Toya Osakana Festival proves fishing is fun
It’s all about fish, as thousands of visitors head for Toya Fishing Port on Jul. 19th for a Sunday of fun and games, boat rides and, of course, a chance to eat fish and buy some to take home.
People know Yomitan Village especially as a producer of sweet potatoes, but the most populous village in Japan, located on Okinawa’s central west coast is a remarkable center for fishing, too. The Toya Fishing Port is the venue for the 19th “Osakana Festival” that takes place on Sunday, Jul. 19th, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission to the port is free, but taking part in the net fishing experience, coastal excursion boat rides, glass bottom boat tours to see a whale shark, and participating in the live fish catching game cost a nominal ¥500 each.
The port’s fresh fish and seafood market opens at 9 a.m., and the Uminchu restaurant opens its doors at 10 a.m. A fresh seafood auction begins at 10:30 a.m. Local fishermen offer a tuna dismantling show at 11:30 a.m., and the watermelon splitting game starts at 12:30 p.m. Registration for the net fishing experience starts at 8 a.m. and fishing 30 minutes later. The glass bottom boat rides start at 8:15 a.m., registration for the pleasure boat tour along Yomitan seacoast begins at 11:30 a.m. and the tour sails off at 1 p.m. The fish grabbing event begins at 1:30 p.m.
Anyone who has a yearning for fresh seafood is welcome to visit the port and buy a share of the day’s catch any day, guaranteed to be flipping fresh. The Yomitan Fishermen’s Association specialty is the use of a large-scale fixed offshore net that the fishermen wrestle with every day to haul in an average half a ton of fish per day. Workers at the port then process the fish for sale.
A an experiment of a new type of tourism, the fishermen accept visitors to join them in taking the fish from the net. 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 found in local waters, including horse mackerel and ‘gurukun’ (‘takasago’ in Japanese, Eng. ‘fusilier’). Other kinds of fish that the fishermen catch in their nets include mackerel, rabbitfish (‘aigo’ in Japanese), and sardines. The rabbitfish, one of Yomitan specialties, can be 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 (Map https://goo.gl/maps/baLOK). The phone number is (098) 956-1640 but only Japanese is spoken.