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Japanese cuisine is well-known for its enthusiastic embrace of raw or barely cooked foods. Seafood in particular is frequently consumed when it’s raw; sometimes it’s so fresh, it’s still moving on the plate.

Throughout much of Japan’s culinary history, a notable exception to this trend has been oysters. This is rather curious given the fact that the oyster is one of the few animal-based foods that has long been enjoyed raw in societies where the norm has been to cook meat and seafood thoroughly, such as Europe and the post-colonial Americas. (Note: The oysters discussed here are the edible bivalves called kaki in Japanese, in particular magaki, the “true oyster” [Crassostrea gigas], and iwagaki, the “rock oyster” [Crassostrea nippona]).

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