Why are freshwater fish uncommon in Japan?

River Cusine

My answer to this question is “because the catch is small, it does not circulate.” In rivers, unlike the sea, it is not possible to use large fishing gear or boats. In short, a large number of fish cannot be caught.

However, please do not misunderstand. The fact that it does not circulate does not mean it has no value. For people living near rivers and ponds, these are important resources. Because they do not circulate, the methods of catching and cooking fish are unique to each region. Wherever you go, you can see the culture and ingenuity unique to each area. I believe that experiencing these is of the greatest value for those of us living in modern times.

Let me introduce an example. This photo shows fishing gear used to catch a loach (Ajimedojyou: Cobitis delicata) that lives in mountain streams. This fish is very delicious and is considered a precious delicacy by people in the mountains. However, they usually do not swim in schools, making it difficult to catch them in large numbers. The only time they can be caught in large numbers is from autumn to winter. This fish spawns in the water flowing through the gravel on the riverbed. They gather in places that meet specific conditions for spawning. Fish traps are set up here to catch them. However, the resource is originally limited. Therefore, the people who can collect them in the area are determined annually, and the number of catches is restricted.

In this way, using fishing gear adapted to the characteristics of the fish and managing limited resources is a practice seen in other regions as well. In other words, experiencing river fish culture is also about learning how to use and maintain local resources. In a time when we face global challenges due to energy consumption, isn’t this of tremendous value?