In the Life of a Japanese Spearfisher

‘Why don’t you meet my friends? They can give you advice on where to dive in Okinawa.’  Yuri, a Japanese girl sitting on the tatami mats in the common space of the hostel, comes to me and shows me this translated message. ‘Join me at the restaurant around 5pm’, she shows me on her phone.  I hesitate, I don't know where I will sleep tomorrow night, but I do know that people often help me out. 

Yuri is from Yokohama near Tokyo. She comes to Okinawa at least three times a year. 'You can't find these tropical beaches near Tokyo', she says. 
At the restaurant I meet her friend Soichiro, a spearfisher and chef, and I'm immediately sold!

‘To catch fish, I use a speargun. By pulling and loosing the rubber slings, I shoot the spear.’
Spearfishing is one of the oldest techniques to catch a fish. That he practices this on the island known for its large population of centenarians, makes it even more interesting.

‘My father has been teaching me to spearfish since I was seven. I never dive with air, but only on my own lung capacity. If I want to catch a fish, I forget everything else.'

‘When I catch a fish, I hang it at the back of my cord, at least 10 meters behind me.'
Another older Japanese man told me that it's important to keep the dead fish far away, since they attract sharks.

The catch ends up the same evening in Aguncha, the restaurant that Soichiro’s father runs in Naha or it gets sold at auction the day after at 7am.

*If you consider traveling to tropical places such as Okinawa: avoid eating parrot fish. These colorful herbivores keep the corals clean and poop white sand. This cleaning helps corals thrive, and healthy reefs support more fish in the sea.

Restaurant Aguncha in Naha, Okinawa
Fresh fish served at Aguncha, the Izakaya restaurant of Soichiro's father.

One of the most typical drinks of the island based on an awamori liquor and named after the habus snake that gives it a special taste.

I'd like to thank Soichiro for letting me follow him in his life and for teaching me more about the culture of Okinawa. If you ever visit,
you should definitely pass by the restaurant Aguncha in Naha

︎︎︎ Previous                                                                                     Next ︎︎︎

© 2020 Sofie Neven