Akame Sushi
Japanese lates

akame sushi

What is Akame アカメ 【赤目】?

The Japanese term for the Japanese lates is akame (アカメ, literally "red eye"). For a long time it was considered to be the same species as the barramundi, only since the recent times it is scientifically distinguished between both fishes. The Japanese lates is a rare fish, so if you see akame on the menu or in a saramori, it is possible that it is indeed the barramundi.

Akame for Sushi and Sashimi

Its light and firm meat is well suited for the preparation of sushi and sashimi. The meat is white and slightly transparent. The taste is light, accompanied by a subtle sweetness and minerlaic aromas. The taste of the Akame meat is similar to that of its relative, the Japanese sea bass (suzuki). Freshness and quick processing are decisive for the good taste. The taste clearly gains in quality when the meat or fish is aged under controlled conditions.

Akame in Japan

Akame belongs beside Itō (イトウ) and Biwa-kōonamazu (ビワコオオナマズ) to one of the three big "phantom fishes" (kai-gyo, 怪魚) in Japan. Since 2017, an akame is again part of the exhibition at Toba Aquarium of Mie Prefecture.

The translation of the word akame from Japanese means "red eye" and symbolically describes the reflection of his eyes, which shimmer reddish in the light.

Characteristics & Ecology

The distribution area of akame extends along the southern Pacific coast of the Japanese archipelago, with a main area extending from Kochi Prefecture to Miyazaki.

Adult specimens have a silvery white color. Juvenile fishes have a dark brown color, yellow-white lines on the forehead and yellow-white stripes and spots on the body side, which distinguishes them from adult fishes. Adult fish are large with a total length of over 1 m. Akame is carnivorous and feeds mainly on small fish. They are nocturnal, very alert and often enter brackish water areas at night or on rainy days. As a bottom-dweller restricted to the habitats of estuaries and large rivers in the eastern coastal areas of the country, it is threatened by habitat destruction. The stocks are also threatened by systematic deterioration of environmental conditions in brackish water, such as a sharp decline in seagrass stocks, and the lack of food caused by industrial fishing. In order to protect the existing stocks, since 2006 it is prohibited to catch akame in Miyazaki Prefecture.

Phantom Fish

For a long time it was assumed that akame and barramundi are one and the same species, only in 1984 akame could be scientifically described as an independent species (Katayama and Taki, 1984). Akame was already known to fishermen in Japan, but its relative rarity earned it the reputation of a "phantom fish".


Since akame is a rare species, it accordingly does not play a major role in commercial fishing. Only sports fishermen and regional fisheries land akame sporadically. A possible mix-up with the barramundi-catch is to be considered.


As a general rule, do not eat ingredients that are not explicitly labeled for raw consumption.

Seafood from particularly coastal or land-locked waters may be contaminated by varying amounts of industrial chemicals, including heavy metals and pesticides. These pollutants could accumulate in concentrations that, if consumed regularly, may cause health problems

Predators, which are at the top of the food chain, accumulate heavy metals (especially methylmercury), which they absorb by eating smaller prey. For this reason, the dish may contain considerable amounts of heavy metals. Pregnant and nursing mothers should refrain from eating them.

References & further reading

  • [Froese & Daniel, 2019]: Rainer Froese, Pauly Daniel. FishBase. The Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel, FishBase.org. 2019. Retrieved online on: December 24, 2020
  • [Fujiwara, 2020]: Masataka Fujiwara 昌髙藤原. Bozu Konyaku's Market Fish and Shellfish Book ぼうずコンニャクの市場魚貝類図鑑. Bozu Konnyaku Co., Ltd., Tokyo ぼうずコンニャク株式会社東京, zukan-bouz.com. 2020
  • [Katayama & Taki, 1984]: Masao Katayama, Yasuhiko Taki. Lates japonicus a New Centropomid Fish from Japan. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology Vol. 30 (4). Ichthyological Society of Japan. 1984
  • [Miyazaki, 2012]: Overview of designated rare wild animals and plants (Akame), Updated: December 21, 2012 (指定希少野生動植物の概要(アカメ), 更新日:2012年12月21日). Wildlife, Natural Environment Division, Ministry of Environment and Forestry (環境森林部自然環境課野生生物担当), Miyazaki (宮崎県), pref.miyazaki.lg.jp. 2012. Retrieved online on: December 23, 2020: http://www.pref.miyazaki.lg.jp/shizen/kurashi/shizen/akame.html
  • [Wikipedia.jp, 2020]: Wikipedia authors (ウィキペディアの執筆者). Akame (アカメ). wikipedia (へようこそ). 2020. Retrieved online on: May 6, 2020: https://ja.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=アカメ&oldid=77409243



Drawn illustration for  akame

Common names

japanese lates, japanese barramundi

Japanese names

  • akame (アカメ)
  • kawanube (カワヌベ)
  • maruka (マルカ)
  • mehikari (メヒカリ)
  • minouo (ミノウオ)
  • okinofuna (オキノフナ)
  • okinokoi (オキノコイ)


Scientific name

Lates japonicus


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