most delicious season.


In fact the red king crab is said to be biologically related to the hermit crab and it even has 8 legs which is two less than other crabs. One delicious aspect of crabs is their miso but red king crab miso leaves something to be desired.

However, the long thick legs of the red king crab are a one of a kind delicacy. We have one of the high class ingredients,

Once they have been boiled and frozen let the in season red king crab legs melt naturally and enjoy their tender rich sweet taste.

If you are going to eat, you want to have your fill of freshly cooked food. You can have sashimi or crab shabu, etc, which we definitely recommend .

Blue King Crab


Photo provided by : Abashiri City Bureau of Tourism.

The [Blue King Crab] that resembles the red king crab. In Hokkaido, this can be caught in Abashiri, Doutou. Before being boiled the crab is blue in appearance which is where it gets its name.

It can be caught over a long period between January and June. It is cheaper than other crabs and easier to obtain. It is said to not be as delicious as the red king crab, but fresh blue king crab eaten in Hokkaido has an exceptional taste and texture.

It has a lighter taste than its red counterpart, but it is easy to eat and has no shortage of fans.


Grilling or frying is recommended,because over boiling the blue king crab can cause the meat to become tough.

One of the best ways dishes that can be made is blue king crab tempura. Which gets great reactions whenever it is eaten. Try it with tendon (tempura rice bowl) and adding tempura sauce really compliments the light flavor of the crab.

You can also try crab Chinese fried rice, or crab rice etc. There are a wide range of luxurious crab dishes to choose from, all at a reasonable price.

Horsehair Crab


Completely covered in hair and compared to other crabs it is a little on the small side. Usually this crab is only  eaten as a crab miso, however it is packed with rich and delicious meat.

If you garnish the crab miso with the crab meat, then you can enjoy the perfect balance of both tastes  in your mouth at the same time.

Also, the crab hair meat also goes well with many foods on the western menu. We also recommend the gratin and pasta which uses a lot of crab meat and miso.

Snow Crab


Snow crab is famous during the winter months in the Kansai and the Hokuriku areas of Japan The variety of snow crab that is caught in Honshu is known as Hon Snow Crab and the variety of snow crab found in Hokkaido is known as red snow crab.

The season for red snow crab is between April and June. The fishing grounds for these crabs are the Rishiri Rebun and the Esa waters of the Japanese sea .

Compared to Hon snow crabs the red snow crabs are said to be moister, but the meat is sweet and juicy. We recommend trying these crabs in the form of sashimi. The crab miso is a fantastic item on the menu. A  must try.

Hanasaki Crab

Hanasaki crabs can be found from the eastern waters to the cape, all the way to Nemuro on the pacific ocean side. The hanasaki (flower blooming crabs) crabs get their name from having a body covered in thorns that seem to bloom when the crab is boiled.

Can only be fished during a short period and so demand is high but supply is low, even Hokkaido residents can not usually get a hold of this crab. It is known as the phantom crab and is quite expensive.

This Hanasaki crab has a rich characteristic taste that you will want more of. Recommended ways to eat this in Hokkaido are Teppou Soup (gun soup)


The carefully selected chunks of hanasaki crab used in this miso soup create a flavor that will get you asking for seconds and even thirds.


There you have it, the 5 types of crab and how to fully enjoy eating them.

There are many different shops and restaurants in each region of Hokkaido where you will be able to try a variety of crab dishes. You can also head to the markets to get a great souvenir unique to Hokkaido.

When you travel to Hokkaido make sure you treat yourself to some delicious crab.



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