So hungry I could eat a horse! Food specialties of the Mt. Aso area


Basashi (Raw Horse) at the restaurant at the Hotel Greenpia Minami Aso near Mt. Aso in Kyushu. (Photo by Adam MacDonald)

Got your bags packed after reading all about the beauty of Mt. Aso and Kumamoto Castle in Japan’s southernmost island of Kyushu? Now that you know what to see, learn what culinary delights await you.

By Adam MacDonald

As with all areas of Japan, the Mt. Aso area in Kyushu has a number of foods it is known for. Here are two dishes well worth giving a whirl.

Basashi (馬刺し): You kanji-lovers out there will recognize that the first character of this dish is “horse,” and with good reason. One of the most lauded dishes in the area is raw horsemeat. In essence, it is horse sashimi (again, see the kanji). Most often served with chives and horseradish, this treat is actually quite good. While the meat is a bit chewy and tough, it is also surprisingly tasty. A pinch of the condiments make this a delicious culinary adventure. Basashi can be a bit expensive, though the prices are much more reasonable in this area than in other areas of Japan. So eat up, and try to keep the whinnying to a minimum.

Kumamoto Ramen (熊本ラーメン): Though ramen isn’t a native Japanese dish, it has been embraced quite lovingly for many years. Kumamoto’s version of the beloved noodle soup features a much more garlic-intensive flavor than other ramen dishes. Should you decide to try it, the most famed noodle shop in the area is known as Ajisen. This little ramen haven has maintained a sterling reputation of noodle excellence, even opening a few stores abroad. いただきます!


  1. So hungry I could eat a horse! Food specialties of the Mt. Aso area…

    A horse is a horse, unless its cut raw and served as sashimi. In that case its a speciality dish for all to enjoy….

  2. Had some basashi in Kuwana, wasnt as bad as I expected to be be. Why dont we eat more horse, I wonder? Are they on the same level as whales in terms of “the west loves them”?

  3. I tried the raw horse meat in Kumamoto a couple weeks ago and it actually kind of reminded me of tuna sushi, but chewier. It didn’t really have a strong taste.

    I also really liked another area specialty called karashi renkon, which is like a lotus root filled with spicy Japanese mustard. Wish we had that here in Hiroshima.

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