I’m leaving to Japan tomorrow morning. And, you may rightfully ask, “who cares that you’re going to Japan, Daniel, yet again, to ‘learn tenkara’? Tenkara is just about fishing with a pole, line and whatever at the end.”
About 5 years ago I visited Japan for my first time and learned about tenkara. I bought a tenkara rod, brought it back and soon decided to share it with people outside of Japan. Thus I became the first person to introduce tenkara to the USA and beyond with the creation of Tenkara USA. But I quickly realized it is not just a rod that I brought back, but the entire tenkara story and philosophy and something that could actually add value to how people approach the water and how people connect with nature.
I believe it has been fundamental to maintain the connection of tenkara to Japan and share the tenkara story with anglers here. I feel that I didn’t create just another rod company; I wanted to introduce a simpler method of fly-fishing that inspired people to fly-fish, simply and naturally.
But, why go to Japan to learn about tenkara? Why should anyone care about how they practice tenkara in Japan? Why does it matter? Good questions.
Why spend all that money and tremendous amount of energy and time to go to Japan and spend time fishing? This is the best time of the year to sit back here and fish. I could spend the next few weeks with my wife and our dog, fishing my brains out at the perfectly good streams within 10 minutes from home. As new competitors come in selling or planning to sell their tenkara rods, with no understanding of the method and probably doing okay sales-wise, I could just stay back and work on other things…more marketing, more sales, more outings, shinier rods.
Of course, visiting Japan gives me a valuable opportunity to share the latest rod designs I’m working on with my teachers, and get their instant feedback on the rods. We have worked on numerous tweaks on each of our rods as a direct result from these trips together.
But, in addition, I believe there is something to tenkara that can’t be learned or shared otherwise. I believe the long-time practitioners of tenkara have a lot to teach us, especially on how to keep fly-fishing simple. And, I believe that connection to Japan, which allowed me to bring the method of fishing that you all enjoy to the US, is important. I believe tenkara, as it is practiced in Japan, can show us to keep fly-fishing simple and how to maintain its effectiveness without relying so much on equipment. While it is not necessary to go to Japan to go tenkara fishing or to learn how to cast a fly and catch a fish, there are some principles of tenkara that can be brought over to us and that can add value to how we approach the water and nature. That’s what I like sharing.
In the next few weeks, as I travel throughout Japan, I’ll be sharing with you the tenkara story. Why? Because the principles of tenkara can set the foundations to keeping fly-fishing simple yet effective; and because the way tenkara is practiced in its country of origin holds the key to a very liberating method of fly-fishing.