New method of hunting deer to be served in Japan – CNN

Written by By Staff Writer Nara, Japan, has an ancient tradition for hunting sacred deer, and recently it was on display in a new development from Nara University. The university team’s discovery — an…

New method of hunting deer to be served in Japan - CNN

Written by By Staff Writer

Nara, Japan, has an ancient tradition for hunting sacred deer, and recently it was on display in a new development from Nara University.

The university team’s discovery — an edible plastic bag — is gaining unprecedented media attention in Japan as a new tool in the war against plastic waste.

A senior researcher at the university says it could bring the delicacy — an integral part of Japan’s ritual baths — to the mass market.

An endangered species

Yuki Kato, a professor at the Eco-Resilience Research Centre at Nara University, calls the plastic bags used to hunt Nara’s deer sacred.

He says Nara’s deer are extremely endangered.

The indigenous deer of Nara are extinct in 44 prefectures of Japan, including Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo.

Their numbers are so low that the indigenous Japanese population doesn’t even include the deer, says Kato.

“They don’t breed anymore,” says Kato. “Only Nara deer carry the seeds of a certain variety of ancient trees, called guoji — which we call biranwo.

“These trees are ancient and sacred, it’s an important part of the Nara ritual baths. Even in the late 19th century, some young farmers went and hunted for guoji deer.”

‘Food uses plastic bag’

The abundant nature of Nara deer’s seeds, which are also used for medical products, not to mention their high protein content, make them a big hit with men and women across Japan, says Kato.

“Young people are still attracted to Nara deer, because young men chase them when they should be in school and there’s no female deer to chase. Women were not able to eat deer meat in previous centuries, because of the disease. In other words, they could not eat deer, they couldn’t eat deer, in terms of eating deer.”

But using eel meat — which has been known to cure stomach ulcers — was not an option for the Japanese until plastic bags were invented.

You might be wondering what happened to those plastic bags — er, eels — that are used to hunt Nara deer? Well, most of them have ended up in aquariums and turtle farms.

Replacing the Nara deer meal with the bags, rather than hauling them out of the water is a more environmentally friendly choice.

“Using Eel meat and plastic, I’m aiming at saving trees and environment,” says Kato.

“I used plastic bags to harvest Eel meat and I believe by using plastic to help preserve wood, we can start a countrywide effort to save trees.”

In terms of salmon, kobe beef and seafood, plastic is used as an absorbent, he explains.

“The plastic can be used to keep salmon, kobe beef and seafood fresh for a long time. Plastic is used, because we don’t want them to go to landfill. Plastic is also used to turn seawater into fresh water.”

Developing the replacement

A proposal by Kato to use the bags to replace Nara deer meat in Nara massages is still in its early stages.

“At this moment, we don’t know if it will work,” says Kato. “We tested the idea in samples as a test case and nobody ate a protein meal with plastic bags.”

However, there is now just one problem to overcome — the plastic bags aren’t simple to make.

“I have to design a new chemical, since plastic is not easy to use,” says Kato. “After all, plastic is a very powerful material.”

But Kato remains optimistic that plastic can play a large role in the reduction of plastic waste and pollution.

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