Tenkara in Focus: Keiichi Genryu Part 2 and Hisanobu Hirata
3 CommentsThursday, 5 July 2018 | Paul G
As you'll see in the Episode, you'll really want to lock in your FREE viewing of "Tenkara with Hisanobu Hirata" (rather than pay the $26.00 retail price of the download!):
Survival Skills: The Roots of Modern Tenkara
Keiichi Okushi is one of the most passionate promoters of the hard-core exploration, hiking, foraging, rough-camping, climbing and fishing cultures that are all rolled into the love of "genryu" culture of Japanese mountain areas. There are a surprising number of different groups in Japan that come together regularly to explore and push the limits of these powerful, steep headwater streams and the forested mountain ridges and valleys that create them. Each group has their hard-won knowledge of the most beautiful, most pristine, hardest-to-reach and most remote genryu areas.
To be a member of these groups is to enjoy a special bond. All members of the group need to fit well together. They must all trust each other in the dangerous environments. They must also know the skill-sets and abilities of all group members - so that each can play their role in the wilderness survival skills and physical exertions of making it to (and setting up) base-camp. In Japan, that stream-side camp is called "tenba" - and the foraging, preparing and sharing of food and drink is a simple satisfaction that is surely older than the human race.
A well earned hot meal round the camp fire after a long hike to reach the "tenba" (camp)
Although today most genryu addicts use lightweight modern gear - all of the skillsets needed to survive and thrive on an expedition come from the long pre-history of Japanese mountain culture. The knowledge and abilities are shared with those traditional mountain professionals such as the matagi (bear and game hunters) and the shokuryoshi (professional, subsistence mountain river anglers). The materials may have evolved with modern chemistry, but the knowledge and skills are all completely recognisable between the modern "sport" and the ancient mountain-craft practices.
Hand-made Fishing Tackle and the Shokuryoshi
The old saying "knowledge weighs nothing" is absolutely perfect when it comes to describing the fishing arts of the Shokuryoshi. The depth of knowledge Hisanobu Hirata (and his father before him) needed in order to selectively and efficiently catch the species, size and number of fish to fulfil the orders of local inns is immense. That skillset - along with the techniques for hand-furling the casting lines made from horse-tail fibres, to tie flies that are still incredibly effective today (even in high-pressured catch & release waters) are, again, rooted in the generations of knowledge built up by the shokuryoshi.
Horsehair line-making guide (just one item in a 10-part bundle of Hirata-san's tenkara skills)
Just like other simple but refined tools made from natural materials (a well-napped flint blade is every bit as sharp as a modern scalpel), with the right knowledge and skill, the simple bamboo rods, horsehair lines and hand-tied (no-vice) flies are exceptionally effective today. BUT - the devil is in the detail - both in terms of making the tackle AND especially in the fishing skills and stream-craft needed to use them. You need to pick up the knowledge as well as the tackle.
Hirata-san's flies are made using whipping knots and no vice (so the only tool needed is a sharp blade)
Those insider skills and the deep knowledge of the techniques of a professional, survival fly fisher are why we were so lucky to film and analyse Hisanobu Hirata fishing, making his flies and his lines and explaining his skills on visits spanning four years.
His on-stream fish-catching demonstration (and our detailed breakdown of it) is captured in a video that we'll soon release. It has a retail price of $26.00 for the download version. What is really impressive is the fact that he caught fish in low water, bright/hot sunshine conditions on a busy section of heavily fished Catch & Release river in Japan. In other words, one of the most difficult challenges that any fly fisher could face.
As a promotion for the full bundle and to bring Hirata-san himself to a wider audience, we're giving you the chance to see this onstream masterclass completely FREE...Whether or not this backfires on us, you should still lock in your free registration before we pull the plug and write it all off as a lesson learned! Because we know just how much information is constantly pulling on your attention, there's a personalised time-limited window to grab your registration for the Free Screening which will take place in the coming weeks. This exclusive registration is the only way to gain access to the full screening period (and is separate from our regular email lesson subsription). So don't miss out, let us know where to send your personal link by using the form on this page:
Best wishes, Paul (let me know if you're excited about the screening in the comments below)
PS Don't forget to use the social share buttons to give your friends the chance to get in on the Free Hirata-san Masterclass too (and show them what they're missing if they don't carry the knowledge of a Shokuryoshi on stream with them!!)