Folktale help

I was told that a king banned the eating of meat. The townspeople had to disguise that they were eating meat so they made up codenames for it or so the story goes. Yesterday I went to my favourite fast food udon place and they were selling fried Kashiwa.

Chicken = かしわ kashiwa
Horse= さくら sakura
Wild boar =ぼたん botan
Deer=もみじ momiji

Is the story true??
I searched for the story online but couldn’t find anything in English. Do you know anything about this? I did find Sakuraniku horse articles.


I’m not sure the history is definitive on any of these, but I think we can safely say it’s not because some king banned them and they needed codewords.

You can look up theories by searching for [word]+由来 or 語源


I’m gonna post a source and then edit this as I read it:

It sounds to me like this particular legend was less of a ban and more of, to one degree or another over centuries, a taboo related to Buddhism.

Apparently an Emperor, Tenmu banned meat in some capacity in the 600s, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi disapproved of eating beef to some Portuguese people once about a thousand years later, and it seems that that ends up in some trivia tellings as the more straightforward “meat was banned” account.

There’s interesting etymologies (which it sounds like developed more around the Edo period, so long after both of those particular items I mentioned) for the specific euphemisms in the source or findable as Leebo mentioned.

There’s an interesting-looking Japanese-language Wikipedia article all about the history of eating meat in Japan, incidentally:

(When I said it sounded familiar I think I was thinking of a completely unrelated anecdote about a Tokugawa who liked dogs and imposed laws protecting them, which showed up in a history book I read.)


Ah! That’s what I was looking for


Not to mention Yuru Camp. :slightly_smiling_face:


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