Where can you encounter live ayu (sweetfish) in the vicinity of Tokyo?

How to

Many visitors to Japan often choose Tokyo as their destination. As for me, I wish for as many people as possible to see ayu, a representative river fish of Japan. However, in urban areas like Tokyo, it’s challenging to see ayu in their natural habitat. While aquariums do offer a view of ayu, they don’t fully embody their natural beauty. Therefore, I’ll introduce ways to see ayu in nature that are easily accessible from Tokyo. One method is to participate in local festivals themed around ayu.

1. Atsugi Ayu Festival

This festival is held in the Sagami River in Kanagawa Prefecture during the first week of August. It’s about an hour and a half by train from Tokyo, with the nearest station being Atsugi Station. Apart from ayu, the festival offers various dances, food stalls, and even fireworks at night. Being a major festival in the regional city of Atsugi, you won’t run out of things to do in a day.

2. Oyama Ayu Festival

Held in the Omoigawa River in Tochigi Prefecture during the first week of August, this festival is accessible directly from Tokyo. The nearest station is Oyama Station, which is 40 minutes by Shinkansen or 1.5 hours by regular train. Though smaller in scale compared to the Atsugi Ayu Festival, this festival focuses on ayu, offering grilled ayu, and hands-on ayu catching experiences. Being a smaller, regional festival, it provides a chance to enjoy the atmosphere of a local Japanese festival.

Both of these festivals are held in early August, coinciding with the month when ayu are at their largest. Through these festivals, one can appreciate how much the ayu, a river fish, is loved by the general population in Japan.