Both farmers and fishermen interact with water, but with crucial differences.
Even in the bad conditions, the catch is very successful. Every time he pulls in the fishing lines, large Spanish mackerel, about 20-inch, come up from the water one after another. Once they are onboard, Mr. Yusei immediately applies a procedure to these shiny silver fish by making a cut of on a portion of the head, breaking the nerve and draining the blood. These distinct methods help retain the freshness of the fish and make Shonai’s Spanish mackerel rank highly throughout the country. “We didn’t have Spanish mackerel in the past. Because of the effect of global warming, they came further north. Conversely, pollack is no longer available.” Mr. Yusei explains that the volume of the harvest hasn’t really changed yet, but the types of fish they catch have obviously changed.
Shonai is a region, which has benefited from mountains and farms rich with water, but as we look back, there are enormous benefits from the sea as well. Mr. Tomekichi Aoyama, who made his fortune in herring fishing, is one example. In 1859 Mr. Aoyama, at age 24, moved alone to a fishing area of Hokkaido. Later he was known as one of the top fishery persons, who owned 130 fishing boats and employed over 300 fishermen. His former principal residence, designated as an important national cultural property in Yuza, has been preserved and is called “Herring Palace” by the people of Shonai.
Mr. Yusei says frankly, “Quite simply, I thought fishermen can get rich.” But fishing in the ocean is synonymous with earning money in exchange for risking one’s life. In comparison to farmers, who coexist with nature by utilizing and accepting the benefits of water, a fisherman’s way of life is completely different. More likely, they’d rather head out and challenge water. They have a totally different approach to it. Why are they so different, although both occupations deal with and are inseparable from water? The reason might be who came first. From the beginning of history, fishermen, as hunter-gatherers, had come first. Then farmers emerged as agricultural people. Behind Mr. Yusei and other fishermen’s emphatic ways or speaking, we see their courageousness in fighting an ominous sea. At the same time, although with their tough bodies and minds, they also represent a people that face a never-ending fear. “I have almost died twice,” said Mr. Yusei.