Why Hokkaido Sea Urchin is Delicious

The region is lauded for its incredibly flavorful fish which can be credited to the Oyashio current that flows through the Pacific Ocean and carries with it plenty of plankton, which many local fish feed upon.

Another reason is the colder temperatures which leads to more toned muscle tissue as well as thicker layers of fat on many species. The sea urchin is especially famous for being extra Umami in it when fished from this region, which improves the flavor. 

Let's dive into the reasons why Hokkaido sea urchin tastes so different from elsewhere. 

Hokkaido Kombu (kelp). 

The reason why sea urchin in Hokkaido is more delicious than sea urchin from elsewhere is the abundance and freshness of sustenance such as "Rishiri kelp" and "Hosome kelp" exist on the market as luxury products. 

Sea urchin is omnivorous and eats everything, but it mainly likes kelp. Therefore, it is inevitable that sea urchin in areas famous for high-quality kelp will be delicious.  

Fishing Grounds

When speaking of Hokkaido, Rishiri, Rebun, Ochiai, Hamanaka, Nemuro, Kushiro, Hakodate and other production areas are generally famous; but in fact, the taste of sea urchin is more detailed and is determined by the "fishing ground" of each production area. The taste includes the esophageal tube, concentration, and softness. 

Only the fisherman assigned to the fishing ground can take sea urchin, an urchins produced by them are considered to be the best tasting in Hokkaido. Although sea urchin is simple, the taste is fresh and unbelievable, and unlike anything that I have ever eaten before. 

In Hokkaido, the fishing grounds in Shakotan Peninsula, Otaru, and Yoichi are rich in minerals and considered extremely valuable because it is said sea urchins from here can only be found in Hokkaido. 

Even Wakkanai (my hometown), close to Rishiri, abudant minerals from Rishiri Fuji mountain are flowing in, creating a high-quality sea urchin fishing ground. 

The main fishing grounds in Hokkaido are as follows;

Fishing Ground


Fishing Season

Shiretoko / Raosu

Eastern Hokkaido

January to June


Eastern Hokkaido

January to May

Rishiri / Rebun (Murasaki Untan)

Northern Hokkaido

March - September

Rishiri / Rebun (Bafun sea urchin)


June to August



June to August



June to August


Southern Hokkaido

September to November


Summer is the peak season for sea urchin (Uni) such as Rishiri and Otaru. In order to promote natural breeding, sea urchin have a closed season when fishing is prohibited. 

The place to eat as sea urchin is reproductive nest of sea urchin. Only 5 pieces can be obtained from 1 sea urchin. It takes 15 to 20 sea urchin to make a single 100g pack. 

Murasaki Sea Urchin

Recommended for those who dislike sea urchin, as it gives an impression of being light and has a delicate flavor. It has long spines and grows up to 10cm in size. It inhabits the entirety of Hokkaido on the south side of the cape on the Pacific side, has a lifespan of 15 years, and has a water depth of up to 180cm. As a domestic product, it especially remains at a high price. 

Bafun Sea Urchin

In Hokkaido, you can eat it from spring to autumn, and the season is long. 

Types of sea urchin

Bafun sea urchin

Murasaki sea urchin


All around Hokkaido

On the Pacific side, south of Erimomisaki; on the Sea of ​​Japan side, it inhabits all over Hokkaido.


The edible season is long from spring to autumn, but it depends on the fishing season in the area.

Best from late spring to summer; size reaches 5cm per grain

Features of sea urchin

Thorns are short, the body is orange, and it is preferred by sea urchin lovers

Long spines, growing up to around 10 cm in size

Flavor characteristics


It is refreshing and has a good sweetness and flavor.


Shakotan Sea Urchin

When asked where to get the best sea urchin in Hokkaido, the answer is "Shakotan" 積丹 is a peninsula located on the Sea of Japan side, which can be reached in just over two hours by car from Sapporo. 

The Shakotan Peninsula is a rocky area with mountain surrounding the peninsula. Rainfall passes through the river without becoming muddy and begins to flow into the sea. Thanks to the highly transparent and clean water, sunlight reaches the kelp and seaweed, and photosynthesis is promoted. 

The taste of the Shakotan sea urchin, with its deep richness and ample sweetness, is different from other sea urchins because it was grown on nutritious fine kelp. The best time for Shakotan is in July. The reason for this is that sea urchins lose their taste when spawned, and the most delicious time is two months before spawning. Since eggs are laid in the sea of Shakotan in autumn, it is said that the best season for this sea urchin is from July to early August. 

Even in the Shakotan Peninsula, the taste is slightly different depending on the fishing ground: from Furubira on the Yoichi side, to Bikoku in the center of Shakotan. to Yobetsu of Cape Kamui River, etc., one can enjoy delicious sea urchin throughout the peninsula. In particular, the quality of kelp produced in Japan is high, and it is popular as a brand product. 

These sea urchins are caught in Shakotan, and almost all of them are consumed in Shakotan , so it is said that they are rarely distributed outside the town. So it is truly "phantom sea urchin that can only be tasted in the production area" 

Rishiri Sea Urchin

Rishiri Island, a small island off Japan's northernmost point, is well-known "Uni Heaven" with its Rishiri Uni often referred to as "Jewel of the Ocean"

During the peak season, almost 90% of Gokujo Uni (grade AAA) originate from this island and is one of the most sought-after items by Michelin Start restaurants worldwide. 

*Rishiri sea urchin season is typically from June - September.