We were woken up this morning at 5am by the sound of fireworks going off. They marked the start of the ayu fishing season on the Chikuma River. This afternoon, I went down to the river, and sure enough, there were lots of fishermen enjoying the sunny weather and the cool waters of the Chikuma.
Ayu fishing is a unique style of fishing. The ayu river fish tends to be territorial and chases away potential competitors for their territory. So the fishermen use a style called "tomo-tsuri". They use an insanely long pole with a live fish attached to the end of the line. Then they wade into the river and dangle the fish into the current. When an ayu comes to chase it away, it gets caught on the hook behind the bait fish.
Fresh-caught ayu is typically prepared by being rubbed in salt and grilled. But at one of the many "tsukeba" fish shacks along the Chikuma River, you can get a multi-course meal serving ayu cooked in a variety of ways. Here in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, there is a tsukeba called Senmasu, and they offer ayu meals from 2,625 to 5,250 yen per person, tax included. Hours are from 11am to 3pm, and 5pm to 8pm with reservation. Tel(026)275-0019. Or you can call us here at Kamesei and we would be glad to provide assistance in English -- Tel(026)275-0132.