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JAPAN TRIP 2012

We have just returned from our long awaited trip to Japan.

I had hoped that Japanese rodmaking, fly fishing techniques and culture may have something "undiscovered" to offer to us here in Australia (and more widely in the West, for that matter). To say that I was overwhelmed by what I saw is a understatement. This trip will be the first of many, and I hope to continue to learn from the wonderfully generous, humble, skilled artisans and anglers that we met.

I am so grateful to our Japanese teacher, here in Australia - Shizuko Barber. Having a basic (and growing) understanding of the language enhanced our immersion in the culture and connection to our new friends. せんせい、どうもありがとうございました。

More details on our trip - the rodmakers, other craftspeople, and the fishing, will feature in upcoming Flyfisher articles. Some of the people we met and whose work I hope to feature are (in chronological order of our visit) are pictured below.

Tomonori Higashi - FFF MCI / Board of Governors, Instructor, Author, Tiemco Pro Staff, Translator....
What can I say about Higashi-san. He organised a life changing trip for us. As well as being wonderful company, his translation skills helped to bridge the wide (but narrowing?) language gap between us and the wonderful people that he introduced us to. He is a humble but proud Ambassador for Japan's tackle artisans and fly fishing culture. Higashi-san's series of articles in Japan Flyfisher magazine, was a primary inspiration for me wanting to visit Japan. I can't thank him enough for his energy and hard work. Tomonori's wife Yumi joined us for the Osaka/Kyoto part of our trip. It was lovely to meet her and we really enjoyed her company too.

Kouji Yano - Silk Line maker - Yano Silk Lines
Yano-san makes beautiful Silk lines from his workshop in Osaka. He was very kind in giving me one of his lines to use back here in Australia. It was a huge gesture - having seen the amount of work that goes into handcrafting them. I hope to be able to promote and represent his fine workmanship here. His chiwawas were very cute too!

Toshiyuki Hariki - precision Ferrule and Reelseat designer / maker - Hariki Ferrule
Hariki-san comes from several generations of precision Engineering, through his family business. He makes fine Nickel Silver ferrules and reelseat hardware. I have been using his ferrules for several years and have been extremely impressed by the quality and durability of his hardware. Hariki ferrules are used by leading Japanese rodmakers, as well as other makers around the world (including Scott rods). We visited his factory in Osaka and watched ferrules being made. Hariki-san also took us to dinner at a wonderful local bar/restaurant in downtown Osaka.

Harada-san - Rodmaker - "Le Grand Soir"
Another Osaka based craftsman, Harada-san makes exquisite bamboo rods. As well as beautiful aesthetics, his focus is on rod feel and action for Japanese Yamame and Iwana. He utilises Japanese Madake bamboo (lower modulus than Tonkin), and is working with carbon spigot ferrules. I had the honour of casting some of his lovely rods with a Yano Silk line.

Kenshiro Shimazaki - Tiemco Hook and product designer, Fly designer
Kiryu based Shimazaki-san is a whirlwind of energy, enthusiasm and innovation. He has been responsible for many Tiemco products, used right around the world. His design studio was like an Aladins Cave of fly fishing treasures. He was incredibly generous and took us out for a huge meal in Kiryu, and serenaded us with his Spanish Guitar!

Ushu Nakamura - Rodmaker
Visiting Nakamura-san's small Kiryu tackle shop was an unforgettable experience. Well into his 80s, he uses many types of bamboo for his rodmaking, including Tonkin and Madake. At nearly twice my age, it was a huge honour and inspiration to meet him, and see and cast his rods. I have plenty more to write about our visit with him...

Sao-Naka - Fly Rodmaker and traditional Japanese Culm rodmaker, Actor...
Sao-Naka makes fly rods, but his career is in making traditional Japanese culm rods, for various types of bait fishing. These are multi piece rods made from whole sections of thin bamboo, and the work in them is almost unbelievable in detail and quality. The apprenticeship for this traditional technique is 25 years.

Kensuke Yagi - Editor in Chief - Japan Flyfisher Magazine
Yagi-san is Editor in Chief of Japan's Flyfisher magazine. With 12 Issues a year, and a small number of staff, it must be a great challenge to maintain a high standard in a Fly Fishing magazine. He and his team manage to do it! He was great company on our trip North from Tokyo to Akita, squeezing all our gear in his Subaru Outback for the big trip North.

Yohei Ochiai - Editor of Tsuribito (Fisherman) Magazine
Ochiai-san edits one of the non flyfishing magazines under the Tsuribitosha company. He's a lovely guy, and his magazine will feature our visit to Sao-Naka's workshop.

Naoto Shibuya - Rodmaker, Guide, Author, Tackle Designer - Kawatsura Rod
Fishing with Shibuya-san was a truly eye opening experience, and I hope to elaborate in detail on his techniques in Flyfisher. His casting and line management was like nothing I've ever seen. Achieving drag free drifts in the most complex, chaotic braided currents. I had seen his stlye in some of his instructional DVDs, but seeing it first hand was both awesome and humbling. He was very kind (and patient) in guiding us for three days on his home waters in Akita prefecture. His rods (mainly #3 and #4 weights) are smooth and powerful, and feature his core craft of Japanese Urushi lacquer work.

Kazuaki Kikuchi - Rodmaker, guide - BTHR (Big Two Hearted River)
Kikuchi-san makes lovely rods from his workshop in Iwate Prefecture, in the town of Morioka. He showed us some of his favorite Iwana streams during the three days that he very generously guided us. I had the pleasure of using one of his rods for a while - a smooth medium action model from his range of Tonkin Cane rods. It was a joy to fish with. His company was very relaxed and laid back, and the sights, sounds and smells of forest streams he took us to will live with me forever. His fishing style and skill was also really impressive, different to Shibuya-san, but very effective, in the cascading pocket water of the tight, bushy mountain forest streams. I learnt a lot to try back here in Australia this coming season.

Kikuchi-san also showed us some of the Tsunami affected areas in his Prefecture. Even without having ever seen the towns that were destroyed before the Tsunami, I found it hard to come to terms with the scale of the obvious leveling of the landscape. It was very moving to see both the devastation and spirit of recovery in this devastated region.

Ken Tsurusaki - World reknowned Fly Fishing Photographer
I first saw Tsurusake-san's work featured in Japan Flyfisher magazine. His work is very special to me, and was one of the motivations for me wanting to visit Japan. He spent a day with us on the stream, during our time in Iwate with Kikuchi-san. It was an honour to meet him and see him work. I'm really excited to see how the shoot went, when it features in an upcoming issue of Japan Flyfisher.

Seiji Sato - Author, Instructor, Native Japanese Trout Researcher
A chance meeting with Sato-san at Warabe Inn, in Iwate, was a short but unexpected highlight of the trip. He is a noted teacher, and author of a wonderful book on Japanese salmonids called "The Native Trout Anthology", that I'd bought online several years ago. Small world!

The trip was an overwhelming experience, and I hope to share more details of what I saw and learned in upcoming issues of Flyfisher, and here as well.

Some of our hosts have featured the fishing that we experienced on their blogs. The text is all in Japanese, but the photos are very nice!

Big Two Hearted River Blog (Kazuaki Kikuchi)

Flyfisher Blog (Kensuke Yagi)

Kawatsura Rod Fishing Report (Naoto Shibuya)

JAPAN PHOTOS May/June 2012

Some photos of the incredible people we met and places we saw. (Click for a larger image and the back button on the browser to return)

Taransky Bamboo - Tokyo Skyline - Ginza Day Taransky Bamboo - Tokyo Ginza Skyline - Night

Taransky Bamboo - Ginza Coffee Shop Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Tomonori and Yumi Higashi

TOKYO

View from our Hotel room in Tokyo - Ginza - day and night

Coffee in Downtown Ginza, at Cafe Lambre. Superb coffee since 1948. The guy pouring the coffee is a passionate fly fisher. http://www.h6.dion.ne.jp/~lambre/

Dinner in Tokyo with Tomonori and Yumi Higashi. Thank you both so much for a special, life changing trip.

Taransky Bamboo Japan Trip - Yano Silk Lines Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Yano Silk Lines

OSAKA

Kouji Yano - Silk Line maker - Yano Silk Lines

 

Taransky Bamboo JAPAN visit 2012 HARIKI FERRULE Taransky Bamboo JAPAN visit 2012 HARIKI FERRULE

OSAKA

Toshiyuki Hariki - precision Ferrule and Reelseat designer / maker - Hariki Ferrule

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Harada Rod - Le Grand Soir Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Harada Rod - Le Grand Soir

OSAKA

Harada-san - Rodmaker - "Le Grand Soir"

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - OsakaTaransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - OsakaTaransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Osaka

OSAKA

Dinner at Kitchen Nico in downtown Osaka, with the Higashi's Yano, Hariki and Harada.

http://www.geocities.jp/kitchennico2003/

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Kyoto Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Kyoto

KYOTO

Temple Gardens in Kyoto. Thank you to the lovely Mukaida family for a sumptuous dinner in Kyoto at their home and their extended hospitality.

 

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Harada Rod - Restaurant Food Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Harada Rod - Train Food

Restaurant food (Shinjuku) and Train food (Tokyo - Kiryu)

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Kenshiro Shimazaki Studio Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Kenshiro Shimazaki

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Ushu NakamuraTaransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Ushu NakamuraTaransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Ushu Nakamura

KIRYU

Kenshiro Shimazaki - Tiemco Hook and product designer, Fly designer

Ushu Nakamura - Rodmaker

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Sao-Naka Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Sao-Naka

TOKYO

Sao-Naka - Fly Rodmaker and traditional Japanese Culm rodmaker, Actor

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Kensuke Yagi - Flyfisher Editor Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Akita Food

AKITA

Kensuke Yagi - Editor in Chief - Japan Flyfisher Magazine

Dinner at the Shingoro Inn

 

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Akita Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Naoto Shibuya Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Naoto Shibuya

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Tomonori Higashi Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Tomonori Higashi Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Higashi - Yamame

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - akita - weir Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Akita - Iwana

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Kawatsura RodTaransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Kawatsura RodTaransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Kawatsura Rod Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Kawatsura Rod

AKITA

Naoto Shibuya - Rodmaker, Guide, Author, Tackle Designer - Kawatsura Rod

Wonderful fishing, company and learning with Shibuya-san and Higashi-san.

 

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate -Kazuake Kikuchi - BTHR Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate -Kazuake Kikuchi - BTHR Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate -Kazuake Kikuchi - BTHR

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate -Kazuake Kikuchi - BTHR Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate -Kazuake Kikuchi - BTHR Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate -Kazuake Kikuchi - BTHR

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate -Kazuake Kikuchi - BTHR Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate -Kazuake Kikuchi - BTHR Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate -Kazuake Kikuchi - BTHR

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate -Kazuake Kikuchi - BTHR Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate -Kazuake Kikuchi - BTHR Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate -Kazuake Kikuchi - BTHR

IWATE

Kazuaki Kikuchi - Rodmaker, guide - BTHR (Big Two Hearted River)

Another wonderful learning experience with Kikuchi-san and Higashi-san. A very special time. I hope that we can one day reciprocate and show you guys our unique fishery here too!

Lovely accommodation and hospitality at the Warabe Inn (not a link to Warabe as such but a blog with some info on the area and more pictures of Warabe).

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate - Ken Tsurusaki

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate - Seiji Sato

Ken Tsurusaki - World reknowned Fly Fishing Photographer

Seiji Sato - Author, Instructor, Native Japanese Trout Researcher (right, with Higashi-san at left)

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate - Tohoku Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate - Tohoku

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate - Tohoku Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate - Tohoku

Taransky Bamboo Japan visit 2012 - Iwate - Tohoku

 

IWATE - TOHOKU TSUNAMU DAMAGE

Kikuchi-san wanted to show us the damage still left behind from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. It was very sad, but I think important for use to see the scale of the damage and the huge impact that it has had. I have never seen anything like it, and hope to never again.

While the rest of the world has moved on with the news cycle, the people of the region have many years work ahead of them to try and rebuild their lives.

We also met some poeple from the region in Tokyo, fundraising at a small market - and I said that I would mention their blog here - Marine Pal Onegawa. Among other things they were selling some hand carved fish (some of which are making their way back here via Surface Mail)...

 

 

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