dimanche 30 août 2015

Itoshiro Tenkara

It was only 7:30 a.m when I joined my friend Kazumi "Ajari" Saigo in his car and this day was beginning under good omens: the sky was prefectly clear and bright blue. Although the previous days had been rainy and stormy we hoped for clear waters on the Itoshiro river where we had planned to join friends and go fishing. We did drive for a little more than three hours during which we had the opportunity to get acquainted because until now we only know each other though social network. We of course mainly talked about tenkara and I was satisfied to realize that we had a  very similar idea of tenkara.
Before arriving at our final destinataiton we made a detour by Hirata-san's tackle shop that is located only a few steps away from the Itoshiro so nobody can give more updated informations about the stream condition better than him. 

It was really a nice experience to meet him in person and to have an overview of his talents that encompass tamo making, horsehair furled lines and more. I did take advantage of this opportunity to purchase a few of his famous "Mamushi kebari".

Arrived at our home base I had the opportunity to meet Akai Kitsune who is really friendly and truly passionate about tenkara with whom I share many viewpoints about this fishing technique. He has been living in Japan for several years and has met the most famous and experienced tenkara anglers from whom he has learned a lot. He has the good idea to document his meetings with the tenkara masters to help the conservation of these anglers techniques and knowledge. 

Our conversation was interupted by the arrival of a car from which came a man know by anyone interested in tenkara at least for his famous kebari pattern: Hisao Ishigaki.
If you have watched some of his videos or DVDs and think that this very experienced tenkara angler is very friendly and does not take himself for serious you are right. This is probably why he decided to call himself the "King of tenkara"! A funny and healthy way to ridicule the fake experts and other self-proclaimed specialists.

It was decided to split the group in two, Ishigaki sensei and I would fish together while others would fish further upstream so I joined my guide onboard his vehicle. We continued the conversation seriously this time and I was not very surprised that ishigaki sensei was interested by the development of tenkara in Europe, I even think that ha is happy to know that some European anglers are sincerely interested in tenkara. After a few minutes we did arrive at a temple, the Chukyo Hakusan Jinja where Ishigaki sensei is used to come when he goes fishing  the Itoshiro. Mount Hakusan is, along with Mount Fuji and Mount Tateyama, one of the three sacred mountains in the Japanese beliefs. People are used to come here and pay homage to the mountains. When leaving the temple Ishigaki sensei asked me what I had asked the mountains to give me.
"A good day of tenkara" did I answer
"So did I" answered Ishigaki sensei.
We had no doubt about the fact we were going to have a great fishing time.

Arrived on the banks of the river we were talking about the theory of Ishigaki sensei on the vision of the fish and handed me one of his kebari and I knotted it to my tippet before giving him my rod. Having seriously studied everything I could find on the subject and viewed countless times his videos I thought I understood the technique of Ishigaki sensei and I would now have the chance to have him for a personal tuition.

I was a little bit surprised when the doctor asked me why I had caught this Iwana. I replied that the fish had bitten because I had used the right technique then Ishigaki sensei told me, laughing, "No, it is because a kebari used up by the king of tenkara". These famous kebari are very simple but if they are used by a fisherman who understans that a single pattern can fish in any water they can do wonders. Tenkara  is based on the fishing technique, not the choice of a particular pattern. A rod, a line, a fly.

I was invited by Ishigaki sensei to take the lead. I quickly hooked an Iwana, a beautiful fish with  its sides studded with white dots.

It was followed by many others. We fished either in turn or one behind the other, one in front was fishing upstream and the other downstream which allowed us to take a lot of fish over fairly short distances. The downstream fishing technique of Ishigaki sensei is very effective as I realized it. The afternoon passed quickly despite the sweltering heat that day we spent a lovely time and we noted with enthusiasm that the mountain of the gods had granted our wish.

Running out of cold tea and satisfied by our tenkara fishing session we decided to wuietly walk down the stream to go back to the car.  Along the way we discussed about tenkara and I realized also that Isihgaki sensei was very interested by what is happening with tenkara in Europe and the United States. We will continue the conversation with the entire group during a dinner under the stars placed under the auspices of good humor, friendship and tenkara.

The time came Ishigaki sensei left us and I thanked him for being my guide during this anthology day. Thank you!

2 commentaires:

  1. Great story, thank you for sharing.

  2. Thanks! I hope that more western people will travel to Japan in the future to meet the tenkara community.