Many people say, "When in Hokkaido, you've got to try the crab!" Surrounded by colder water, Japan's northern island of Hokkaido is a hotspot for this delicacy. Here you can find many restaurants offering a variety of crab delights, plus shops that process crabs imported from Russia and Alaska.
Now we know that crab with the right amount of saltiness, deliciousness, and sweetness that fills your mouth is what you are looking for! But what kind of crab can you find in Hokkaido, and when is it most delicious?
We spoke with Marumi Osanai Shoten, a crab processor in Nijo Market, which is very popular with travelers, to find out!
Main image: PIXTA
- Table of Contents
- What kinds of crab can you find in Hokkaido?
- How much does Hokkaido crab cost? Where can I find on a budget?
- Tips for eating Hokkaido crab
- What is the most popular type of Hokkaido crab among tourists?
- Can Hokkaido crab be shipped internationally as a gift?
- Marumi Osanai Shoten: Founded in Nijo Market 65 years ago
What kinds of crab can you find in Hokkaido?
In Hokkaido, you find mainly red king crab (tarabagani), brown crab (ibaragani), and blue crab (aburagani), which look relatively similar to each other.
Also, you can find snow crab (zuwaigani), Hanasaki crab (hanasakigani), and hairy crab (kegani). Each has a different taste and season.
1. King crab (Brown crab, Blue crab) (Season: November - February)
In Hokkaido, king crab is mainly caught in the Sea of Okhotsk, though in small amounts. Most of them are currently caught in Russia or Alaska. You can find fresh and frozen king crab all year round, but the winter season (November to February), when the stock available increases, is when you can find exceptionally healthy and tasty crab.
Brown crab and blue crab, closely related species that look just like red king crab live in deeper water than red king crab and are sold only in frozen form.
2. Snow crab (Season: March-July)
This is a beautiful snow crab with slender legs. In Japanese, it is often known as “hon-zuwaigani” or “zuwaigani,” but is known by a few other names throughout the country.
Many crabs from Hokkaido are caught in Russia and are distributed year-round. However, the best time to eat them is spring: from March to July.
3. Hanasaki crab (Season: May-August)
When boiled, the Hanasaki crab shell and body turn a bright red like a flower ("hana" means "flower" in Japanese). The exterior features a lot of thorns and is very hard.
In Japan, Hanasaki crab can only be caught off the coast of Nemuro in Hokkaido and its vicinity and is often landed at Hanasaki Port in Nemuro City. It is also referred to as phantom crab.
In recent years, many of the species caught in Hokkaido are small, and mainly Russian varieties caught in the Bering Sea and off Sakhalin are in circulation.
Hanasaki crabs caught from May to August are large and tasty and are referred to as summer crabs (natsugani).
4. Hairy crab (Season: Year-round)
A hairy crab has a shell covered with hair. Most of the hairy crabs in circulation are from Hokkaido, and are the island’s representative species. Hairy crabs are smaller than red king crab and snow crab.
You can eat the body as well as the “kani-miso” - creamy and salty, paste-like crab innards. The area where hairy crabs can be found moves as the season progresses, and they can be caught at various points along the Hokkaido coast. Since hairy crab is available all year round, there is minimal seasonal price fluctuation.
How much does Hokkaido crab cost? Where can I find on a budget?
We asked Etsushi Nishide, the manager of Marumi Osanai Shoten, about the flavor profiles and prices of Hokkaido crab.
1. King crab price: 10,000 - 13,000 yen/kg
"King crab has the strongest sweetness. As the name implies, it's a big crab and full of meat, so it's very satisfying! Typically it's boiled or steamed, but it is also delicious when baked. The price is around 10,000 to 13,000 yen per kilogram in winter, when the volume of distribution increases."
2. Snow crab price: 3,000 - 5,000 yen/kg
"Snow crab is the next best thing to enjoy the sweetness of king crab. As with king crab, you can enjoy snow crab miso, and it is as delicious as hairy crab. Try it boiled or steamed—or enjoy it shabu-shabu style. When it's at its peak deliciousness in spring, the price is about 3,000 yen per kilogram."
3. Hanasaki crab price: 3,500 - 4,500 yen/kg
"Hanasaki crab has a richer body taste and a shrimp-like flavor compared to other crabs. Freshly boiled live crab is especially delicious. It also features a crisp and elastic texture. I especially recommended trying it in the local cuisine, 'Teppoujiru miso soup.' The price of Hanasaki crab is about 3,500 to 4,500 yen per kg in the summer season."
4. Hairy crab price: 10,000 yen/kg
"Unlike other types of crab, hairy crab has a softer and lighter taste. The crab miso is outstanding. It is recommended to eat the meat with crab miso. During its season, you can find fresh hairy crab in areas all around Hokkaido. Hairy crab is very popular with people in Hokkaido. The price is about 10,000 yen per kilogram, though you may find it at a bargain at about 3,000 yen for 400 grams."
Tips for eating Hokkaido crab
Crabs tend to have a hard, thorny shell. Once you get the hang of it, it's easy to eat. We recommend using kitchen scissors.
How to peel red king crab
How to peel Hanasaki Crab
How to peel Hanasaki crab claws
How to eat hairy crab 'kani-miso'
What is the most popular type of Hokkaido crab among tourists?
Large king crabs, which are satisfying to eat and have a pleasant sweetness, are the most popular with foreign visitors. The hairy crab's 'kani-miso' is also quite popular.
Can Hokkaido crab be shipped internationally as a gift?
Marumi Osanai Shoten can ship refrigerated or frozen to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia. For Hong Kong and Taiwan, both refrigerated and frozen crab starts from 7,000 yen (small size box).
For Singapore and Malaysia, both refrigerated and frozen crab starts from 11,000 yen (small size box). Thanks to a special agreement with the shipping company, you can send it cheaper than general.
Marumi Osanai Shoten: Founded in Nijo Market 65 years ago
Marumi Osanai Shoten, which shared lots of helpful information about Hokkaido crab, can be found in Nijo Market in central Sapporo. Nijo Ichiba is lined with shops selling a variety of Hokkaido foods, such as seafood, including crabs, and melons.
Marumi Osanai Shoten sells a variety of Hokkaido seafood in addition to fruits and vegetables from the region, like melon, corn, and potatoes. There are only a few aquariums with crabs in Nijo Market, and theirs contain live king crab, snow crab, Hanasaki crab, and hairy crab. You can even choose your crab from the aquarium and eat it on the spot! It takes about 20 minutes to boil. It is a top-rated service.
Currently, staff are taking measures against coronavirus, such as wearing face shields and providing hand sanitizer so that you can shop confidently.
When you visit Hokkaido, you want to eat the most delicious crab at that time. Please use this article as a reference to fully enjoy the best Hokkaido crab in the best season.
Marumi Osanai Shoten有限会社 マルミ長内商店
- Address 1 Chome Minami 3 Jo higashi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido
- Phone Number 011-221-2278
Hours: 8am – 5pm
Closed: Open daily
Text by: Minna no Kotobasha
*The information in this article is as of August 2020.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
Share this article.
Limited time offer: 10% discount coupons available now!
Hokkaido's Sweet Secrets: 5 Must-Try ISHIYA Sweets According to Our Expert
Let's Explore Hokkaido's Capital! Tourism Ambassador Shares 5-Day Family Trip to Sapporo
Recommended Sapporo Bus Tours - Explore Otaru, Furano, Biei, and more conveniently and efficiently
Niseko Escapes: 5 Hotels Offering Breathtaking Views of Mount Yotei
Otaru Travel Guide: Inside Hokkaido's Leading Destination! (Sightseeing, Food, and Shopping Tips)
Hokkaido’s Tsukko Meshi - Piles of Premium Salmon Roe Shining Like Jewels!
Must-Try Hakodate Restaurants! 3 Best Shops Serving Hokkaido Squid Dishes
3 All-You-Can-Eat Seafood Restaurants in Sapporo: In Japan, You Don't Fill up on Bread, You Fill up on Sushi!
- #best sushi hokkaido
- #things to do hokkaido
- #best ramen sapporo
- #what to bring to japan
- #new years in tokyo
- #what to buy in ameyoko
- #japanese nail trends
- #what to do in odaiba
- #onsen tattoo friendly tokyo
- #best sweets otaru
- #japanese fashion culture
- #best nature furano
- #japanese convenience store snacks
- #best japanese soft drinks