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Takowasa (たこわさ): Complete Guide and Recipe

classic takowasa

What is Takowasa?

Takowasa (タコわさ) is a very popular Japanese side dish made with two main ingredients: tako and wasabi (i.e. raw octopus and Japanese horseradish).

Hence, the dish is also known by its literal full name “tako wasabi (タコわさび)”.

It is most commonly served in izakayas (i.e. Japanese-style bars/pubs). The rich, salty and spicy flavors of the dish naturally goes well with beer or sake.

🍺 In 2015, Takowasa was rated as the 2nd most popular dish to pair with sake, just behind dried squid (i.e. surume するめ).

But, how did this strange looking dish come about? Read on:

Origins of Takowasa

takowasa and beer
Original takowasa (image from Azuma Co ).

Takowasa was invented by Azuma Foods Company in 1991.

The company was simply trying to come up with a new product that could use raw octopus.

Their team was trying anything and everything.

Eventually, one of the sales manager randomly mixed together fresh wasabi and octopus in a bowl.

The staff ate it, and realized they had stumbled upon a great new product!

After some more experimenting, the company started selling takowasa commercially in 1992.

Initially, it was difficult to sell due to its unappetizing appearance. Eventually, the Azuma sales team managed to get it into shops/restaurants, and its popularity exploded.

There were rumors that the dish was actually created as a type of “punishment game” for employees. This is not true according to the company (although it makes for a funnier story)3Huffington Post Japan.

Easy Takowasa Recipe

If there are no izakayas nearby, you can easily make takowasa yourself ( as long as you can find some octopus).

Here is the easiest recipe I could find (via momna/Cookpad) :

Takowasa Recipe Card

Recipe by Chef GokuCourse: SidesCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Waiting time



Original recipe by mama・∀・na (via Cookpad). Some details added by me.

Equipment & Ingredients

  • Equipment:
  • Knife + cutting board

  • Bowl and chopsticks (i.e. something to mix with)

  • Ingredients:
  • Raw octopus: 1/2 leg

  • (optional) Green onions

  • *Wasabi: a bit (or as much as you want)

  • *Shirodashi (i.e. white dashi): 2 teaspoons

  • *Soy sauce (i.e. dark shoyu): 1/2 tablespoon (7.5ml)

  • *Sugar: 1/2 teaspoon


  • Mix wasabi and all other sauce ingredients (*) in a bowl
  • Dice up the green onions if you want to use it for garnish
  • Clean the octopus, and wipe dry. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Mix the octopus pieces into the sauce.
  • Cover the bowl and marinate in the fridge for one hour (or more)
  • Garnish with green onions if you want. Enjoy!


  • Add in cucumbers for another layer of texture/flavor
  • Add in diced chili peppers for an extra kick!
  • If you don’t want to use raw octopus, you can also use boiled octopus instead

If you are in Japan, and lazy to cook, you can order the original takowasa pack online from You can also easily find pre-made takowasa in supermarkets and convenience stores4Example: Lawson’s takowasa.

Takowasa FAQ

Does tako mean octopus in Japanese?

Yes, tako (タコ) means octopus in Japanese.

What is Tobiko takowasa?

tobiko flying fish roe
This is what tobiko (i.e. flying fish roe) looks like

Tobiko is flying fish roe (i.e. eggs). So, Tobiko Takowasa is simply tako wasabi with flying fish roe mixed in.

What are other famous Japanese octopus dishes?

Takoyaki is the most famous Japanese octopus dish

The most famous octopus dish is takoyaki (i.e. fried octopus balls).

Some other Japanese octopus dishes include:

  • tako karaage タコ唐揚げ (deep fried octopus)
  • tako sushi / sashimi タコ寿司
  • tako kyuri tsukemono タコきゅり酢の物 (pickled octopus and cucumber salad)
  • yude tako ゆでタコ(boiled octopus)
  • various stir-fried octopus dishes


I remember eating takowasa for the first time.

My friend ordered it while we were drinking at an izakaya. When the dish came, I was like “What the h*ll is this??”.

It looked like a wet blob of grey goop.

Of course, I still ate it. And, it was delicious!!!

Let me know in the comments:

Have you ever tried takowasa?

What did you think of it?

Chef Goku

Chef Goku

Chef Goku is the founder and sole operator of The Chef Dojo. He loves Japanese food, and has lived in and out of Japan for many years. He started this blog in 2018 to share everything he learns about Japanese food and cooking. He is also a self-certified Japanese knife nerd. Contact Chef Goku

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