When you hear the word “Sakuraniku”, you must be thinking of some flowers right? No, it has nothing to do with the Sakura blossoms. Actually “Sakuraniku” is Horse meat. Because of the color of the meat, it is named like that. “Niku” means meat in Japanese. This might sound a bit harsh to some readers, but I hope it would be interesting for you to know.
In many cultures across the world especially in Asia, it is common to see rearing horses for everyday consumption. In the USA, it is considered as a taboo. However in Japan, not everyone is ready to consume horse meat. Yet, it still served in many hotels or Izakayas you have been to. I do not advise you to try this unless you have had it before and only if you are interested. I do not intend anyone to get into a discussion on if it is good or not, it is certainly interesting to know about this aspect of the Japanese culture which has been there for centuries. Horse farms are common in Japan. Horse beef is high in Iron, B-Vitamin and lean protein. Horse meat has been traditionally consumed in Central Asia, Japan, France. In some areas of China, it is consumed but mostly it is frowned upon.
You have to understand that eating the raw horse is perfectly appreciated in Japan. Raw, sliced horse meat is called “Basashi” and it is famous in certain regions in Japan like Kumamoto prefecture in Kyushu. Also, you can see horse sushi and sashimi as well. Nagano prefecture is very famous for its various horse cuisines and it has one of the world`s best horse restaurants.