Japanese for Busy People 1 (lesson 11) mentions when talking about [キス]{kisu} (whiting) at a [てんぷらや]{tempura-ya}:

NOTE: Names of fish, fruits and vegetables etc. are sometimes written in katakana.

Does using katakana only apply when talking about the animal, as opposed to talking about the food? (For an English equivalent, people refer to the animal as "shark" but sometimes refer to the food as "flake")

Assume that it's not gairaigo and therefore would be in katakana anyway.

  • As your book says. キス is sometimes written in katakana because it is a name of fish. Why do you think that it matters whether the name of fish is used as food or as scientific nomenclature? Oct 6, 2011 at 12:23
  • I do not know why you think scientific nomenclature is gairaigo. Oct 6, 2011 at 12:27
  • 2
    If you are talking about binomial nomenclature, usually they are not even written in katakana. They are written in Latin even in Japanese text. Oct 6, 2011 at 12:41
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    @TsuyoshiIto: I've re-worded the question to a yes/no one rather than a nonsensical one it was previously.
    – Golden Cuy
    Oct 6, 2011 at 13:31

1 Answer 1


Unscientific survey: I looked for きす recipes on Cookpad (cookpad.com). By my count: katakana: 13 hiragana: 8

In my experience in a cooking context when there aren't set rules (e.g. outside something like a newspaper which will presumably have some sort of style guide), individual usage varies.

I can also confirm that the グルメ section of Yomiuri generally uses katakana in this situation, or sometimes the kanji if appropriate.

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