“The Compleat Tsuribito” is my personal blog featuring offshore and freshwater fishing, photography, recipes for the discerning angler-cook, Japanese culture and history relating to fishing, eating out and life in general as an English expat living in Tokyo.
I originally named this blog ‘Fishing Japan’, but after finding an older website with the same name, have renamed mine Compleat Tsuribito. The name is a queer compact of Izaak Walton’s 1653 classic treatise on sport fishing, ‘The Compleat Angler’ and the Japanese word for angler, tsuribito. Despite Walton writing over three centuries ago, I consider his philosophy as relevant to fishing today as it was then. His eloquent and optimistic style of writing, complete with flowery song, poetry and references both Classical and biblical, makes quite excellent reading. There are men who go out fishing as an occasional past-time, and then there are men who love fishing as much as their human relatives, and indulge it when and wherever possible as an obssession. Walton very clearly belonged to the latter variety, and one can feel his good-natured and immense enthusiasm for fishing on every page of his book.
“…but he that hopes to be a good angler, must not only bring an inquiring, searching, observing wit, but he must bring a large measure of hope and patience, and a love and propensity to the art itself; but having once got and practised it, then doubt not but angling will prove to be so pleasant, that it will prove to be, like virtue, a reward to itself” from The Compleat Angler (Walton, 1653)
The variety of fishing in terms of species, seasonal and regional differences, available here in Japan is amazing. There is no season where all sport fishing is prohibited or made impossible by the weather, and there are fish to catch all year round. I personally can never understand those anglers here who choose only to fish for one particular species when there is so much on offer. Another interesting aspect of fishing Japan is the rich history and culture of fishing, and the host of traditional fishing methods and equipment here, often with no equivalent in the West. In 2008 I underwent eye surgery, and was unable to go fishing for nearly six months; to pass the time I started learning how to make traditional Japanese bamboo fishing rods from a master craftsman in my neighbourhood. This is proving to be a very rewarding hobby and a perfect way to pass the time when the weather is too foul for fishing. Another of the great pleasures of the hobby for me is cooking with the fish I have caught, and I make a variety of traditional dishes such as sashimi, tenpura and sushi in addition to some recipes of my own.
One of my dreams is to fish every single prefecture in Japan, the so-called todohfuken…in other words the Tokyo metropolis, Hokkaido, Osaka and Kyoto and the 43 prefectures that comprise the nation. I would learn a traditional fishing technique unique to each particular area, try my hand at it and also liberally sample the local specialty food and drink and hopefully take in some of the sights as well. So far I have fished twelve regions: the Tokyo Metropolis and Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Chiba, Gunma, Toyama, Ibaragi, Iwate, Aichi, Nagasaki, Kagoshima and Okinawa prefectures. On completion I am going to write everything up into a book; whether or not this will be popular in the fishing press remains to be seen but what is certain, is that it will be quite good fun.
Up until 2008 I had specialised in offshore fishing, but after a visit to the Izu mountains – and snagging some local amago – my mind was opened to freshwater fishing. In Winter 2009-10 a regular reader of my blog kindly showed me the basics of fly fishing, and this is another form of angling I am really enjoying and getting into. In particular, I found the way trout take a dry fly quite exhilarating.
2009 was a very special year for me, as in the summer I not only completed my first bamboo fishing rod, but I made the trip to Uttarakhand state, north India, in pursuit of the noble Himalayan Golden mahseer, and caught a 30lb specimen; it was the journey of a lifetime and a memory I will treasure for life. In the words of Kipling: “There he stood, the Mahseer of the Poonch, beside whom the Tarpon is a Herring and he who catches him can say he is a fisherman”
Adam Guy 2016