There’s more than eating at Toya Fish Festival

Visitors can join Yomitan fishermen as they take fish from their fixed net.

It’s all about fish, Sunday, as Yomitan Village attracts thousands of visitors to Toya Fishing Port for a few hours of fun and games, boat rides, karaoke and of course, a chance to eat fish and buy some to take home.

What could be more exciting than catch a live fish with your bare hands? All kids can try at Toya Port this Saturday.

Many people know Yomitan Village for its historical love affair with the sweet potato, but the largest village in all of Japan on Okinawa’s central west coast is a big fishing mecca, too.  The Toya Fishing Port (Map https://goo.gl/maps/baLOK) is the place Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with a variety of activities.  Admission is free, except for the nominally priced coastal excursion boat rides for ¥300.

The port’s fish market opens at 9 a.m., and the Uminchu restaurant opens its doors at 10 a.m.  Tune up the vocal cords for a karaoke contest at 10:30 a.m., and sign up for the fishing with fixed short nets and the coastal excursion boat rides.  Fishermen offer a tuna dismantling show at 11:30 a.m., and the watermelon splitting game starts at 12:30 p.m.  The boat rides start at 1 p.m. and the fish grabbing event begins at 1:30 p.m.

All fish has to be cleaned before it’s ready for a meal. At Toya a professional shows how its done.

Anyone who has a yearning for fresh seafood is welcome to visit the port and buy a share of the day’s catch, guaranteed to be flipping fresh. The Yomitan Fishermen’s Association specialty is they use a large-scale fixed shore net that the fishermen wrestle with every day to haul in an average 500 kilograms of fish per day. Workers at the port then process the fish for sale. The fishermen also accept visitors who can join them in taking the fish from the net. This is a new type of tourism and Yomitan Village officials have high hopes that the tours will prove popular among visitors.

The months of June through August are the season for various kinds of fish including horse mackerel and

Melon splitting contest is also in the program.

Gurukun (bleeker), a local Okinawan fish. Other kinds of fish that the fishermen catch in their huge nets include mackerel, rabbitfish (Aigo in Japanese), and sardines. The association boasts that Rabbitfish, one of its specialties, is rather peculiar in that it is caught just on 10 days a year; April 4 through 6, May 4 through 6, and June 4 through 6 according to the lunar calendar.

Yomitan Fishing Port is located close to Toya area on the west coast of Yomitan Village. The phone number is (098) 956-1640 but only Japanese is spoken.