I recently took a much needed vacation to Tokyo, Japan. Being an angler and import tackle enthusiast in the land of the rising sun turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing: an inside look at Japanese tackle that we don’t see stateside and the wonderful stores that sell it. The curse: my uncontrollable spending on some very cool but expensive tackle items.
This was my second trip to Japan, but my first to Tokyo. I had many things on my Tokyo to-do list, but first and foremost were visits to various tackle shops in and around Tokyo. My advice to anyone who is looking to find tackle shops in Tokyo is to try and get a hold of various Japanese fishing and tackle magazines. It also helps to know someone who can read and translate for you which I was lucky to have. Even without that, Internet searches and Google’s translation engine can be a huge help. Start looking before you leave. Look to see if there is a local Japanese bookstore in your area and see if they have fishing magazines. If they don’t they can usually order them. Another great resource for me was the Tackle Tour Enthusiast & Import Tackle message board.
Once you get your bearings and have a list of tackle shops you want to visit you’ll need a good map, check out the Tokyo City Atlas: A Bilingual Guide published by Kodansha International. Okay, enough advice, what was my experience?!
The first tackle shop I hit was Sansui. This is a small chain of stores in Tokyo. They deal in nice high-end tackle for all fishing disciplines. I went to the Shibuya location which was a little strange. They’re essentially 2 locations not far from one another, each with 2 stores. They have a saltwater store, fly fishing store, shore saltwater/main store, and a largemouth bass store. I went to them all and of course made a few purchases including an EverGreen Opus-1 spinning reel. This reel is very hard to get here in the US since there is no EverGreen presence in the States. In Japan they are one of the top, if not the top, bass fishing rod manufacturer. You can check out the unboxing photos in the galleries.
One of the strange things I saw at the Sansui saltwater store were a large selection of long handled spoons. I don’t know what they are for, chumming maybe? If anyone out there knows feel free to let us all know!
The next store I visited was the SuperBush Ginza store. I have no idea how they came up with the name SuperBush, but the Ginza part is just the are of Tokyo that they were located in. This place was awesome since they specialized in bass fishing. The stores are all relatively small but they pack as much stuff as they can in to the small spaces. These guys had a great variety of lures from both Japanese and US manufactures. They even had their own all clear version of the Heddon Lucky 13, but it was sold out, damn! This place wasn’t the easiest to find, it was on the 4th floor of a building on a side street. Luckily they had a sign outside, unlike their other store in Ueno that I visited later in my trip which was very well hidden, it took nearly 2 hours to find.
Having searched the Internet for Japanese tackle in the past I came across a website for a store called BassMate Infinity that seemed like it would be great shop. It also happen to be over an hour away by train, but I decided to give it a shot. My results. Closed for the holidays. Many small businesses close for an extended period of time over the winter holiday season, consider yourself warned. I will visit them again on another trip.
The last shop I had time to visit was the Popeye Metro store, which wasn’t too far from where I was staying. This store also seemed to cater to the bass fisherman and is the largest Ranger boat dealer in all of Japan. This store is a relatively large chain from what I can tell. This was probably one of their smaller stores, but it was still pretty nice. I picked up various lures and some Japanese fluorocarbon line made by Toray. They also had a good selection of rods, but none of the shops I visited had the rod I was looking for which was the EverGreen TMJS-66ML Brushstinger. It will be the perfect match for my Opus-1.
At the end of my trip I had a little trouble getting all the stuff I bought in my suitcase! I bought many Japanese bass fishing lures from companies like, Megabass, Imakatsu, EverGreen, Jackall, and ZEAL. I also bought a medium sized tackle box by Meiho Versus and of course the spinning reel by EverGreen. Some of this tackle can be found online through small companies for those looking for something different, but once you get bitten by the bug you will owe to yourself to visit Japan and it’s tackle shops. Next time over there I’ll see more and hopefully get in some fishing!