After leaving Kyoto I went to Sannomiya where I was to meet a member of the oldest tenkara club: Kiyoshi Ishihara, a member of , the no-tarin club.
We did meet at the station as it was planned and after a quick meal at a local restaurant we took the road to go fishing in the Tottori prefecture. We had a three hours drive to go, enough to get to know each other, as until we were only virtual friends on social network, and talk about our common passion for tenkara. It was very hot, the sky was azure blue and we were obviously in a jovial mood. The conversation was very rich and most interesting as Yu Gyojin, Kyoshi's fishing nickname, has been interested in tenkara history, technique and philosophy for a very long time. He first learned by studying everything published dealing with tenkara then joined the famous no-tarin club and through time and experience he has developed his tenkara.
As we were driving to our destination the sky was darkening but our enthusiasm remained unspoiled, we were not only happy to go fishing together but we also realized that we had a lot of common viewpoints about many topics.
Before arriving to our destination we did a slight detour to a beautiful ancient temple that was built in a cave, one of the most unusual place. Meanwhile the weather continued to deteriorate and as we were driving the last miles before arriving on the banks of the Hiketa-sawa the first raindrops began to fall.
I let Ishihara-san fish first as I think that it is never useless to watch an angler fish especially if he is more experienced than yourself. One can learn a lot if you are willing to.
It did not take him a lot of time to catch the first fish. We were very happy to see that the capricious weather conditions did not disturb the fishes as much as one could expect. We fished in turn because the stream is pretty narrow and has a lot of overhanging trees thus we were wading upstream slowly to check all the possible spots likely to be inhabited by a yamame.
We arrived at the point of the stream where with the altitude increasing the current becomes more powerful, the water colder and where yamame give way to iwana.
Fishing for iwana is different from yamame or amago fishing but it does not require any gear change, one can use the same line, even the same kebari. The angler's technique has to adapt to the fish behavior and what I had learned a few days before in Tadami has been really useful to me.
Hours passing by we did spend increasingly long minutes under the trees during showers and the catches of iwana became also less regular. The tension in the air was palpable, the grey sky was growing darker and darker so when the first thunderclap rung we decided to collapse down our rods and go back to the car. Once arrived at the car Ishihara-san told: "We played very well!". I agreed with him. It was really worth fishing in the rain.
After changing our clothes as fast as possible we jumped in the car and took the road to a local ryokan where Ishihara-san is used to go when fishing in the area. We were happy with our fishing day, very stormy but productive. At the ryokan where we were warmly greeted by the hostess we spent a great evening which was devoted to only one topic: tenkara. Ishihara-san has a very rich fishing culture and he is not stingy with it and I really liked talking to him and cohabit with him.
We both fell in the arms of Morpheus without the slightest resistance...Maybe with the hope to meet the tsuchinoko during our sleep.
The next morning we got up at dawn but finally took time for a delicious breakfast because it was already raining. We set our plan for the day: fishing two short tributaries of the Hatto-gawa because Ishihara-san was afraid that the heavy rains of the previous and even more those of this morning had made the main streams of the area in a very dirty state. Thanks to his idea we had a plan "A" and a plan "B".So during this fishing day we caught, without surprise, less fishes than the day before but it is very good for a tenkara angler, if not scared of challenges, to cope with difficult conditions. It is even the best way to improve your technique.
After exploring the Hosomi-sawa and the Kurumino-sawa and watching beautiful iwana we deicided to back to our starting point. In the beginning of the afternoon the rain did become even harder as we were back on the road to Kobe, where we were expected, discussing many topics related to tenkara, music, and many more. I have much sympathy for Ishihara-san who is not only a great tenkara angler but also a very cultured and incredibly kind man. After a little bit more than four hours drive we arrived in Kobe city where I met for the first time Eiji Yamakawa and Nishi-san.
We spent a great evening talking about all things tenkara, the passion that had brought together.
It is truly a privilege to meet sincere tenkara enthusiasts who have acquired from a long experience a wealth of knowledge about tenkara and who are, even if they do not like this title, masters who have a sincere pleasure to share their tenkara.