Probably should have set off a few warning bells.

Since Japan is an island nation, you’re never very far from the coast, which makes the country a great place to be an angler. Even if you’re a resident of a major city, like Nagoya, as long as you’ve got a couple free hours and a fishing rod, you can put together a quick seaside fishing excursion.

As an added bonus, making a meal out of whatever you catch is often a viable option, since so many Japanese side dishes pair well with fish, So after one Nagoya resident in his 60s recently pulled up a Ostraciidae boxfish (like the one pictured above), he figured it’s make a nice breakfast.

Rising early on the morning of November 29, the man cooked and ate the boxfish, likely thinking his day was off to a pretty good start. By the late afternoon, though, he wasn’t feeling so good, and by 4 p.m. the muscles throughout his entire body were in intense pain. He headed to the hospital for an examination, where doctors discovered the presence of palytoxin in his system.

English speakers might be forgiven for not knowing that Ostraciidae boxfish can secrete toxins through their skin as a defense mechanism. However, the danger should be a little more obvious in Japanese, since Ostraciidae boxfish are called “hako fugu,” which is a major warning sign because “fugu” is the Japanese word for the delicious, yet highly poisonous, blowfish found at gourmet Japanese restaurants.

▼ And in less expensive places like ramen shops and cans.

Making the whole thing even more startling is that the man says he knew the fish he’d caught was a hako fugu before he ate it. When asked by doctors if he was aware that hako fugu are poisonous, he said he “didn’t know much about it.”

Thought not as deadly as tetrodotoxin, the toxin found in takifugu (the most commonly eaten fugu in Japan), palytoxin still isn’t something you want to be consuming. Symptoms typically take 12 to 24 hours to manifest, and include severe muscular pain, spasms, and difficulty breathing. Extreme cases can even result in death. Thankfully the Nagoya fishing fan’s life is not in danger, though he remains in the hospital and is still recovering from the effects.

In response to the incident, the Nagoya municipal government has asked that amateur chefs refrain from preparing fugu, including hako fugu, that they have caught themselves, and to instead leave such food preparation work to licensed professionals.

We ate SoraNews24 would also like to take this opportunity to remind you to be careful about eating mushrooms you’ve harvested yourself in Japan as well, since certain varieties can cause painfully powerful diarrhea. Come to think of it, that incident also took place in Nagoya, so maybe if you happen to be hungry in the city, your best bet is just to go to one of its famous cafes instead.

Source: Asahi Shimbun Digital via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Wikipedia/Daiju Azuma
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where even though they can kill you, he’s got to admit that fugu are pretty cute.