A Key Olympic Venue Is Invaded by a Plague of Delicious Oysters

Aw shucks.
July 20, 2021, 10:31am
A large magaki oyster can cost up to $16. Photos: Behrouz MEHRI / AFP (left); PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP 

There’s usually no such thing as too many oysters. But at the Tokyo Olympics, mass numbers of these pearly shellfish have proved a headache for the canoeing and rowing events.

Olympic organizers found tons of oysters—15.4 tons of them, to be exact—sticking to the bottom of floats in the Sea Forest Waterway, sinking the devices meant to suppress waves. It cost officials $1.28 million in repairs, the BBC reported.


But here’s the real catch: the latching oysters were magaki, a delectable shellfish popularly consumed during the winter in Japan.

A single magaki costs from 60 yen ($0.55) to 100 yen ($0.90), but the price could go up further depending on the size and variety, Jun Kimura, a 46-year-old fisherman in Kyoto, told VICE World News. 

A large magaki—about 15 centimeters in length—can cost up to $16. 

According to Kimura, the tastiest ways to eat magaki is to cook them in their shell, or to steam them. It can be deep fried whole or eaten with rice if shucked and thinly sliced.

However, the oysters may not make it to the kitchen at all.

“We did not consider consuming them,” a Tokyo government official told the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. “That would entail safety checks.”

In any case, they are unlikely to be as good as the ones served in a restaurant.

“The shellfish meat found in Tokyo just doesn’t compare to the ones caught in Hokkaido,” Hiroshi Yajima, a fishmonger at Odawara Okuni in Kanagawa prefecture, told VICE World News.

What the shellfish eat and the water quality affect how they taste, he explained.

The first rowing event starts on Friday.