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      • Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

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        Modern Day Samurai: Interview with a Horseback...

        Discover what life is like for Michael No, a horseback archer and "modern day samurai" who practices yabusame in Nikko.
    • Summer
      • Haga Farm Spring Glamping in Tochigi

        Haga Farm and Glamping in Tochigi opened in August 2020, but it has quickly become a popular escape for Tokyoites.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
    • Autumn
      • video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi by Camper Van

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
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    • Ocean and Beach
      • Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Pacific Solo

        Preacher-tu...
        video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi by Camper Van

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • River and Lake
      • Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkai...

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
        video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
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        Hiroshima Skiing at Osorakan Snow Park

        Enjoy skiing and snowboarding just an hour from Hiroshima at Osorakan Snow Park. Every winter, people from Kansai and Kyushu flock to one of the region’s most popular ski resorts for winter fun.
    • Travel
      • Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
        Kamikatsu INOW Program

        Kamikatsu: Japan’s First Zero Waste Vill...

        Kamikatsu is Japan's first zero waste village. Travelers can experience what life is like here with the INOW cultural homestay program.
        Aoraki: Sustainable Luxury Glamping in Japan

        Aoraki: Sustainable Luxury Glamping in Japan

        Choose sustainable luxury glamping in Japan with Aoraki started by longtime Minakami resident Mike Burke.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
        Kamikatsu INOW Program

        Kamikatsu: Japan’s First Zero Waste Vill...

        Kamikatsu is Japan's first zero waste village. Travelers can experience what life is like here with the INOW cultural homestay program.
        Aoraki: Sustainable Luxury Glamping in Japan

        Aoraki: Sustainable Luxury Glamping in Japan

        Choose sustainable luxury glamping in Japan with Aoraki started by longtime Minakami resident Mike Burke.
    • Races and Events

Becoming a Fly Guy

As a general rule, I take an open-minded approach to life, giving any new experience a fair chance to impress me. Then again, I’m kind of obsessive about things I know I like and have often failed to proactively find out what’s cool, even when it comes to fishing.

While happily ensconced in a cocoon of lure zealotry for 10 years in Japan, I completely missed the drastic image makeover fly fishing underwent in North America.  Until recently fly was, in my view, the kind of thing restricted to guys twice my age from the northwest who listened to Crosby, Stills and Nash, and wore Stetsons. Now I know it to be the youthful, uber-cool, artsy subculture of the fishing world. 

Superficially, it’s not my thing, but I respect anyone’s pursuit of game fish, and figured I owed it to myself to at least get competent with a fly rod, on the off-chance I’d one day find myself in the company of some dedicated fly guys.

Sure enough, some buddies invited me to the Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido for the late summer pink salmon run. To be honest, I was more interested in soaking up the great scenery and gorging on local seafood but, as fate would have it, I cracked the basics of fly casting in far less time than I had imagined.

We motored out from a tiny port to a seaside camp near a nameless river mouth.  There were salmon all over, but they only ate when it rained and, luckily, we found ourselves fishing in a downpour several times. The rain not only stimulated the fishes’ feeding instincts, but also brought out the rowdiness in us. 

Much the trip was spent engaged in silly hijinks – slipping and falling over, playing stupid pranks, and even running from bears once or twice. The laughter that resulted was the kind so powerful, you have to stop to catch your breath. We were like a group of fifth graders from central Tokyo, taken to the forest for the first time, and overdosing on the fresh air and open space.

I initially had trouble controlling my fly line as I tried to back cast and haul. Neither of the instructional videos I had watched, nor incessantly reminding myself of the “ten-and-two rule” was doing the trick. Then, halfway through the morning, I kind of “Zen-ed out,” forgot about form and focused on the spot in which I was trying to drop my maribou. That’s when a switch flipped, and I suddenly had it down cold.

My experience fly casting that day reminds me of a book I read on Buddhism in which the author analogizes becoming enlightened to realizing something for the first time and just saying, “Oh.” It was that simple. 

I landed more salmon than I could count over two days, but I’ll likely remember this trip for the satisfaction of skillfully using my tackle for the first time. Maybe I’ve been a fly guy all along.

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