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You know my entire life has been leading up this moment
or ever since I was a kid and I saw the episode of The Simpsons, where Homer...
accidentally eats some poisonous fugu.
If this goes wrong, I could have 24 hours to live...
and then not die.
Wow, usually when we do these videos, Ryotaro rents the cheapest, crappest car you can find.
Today he's actually splashed out for once he's got a Mazda Miata, a convertible.
Alright Ryotaro, this is your big moment do the roof thing.
Roof thing.
Roof thing, there must be a better word to phrase it.
Roof thing!
Oh my god.
Oh, no.
There you go.
This is my first time like in a convertible, I can't believe it. - No kidding?
Have you been in one?
I had two cars convertible. - Of course he did.
'Course he did, alright. - Yeah~~!
Alright, should we go?
This is becoming real like...
Top Gear,
Abroad In Japan.
That's always been your plan.
Ryotaro is a massive fan of Top Gear.
so in everything we try and do, he wants it to be like Top Gear
and today is the closest he's come to turning that dream into reality.
And then you can speak like Jeremy.
Speak like Jeremy Clarkson?
Yeah, exactly.
Like that.
That's exactly... what Jeremy Clarkson sounds like.
Yamaguchi Prefecture (山口県) on the southern tip of Honshu (本州) is the home of fugu blowfish.
Japan's deadliest cuisine.
Today Ryotaro's flown in for a road trip across the region
to see how the dish is prepared and to taste it, firsthand.
And along the way, we're making the most of the snazzy Mazda convertible.
We'll visit Yamaguchi's most picturesque shrine.
The largest limestone cave in all of japan.
And taste a popular local dish, served in a not so conventional manner.
That is if we survive Ryotaro's reckless driving.
This car...
has got a thing called, Sport Mode.
And, can I turn this on?
You can turn it on.
Now it's on Sport Mo~~~~de!
How did Chris die?
Ryotaro went into Sport Mode.
This is a brilliant.
The Motonosumi Shrine consists of 123 torii gates.
Descending down into the emerald green sea of Japan.
Curiously, the shrine is surrounded by imagery of white foxes.
And to explain why, we turn to our erstwhile Japan expert for answers.
Talking about fox.
You know, you said that there are many fox here, there are foxes...
around this shrine, apparently the grandfather of the priest right now here.
Had a divine message.
Divine message?
Yeah, from a white fox as saying that they should build a shrine in this premises.
You're gonna have to elaborate on how that divine message happened.
That, I'm...
pretty sure they saw a fox.
When he was asleep or something, in the room a fox, in the room.
And say... that... there was a...
You're really struggling.
I've seen a fox in the wild, but I didn't have a divine message.
Well, yeah the work he did, he did and he... the fox says that they should build a shrine...
uhm... here in the this tip of the... the land facing to the sea.
I don't know what's funnier that,
the way you struggled to tell this divine intervention story or just your face in the middle of a fox's ear.
Come on then, Ryotaro this is your-- your big moment. Can you do it?
Of course, I can do it.
Ryotaro got it on his first shot, I don't believe it.
- No. - Yeah
You did it, yeah~~!
I must admit, I was worried. I thought it would take me like forever to get a coin, so.
I was quite happy to get it on 4.
So each of these gates has been donated, people pay up to $3,000?
Not up to, $3,000 per gate.
Per gate.
So each of these 123 gates has been donated by somebody.
I think when most people think of Japan, this is one of the first things that springs to mind, right?
- Kind of... - True.
the iconic Torii gates.
That with the red and it happens to be the one in Kyoto is the most popular.
I actually seen pictures of this place for years. I didn't know where it was.
I always wonder whereabouts in Japan it was and now I know.
And you're here.
so Yamaguchi.
don't you like my excellent coin toss that we make, I made it for the first time.
Oh, yeah.
And how many times did you have to do it?
It took me 4 times.
Yeah, that's your life and that's MY life.
Yes, let's define ourselves by how many times it takes to throw a coin in a box.
The Mazda Roadster has 183 horsepower, powerful yet obedient.
Like any good woman should be, she glides through the air like a hawk in a hurricane.
That's my Jeremy Clarkson impression.
He doesn't even say that.
Captured the misogynistic rhetoric of Jeremy Clarkson quite accurately, I think.
I feel like it's time to exploit this roof as well
I know Ryotaro is dying to see it happen.
Oh good lord.
So this creepy-looking cave is called the Akiyoshido Cave and it's the largest limestone cave in the whole of Japan.
And how old is it, Ryotaro?
This is like 350 million years old.
350 million years old, older of course than even Ryotaro.
So that give you a sense of how old it is.
This cave is so obscenely large, if I just stumbled across it without knowing any context knowing anything about it.
I would say it was a man-made submarine base or something.
'Cause it's so damn big, I've never been in a cave quite like it.
Look at these limestone's and looks like as if we're in the mouth of alien.
In the mouth of an alien.
Yeah well, this has got to be the what, this is what you're going to see
when you're actually eaten or I don't know if you would actually.
Ryotaro's an expert on the subject. - Yeah.
I'm not gonna lie, it's a little bit eerie
Seeing these giant spikes of limestone
dangling from the ceiling, if one of them was to fall down.
It could be a very swift to brutal end
to the Abroad In Japan channel.
Apparently they have to shut this cave up to 3 times a year because of heavy rainfall, though.
All this area could get flooded with water and it's the last place you want to be...
when there is a downpour, given in the water just drips down from the ceiling into your face.
Well, I must admit all this talk of being eaten by aliens has got me feeling rather hungry.
Isn't it time for lunch?
I guess so.
Definitely is.
What are we having?
I don't know, you're the...
You're the bloody tour guide.
Kawara soba literally means "roof tile soba", the dish became popular in the 1960s,
when a local was inspired by tales of soldiers in battle.
Who in the absence of cooking tools turned to using the ceramic roof tiles.
As a means of grilling meats and wild herbs.
Today the dish is topped with pork, omelette and green onions.
With the soba noodles themselves kneaded with green tea to give them a distinctive kick.
I've never seen a dish in Japan quite like it. I mean, it's on a roof tile for God's sake.
People of Yamaguchi Prefecture are a little bit special, aren't they?
If they not eat, if they're not busy eating a poisonous fish.
They're eating food off a ceramic roof tile.
It's not actual roof tile, is it?
This is actual-- actual roof tile
Yeah, but it's not.
It's not-- it's not-- it's not like actual roof type that was actually used for roof tile.
It was created just for this.
I'm far too snobbish to eat food off of a used roof tile.
Crispy noodles, yay.
I like that, as the-- as time goes by and the dish gets cooked.
The noodles get really crispy underneath and thus tastier.
Crispy equals good, a scientific fact.
Walking in here, right. I saw a lot of couples coming in.
I can't help but wonder what the romantic ramifications are of going and eating over a roof tile.
If I was taking a girl out on a date. Where are we gonna go, Chris?
Michelin star restaurant. No, love. We're going to the roof tile restaurant.
Wouldn't really work in British culture.
Well you might be like you know... - It's one slap.
Well, they should create something the roof with a heart shape or something.
A roof with a heart shape, that would seal the deal.
Absolutely, rooftop in the shape of a heart.
Oh my god, this might be the busiest market I've ever seen in my life.
So we're just about to get some fugu, guys.
We're just passing through the Karato Ichiba Market, the largest market in Yamaguchi.
Most fish markets you just get wholesale fish.
But here you can actually buy individual pieces and it turns out Ryotaro's friends mom owns one of the stores.
He's a well-connected man.
Even in Yamaguchi. - Even in Yamaguchi.
The tentacles of Ryotaro's Empire stretched the length and breadth of Japan.
Let me just say hello to the mom. Today is a mid day of the three-day holiday.
So it's just a crazy amount of people.
Miyoko Yanagawa also known as Ryotaro's friend's mom.
Is the owner of Yanagawa seafood, a prominent shop in the center of the market.
Where she and her female staff serve up almost every variety of sushi you can find.
As the men are off in the mornings catching the fish,
the wives play a key role in running the day-to-day operations at the market.
And satisfying the appetite of Yamaguchi's hungry customers.
So this is my friend's mother.
All right.
If you say, she's the owner-- she's the owner of this place.
And if you say Ryotaro, to her and you get one piece of sushi for FREE.
Free sushi, alright.
Thank you.
You know In The Abroad In Japan. - In The Abroad In Japan?
In Abroad In Japan, the channel.
People may think that we always be eating and eating and eating.
But which is true and we will keep eating.
I thought he was gonna say "we're always eating, but...
but no, we do always eat things."
Such a strange fish.
I think the thing that gives fugu its character, apart from the fact it blows up like a cheap party balloon.
Are the eyes and the expression, you see it on statues on posters across Yamaguchi.
It's the expression, because fugu is one of the only fish that can blink.
At least that expression on his face I think that gives it a sense of character.
I feel like I can relate to it in some way, especially when I was...
bigger myself a few months ago before the cycle.
I too, was like a balloon.
So, in order to cook fugu the blowfish you need special license.
Obviously here there's a chef and You-san is his name. Your name is You-san?
Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise, okay, of Japan.
And he got a special license and he's able to cook fugu and here he is, started to cook fugu.
Preparing fugu is no easy task, only licensed chefs are able to do so.
Due to the lethality of the toxins within the fish.
What makes fugu a risky delicacy, is the poison tetrodotoxin contained in its inner organs.
Should you be unfortunate to consume it, the electrical signaling in your nerves will come to a halt.
And your muscles will become paralyzed while you remain conscious
and unable to breathe, dying slowly through asphyxiation, by all means.
It's a really crap way to die.
The first stage of preparing fugu is to separate the poisonous organs from the fish.
These days, incidents involving poisoned diners are rare with 23 incidents between 1993 to 2006 in Tokyo.
With the leading cause often being people who have caught the fish themselves.
Without having the adequate knowledge on how to prepare it.
Once the fugu has been separated into its poisonous organs and safe to eat meat.
The chef prepares the sashimi by slicing it into paper-thin slices.
And the fish takes on a whole new identity as a work of art.
Ryotaro sitting... with all of his friends.
Some people should take one by one, which I don't do this just take five
slices together, dive into it an~~d you go.
Texture that-- that's what is so different from other fish or meat or anything.
It's a little bit chewy, but because he sliced it really thin.
It's got very nice, I don't know...
That's my review.
I love how you gave up and then chose the absolute wrong word.
You know my entire life has been leading up to this moment or ever since I was a kid.
And I saw the episode of The Simpsons where Homer accidentally eats some poisonous fugu and has 24 hours to live.
I learned everything I know about fugu from The Simpsons, so.
If this goes wrong, I could have 24 hours to live
and then not die.
Just like Homer Simpson.
Have you seen the episode of The Simpsons where Homer has fugu?
No, I haven't. - It's a really good episode.
Really good episode. - What is it all about?
He literally goes to a Japanese restaurant, eats some fugu, but the chef-- the head chef is out screwing someone in the carpark.
So the trainee chef is, stays behind, cuts it wrong.
And gives Homer a bit of the poisonous part of the fugu and Homer has 24 hours to live.
He has a kind of revelation, he says goodbye to his family. It's a very powerful, moving episode.
And then he doesn't die.
See I talked about texture, what do you think?
I see why they cut it so thinly.
Because if it was any thicker, it would be quite chewy, but...
I think fugu is defined by the texture more than anything, because it is quite flavorless.
Hence why we have the vinegar soy sauce with radish and the chilli radish.
I really quite like it. - Yeah.
It's the sort of thing you-- you have a slice or two and you don't feel satisfied, so you want more.
You just want more.
We've been talking, but he keeps eating.
When you actually talk, you stop eating. But he doesn't.
He keeps eating.
In terms of presentation it's completely different to what I expected or anticipated, because in The Simpsons.
It's really different.
For me seeing, that was the first time I've seen a fugu today a blowfish and
The only other time I've seen a blowfish and this is true.
I saw a hawk when I was living in North Japan.
I saw a hawk just catch one out of the sea and fly off with it.
So I saw this is like blowfish hanging out of a hawk's mouth.
Puffing up like a balloon, that was the only time I've ever seen a blowfish.
I wonder, what happened to the hawk? Does he or she die?
Well, he ate the blowfish, probably puffed up like a balloon and exploded all over the sky.
That's the image.
That's the sort of image I want to end the video on.
An exploded hawk with a balloon fish inside it.
And that is coming from Simpsons on a show like that.
So that's the sort of inspiration The Simpsons has given me.
Exploding hawk blowfish flying through the sky.
American influence.
Well, we lived to tell the tale and had an amazing time in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Hell, even the driving was a highlight this time around, if you're interested in dropping by.
The prefecture is easily accessible from Tokyo flying into Yamaguchi Ube Airport.
It's just a 90-minute flight from Tokyo Haneda.
And if you do plan to visit, you're able to rent a car just next door from the terminal.
Which is our recommended way of getting around.
However, the Shinkansen does run through Yamaguchi as well.
So the whole area is fairly easy to explore by train.
For more details on everywhere we explored on our trip.
You can find the itinerary in the description box below, but for now guys, as always.
Many thanks for joining us on our journey and I'll see you next time.
What a poser.
Look at him.
How long does it take, to take a selfie?