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Become a fugu chef in Tokyo?

fugu for practicing

Deadly fish for sale for practice

Last week at Tsukiji Wholesale Market, I spotted signs for “practice fugu” at a couple stalls displaying whole blowfish. Winter is the season for this highly praised delicacy, so it must be for taking the certification test, I thought. “The test is coming up soon and chefs are getting ready,” one wholesaler confirmed.

Hmm… So, you can practice to take a test to be a licensed fugu chef? Well, actually regulations do not make it so easy for just anyone to treat the deadly puffer fish that’s accounted for many deaths throughout the history–some even as recently as last year. Or, at least that’s the case in Tokyo.

Each local government grants a license based on safety standards set prefecture-by-prefecture. The license is not nation-wide, so, it’s a bit like getting a driver’s license issued in your home state, but with a big question mark. That license is only good close to home and does not allow you to drive anywhere else.

According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health site, there are some extra hoops to jump through before even qualifying to take the test: two years experience working under the licensed chef in Tokyo, a minimum of two years of experience in another prefecture after obtaining the license there, or being a license holder from one of 18 approved prefectures. The written exam for Tokyo is scheduled in July. After passing, the second part which includes identifying the pieces and remove toxins of the fish, is in early August.

If you want to know the details for the test, here’s the site for Tokyo in Japanese. Deadline to submit an application is coming up soon.

Tsukiji Rules

Tsukiji Rules

Even if you are not aiming high to become a fugu master, seeing the various pieces of blowfish is quite entertaining. Check out our other posts on Tsukiji before you go!


3 Responses to “Become a fugu chef in Tokyo?”

  1. I wrote an article about this. One catch is that you have to pay for your own practice fish!

    Posted by tony | June 25, 2010, 5:38 pm
  2. Tony, did you mean this story?

    Loved the sashimi plate. Looked perfect.

    Posted by Te-chan | June 26, 2010, 12:47 pm
  3. how to apply for fugu license

    Posted by sagar | September 20, 2013, 2:50 am

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