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Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010

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Till death do us part: A chef prepares to cut a bluefin tuna as models posing as newlyweds look on at the Royal Pines Hotel in Wakayama in October. COURTESY OF ROYAL PINES HOTEL

Wakayama hotel carves wedding niche with bluefin-carving service

Staff writer

A hotel in the city of Wakayama will provide a chef for every wedding reception who will carve up a huge tuna in front of the guests, a hotel spokesman said.

The tuna-carving service will be added to the hotel's basic wedding package in April. The service is currently optional and requires an additional fee.

"We want to do something to differentiate our hotel," Royal Pines Hotel spokesman Akihiro Yamaji said. Katsuura port, near the southern tip of the Kii Peninsula in Wakayama Prefecture, is the nation's largest tuna port.

A bluefin weighing about 30 to 40 kg costs about ¥300,000, Yamaji said, and the price can fluctuate greatly depending on the amount caught.

The price for a basic wedding package for 40 guests is currently about ¥2 million, which won't change much after the hotel adds the tuna-carving service, he said.

Customers will be able to opt out of the tuna option.

Despite recent international criticism that bluefin are being driven to extinction by overfishing, Yamaji is upbeat on the new service because of the overwhelming popularity of tuna in Japan. "Customers' reactions to tuna-carving shows are good. Everybody from children to the elderly likes tuna in Japan."

"I see few Japanese who don't like tuna," he said, adding fishermen in Kushimoto in the prefecture also breed tuna, which gives the hotel a stable supply at relatively steady prices.

The hotel holds about 200 wedding receptions a year.

Tuna is eaten at wedding receptions and other celebrations because rice and the fish offer a nice contrast between red and white, a color combination considered lucky in Japan.

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