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Japanese Inns in a fishermen’s village
Miko, Wakasa Town
December 18th, 2017
by Takeshi Takashima

Along Fukui’s coastline, there are several dozen Japanese inns called “Minshuku,” which are run by the families of fishermen.  Fishermen catch fish early in the morning and sell it at market during the day.  Guests are hosted and served sea food dishes from the daily catch.  Some inns offer their guests the chance to observe the fishing aboard the boats.  While these inns are not sophisticated five star hotels, you can experience the best fresh seafood in the world.  By staying overnight at these inns and spending time with the fishermen and their families, you will enjoy the real lifestyle and culture of a Japanese fishermen’s village.

This time, Ximena Ramirez and Megan Sorel, having just moved from the United States to Fukui, were offered a chance to experience an inn of this kind in Miko of Wakasa Town in Fukui Prefecture.

Fishermen start their day very early in the morning.  The men from “Takenaka” inn set off at 5:50 am to the sound of a ringing siren which announces the fleets’ departure.  The American visitors aboard these boats saw the jagged coastline of Wakasa Bay as the boat collected nets from the previous day.  Upon reaching the net, several fishermen from two boats pulled it out of the water and the catch was visible.  This method of fishing is called “Ooshiki-ami-ryo,” which literally means fishing with nets placed in the sea beforehand.  It has been practiced since ancient times and is thought to be a sustainable fishing method.

Ximena said, “From the moment we walked onto the dock, I was so excited.  I had never been on a commercial fishing boat, and I knew this was a once in a lifetime chance.  I had been on a boat before, but seeing the landscape and coastline was amazing.  I was also fascinated by the crew and the teamwork they used when they were pulling up the net and catching the fish.  I had never seen fishing machinery, and I thought the whole process was so interesting.  The atmosphere was very busy, but everyone seemed to enjoy their work.  I was happy that I saw what a fisherman does in his daily life.

Megan said, “Riding the fishing boat was fun and interesting!  I grew up watching travel documentaries, and I felt like I was now in a travel documentary of my own.  It was amazing to see the fishermen work so well together, everyone knew exactly what to do!  I was nervous that maybe I would fall off the ship, but it was so smooth (maybe we were lucky because the water was calm).  I think the fishermen must be very strong and surefooted since they are so confident on the ships.  I would definitely go on a ship like that again!

When the two visitors returned to “Takenaka,” the fisherman was waiting for them with hot bath.  After breakfast, she taught them how to make dried fish “Himono”.  She showed them the process of cleaning the fish that her husband just caught.  They had enjoyed sashimi: raw fish and squid at the dinner on the previous night.  They also loved the taste of “Himono” which was lightly grilled for breakfast that morning.

Megan said, “I like to cook, my grandmother is Italian so I only know how to make Italian food.  In America, we never see whole fish in our stores, they are always pre-cut.  We don’t have to prepare anything ourselves.  So when I came to Japan, there were a lot of new ingredients and I didn’t know how to make anything, but I wanted to learn!  I saw fish at the grocery store and I wanted to try to cook it, but I never bought it because I didn’t know how to prepare it.  Learning how to make the dried fish (himono) with the fisherman’s wife was amazing.  I think she is very skilled, and she was a kind teacher.  It was so interesting to see the entire process of how the food I eat is prepared and made, and I feel less helpless now!  I will definitely be using these skills to cook nice dinners for my friends and family, just as the fisherman and his wife did for me!

Ximena said, “The small lodging run be the fisherman and his family was perfect in every way.  It was small and quaint, yet very authentic and traditional.  This was the first time I stayed in a hotel like this, and I really enjoyed how intimate the lodgings were.  Dinner and breakfast were incredibly delicious, and the dining room was beautiful.  Also, the room and bed was very comfortable.  The hospitality and accommodations were amazing, and I felt like I had a true Japanese experience.  I definitely think this style of accommodation would attract many foreign tourists.  Tourists look for very authentic and traditional experiences, and this hotel offers exactly that. It was very relaxing, and the countryside location was perfect for seeing a side of Japan that isn’t normally shown on TV. 

Megan said, “I teach a culture class in my school and I want my students to know that culture is more than just what food people eat, or what famous places you can visit.  Culture is about the people and their lives.  This was the best experience because I could meet the Japanese people who help make Japan such a unique and beautiful country.  It is so different from the United States, and it’s so special because I would not get to see this part of Japanese life as a regular tourist.  Now that I know this is something I can do, I will tell my friends and if I can I will return with them!  I am so grateful for this experience.

Contact is here. http://www.wakasa-mikatagoko.jp/en/

 

 福井県の海岸線には、漁師たちが家族で営む「民宿」と呼ばれる小さな宿がたくさんある。漁師たちは早朝に漁に出て魚を獲り、市場に出荷し、夜は自分たちの獲った魚介類で客をもてなす。一部の民宿では、漁師たちと同じ船に乗って本物の漁を見学することもできる。星付きホテルのような高級なサービスはないが、日本海を望む漁師の民宿ほど新鮮な魚介類を食べられる場所はない。民宿に泊まって漁師やその家族と交流すれば、あなたは日本の漁村の本物の暮らしや文化に触れることが出来るだろう。

今回はアメリカから福井に移り住んだばかりのヒメナ(Ximena Ramirez)とメーガン(Megan Sorel)に、福井県若狭町神子にある民宿を体験してもらった。

 漁師たちの朝は早い。民宿「竹中(Takenaka)」に泊まった2人は午前5時50分、合図のサイレンとともに出航する民宿主人の漁船に乗り込んだ。白波を立てて定置網に向かう漁船から、入り組んだ海岸線がかすんで見える。網が仕掛けられた場所までは10分もかからない。二つの船に分かれた主人や仲間の漁師たちが黙々と網を引き上げていくと、浮かんできた魚群が水しぶきを上げた。この「大敷網漁(おおしきあみりょう)」と呼ばれる定置網漁は古来から伝わる伝統的な手法で、海の生態系を壊さない持続可能な漁法として知られている。

 

ヒメナ 漁船に乗ったとたんに興奮が沸き上がってきました。商業漁船に乗ったのは今回が最初で最後になるだろうと思いました。これまでにも船に乗ったことはありましたが、今回船から見た地形や海岸線は本当に素晴らしかったです。それから、網を引いて漁をする漁師さんたちのチームワークには感動しました。漁のすべての行程がとても興味深かったです。気を緩める暇もない雰囲気でしたが、みんな漁を楽しんでいると感じました。漁師の日常を見られて良かったです。

 

メーガン 漁船に乗るのはとても楽しくて面白かったです。旅のドキュメント番組を見て育ったので、今回は自分が旅のドキュメントに出ているような気分でした。漁師が一体になって仕事をするする姿は本当に素晴らしかったです。漁師さんがみんな自分の役割を果たしていました。船から落ちやしないかとハラハラしましたが、船の揺れはそんなにありませんでした(海が凪いでいたのはラッキーでした)。漁師は本当に強くてたくましいと思います。だって、船の上であれだけ自信を持って漁をするのですから。絶対に、もう一回、今回のような漁船に乗りたいです!」

 

 民宿「竹中」に戻ると、民宿主人の妻が「体冷えたでしょ」と2人に朝風呂を用意して待っていてくれた。妻は朝食後、取れた魚をさばいて干物(Himono)にする方法を教えてくれた。干物は魚の内蔵を取り除いて太陽の光や風にさらして乾燥させた伝統的な保存食だ。2人は昨晩の夕食で振る舞われた新鮮な魚やイカの刺し身に大変満足していたが、軽く焼いた干物の味もとても気に入っていた。

 

メーガン 私は料理が好きですが、祖母がイタリア人なのでイタリア料理しかできません。アメリカでは魚が丸ごと一匹売られているのは見たことがありません。向こうでは魚は常に切り身なので、自分でさばく必要がありません。だから、日本にやってきて、使い方が分からない材料にたくさん出会いました。でも、どうやればいいのか知りたかったです。食料品店で魚を見つけましたが、扱い方が分からなくて買えませんでした。漁師の奥さんに魚の干物の作り方を習ってとても面白かったです。奥さんはとても器用で優しく教えるのが上手だと思いました。料理に出していただいた食材がどのように調理されたのかをはじめから終わりまで見られて良かったです。私も前よりは自分でできそうな気がします!友達や家族のために美味しい夕飯をつくるときに漁師さんと奥さんから習ったやり方を試してみたいです。

 

ヒメナ 漁師さん一家の宿はすべて完璧でした。小さな宿は本物らしい趣があって、伝統を感じさせました。このような宿に宿泊したのは今回が初めてでしたが、本当にくつろげる雰囲気を楽しませてもらいました。夕食と朝食は驚くほど美味しくて、食堂は美しかったです。寝泊まりした部屋はとても快適で、すばらしいおもてなしに、本物の日本を経験できたと感じました。このようなスタイルの宿は外国人旅行者にきっと喜ばれると思います。旅行者はそこに暮らす人々が実際に行っておりさらに伝統を感じさせるような体験を求めています。この宿はそれを叶えるのにぴったりです。とてもリラックスできるし、田舎だからこそTVでは普段見られない日本の姿を見るのに最適だと思います。

 

メーガン 私は学校で文化の授業を受け持っています。私は生徒たちに文化とは食べものや名所だけではないことを知ってもらいたいです。文化は人のことであり、そしてそこに住む人々の暮らしです。今回、日本を独特で美しい国にしてきた日本人に会うことができて最高の経験になりました。アメリカとはとても違っています。普通の観光ではこのような日本の暮らしを見ることはないでしょう。今回の体験を友達に伝え、できることなら次は彼らと一緒に体験したいです。今回、このような体験ができたことに感謝しています。


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