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Fishing for Octopus in Japan

Catching one of Japan's most favorite foods

Chapter 7: Japan's Octopus Fishery

The Japanese love octopus. Octopus fishing is common throughout Japan, which is said to consume 60% of the world's octopus catch. This time, I will focus on octopus sport fishing.

Fishing on Hamana Lake

Lake Hamana is located in Shizuoka Prefecture not too far from YMC headquarters. Lake Hamana is a brackish lake, meaning it is a lake composed of a mixture of saltwater and fresh water, and it's sometimes used as a site for development tests of Yamaha outboard motors and other activities. It nurtures an abundance of fish and shellfish, and in addition to the commercial fishing done here, many people fish for pleasure, and numerous boats can be seen out on the lake on the weekends. Many employees of YMC's Marine Business Operations also own boats and use them on Lake Hamana.

The most popular style of boat on Lake Hamana is a traditional Japanese utility boat called a wasen fitted with a tiller handle type outboard motor. I myself enjoy all kinds of fishing aboard the Yuushinmaru, a wasen owned by a colleague.

Octopus is a very popular seafood in Japanese cuisine

Enjoying octopus fishing and cuisine

Many types of in-shore fishing can be enjoyed on Lake Hamana, but one famous target is the octopus, and many anglers gather at the beginning of summer (late May-early July) to catch octopus, from both the shore and aboard boats.

This year the octopuses were abundant, and the lake attracted many visitors daily.

Traditional fishing of octopus uses hooks baited with crab, but in recent years the use of a squid fishing lure with weights added called an egi has become popular. Since the currents at Lake Hamana are very strong, before or after high and low tides are the best times for fishing. Since the octopus is a bottom dweller, the weights are used to sink the lure and comb large areas of the bottom.

While there is none of the energetic fight that is associated with catching fish, people who try octopus fishing are simply drawn to it as it is an interesting kind of fishing. In Japan, raw octopus is a prized foodstuff, and there are many great ways to enjoy it-as sashimi, deep fried, as takoyaki (grill-baked dumplings with octopus bits) or "octopus rice" (rice cooked together with octopus). So, you can be sure Japanese people will always appreciate a gift of octopus.

Octopus can be found in various places, so please give octopus fishing a try!

An egi is a lure specifically for catching octopus
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