Kusaya photos: Possibly the smelliest photo job ever

I’ve just got back from several days on the island of Hachijojima (45 minutes by plane from Tokyo, pop. 8,500).

I thought I’d do a story on kusaya, a kind of malordorous preserved fish that Hachijojima is famous – or rather notorious – for. What does it smell like? Suffice to say the name kusaya is etymologically related to the Japanese word “kuso” (crap).


The liquid used to marinate the fish is never changed – just left to mature in the Hachijojima tropical heat. The company I visited has been in business for about 80 years.

kusaya liquid

The company president looking oblivious to the stench. I was holding my breath as I took this photo.

kusaya factory owner

6 Responses to “Kusaya photos: Possibly the smelliest photo job ever”

  1. Shinya says:

    Kusaya is actually from the word “kusai” or “it smells”, not kuso lol. This article explains nothing about kusaya. I mean logically speaking, do you know of any dishes where people name their food after crap? (besides the Japs right?)

    Ignorance is bliss. I take it you’re American?

  2. tony says:

    Hi Shinya,

    I had to think hard if to publish your comment because Jap is a racist term in my book.

    I didn’t write that kusaya is named after crap, I wrote that the name was related to the word for crap. I assumed kuso and kusai were related.

    No, I’m not American. And I have no idea why it would matter (except perhaps to you) if I was.


  3. Ryan says:

    Obviously Shinya is a racist towards Americans. Which is both sad and annoying. Worlds getting too crowded for that kinda crap.

    However “Jap” is hard to call a racist word, its simply a shortened version of Japanese. I think if your offended by Jap then your being a little oversensitive. Jap/black/oriental/handicapped/gay …none are racist..they just describe the race/orientation if used correctly.

  4. tony says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Hmmm. I thought Jap was pretty innocuous at first, but lots of Japanese people seem to feel quite differently. I has certainly been used in racist ways.

  5. woody says:

    “Jap” is a rude, racist, derogatory, and provocative term however used, be it short for Japanese or as an acronym for Jewish-American Princess. “Ryan”, on the other hand, may not have had to face up to racial prejudice and is not empathatic to those who have.

  6. marky mark says:

    Jeez, how about “Nip” then?
    After all, that is a little nicer since it is derived from the Japanese word for Japan – “Nippon”
    just a thought.

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