Okinawa Tourism Information:VoyagewithFishermeninYanbaru!RealisticSensationSpecialtoNaturalAquarium

Voyage with Fishermen in Yanbaru! Realistic Sensation Special to Natural Aquarium

post : 2014.07.03 18:00

Kunigami Village in the northernmost village of mainland Okinawa adopts “Village of Forest, Water and Relaxation” as its slogan.

They used to have “set net fishing,” which supported the village fishery from 1970s till 1980s; however, the 1989 powerful typhoon destroyed the net, and since then the fishing method had disappeared for 23 long years because of lack of funds and labor. 

However, Kunigami Fisheries Cooperative Association worked very hard to experience a dramatic resurgence of set net fishing in 2012.  At the same time, they started an experience tour for tourists who can ride in a set net fishing mother ship with uminchu (fishermen) to watch their fishing very closely.”

In addition to the realistic sensation you get when watching them fish rare species and over -100kg large fish one after another, you can savor freshly-caught fish!  Would you like to try the wild experience you can enjoy two big things at one time?

The tour starts in the early morning.  You meet them at Hentona Fishing Port and board a state-of-art set net fishing mother ship equipped with a crane called “Daiichi Kunigami Maru.”  It departs at 6:45 AM.  Participants basically wear something they can get wet.  For outer wear, windbreaker is recommended because you can move easily and of course, it can break wind.  For shoes, it is best recommended to wear non-slippery sneakers made of nylon.  Please bring drinking water, sunscreen, a hat with string so it doesn't blow off in the wind, sun glasses, a towel, etc. with you.  It is highly recommended that you take some medicine for seasick before boarding if you get seasick easily.

After a 15-minute ride, you will arrive off Yona Bay.  Countless floats can tell how large -scale fishing is carried out here. 

After stopping the ship, you will collect the net immediately.  First you will help fishermen to pull the net partway up by hand and then wind it up in one go by electric operation.

The narrower the net becomes, the more the sign of fish show.
If you see a fish, you will scoop it quickly upon the ship with a landing net.  
Wrestling with healthy, energetic fish is really a tense moment.

Luckily on this day, they caught a tiger shark (dangerous!) 2m long and 100kg weigh, which is caught only once or twice a year!!
And a 2m-long large-sized blotched fantail ray is not edible, so every time they find it in the net, they will let it go.

Most of the fish remain in the net will be collected by the large-sized net equipped with the crane.  

Big Fish!  Landed fish will be classified for shipment.  On this day, they caught mahi mahi, ray, cutlass fish, squid, batfish, Japanese spiny lobster, (and what they call coarse fish such as porcupinefish, Luna lionfish).

In addition, when they find species not for eating or fish for aquarium, they will stock a special preserve with those kinds of fish.  They have found lots of fish that are transferred to “Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium.”  Please note that fish catch varies from season to season, but the summer time is the best when a big game fish like skipjack tuna or tuna are caught.  (The photo shows an about 1.2m giant trevally.)

After a more-than-3- hours of set net fishing experience, you will go back to the port.
They were so excited watching a big game fishing from start to finish!


And on top of that, the best part of the experience is savoring freshly-caught sashimi!

On the ship or after returning the port, uminchu will cut up two to four kinds of fish from the catch to entertain you.

The main fish on this day were rainbow runner and white squid.  Their freshness and succulent meat are almost the same as in ikizukuri (the preparation of sashimi made from live seafood).  Please enjoy freshly-caught fish with balls of freshly-cooked rice.

At 10:00 AM, landed fish will be carried to an auction site organized by the fisheries cooperative association, where buyers throughout mainland Okinawa gather.

It is also striking to watch a heart-stopping trade at the thrilling auction.

About 3-hour intensive punchy tour can present you the realistic sensation particular to their natural aquarium and luxurious breakfast of freshly-caught fish.

I found a different taste of wild entertainment in Okinawa.


Set Net Fishery Experience Tour

Meet at 264-3, Hentona, Kunigami Village (Hentona Fishing Port)
TEL: 0980-41-2537(Yui Kunigami for Reservation)
Closed on Sundays and Holidays(Tour Date: Monday to Friday)
Admission: 4,000 yen for Adult,
3,000 yen for Children (5 years old to Elementary school student)
Tour Hours: 6:45 to 9:30
Minimum participants count: 1 to 10 persons
* Admission for both adults and children includes tax.
* Prior reservation is required by 15:00 before the tour day
* Tour might be canceled due to bad weather or repair of the net

Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer  Kiwamu Ogawa