Fish are jumpin' at the 24th Annual Rokkasho Salmon Festival

  • Published
  • By Simon Bernard
  • Aomori Liaison
The village of Rokkasho, a fledgling community of about 12,000 residents, boasts two big attractions: a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant and the annual Salmon Festival along the Pacific Ocean.

Rokkasho is roughly 20 miles north of Misawa Air base making the event very accessible for service members and their families.

The Salmon Festival will be Oct. 27 and 28 at the Rokkasho Port. The event was established 24 years ago to promote tourism in the area. It has since grown to be the longest running salmon festival in Aomori. The festival takes place Oct. 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Oct. 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Events include rounds of salmon catching and salmon racing each day. The pool is stocked with almost 2,000 salmon for the festival.

To participate in the salmon catch (done by hand), people can purchase advanced tickets at Misawa ITT. Advanced tickets are 1,400 yen; tickets at the event cost 1,700 yen.
Entrance to the festival is free of charge. For those catching by hand, it is recommended to bring your own wading boots and gloves. Many people participate bare-foot. A change of clothes is recommended because everyone who participates gets wet during the salmon catch.

For those who would rather catch fish in a more traditional fashion, a fishing pond is set up where you can catch up to three salmon a day per ticket. A free fishing contest takes place on Sunday as salmon and other fish are put in special tanks for anglers young and old to try their luck (Poles are available for rent).

Traditional folk dancers, popular bands and singers, and many other performers will be featured on the festival's stage. Other events include seafood and vegetable wholesale markets, local delicacy mini sales, and bingo. You can buy a ticket at the site for the Beef barbecue and they will set you up will all you need to cook your own!

Free contests include a clam game where you try to get as many as you can into a plastic bottle with a small opening; sake or milk drinking contest trying to leave a winning amount in the glass, and a yelling contest where the loudest win prizes, fun for the whole family. A free salmon will be given away to the first 400 people starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

The festival is not for commercial purposes. The catch helps preserve local fishery resources. During the festival, local fishermen also catch salmon and extract their eggs. The eggs are hatched and released the following spring at the upper stream of the Oippe River. In three to five years, the grown fish make their way back to Rokkasho.

Salmon fishing in Japanese rivers is prohibited. The salmon used at the Rokkasho festival are all ocean caught, (not in the rivers like other salmon festivals) before they go in to the spawning phase, making them the freshest, best tasting salmon you can get your hands on.

Rokkasho's festival has become quite popular and last year attracted thousands of sightseers. English speaking staff will be on hand to help you. For more information call Four Season's Travel at 226-3555.

If you go:

Rokkasho Town is only a 45 minute drive north of Misawa Air Base. Go out the main gate, turn left at the first light and go straight until you hit the T at the Pacific Ocean. Turn left, you will now be on Rt. 338 going north. From the T go 21.9km and turn right at the light (there will be a convenience store on the left at this light). Follow this road 6.6 km and turn right (the sign will point to the Rokkasho Village Office) follow this road 6.6 kilometers and turn right (there is a small post office on the left). This road will take you to the festival site at the pier.

Events take place rain or shine

Saturday, Oct. 28

9:30 to 10 a.m. Free salmon give away to the first 400 people
10 to 10:20 a.m. Opening ceremony
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Seafood and vegetable wholesale fair
10:30 to 11:30 a.m. The Isaba No Cattcha Comedy Show
From 11:30 a.m. Beef barbecue
From 11:30 a.m. Mini Salmon egg on rice delicacy sale
12 to 12:30 p.m. Shijimi Clam game
12:30 to 1 p.m. Salmon Catch/ Salmon Race (1st Round)
1:00 to 1:30 p.m. Sake(adult)/Milk (children)drinking contest
1:30 to 2 p.m. Salmon Catch/ Salmon Race (2nd Round)
2 to 2:30 p.m. Rock Shu-S concert
3 to 3:30 p.m. Salmon Catch/ Salmon Race (3rd Round)

Sunday, Oct. 29

10 to 11:15 a.m. Torio the Ponchos Dance Show and
RAB Utchan/Mika-chan live radio show
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Seafood and vegetable wholesale fair
From 10 a.m. Tsuri San Pei fishing contest (1st Round)
11 to 11:30 a.m. Salmon Catch/ Salmon Race (1st Round)
From 11:30 a.m. Beef barbecue
From 11:30 a.m. Mini Salmon egg on rice delicacy sale
11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Loudest voice yelling contest
12 to 1 p.m. Chiba Kenta Folk Dance Show
From 1 p.m. Tsuri San Pei fishing contest (2nd Round)
1 to 2 p.m. Sannohe Shachu Dance Show
2 to 2:30 p.m. Salmon Catch/ Salmon Race (2nd Round)
2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Local fresh seafood market
3:30 to 4 p.m. Salmon net pull. Remaining fish will be sold at a discount
From 3:30 p.m. Free Bingo tournament

1. Salmon catching by pole. Oct. 25 to 28. Catch up to three fish per day. Men 2000 yen, women and children 1000 yen. Bring your own pole and bait or rent at the site.
2. Children's Green Group will be giving away tree saplings and collecting donations. Oct. 27 from 9:30 a.m.
3. Save The Environment Experiments will be performed on the site Oct. 27 and 28 starting at 10 a.m.
4. Tohoku Strong Horse Iron Pull Competitions will be held on Sunday starting at 8 a.m. next to the festival site. Horses compete in different classes pulling up to 500 kilograms of weight on sleds up and downhill.
5. Tosa Rokkasho Dog wrestling will be held on Sunday starting at 8 a.m. next to the festival site. Not for the faint of heart.