At the beach in front of my house in Oiso, Kanagawa Prefecture, a group of retirees run what is known as a jibiki ami tsuri (地引網釣り) or a dragnet seine fishing camp. Theirs is one of several such operations dotting the Shonan Coast between Zushi and Odawara patronized by groups of customers during the warmer months.
Jibiki Ami fishing is one of the more unusual Japan outdoor experiences, where visitors come to help bring in the catch which they are then able to enjoy for lunch right on the beach.
The camp boss and his assistants put the seine out 250 meters from the shore with a small fishing boat about an hour before the visitors arrive and slowly begin dragging it in with a powered winch, which takes about 30 to 40 minutes.
Once the seine is close to the beach, the winch is shut off, and the visitors grab hold of the ropes to manually drag their catch ashore. From a distance it looks like a mob of people playing tug-o-war with a whale.
Depending on the time of year, the seine will have caught a variety of edible fishes, both large and small, the most desired being sea bream (madai), file fish (kawahagi) and halibut (hirame), which make great sashimi. The seine will always have bucket loads of shirasu glass minnows, a Shonan favorite, which can be eaten raw or fried tempura-style.
After the catch is ashore, the fish are sorted by size and type, and the visitors choose which ones they’d like prepared at the camp. While waiting for lunch, folks sip beers or their favorite sake under the shade and enjoy the view of the ocean while waiting for the deluge of food coming from the camp kitchen. In short, the staff makes sure no one goes home hungry.
The better part of a jibiki ami fishing day is spent like any other cookout on the beach, but the satisfaction of having helped haul in the catch makes the experience and taste of the food all the more enjoyable. Additionally, visitors need not worry about any of the preparation, serving or clean-up after the festivities are finished.
ibiki ami fishing is great fun for groups of friends, co-workers, clubs and families. The camp near my house, called Daifune (台舟), has groups ranging from 20 t0 30 people and, in some cases, up to 300.
For details on how to join, check out www.1-23.jp/jibikiami or contact manager Hiroshi Nakategawa at (0463) 61-1400 or 090-3232-9683.