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Vol. 3 Sharing the Sea’s Blessings

A young captain’s desire to keep Tohoku’s fishery tradition alive in the beautiful waters of northeastern Japan aboard a Yamaha commercial fishing boat for scallop harvesting

It has been ten years since the mammoth tsunami that hit Japan on March 11 and brought untold devastation to the country’s northeastern coastline. At Hideshima’s fishing port in Iwate Prefecture, a solitary scallop boat, the Ryushomaru, sits proudly in the water. Its captain, Masahiko Taiko, explains how he wants to communicate the allure of the sea and fishery to future generations and for more people to learn of its many wonders, not just from the delicious scallops his boat harvests but the many other hopes and dreams for the future the craft carries onboard.

“I’ve never been afraid of the sea,” he says. “You’re up against Mother Nature, so your demise is always a possibility. Do you have the resolve to live alongside nature or not...“ Hideshima Island’s location makes it a natural breakwater and the area’s scallops have a firm flesh and sweet flavor—part of why Taiko professes with a smile that the sea’s blessings outweigh its dangers.

But of the former twelve scallop farming families in the area, only two remain today. Some fishermen passed away in the tsunami and others have just quit the life. But Taiko felt there was still more he could do as a scallop fisherman and wants to keep Hideshima Island’s fishery tradition alive. “At the boat’s launch ceremony, I simply cried. ‘I’m a captain. I’m her captain!’”

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