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Chiba Prefecture: Choushi 銚子

Most junior high school students in Japan, who actually pay attention in class, can recognize names of places around their own homeland; places like the name's of major fishing ports, temples and shrines, and so on.   Some Japanese may even recognize what's called the Big Three fishing ports: Tsukijii, Kushiro, and Choushi!   Of course there are many more amazing fishing ports, but the three I just mentioned are major hubs that not only haul in some of the largest catches in Japan, but are also internationally recognized distributors of just about every kind of fish you can imagine.

When I got off the train at Choushi Station, the first order of business was food – as usual.  The plan ran like clockwork: get off the train, collect some tourist information before leaving the station , and then footing it all the way to the fishing port.   About five minutes into my walk a portly gentleman approached me unexpectedly from my right.   He introduced himself as Hidenori Kakuta, a wholesaler and imports & exports dealer in this city.  Normally, I try to avoid talking to strangers, but since I was in high spirits that day, and one beer down,  I decided be to a little  warm, so I indulged him and allowed him to use me for English, and in return he became my guide for the afternoon. 

As we were walking, he gave me a brief run down of the city and its happenings.    He's a drinker who loves sushi, but often times he's bored out of his mind in Choushi because there's absolutely nothing to do, but drink and gamble.    He also mentioned that there was a lot of labor from China who work the docks and that on any given day you can even run into  someone from Maui, or even South America.  He and I got a nice chuckle from that because we both understand the growing trend, especially in rural areas where young people want to escape the mundane life of farm work and slow life in small fishing port towns like Choushi.  At least he chose to remain.

As we continued walking towards the fishing port the weather began to warm up a bit.  First signs of perspiration start to appear on my face; good thing I bring a towel with me everywhere I go.   Finally arriving at the port I was greeted with that familiar smell of fish early in the morning.  Kind of welcoming actually because I love fish.  Since it was Sunday the auction house was closed and there were only a few mom & pop shops open.  He lectured me on fish and the two most popular fish from this region, one being "Kinmedai" splendid alfonsino, which is noted for having golden eyes, and the other red sea bream, which is associated with  sumo ceremony.  There are  other delicious types of fish also. 

As it’s autumn we were able to see and sample some Pacific Saury (sanma) and Katsuo ( Bonito ).  September through October is the perfect time to eat bonito because it’s the fattest and most flavorsome.  The fish itself is fished twice a year, once in autumn ( when they are the fattest) and in spring ( when they are the leanest). 

After my tour guide and friend gave me the run down on what’s good to eat and where,  we parted and went our separate ways.  I had promised to catch up with him later in the evening but couldn’t which I will explain later.   The next entry will be about where I ate at….stay tuned if you are interested.

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