Jan 4, 2011

Meeting Kunimasu at Lake Saiko: Semboku City Group Visits

Kunimasu, subspecies of himemasu (known as kokanee in North America) that is said to have died out 70 years ago, was discovered in Lake Saiko in Yamanashi Prefecture. The news was quickly spread out nationwide, reported as a miraculous story.

Over the weekend, a group of Semboku City officials visited Lake Saiko and Kyoto University. The members met Sakana-kun (a popular TV talent and a marine biologist) and Professor Nakabou at Kyoto University, who made a great contribution to the research on the fish once long labeled as “extinct.”

The 13-members group was consisted of Semboku City Mayor (Mr. Kadowaki), president of Tazawako Tourism Association, and representatives of Lake Tazawa revitalization group.

At the press conference that was reported nationwide, Mr. Kadowaki, as the leader of the group, expressed the gratitude on behalf of the citizens of Semboku City, Akita Prefecture, and even the whole nation.

The group also visited the city hall of Fujikawaguchiko-machi, a town where Lake Saiko is situated, to meet the town mayor, Mr. Watanabe. Mr. Kadowaki had expressed graditude and also mentioned his concerns over the possiblity of exploitation. He appealed to the local group for further protective care of the endangered species and a corporative support to keep the fish alive, while the environment in Lake Tazawa is being improved — so someday they can “return home.”

The representatives of the visiting group along with Sakana-kun and Professor Nakabou held a press conference to which both local and national media flocked over. Sakana-kun, in response to Semboku City’s request, commented that he is willing to corporate with Semboku City and do his best in promoting the Tazawako Satogaeri (“Return-home”) Project.

After the press conference, the group headed to Lake Saiko. Semboku City mayor, Mr. Kadowaki had written on his blog that he was very emotional at the discovery site and he was told that the local people pay attentive care to the environment. That is definitely the reason why kunimasu, which prefers cold clean freshwater, were able to survive there.

Photo Courtesy of Kadosan.com

“At the same site,” Mr. Kadowaki continues “I asked Sakanakun if he would come to Tazawako. ‘Yes, of course’ he replied, ‘I enjoy scuba-diving, and Akita is a hometown of my favorite photographer, Mr. Ikuo Nakamura. I would love to do scuba-diving with him in Lake Tazawa.’ We have a promise.”

Sakana-kun had also given Semboku City a permission to use his kunimasu drawings for the Kunimasu Return-home Project. We are greatly excited about his support, and we as a community are determined to have them “return home.”

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