Sebata-san on Tenkara in Focus

4 CommentsMonday, 13 August 2018  |  Paul G

TiF Season 2 Episode 8: 瀬畑雄三 - Sebata-san's Life in the Mountains

Below is our incredibly privileged interview with 瀬畑雄三 (Yuzo Sebata-san) that John filmed last September with Go Ishii translating the conversations. Stay up to speed with this awesome project that Go Ishii is putting together on this page:

瀬畑雄三 Sebata-san is the Father of Today's Genryu Fishing

Although he would never say it himself - the pioneering adventures and discovery of Japan's rich mountain culture (not to mention the AMAZING fishing that he found by taking on those risky ascents into hazardous wilderness areas) have inspired generations of outdoor fans in Japan. This is particularly true of the dangerous mountain headwater "源流"  genryu wilderness areas. The great boom in waterfall climbing "沢登り" (sawa-no-bori) and, over time, the development of many close-knit "Genryu crews" (tight groups of friends who can depend on each other's survival skills in the mountains) can all trace a strong connection to what Sebata-san pioneered through his dedication and love of the genryu environment.

This reconnection with the knowledge, skills and culture of the mountain dwelling peoples including the matagi, shokuryoshi and kijishi (winter mountain hunters, professional tenkara anglers and tree cutters/woodworkers respectively) - and their practices such as the gathering of wild edible mountain plants (山菜: sansai) and mushrooms (キノコ: kinoko) highlights the appreciation of nature - and also living in balance with it. These mountain cultures have developed a great understanding of their surroundings and that extends to not taking more than nature can easily replace and replenish. Sebata-san wants the details of this knowledge and culture to be remembered and spread - this is his biggest remaining wish in life.

Sebata san in Haide-gawa

Sebata-san photographed by Kikushi Minamiya in the early 1990's in Haide-gawa

That wish extends to the knowledge and culture surrounding traditional and modern tenkara too. He deeply cares that the world must NOT ignore or forget the skills and attitudes that have been developed down the generations through centuries of life in the mountains and around their streams. His pictures and writing are some of the most prolific and inspiring in tenkara literature (whether in books or magazines). He, along with "partner in crime" the cameraman Kikushi Minamiya, created the most renowned series of VHS videos of their crazy genryu adventures around 30 years ago...

I've had the great good fortune to sit through all of the raw footage from those adventures (around 40 hours of it) 4 times over (and more for some tapes!) and it is absolutely fascinating (and in many cases almost unbelievable if it were not for the camera actually capturing the craziness). There are also all of Minamiya-san's film slides that Go Ishii has been able to digitise. Together this is an incredible archive and insight into a culture and skillset that we, in the west, are almost completely unaware of.

This is our loss - but hopefully the efforts of Sebata-san, Minamiya-san and no Go Ishii (and I guess maybe even with a contribution from ourselves), will give many more folks a chance to see, understand and appreciate this rich culture via a dedicated documentary film in the future...

Joining our Patreon Tenkara Project

In July we launched our first Direct, Live Access to us via regular "webinar" sessions. These will let us troubleshoot your tenkara as well as being like a mini "Live" and interactive episode of Tenkara in Focus for the very best behind the scenes stories. We'll cover Tenkara and Western Fly Fishing and all the things that make fish, fishing and anglers "tick". Join us (and read all the different Supporter Tiers info) here:


We're working on a dates schedule for upcoming webinars (so you can book the time to attend live - since these are NOT recorded) - so watch this space...


PS, Click on the social share buttons to spread this story PLUS let us know what you think of the chances of a Kickstarter campaign in support of Sebata-san: The Movie.



Peter Heath
Tuesday, 14 August 2018  |  9:49

What an inspirational person Sebata-san is.

Paul G
Thursday, 16 August 2018  |  12:35

You said it Peter, he's one of those rare people who genuinely live up to the label "Legend".

Wednesday, 15 August 2018  |  23:11

Another fun informative video guys. Thank you.

There is an old (1996?) Sebata Yūzō video filmed when he was a much younger man that would also be fun to see. The title: 遅アワセが冴える ロングライン・テンカラ テーパーライン編 :瀬畑雄三、ダイワ精工。I am not certain of the correct translation, Something like - Delayed awase(hookup) is clear long line tenkara taper line version : Sebata Yūzō, Daiwaseikō. Clear as in easy to sense or to be alert too. You can find a peak at it on this auction website, until it goes away.

The Daiwa AWTーPM tenkara rods can still be found online, too.
(ダイワ アモルファスウィスカーカーボンロッド。Daiwa amorphous whisker carbon rod.)

Paul G
Thursday, 16 August 2018  |  12:37

David - the master detective strikes again (if I had a VHS player I'd have been tempted to make a bid on that!). I think it's a video focusing on fishing at greater range with longer lines in the way that Sebata-san prefers. He is also keen on allowing fish some slack when taking the fly (he writes about this in his booklet that I've had the good fortune to have someone translate for me). Ito fuke here we go again...