Jun 17, 2010

A Traditional Fishing Boat Restored

Some travellers are surprised and tell us, "You could fish in Lake Tazawa!?”

Of course, we could! It was a lake with abundant fish as it was told in the Legend of Tatsuko.
Until 1940s, fishery in Lake Tazawa flourished as well as agriculture in the surrounding area. The fish died out because of acid river water channeled into the lake as a result of dam construction project. You may argue that it could be avoidable, but considerthis-- it was the time of world war. The commuinity was greatly concerned and protested, but the projects were carreid out. It was a time of patriotism and sacrifising for the country's war footing was the most valued.

The fishery tradition faded out as the fish disappeared. As a result of decades-long unmeasurable efforts in the community, the lake water has improved significantly, more and more fish have been reapearing  in Lake Tazawa.

In a newspaper article last week, we learned that a group of local volunteers, who aims to preserve and restore the indigenous culture around the lake,  held a ceremony in which they announced that they completed restoration of the wooden fishing boat that was traditionally used for fishing in Lake Tazawa.

That reminds us: when we visited Tatsuko Chaya a month ago, a wooden boat was stored in a shack next to the restaurant. We found out that the restaurant owner, Mr. Miura, is passinately involved in an environment preservation group. We were excited to know more about his involvement.

June 12th, 2010 -- The boat was finally out in the water, follwoing a Shinto ceremony to wish for the safety on the boat. According to the article, Mr. Miura, the restaurant owner of Tatsuko Chaya,is  the leading organizer and  started this project. He visited Tazawako Museum of Traditional Crafts (Tazawako Kyodo-shiryou-kan: 田沢湖郷土資料館) to learn about the traditional boat. More than 15 volunteers were involved in this project and now it is completed.

The boat was named “Kunimasu” after endemic species to Lake Tazawa that extinct about70 years ago. The boat is consisted of a single solid piece of 150 years-old Akita Sugi (ceder) piece. The measurement is about 6.4 meters in length and .50 meter in width. It will be displayed at various events around Lake Tazawa.

Restored Wooden Boat Out in the Lake (Courtesy of Semboku City Government)

***** After this article was published, Kunimasu, then- registered as "extinct," was discovered in Yamanashi Prefecture! About the miraculous discovery, read here. *****

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