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The acupuncture treatment delivers the freshest fish to sushi chefs so they can prepare Japan's favorite delicacy

Soft-hearted chef sticks it to sushi

January 19, 1999
Web posted at: 0:00 a.m. EST (0000 GMT)

From CNN Correspondent May Lee

In Japan, there's nothing like a plate of sashimi, or raw fish. And the fresher, the better.

In fact, the ideal catch of the day is one that's still moving when consumed.

"It's great," says one sashimi lover. We want our fish to be very fresh with the head and tail moving."

It's enough to send chills down the spines of animal lovers, not to mention the fish themselves.

From cod to croaker,
get a nutrition comparison of fish.

But a sushi chef with a soft heart has come up with a way to slice and dice fish without the pain. Toshiro Urabe uses acupuncture on the fish to relax them before they're turned into an expensive appetizer.

The needling also makes the sushi chef's job much easier. The fish doesn't squirm around. Urabe first tried acupuncture on fish after he received treatment for back pain.

"When I cured my backpain with acupuncture, I thought it could work for fish as well since it's good for human beings. It has an immediate effect, and it's safe because it doesn't require any medicine and there's no cost for facilities except needles."

Odd as it may seem, what started out as an effort to be more humane has turned into a money saving technique. Urabe's fish acupuncture is being used to transport more fresh fish across Japan. By putting them to sleep, more fish can be packed into portable tanks at once, which saves restaurants a considerable amount of money.

"The transportation cost is very expensive because fish has to come here alive. But with sleeping fish, we now expect to be able to have twice the amount of fish delivered here at the same cost."

Sushi restaurants couldn't be happier with the acupuncture technique. As for the fish, they may be more relaxed, but at the end of the day, they're still Japan's favorite delicacy.

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