"Fugu," as pufferfish is known in Japan,
has existed as part of Japanese cuisine for around 2,300 to 15,000 years.
In 1593, following the deaths of numerous samurai warriors who had been poisoned from eating fugu in Kyushu,
A Japanese samurai Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the ruler of Japan at the time,
issued a decree banning the eating of this fish.
In the Edo period, many han (feudal clans) forbade their samurai warriors from eating fugu.
And in some regions, strict punishments such as confiscation of salary were imposed
when a samurai was discovered consuming fugu.
However, it is said that those who were obsessed with fugu still hid and ate it guardedly.
The popular way to eat fugu at the time was in miso soup, and fugu has been described in numerous haiku
(Japanese style poems) and rakugo (comical storytelling) works.
In 1887, after entering the Meiji era, the first Prime Minister of Japan Ito Hirobumi visited Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi prefecture and discovered the taste of fugu.
He was enraptured by the flavor and removed the embargo on fugu in Yamaguchi.
Henceforth, fugu cuisine spread to other parts of Japan. In 1945,
fugu poison was scientifically identified by professor Tani at Kyushu University.
Stemming from his research, the Japanese government released their "Notifications on Ensuring Fugu Hygiene" in 1983.
Today, each prefecture has instituted their own fugu laws, making fugu cuisine a popular choice among consumers.
With the acceleration in fugu farming technology, it can now be eaten throughout the year.
Thanks to Japanese cuisine's designation as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2013,
fugu is becoming increasingly recognized overseas for the flavor and beauty it
provides through the safety of traditional techniques.