Butchers peeled the whale like a 10-tonne banana.
About 20 flensers and a pair of research assistants used their hands and knives to strip the fat from its flanks.
They drove a steel hook into a chunk by its neck, tied it by chain to a winch and yanked off its back in grinding jerks like a toddler tugs at Velcro shoes.
Children in the crowd squealed while under their feet the wooden slaughterhouse floor turned red with blood.
Seagulls swooped at chunks of flesh scratched off on the concrete slipway behind.
Sotobo Whaling company flensers annually carve up to 26 tsuchi kujira, Baird's beaked whales, at an abattoir in the port town of Wadaura on Japan's Pacific coastline. The meat and blubber is sold on-site or packed with ice and shipped to restaurants and supermarkets around the country.
These whales are not endangered.
They are not protected by the International Whaling Commission's 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, known as Article 10E in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
Sotobo Whaling spokesman Yoshinori Shoji updates the company's website everyday through the whaling season, from July 20 to August 31, to say when a whale is caught and when the public can see its slaughter.
Mr Shoji wrote he was "disappointed" the company had only taken 23 tsuchi kujira this season, but planned to catch the remaining three in October which is irregular but not illegal.
Japan's ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries permits the catchment of 66 tsuchi kujira each year: 52 from along the Pacific coastline, four from the Okhotsuk sea in the north and 10 from the Japan Sea.
Wadaura and Ayukawa sit on Japan's Pacific coastline and companies in each town split the quota down to 26 each.
The 14 other tsuchi kujira are shared between the towns of Abashira and Hakodate.
Summer temperatures hit about 30 degrees Celsius in Wadaura and the town, about a three-hour train ride from Tokyo, is a popular beach spot for holidaymakers.
Most flensing happens around dawn, but on August 15 a 10-metre-long whale bobbed lifelessly by the slipway ready to go in at 10am.
The butchers hauled up its 10-tonne carcass in front of about 100 people.
Its length was recorded and they spilled its purple guts.
A Japan Fisheries Agency representative sliced open its belly and inspected a half-digested squid and some small fish.
A reporter from one of Japan's daily newspapers, the Asahi Shimbun, took notes and pictures.
The flensers hacked off the
whale's thick skin and blubber with sharp blades on the ends of wooden poles.
First down its broad left side, then peel it back, then over to the right.
They used a hook chained back to a winch to rip off its back blubber which left the whale with just its flesh exposed, peeled like a dark red banana.
The blubber and meat was cut into big bricks and tossed into ice ponds.
It set a stale heavy sweetness into the air like salt and watermelon.
The only leftovers were the whale's head and spine, which will get turned to fertiliser.
The fat is usually used to make an oily fish soup while the deep red meat - particularly the richest cut which runs down by the whale's tail - is fried with cabbage and tastes like a gamey mix of tuna and beef.
The big bricks of meat sold that day for about 1700 yen or NZ$22 per kilogram - a whole whale can be worth about five million yen or NZ$65,000.
About 20 restaurants serve whale in the town. Alongside Baird's beaked whale, they sell minke whale sashimi, raw meat, for about $13 for 200 grams, minke rib or bacon meat for about $28 for 100 grams, or a little 50 gram bag of whale jerky for about $9.
Small fishing villages such as Wadaura count on whaling for employment and produce. Japanese whale meat consumption boomed during World War Two and by 1947 it made up half of all the meat eaten in Japan.
It was a cheap alternative to chicken and beef and in 1954 the School Lunch Act introduced it to the nation's school lunch programme.
The Japanese economy strengthened over the next two decades and its consumption has slumped since the 1970s.
The Japan Whaling Association claims Wadaura has been a whaling town since hand-harpooning started there in 1612 while other towns go back further. Organised open-boat shore whaling began in Japan in the 1570s and continued to the early twentieth century.
Lookouts sat on the shore, spotted whales and sent out small boatloads of men with harpoons to catch them.
The practice grew and about 20 boats encircled a whale, created a racket, and drove it toward shallow water and a second group waiting with nets and harpoons.
Whale remains in burial mounds suggest whales have been consumed in Japan since the Jomon Period, about 12,000 BC to about 300BC.
The killing of up to 66 Baird's beaked whales may pale in comparison to the controversial Japanese Antarctic hunt where whalers annually aim to take about 1000 minke and fin whales.
These whales are protected by the International Whaling Commission moratorium's ban on commercial whaling but member country's can issue special permits to whalers who catch them for scientific research.
Last season was a record low for the fleet with only 103 minke whales and no fin whales caught, the blame was put on interference from conservationist group Sea Shepherd though they are not the only ones trying to stop Japan's Antarctic hunt.
The Australian government lodged formal complaints against Japan in the International Court of Justice in 2010. It alleged Japan carries out commercial whaling under the guise of scientific whaling due to a weak research programme and the meat being sold as a by-product.
The New Zealand government then lodged a Declaration of Intervention in February, 2013, claiming Japan was ineligible to give out special research permits for the same reason.
The court heard the case, Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia versus Japan: New Zealand Intervening), over three weeks in The Hague from June to July and a decision is expected at the end of the year which can not be appealed.
Japan's deputy foreign minister Koji Tsuruoka's closing statement rounded back to his opening argument: "Pacta sunt servanda" - what you have agreed, you are bound to observe.
What you have not agreed, however, does not bind you.
His argument being that Australia and New Zealand's claims do not change the fact that Japan complies with the convention by issuing special permits, he said.
So it is understandable that a team of about 20 flensers in Wadaura might get a little anxious when they see a foreign reporter with a big camera and a notepad turn up to their abattoir.
Some will fear an international commission, a court decision, and controversial Antarctic missions have tarred all Japanese whaling with the same condemning brush.
But theirs is a small port town on the coast of the Japan Sea where every year a dwindling economy gets a boost from at least one small part of an old industry with no sign of extinction.
- The Marlborough Express