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Tour de Nippon


Yaizu is among the finest fishing ports in Japan, with massive catches of bonito and tuna at Yaizu Port and whitebait and Sakura shrimp at Oigawa. Surrounded by hills and rivers, it has ample water resources and many awesome hot springs. The climate is mild, and the people are easy-going. The open and genial atmosphere befitting a "port town" has attracted people not only from Japan but also from other climes, including Koizumi Yakumo. Perhaps the people of Yaizu, who live with and enjoy the sea, rivers, and mountains, are naturally possessed of a Zen spirit. Take a deep breath, come as you are, as if a local. Feel and flow with the time and breeze in Yaizu – and take a trip to replenish the soul.


The spirit of Yaizu that so entranced Yakumo lives on today

When he spent time with the “candid, kind, and honest” folk of Yaizu – including Yamaguchi Otokichi, a fish merchant who took care of him – even the uptight Yakumo was apparently able to smile and be himself. In the morning, Sasue Maeda Fish Store is overflowing with fresh seafood and bustling with people carrying and processing it. One person who stands out among them is Mr. Naoki Maeda. A discerning connoisseur of fish, he mingles like a kid with the chefs who come to purchase fish, then smiles kindly at his customers. While his expertise is in demand among the world’s finest restaurants, the fish store is also a favorite among locals for its dried fish and seasonal sashimi. “We are relaying the baton of life between fishermen, chefs, and customers. Fish are the only thing humans have nothing to do with.” Maeda’s explanation is strangely convincing. Yaizu is close to the sea, rivers, and mountains, and is in contact with fish, an element of nature beyond the control of humans. Maybe this explains the humanity of the people of Yaizu, whom Yakumo so adored. 

With these thoughts in mind, I headed for one of the restaurants that Maeda-san supplies, Taigo Sugiyama’s Chakaiseki Onjyaku. Popular for its full-course Yaizu seafood menu, it is fully booked for the next two months. The large wooden counter sets the scene for savoring their thoughts and myriad stories about fish. Each dish, prepared after a nightly meeting with Maeda to discuss cooking methods after the restaurant closes, are extremely nourishing, like the warm stones that Zen monks are said to have held to stave off cold and hunger during their ascetic training. I had an inkling that I was about to experience the time-honored appeal of Yaizu.

Beautiful, fresh fish just landed at the port of Yaizu.
Mr.Maeda – “My task is to pass on the form of life that is fish.”
Onjaku, where you can savor the chef’s skill and the flavor of the fish right in front of your eyes.
Perfectly flame-seared bream. Signature dish at “Onjaku” (Photography: Shinsuke Matsukawa)

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A replenishing journey through a port town tinged with the sea breeze
Tour de Nippon in Yaizu
Held on the weekend of September 24-25, 2022

Enjoy the charms of Yaizu to the fullest with vistas of Suruga Bay and Mt.Fuji. Fishing on Day 1. Come cast a line with Ai Miura. Tuck into an evening repast of fish caught in Yaizu. Hike and bike on day 2. Cycling along the beach to Hanazawa-no-sato while snacking on Yaizu’s gastronomic treats. After hiking up Man-gan-ho, experience Zen at Rinso-in Temple.  At the end of the tour, relax and peacefully melt into the soothing Kuroshio Onsen Nakamura-kan. Come, join us on a journey to get in touch with nature, to breath deeply, and to bring some balance to mind and body.

Papersky’s Tour de Nippon project is about finding the magic of Japan’s rural districts, their inhabitants, nature, culture and food. We travel to various prefectures and ride bicycles. Traveling via bicycle allows us a clean and healthy way to explore Japan’s rural areas.
text | Miyako Shimba photography | Shinya Rachi special thanks | Yaizu City