“To the sea, to the river, to the lake. Shizuoka and fishing; a familiar combination.”
“When you surf fish (fishing from the shoreline of the beach), you can catch tuna, bonito, and other surprising fish,” says Masahiro Ito, art director of Shizuoka-based Salmon Design. “You can catch big fish or fish that you’re not even sure of what kind they are. It’s fun to never know what you will catch!” he says, trying to describe the appeal of fishing in Shizuoka.
Ito was born in Fuji City, Shizuoka Prefecture, where “riding a bicycle for 30 or 40 minutes took me to the sea.” Influenced by his father, who loved the outdoors, Ito has loved fishing since childhood, first starting with bait fishing. When he was in the second or third grade of elementary school, the black bass boom hit and he started lure fishing with a lure rod that his father bought him. He and his friends would hop on a train and go to the neighborhood ponds and fishing grounds.
After returning to his hometown of Shizuoka approximately ten years ago Ito, who had been working in graphic design in Tokyo, began to get more and more into fishing. Since then, he has altered his work life to give him more control over his free time. “Now it’s a 20-minute drive from my office to the ocean, so when the weather is nice and I can go fishing for a bit in the evening, I can be there and back in about an hour and a half,” he said. “I like having easy access to the beach and being able to fish on a daily basis.”
Ito took us to the beach in front of the lighthouse on the Miho Coast, which he recommended for first-time anglers in Shizuoka. On that day, we went fishing together with Yuta Doi, who started a project called ‘Marine Sweeper’. Doi collects lures lost at sea, clearing them from the ocean floor, repainting them, and then reselling them. In support, a local fishing-lure company, Jackson, has begun buying back their own recollected lures from Marine Sweeper.
Ito has long wondered why there are so many lure makers in Shizuoka. One of the main reasons is that Shizuoka is blessed with a natural environment, offering a wide variety of fishing opportunities. “Shizuoka has a long coastline and many beaches. Also, Suruga Bay is the deepest bay in Japan, housing many different species that change rapidly with each season,” says Yukihiko Kawanishi, executive officer of Jackson’s Development and Production Department.
“Also, Shizuoka is a city conducive to making plastic lures,” explains Kawanishi. “Shizuoka has a culture of producing plastic models with brands such as Tamiya and others operating in the area. In addition, Hamamatsu is home to Yamaha and Suzuki, so there are also many mold makers here. That’s why the cost of producing molds is cheaper than in other parts of the country, and the technology is already there, so it’s easier to produce them.”
Ito enjoys fishing in the streams at the foots of mountains alongside surf fishing on the coastline, but he says he would like to try kayak fishing in the near future. Viking Kayak produces made-in-Japan kayaks that can be created in any color you like. They have a showroom and factory located in Shizuoka city. Alex Bennett, a kayaker from New Zealand, and his team build each kayak to order. “The kayaks are simple and anyone can ride them, even if they have no experience,” says Alex. He thinks the best place in Shizuoka for kayak fishing is in the quiet, fish-rich waters of Nishi-Izu.
“Fishing is a great way to relax, and it’s a fun sport. Shizuoka has a variety of places to fish, and I’m sure there are places I haven’t explored yet, so it’s really exciting to go out and find them myself,” says Ito. He sometimes takes his 10-year-old son with him to rivers and streams, with a feeling that there is no end in sight to the amount of enjoyment he can experience fishing in Shizuoka.
After working in Tokyo as an editorial designer for magazines such as “mark” and “PERFECT DAY”, he returned to his hometown of Shizuoka in 2012. In 2021, he established the design firm, Salmon Design.