Japan, as an island nation, is surrounded by sea: to her east, the vast Pacific Ocean, the west, the Japan Sea and to the north, the Sea of Okhotsk. Correspondingly, Japan is blessed with a great variety of fish and marine life, large quantities of which end up on the nation’s dinner tables. Japan is also fortunate in that her islands span several climate zones. The southern Ryūkyū Islands, including Okinawa, are tropical, and are home to many varieties of reef-dwelling fish and invertebrates; the northern island of Hokkaidō, on the other hand, has a temperate climate similar to a northern European country and is famous for trout, salmon and cod fishing. In between, one is entertained by a multitude of different climes and corresponding aquatic habitats, each with their local specialty produce: the warm, calm Seto Inland Sea provides nori seaweed, giant mudskippers can be caught on the mudflats of Ariake, cool mountain streams burst with rainbow trout in Nagano, the waters about Izu Peninsular are home to sardines and squid that are cured in saltwater and sun-dried by the locals right on the seaside or the famous deep-sea crabs of the Japan Sea, taken and brought to table so rapidly that they can be eaten raw.
In addition, Japan is lucky that the northward flowing, warm ‘Kuroshio Current’ runs parallel with and south of the main islands, bringing with it a huge range of large, migratory food fish such as skipjack, yellowtail and bluefin tuna. Kuroshio literally translates as ‘Black Current’ or ‘Black Tide’ and gains its name from its dark blue colour when viewed from afar; its waters originate in the Tropics and are very warm, allowing coral reefs to thrive further north from the Equator than any other reef system in the world. The volcanic Izu Islands, approximately seventy miles south of the mainland, lie directly in the flow of this current, and are a magnet for big game fishermen from all over Japan seeking that once-in-a-lifetime marlin, amberjack or grouper. There are also many marine and coastal habitats unique to Japan, such as Tokyo Bay and the Seto Inland Sea, which boast endemic species and are rich sources of foodstuffs to entertain the palates of the natives. The recent popularity of sushi and other Japanese-style foods in North America and Europe is testament not only to the great culinary traditions of the country, but also proves that almost anybody can enjoy fish when it is fresh, and prepared correctly.
The Japanese passion for fish comes at a heavy price; to supply the huge demand, many species are now farmed, or irresponsibly (and worse, sometimes illegally) fished commercially; both practices being without question grossly detrimental to the environment, whilst often providing fish of poor quality. Catching fish on a line, with my own hands, seems to me to be both enjoyable, and a responsible way to eat the best quality fish. Having recently moved from London to Tokyo to take up a job at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, and being a great fan of Japanese seafood, I decided to try my hand at Japanese fishing in December last year. Considering my only previous fishing experiences had been somewhat abortive attempts at coarse fishing in England many years ago, this was certainly a step into the unknown. Whilst there are cheaper and easier ways to keep myself off the streets, my fishing trips provide me with the freshest possible ingredients for my other hobby, cooking; a chance to get outdoors and dispel the malaise that seems to accompany white-collar employment; a unique way to travel about and see more of this wonderful and beautiful country; meet new and interesting people (as many readers I am sure are aware, fishing seems to produce more than its fair share of characters); learn about traditional Japanese fishing, such as bamboo rods or fugu fishing; and of course, indulge that wonderful, child-like euphoria that overcomes even the most phlegmatic or cynical man on landing his first fish, his last, and a great deal of those in between.
However, I do ask the reader bear in mind the following: one, having learnt to fish entirely in Japanese, I am ignorant of much fishing jargon in the English language, and much of what I write may sound slightly unnatural. Second, as a complete beginner, I cannot hope to compare in skill or technique with many of the great people on this website, and will probably recount as many failures as successful catches. Third, my primary objective is to catch fish and eat them; I am not currently interested in game or competitive aspects of the sport. Imposing these considerations upon the reader, I greatly look forward to writing about some of my experiences here at Fishing Fury.
After growing up in London (England) Adam has now returned to the city of his birth, Tokyo, where he lives and works as a biologist. He enjoys cooking in the evening with the day’s catch, using both Japanese recipes and those of his own creation, almost as much as he enjoys the actual fishing. Choosing what sake rice wine to go with the fish is another pleasurable. Although Japan is probably more famous among fishermen in the West for its high-technology fishing tackle companies, recently he has become interested in traditional Japanese fishing techniques, using older tackle such as bamboo rods. In between fishing trips, he also enjoys reading, travelling and painting.
On a lucky day in Tokyo, Japan