Some people may have the image of gibier as a local delicacy that can only be enjoyed in the countryside. However, with the recent gibier boom, an increasing number of restaurants are proactively including gibier on their menus.

In addition to standard Japanese dishes such as botan nabe and duck hot pot, some fast food restaurants have begun to incorporate gibier burgers and other dishes for young people. The more actively restaurants and eateries introduce gibier cuisine, the more they can reduce the number of wild birds and beasts that are simply discarded after capture as vermin.

In this column, we will explain not only the types of gibier but also the background behind the expansion of gibier’s popularity from a sustainable perspective.

What is gibier?


“Gibier” is a French word that refers to the meat of wild game. In France, gibier is treated as a luxury foodstuff, and it is said that it was once so valuable that only the upper class aristocracy could eat it. In Japan, deer meat has also been popular since ancient times, and was eaten secretly not only by the upper class but also by the general public in places such as restaurants, despite the fact that meat eating was frowned upon in the Edo period (1603-1868). Today, deer meat is sometimes called “momiji” and wild boar meat “botan.” These names are said to be the remnants of a secret term for a plant that was used in the past to avoid meat-eating avoidance.

In modern Japan, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and other government agencies recommend the use of gibier as a measure to prevent damage to crops caused by wild birds and beasts. The hunting period is set from November 15 to February 15 of the following year (October 1 to January 31 of the following year in Hokkaido only), and the living creatures are not simply discarded after capture, but are effectively utilized as gibier, thereby leading to sustainable activities.

Types of gibier

Japan is home to approximately 700 species of wild birds and animals, and 46 species have been selected as game species under the regulations of the Law Concerning the Protection and Management of Birds and Wild Animals. The following is an introduction to some of the representative species of game birds, including wild boar and deer, as well as the damage they cause to crops and other resources.

wild boar


Wild boars rank second only to deer in the amount of damage to crops in Japan, and are one of the wild animals that are being actively hunted. The total number of wild boars captured by hunting and those captured with a permit for the purpose of damage prevention, etc., was 150,000 in FY2000, while the figure was 530,000 in FY2020, a significant increase.

For Japanese people, wild boar meat is probably the most recognized gibier, especially in botan nabe. The taste of the meat is characterized by a refreshing fatty flavor with little peculiarity and sweetness. It is also highly nutritious, containing three times more vitamin B12 and four times more iron than pork in the same amount.



Deer rank first in the amount of damage to crops in Japan, and like wild boars, the number of deer captured is also on the rise. The total number of deer captured by hunting and by permit for the purpose of damage prevention was 140,000 in FY2000, and 720,000 in FY2020.

Deer meat has a texture similar to the lean meat of premium beef and is considered a premium gibier in the West. It is popular as a healthy meat with low fat, low calorie and high protein content. It is eaten grilled over charcoal or stewed, and is also popular as momiji nabe.


Bears cause damage not only to crops, but also to pot farming, fish farming, and forestry. In particular, barking by black bears is locally devastating. Human casualties have also been reported in many areas, with 141 cases of damage reported in FY2020.

With regard to meat, bear meat is high in oleic acid, which is said to help prevent lifestyle-related diseases. In contrast to deer meat, it is rich in umami fat. Fatty bear meat can be enjoyed either grilled as is or cooked in a pot.


Rabbits have been reported to cause damage to forestry by foraging on planted trees, resulting in the death of seedlings. Koyozan, which is expected to become a reforestation species, is particularly vulnerable to hare damage.

Rabbit meat has long been consumed not only in Japan but also around the world. The meat is very tender and has little fat, making it a healthy meat. It has a rich flavor with a light chicken-like taste, and is popular in dishes such as paella and stews.



Badgers have a high preference for sweet-tasting crops, and damage to strawberries, watermelons, and corn has been reported in Japan.

The amount of badger meat that can be harvested from a single animal is small, and hunters tend to eat it themselves. For this reason, badger meat is not widely distributed, and is called ” gibier” (a rare gibier). Badger meat has an established reputation among fishermen for its taste, and the large amount of fat that it accumulates during the fall and winter for overwintering has a rich sweet flavor.

nutria (Myocastor coypus)


The nutria is a highly fecund creature, an invasive species native to South Africa. Because of its voracious appetite, it can even cause drastic changes to the waterside environment. According to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, the amount of damage in Japan in FY 2018 was about 65 million yen, mostly to rice and vegetables.

As a meat, its meat has no odor and has a light, elegant taste because its staple diet is water plants and vegetation. In some parts of China, it is called “Kairong” and is popular as a stir-fried or deep-fried dish.


Although there has been a downward trend since FY2011, the crops affected include a wide range of crops, mainly rice, vegetables, wheatgrass, and nori aquaculture. Lentils are also affected by duckweed.

Duck meat dishes such as duck nanban and duck seiro have long been popular in Japan. Duck meat sold in supermarkets is not gibier, but a breed of duck that has been crossbred with duck for meat. Mallard duck is the most common type of wild duck meat, and is characterized by its lower fat content and distinctive duck aroma compared to duck.



Crows, which can be seen everywhere in Japan, are characterized not only by the damage they cause to agricultural crops such as fruit trees, vegetables, fodder crops, and grains, but also by the wide variety of damage they cause compared to other birds, such as pecking at newborn calves, tearing down plastic greenhouses, and destroying garbage.

Cooking methods include roasting, sky-frying, and stewing. The texture is a little firmer and slightly leaner than pigeon, and the thigh muscles are well developed, so the thigh meat can be well done. The breast meat is lean, similar to beef, and tender with no odor. The thighs are slightly firm but taste like free range chicken.

Background of the growing interest in gibier

One of the reasons why gibier is attracting attention is the serious damage caused to crops by wild birds and beasts. The amount of damage in FY2021 was 15.5 billion yen, and although it is decreasing year by year, measures must continue to be strengthened due to the magnitude of the damage.

Damage caused by birds and beasts has a more serious impact on farming and mountain villages than is indicated by figures, such as reduced willingness to engage in farming, increased abandonment and abandonment of farming, and soil erosion due to loss of forest understory vegetation. In order to solve such problems as the decline of farming and mountain village areas and the burden of burial and incineration after the capture of harmful birds and animals, the promotion of gibier is important. In addition to capturing birds and beasts to prevent damage, it is expected to improve the income of farming and mountain village areas by utilizing captured birds and beasts as gibier and using them as a local resource.

In recent years, the concept of ” animal welfare,” also known as “animal welfare ” or “livestock welfare,” has been spreading among consumers. It can be said that gibier also plays a role in conveying to consumers the importance of “appreciating life”.

Efforts to expand the use of gibier


Not only is the use of gibier expanding in restaurants, but the amount of gibier used for other purposes, such as pet food, is increasing every year. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has set a goal of doubling the amount of gibier used in 2019 by FY2025, and is promoting efforts to expand its use. Here are some of the major efforts to expand its use.

Domestic Ghibier Certification System

In expanding the use of gibier, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) established a domestic gibier certification system in FY2017 with certification standards to ensure compliance with hygiene management and traceability.

There are concerns about the risks associated with gibier, such as food poisoning caused by parasites and viruses, and care must be taken when handling it. To address these issues, the company has established four compliance requirements, including thorough hygiene management, distribution standards based on cut charts, labeling requirements, and management and preservation of records related to traceability. There are more than 30 certified meat processing facilities, and the program aims to improve safety and ensure transparency so that consumers can purchase meat with peace of mind.

National Gibier Promotion Project

Implement a project to hold gibier fairs, etc., mainly targeting young people who are interested in gibier. The campaign period will be set, sponsoring restaurants will be recruited, a nationwide gibier fair will be held, and gibier-related information will be disseminated through a portal site dedicated to gibier. The objective is to expand the spread of gibier through these events and information dissemination.

Gibier Cooking Seminar for Professionals

Since 2016, the company has been holding seminars on gibier cuisine for chefs. The seminars explain the rules of distribution and purchasing of gibier, hygiene management methods, and cooking methods to restaurants and those involved in chef training facilities.
In addition to classroom lectures, the program includes dismantling, cooking demonstrations, and tasting, and aims to promote the spread of correct basic knowledge of gibier and cooking methods, thereby increasing demand.

Opening of Jibier Academie

On May 16, 2023, Japan Jibier Academy, the first gibier processing training facility in Japan, opened in Usa City, Oita Prefecture. At this facility, visitors can learn the basics of gibier and how to make delicious gibier, and upon request, receive a wide range of support from hunting to meat processing, expansion of sales channels, and support for opening a business.

Not only will restaurants interested in gibier cuisine learn the know-how, but those already involved in gibier will also find it useful to review their management systems.
[Related article] Japan’s first “Japan Gibier Academy” opens, where visitors can learn about gibier processing and hygiene management.

Expansion of pet food use

The use of gibier as pet food in FY2021 accounts for about 30% of the total amount of gibier used. Until now, meat with a strong smell that made it unsuitable for meat use, as well as offal, skin, and bones, were discarded. In the future, the company plans to further expand the use of gibier by clarifying quality levels in a manual on gibier pet food ingredients, such as using gibier as pet food if there are no hygienic problems.

In recent years, there have been examples of its use as bait in zoos and aquariums, such as feeding lions at the Toyohashi Zoo and Botanical Park and polar bears at the Oga Aquarium GAO.

Subsidy programs for gibier handling operations

As a grant for comprehensive measures to prevent damage to birds and beasts, this subsidy program supports efforts to strengthen the capture of birds and beasts and to expand the use of gibier. The subsidies cover not only the cost of promoting the prevention of damage to birds and beasts and the strengthening of capturing activities, but also the cost of supporting the expansion of restaurants that handle gibier.

Expanding the use of gibier leads to sustainable activities


Gibier is an attractive food with a unique flavor and high nutritional value that is different from that of pork, beef, or poultry. By making grateful use of the lives of animals that used to be captured and discarded as vermin, as “mountain bounty,” it will help boost incomes in farming and mountain village areas, reduce waste, and secure food supplies.

By referring to the initiatives introduced in this article to expand the use of gibier, restaurants can learn more about gibier and make use of it to create sustainable restaurants.

[Related Article]


[Reference Site] Ministry of the Environment Protection and Management of Wild Animals and Birds
[Reference Site] Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan
[Reference Site] Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology: Standard Tables of Food Composition in Japan/meat
[Reference site] The basics of bear protection and management, and responses to bear infestations and mistaken captures.
[Reference Site] Ministry of the Environment: Human suffering caused by bears
[Reference Site] Beech Village Shirakamikan
[Reference Site] Report on rabbit damage control study project, Forestry Agency, Japan.
[Reference Site] Reference: Meat Suzuki Shop Rabbit Meat
[Reference Site] Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Manual for the Prevention of Damage Caused by Wild Animals and Birds
[Reference site] Bingo Jibier Productions: Badger Meat
[Reference Site] Wildlife LLC: Foods for wild fowl
[Reference Site] Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Domestic Ghibier Certification System
[Reference Site] Reference: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Rural Development Bureau, Comprehensive Benefits for Prevention of Bird and Animal Damage

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