It has been some years now since I’ve learned about tenkara, an efficient form of mountain stream fishing. Through my experiences using this simple, old style of fishing, I have found that I can apply principles of minimalism to nearly everything I do. I’ve learned about efficiency and different ways of looking at everyday challenges. In applying these concepts, I have come up with a formula that works for me. It can be summed up with the following sentence.
The more you know, the less you need.
For this installment, I will approach traveling and using what I call, the tenkara lifestyle, to promote efficient travel.
In my own experience, I have realized that nothing is better than experience to realize just what you need. Packing for a trip shouldn’t be difficult. There is some homework involved if you are new to traveling light but as you reduce the contents of your pack, you will realize that each component of your travel kit becomes more important on its own and as an integrated system.
Key to the concept is to check the weather where you are going and make a pack list for up to a week. If you can get through a week with your packing list, you can easily live for two weeks or a month or longer. Packing for one week, I have a comfortable pack size and I am able to be prepared for just about any activity. Hiking, fishing, going out to dinner, hot springs or lounging with friends or distant family. At the end of the week, I’m going to do some laundry whether it be washing my clothes in washer or in the shower, bucket or near a stream and hanging them to dry but I’m ready for another week.
The biggest tenkara event – ever! – happened this weekend.
The 2017 Tenkara Summit brought together the largest gathering of tenkara anglers anywhere. Just over 300 people from all over the US as well as Argentina, Norway and Japan attended. Attendees enjoyed a great series of speakers, clinics with experienced tenkara anglers (including Dr. Hisao Ishigaki), vendors, and a very fun fly-tying evening that featured a live band as well as tying contests timed to their songs, plus magic by Dennis Michael.
I am still stunned by the participation. In the past Tenkara Summits we had up to 150 people show up. I was fully expecting this year to count on the same number of people, so when I went to pull the final tally I was shocked to see about 240 people registered and another 60 walk-ins. I had tremendous fun meeting so many people in the community as well as spending time with an incredible crew of staff and volunteers that made the event possible.
After a week of taking Dr. Ishigaki fishing around Colorado, hosting our staff and then working at the Summit I will say that I am pretty beat. In fact, I may even take a nap in a few minutes, which is a very rare thing for me to do. But, I wanted to share a little update as well as post some photos from the event. These are photos that some of our crew or myself took; we actually had a professional photographer shoot photos and video at the event but it may be a few days before we get to process and post some of those.
There were several highlights that stood out for me. One of them was once again spending time fishing with my teacher, Dr. Ishigaki. The Tenkara Summit really started as an excuse for Dr. Ishigaki to come fishing in the US; in 2011 he wanted to fish in Montana but said he wanted to speak at an event to justify the trip to his wife. Since there were no events taking place I decided to put the Summit together. It turned out to be a tough week of fishing, with us visiting several different places that didn’t seem to be “on” (I will have to add “river otters” to my “Excuses to use when not catching fish“).
Another highlight was meeting and talking to a large number of people about how tenkara has had a positive impact on their lives. It always gives me a warm feeling when I hear those stories of how people are enjoying tenkara in one way or another, of how sometimes it gave them a different perspective on some aspect of their lives. And I absolutely loved meeting a few young kids who are in love with tenkara and asked their parents and grandparents to bring them to the Summit.
The fly-tying evening was a pure fun part of the event. In the evening the band Paper Moonshine entertained the audience as people tied flies, enjoyed their beers and whiskey, and shared stories or made plans to fish the next day.
The event was recorded in its entirety and we will be posting some of it online in the near future. More photos to come as well.
A couple of months ago a friend turned me on to the app Storehouse. I immediately started playing with it as a story-telling medium and loved the format. The first story I created with images and videos I have captured was “Tenkara with Yuzo Sebata“. I intend to create a series of stories of fishing and learning from different tenkara teachers. Here’s my story of “Tenkara with Hisao Ishigaki”. Hope you enjoy it.
I’m testing out a new platform to continue “sharing the tenkara story”. A friend of mind recently turned me on to Storehouse. Here’s a short photo story with Mr. Yuzo Sebata. What do you think?
Direct link to Tenkara story on Storehouse
It’s been overdue for sometime, we know. But, I’m happy to announce we finally built up the functionality on our website for you to download the digital version of the Tenkara Magazine.
You can order the 2014 and the 2015 versions online. The 2015 is available in two electronic formats, one is the original layout of the magazine, the other is a narrow layout optimized for reading on a phone or tablet. Either costs $4.00 (print version is $9.00). The 2014 magazine is only available in one electronic format, the original layout, and costs $2.50.
A good friend of mine decided to give her dad a tenkara net (also known as a “tamo“) for Christmas. She’s been working on the branch frame for a few weeks and now it is time for connecting the mesh bag to the net frame. Yesterday she asked me for help with it but we couldn’t meet up. While I had put together this video years ago, I had since learned a better way of connecting the mesh bag to the tenkara net frame. And then I remembered I had some great footage from when I spent time with the famous tenkara net maker Yukihiro Yoshimura and his daughter learning the techniques for tenkara net making. So, I quickly compiled the most relevant shots of the steps needed in connecting the mesh bag to net frame. If you’re finding yourself at the point of connecting a mesh bag to your beautiful tenkara net frame, I hope this video will be of help. I also intend on putting together a number of “Quick Guide to Tenkara” videos in the coming weeks.
My 1st Kotsuzake….. been waiting 4.5 years for this. It ended up being a solo adventure and that was probably how it was meant to be.
In almost 5 years since becoming a tenkara fisherman, I had never taken the life of a trout for edible enjoyment. I happily released each trout go to be caught another day. But… my tick-tock clock been ticking for a while now and I knew soon, even after all these years, I would do the deed.
This morning I decided to explore new places to fish along with hopes of finding a nice mountain lake where I could take my wife for some Fall kayaking fun. I was a bit all over the place, driving around a lot, but with little fishing…. but I still did fish and caught a nice Brownie right off highway 49 in Northern California. I did eventually find a cool mountain lake to take my wife to this coming weekend. So my efforts were being rewarded…but I still needed to get some serious fishing in as most the day I had been putzing around in the FJ Cruiser.
Around 1:30PM I decided it was time to head to my secret Mountain Meadow, which I have written about before, in hopes to catch a few brookies. So off I went figuring I would be fishing again around 2:30PM and could get in at least 2+ hours of solid fishing. I went prepared with the normal goods…. Sato, Rhodo, 3.5 Orange Level Line, Salt & Pepper Sakasa Kebari, some snacks and drinks. When I arrived out came the Rhodo and I went to work. Continue reading
There is a 15-hour difference between Colorado and Japan. They are one day ahead of us. While right now it is 10pm in Colorado, it is already 1pm the next day in Japan. Due to the time different and having just returned from the trip, right now I feel absolutely miserable.
I wonder how much of that “misery” is due to the time difference and how much it is due to many 15-hour long days in Japan. When I arrive in Japan I always feel fresh and ready to go. My main strategy to cope with jetlag is to focus on my breathing and meditating during the flight. It works well on the way there, but on the way back I am never able to do it; there are too many things going on in my head, too many ideas. And the 15-hour travel time between the last place I visited, Yamagata, and our home in Boulder was certainly not easy on my body this time.
You may have noticed I haven’t shared as much “live” content in our blog. I typically shoot images and videos and then work on content as I travel between different cities. I do well most years, just look at our “Japan” posts here. But, this time, in between places I was utterly exhausted from many early starts, long days and late evening beer, sake and yakitori outings. This trip was much more introspective and reflective than usual. That is not to say I don’t have a lot to share still, there are some highlights that are spinning in my head. For now I’ll share a brief journal of the trip as a whole:
As most of you are waking up, I’m now preparing to sleep. Tonight I will have a new sleep experience. After many nights sleeping in the countryside, to the sound of streams and crickets, tonight, for my first time, I will experience sleeping in a capsule hotel at the Tokyo Narita airport. Tomorrow morning I’m headed to China for a few days to meet with our factories. I feel more like I’m in a Sci-fi movie set. Luckily I’m not claustrophobic, and this doesn’t feel any smaller than the tents I use while camping. Only thing I wish for right now is the sound of crickets, a gushing stream nearby, the smell of a campfire and a sleeping bag. We will see how this goes. Good night…er…morning.
Was out filming with a TV crew this morning. We had a 6am start, yikes (contrary to popular belief, not all fishermen like starting that early). Caught plenty of fish today, but couldn’t take picture since we were in the middle of filming again. But as I brought this fish in I couldn’t resist but to pull out my cell phone. The film crew wasn’t particularly appreciative of me stopping to take photos, but I believe you will understand why I had to do it. This is an amago, a Japanese trout, one of the prettiest I have caught I’d say.
I’m currently on my 6th annual pilgrimage to Japan. My schedule this time is way busier than I have ever had it when visiting. There are many people I wish I could see but won’t be able to this time. Right now we are in the middle of filming for a Japanese TV show. It has been very difficult as the area we are visiting now, Kaida Kogen, is experiencing a lot of rain. We had to wait it out for most of the day today. Finally the weather have us a break and as the film crew got ready I caught a couple of fish that I was able to photograph. To my luck they were Iwana but of two different kinds: Yamato Iwana and Nikko Iwana. Wanna guess which one is which? I will post the answer here in a day.
Top one with whitish spots is the Nikko Iwana, bottom is Yamato Iwana, though David’s comments and links are definitely worth a read!
This is a picture of the Japanese trout called “Amago”. Our friends John Pearson and Paul Gaskell of Discover Tenkara, just returned from their trip to Japan where they went to spend time with our teacher Dr. Ishigaki and other well-known tenkara anglers. They captured some beautiful images of the Japanese trout. We’ll share them with you here and I’m sure you’ll see them in their blog pretty soon too.
On a recent visit to Japan, I spent time with one of the longest-practicing tenkara anglers in the country, Mr. Yuzo Sebata. One of Mr. Sebata’s students had created a cartoon character after Mr. Sebata: Sebatake Kun (せば茸くん). Mr. Sebata is known throughout Japan for his wild forays in search of fish and mushrooms; he’s both an expert in tenkara fishing as well as identifying mushrooms. Sebatake is a play on words where “take” means mushrooms, “kun” is wizard. So, essentially the character is the Sebata, Wizard of Mushrooms. The Sebata name is already synonymous with tenkara.
Once we posted pictures of Mr. Sebata wearing his trademark dark blue, long-sleeve shirt featuring Sebatake Kun, we were inundated with requests by customers asking where they could get the shirt. So we asked Mr. Sebata and his student for permission to use the character for making some shirts. All they asked in exchange were a couple of the Tenkara USA ITO rods, with which Mr. Sebata had become a huge fan. The shirts are now here and available for sale for $24, a great stocking stuffer for sure.
If you haven’t seen this video of me with Mr. Sebata yet, check it out. It is one of my favorite videos:
We have put out a lot of videos since our inception in 2009. 88 to be exact. Here are 5 videos we think you must watch to learn tenkara, tenkara fly-tying, or just for your entertainment as the cold weather sets in:
1) How to cast with tenkara:
2) Tenkara Techniques:
3) Tenkara Pronunciation Guide:
4) Tenkara Knots:
4B) You may also want to watch this video on my “one knot”, used for tippet to level line and fly to tippet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eemGKr-GYrE
5) How to tie a tenkara fly:
6) Landing a larger fish on tenkara and long line:
7) Tenkara and Canyoneering