Conversations: Japan

On November 2, 2016
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Daniel: And, Adam Klags, Adam-chan, I was actually in New York City earlier this year and we hung out in a really good Japanese restaurant and we ended up having sake. Can you tell us why you know so much? Can you tell our listeners what your background is?

Adam Klags: Yes. So I sell wine and our company also sells sake and madeira and other things. So I’ve learned about it that way and that’s my first connection to Japan was more through sake. I knew about tenkara but, I didn’t get to go until I got involved with sake, so that was integral for me too.

Daniel: Nice. So that sounds like a really good combination of things coming together for you there.

Adam Trahan. Oh, yeah.


Daniel: And, Adam-san, you also talked about bansho for a second. What is a bansho?

Adam Trahan: It is essentially a guardhouse between counties or provinces. And as people traveled, they’d either go through the bansho or check in and a couple of Samurai were stationed at the bansho. And I believe it was 270 years old.

Adam Klags: Yeah, I think.

Adam Trahan: Yeah. So I mean it’s a typical old Japanese big home with the sliding paper doors and multi-story. Two indoor fire kitchens and just beautiful gorgeous wood, and always filled with smoke.

Adam Klags: [laughter] Yeah. This is true. And they said it was important for curing the wood and keeping the roof.

Adam Klags: It was very interesting and it could sleep probably, they said around 20 people on a busy night. Just including the family and their servants or workers.

Daniel: That’s amazing. Like I said I think some of my most memorable experiences are staying in some of those really old traditional Japanese homes that you — I think our listeners can imagine in their heads, like maybe from watching The Last Samurai or something like that [chuckles].

Adam Trahan: I’ll have to add. When you go to Japan, fishing is really secondary to the culture. When you go there, you’re just immersed in a different culture and it’s a beautiful clean culture that’s just quite enjoyable experience. So the bonds will just put — that setting was so fitting. This is a lifetime memorable trip. I may go back, again and again and again but I’ll always remember this trip very sharply.

Daniel: Yeah. And I think that’s absolutely correct. I mean, the culture, the other things that you can find in Japan from hot springs to foods to sake, to the camaraderie with people are really the reasons to go, not the fishing, but before we forget what we’re talking about here today, which it is fishing. [chuckles] How was the fishing this time Adam-san?

Adam Trahan: It was explained to me in a scale of 1 to 10 that it was really only 25 percent. The catching wasn’t that good. The fishing is always excellent, I think everybody caught fish but it was just a little slow. On the two big fishing days, I caught about half a dozen on each day. So I was satisfied. But our hosts, Ishii-san, he just said it was a little slow. Probably due to the weather.

Adam Klags: Yeah. We got hit with some crazy weather. I mean, there must have been multiple typhoons and I don’t know 8 to 10 earthquakes that happened while we were there. So we were very lucky wherein we’ve got our fishing days in on the prime weather days. It really worked out for us and makes me wonder if someone out there was looking outa for us [chuckles].

Daniel: That’s lucky. And, how many days of fishing you guys do total?

Adam Trahan: I think we got two days of fishing.

Adam Klags: That’s two full days of fishing. We had a third but it was just pouring and it was like we all just decided universally that we needed to just get out of the river valley and get to the bansho.

Adam Trahan: That is a story in itself. Big, huge story.

Daniel: We got a few minutes here. What’s the story? [laugh]

Adam Klags: So, Adam you should talk about that.

Daniel: What happened?

Adam Trahan: It rained and it rained pretty hard, and where I’m from, there are slot canyons, and you always have to be aware of the weather not only where you are, but 20 miles away in the headwaters. So it rained and it rained and it rained, and we were under tarps but I’m thinking, we’re a long way from home and in two days I’ve got to be on a plane. So I’m wondering about the water rising and the sake is flowing and our hosts are not concerned but inside my head, I’m pretty concerned. We’ve got a long journey home and the water did rise and it did become a problem. Adam-chan, why don’t you pick up from there.

Adam Klags: Yeah. So, luckily it didn’t get as crazy as it would have in the slide canyons but it came up to the point where we no longer could walk along the shore in a number of spots easily nor across. So we did cross some pretty deep stuff, chest deep, fast moving water. People were there to help and that’s a big thing. Teamwork is huge and many times people were there to help have your back and tell you which way to go and where it was safe and I never felt like people weren’t looking out for me, but there were moments where it’s, it’s risky. The kind of thing that you don’t really do when you fish here as much. Especially stuff I don’t do when I’m alone.

So we were walking down the river we had forded a couple of difficult spots and finally came to one bend where there was no way to ford the rising river. So there was a “path” up on a cliff and we literally had to climb a pretty much more than a 45 degree angle. It was very vertical with crumbling ground to get to a decaying piece of rope which only helped you for like 5 feet and then you had to get over the crest of this tiny little hill thing and then once you made that feat possible, you had to walk on a collapsing, less than 1 foot wide “path” that was also crumbling. It was harrowing to say the least. And so I looked at it, and I was like, okay I may as well go up after Maruyama-san. So I just tried it and it was rough and I somehow made it. Thought I was going to fall a few times but yeah we all helped each other up. They eventually strung the rope up and then everybody else was able to come up with a little bit of rope help, that did not really take away the danger from more sections though, so it was interesting [chuckles].
Daniel: That’s amazing. I’m just imagining the situation like with the heavy woods. I mean, the woods there are dense. So I’m assuming you guys are going through some dense wooded area and climbing up some muddy terrain. Was this a camping trip? Or, when did you guys decided to walk out?

Adam Klags: Yeah, it was backpacking trip, Okushi-san style. Not that he didn’t day fish at all but his style was to go in with a group of friends this way. Okushi-san was telling us all about how he normally likes to just bring a small group, three people, maybe four. They go up for three four days with their backpacks and bring a bunch of delicious food. I mean, ultra light is out the window out there, my god. I felt guilty [chuckles], they were carrying stew pots and bags of potatoes. That’s how they do it and it’s about being with friends and drinking, and then getting up and fishing during the day, and then coming back, and grilling some meat, and eating some sashimi. It’s great.
Daniel: So you did end up sleeping up there then?

Adam Klags: Yeah.

Daniel: Okay. And the next day when you were planning to come out it was a pouring rain?

Adam Klags: Oh, yeah.

Daniel: Wow.

Adam Trahan: Water rising.

Adam Klags: Yeah. But it was great.

Daniel: Yeah. And those little canyons, I’ve seen water rise that — like water rising a couple of areas there because there is a lot of tiny little gorges that funnel the water into some areas and then — even below like where you get into the main cities like a lot of rivers are channeling and the water can rise pretty fast. How were the hosts feeling? Were they like just no big deal?

Adam Trahan: Yes, no big deal.

Adam Trahan: That’s their environment. So they weren’t — as a matter of fact they said where we were going was pretty easy for them, like not much of a challenge.

Adam Klags: Yeah. They were fast, they were hopping up the rocks and I do this at home quite a bit and I can spend a couple hours doing this, but they were faster than I was. I was having trouble keeping up and they were so much better at it. I was learning a lot just from watching how they moved. It’s quite interesting.

Daniel: Yeah. You guys are both thinking it was a big deal huh?

Adam Klags: Oh, yeah.

Adam Trahan: Me, for sure.

Daniel: [chuckles] It sounds like it. I mean, I’m imagining a few years ago I planned to do a fair amount of camping there and I wanted to go by myself a couple of times and at least once a ended up not even trying because it was pouring rain. Camping in the rain can be challenging like you have to have really good protection and make sure to stay warm and — were you guys comfortable at least? Like at nighttime, was it raining at all or was it good weather?
Adam Trahan: It rained pretty much that entire time and we were very comfortable. It was cozy under the big huge tarps. You put a string between two trees, and throw the tarp over it [inaudible]. Blue tarps for your carpet so to speak, take off your boots, put on camp shoes, and you try to keep it clean on the floor. But it’s bigger than of you are laying out in your sleeping bags. You’re relatively dry. But if the tarp is touching in a certain place or the seams aren’t sealed, the water will come through. So you’re out there and it’s raining and I remember about two o’clock in the morning I went to get my phone out and record it and I did and I just listened to the rain once in awhile.

Daniel: So you probably didn’t see much but you had the sound of rain.

Adam Trahan: Right. Yes. Pouring, and beating on that tarp.

Daniel: Wow. Sounds like an incredible experience and you camped out for one night or two nights?

Adam Trahan: Just one.

Daniel: That’s enough. [chuckles]

Adam Trahan: That’s enough. Everything is soaked. I carry an iPhone. I don’t put it in a case. I just keep it in my pocket and I was — that was my main concern is all my data, all my pictures, my recordings, my notes, everything was in that iPhone and it got fogged up. But Japan is the place of rice. So I got a bag, half filled with rice and stuck my phone in there. It sucked the water out of the phone and everything was fine.

Daniel: So, what kind of fish were you catching there, Adam-san?

Adam Trahan: We caught iwana. I do not know what type of iwana it was. But it was iwana.

Adam Klags: Yeah. One person ended up getting a yamame in the higher section of the stream the first day when we went but it was very small.

Adam Trahan: Above where I took a nap?

Adam Klags: Yeah, exactly.

Daniel: So there is pretty much mostly iwana and one yamame maybe.

Adam Klags: Yeah, mostly iwana.

Daniel: And, Adam Trahan, Adam-san, you found a chance to take a nap even with all the rain? [chuckles]

Adam Trahan: Basically I was exhausted and Keiichi-san, he looked like he wanted to make sure I was going to be okay too. So we both found a beach and just took a nap and I think they went maybe another half hour and turned around and came back. It was a welcome. I’d like to take a nap when I fish. It was a good time for me to do that.

Daniel: I think that’s particularly funny just because I was fishing last week here in Colorado and the fishing was really good for a while and then it completely shut down and I had a couple of friends with me. And we had a couple of options but I was like why don’t we just take a nap and see if the fish pick up in a couple hours and sure enough we laid down and took a nice nap and I was thinking I should do a podcast episode about napping while fishing.

Adam Trahan: Yeah. [laughter]

Daniel: That was an experience.

Adam Trahan: Yeah.

Adam Klags: Yeah. I have to push through it. I’m not much of a napper. Not that I don’t want to be, but I’m not good at it. So I basically just was like I’m going to push through and I pounded ahead with them and we covered a lot of distance quickly in a lot of pools and it’s a little nicer too because you get to split the group up and then it makes it easier because it’s worth actually mentioning how they fish there on a small stream like this as a group. You line up and take turns, everybody’s fair to each other. So you’re a team and you put one person at point and then everyone gets a few pools or a fish caught or whatever it is, and then you go to the back of the line and you can practice casting as you walk up, and that’s what they did, and it was really really nice of them to give us point a majority of the time. I mean, we were trying to be polite and give it up too but they were just very insistent about in certain places us being at point, so we got to catch fish, which was really nice of them. So, I mean, that was a huge honor.

Daniel: Yeah. That’s worth mentioning. I think I’ve noticed that a lot. I mean, sometimes especially when the fish start getting a little bit better, yeah, we’ll leapfrog and start focusing on our own fishing but when the fishing is a little slower, I’ve noticed that — and they’re being good hosts, wanting to make sure that we catch fish cause they can catch it any other time. But I’ve always appreciated how the Japanese have been very good and gracious about giving guests the head of the pool [chuckles] and that kind of thing.

Adam Klags: Yeah. And it’s worth mentioning too I think about the culture in general. I mean, the Japanese people are such a welcoming, helpful, kind people. They want you to have a prime time. They think about the time you spent travelling and what it was like and all that stuff and they let that reflect in their actions, which is a special thing. It’s not something you get everywhere. Although I have experienced that in other places through tenkara as well. So maybe part of that is the tenkara community too. But it’s very very nice to be treated so well when you’re in a foreign place and you may not feel amazing all the time and you’re tired, and in a weird time zone, and then they can just snap you right back into that prime zone. You’re there, you’re having a great time and it’s amazing.

Adam Trahan: Like rock stars.

Adam Klags: Yeah. Exactly. Like you don’t know if you’re dreaming or not, you know. So that’s a great thing to be able to experience that. It’s truly a once in a lifetime thing with experiences you will remember forever and I owe it all to many other people. So thank you to all of them.

Adam Trahan: Yes.

Daniel: Yeah, So like, tell me — maybe Adam-san can talk a little bit about who were you fishing with? Were they the same people that you fished with in 2013?

Adam Trahan: No. Totally different group. Ishii-san, he is — I would like to say I probably consider him to be a number one tenkara ambassador as far as crossing different minds and getting past politics and just taking a tenkara fisher’s fishing and to different groups with the different experts. So he basically took time out of his schedule and ushered us around. So the trip really starts with a Go Ishii. And he brought us up to Tadami. I think it was like four hours by car where we met Sebata-san and Maruyama-san.

Adam Klags: Kazue-san is Go Ishii’s friend too who I fished with last year with Go Ishii. And then we met Keichi’s crew and Sabata’s crew together.

Adam Klags: Yamano-san is a bamboo rod maker. That’s a story right there in itself. And Keiji Ito who is just — my family is indebted to him for taking care of me in some pretty rough spots. [chuckles] So there was a crew — what was it? Five. Five of them who we really hung out with. And Sabato-san took care of us by feeding us and cooking incredible meals of mushrooms and greens, and his plum wine.

Daniel: Was he foraging as you guys were there?

Adam Trahan: He was hanging out in the cabin and bansho.

Adam Klags: Yeah. He had foraged a couple of days before we got there and he had gotten us some maitake mushrooms, and some Gobo root. This stuff that was like a firm like thing that’s very bitter, that’s almost like horseradish that grows up high.

Adam Trahan: Is that what we were eating when we are drinking the plum wine?

Adam Klags: Yes.

Adam Trahan: Yeah, okay.

Daniel: To clarify to our listeners too there’s a lot of Japanese names that might be familiar to those of you who are listening. So Go Ishii, I actually did a podcast episode with him about a year ago when he was here for the 2015 tenkara summit. And I do agree, he is a tremendous ambassador for tenkara over there and here when he comes as well. And then Sebata-san who a lot of the listeners will probably recognize immediately because of the Japanese conical hat that he wears and I’ve done a couple of stories about him and posted different little tidbits including a little video of backpacking with him where he was foraging and we’re camping on the — what was the term “blushito”?

Adam Klags: “Blueshito”.

Daniel: The blue tarps everywhere — like under the blue tarp having that experiencing of camping and foraging and cooking and indeed — I mean he was like incredibly good and just cooking the natural foods that he found. So those are a couple of the names that some of our listeners will recognize. And then of course, I think Adam-san, Adam Trahan has a good report on his website right now, Tenkara Fisher. Have you written anything yet, Adam-chan?

Adam Klags: I just started yesterday working on my first post for my blog. I’ve put one nice post on Appalachian Tenkara Anglers Group, I think on Facebook about my top 10 recognized things from my Japan trip. So I didn’t say that with great English but that’s what it is. And that was fun and I’m gonna expand on that and post it up on my blog and I’ll try and share that around a little bit too, as many photos as I can. It was great to have a camera along and be able to take some notes and I’m definitely gonna share all that as much as I can.

Daniel: And for those of you who are listening to this episode of the Tenkara Cast, I’ll put some notes on this episode’s page, if you go to and you look for this episode’s page, it’s gonna be something with the two Adams in Japan. I’ll make sure to put links to their websites and I’ll try to get some photos from you guys if you don’t mind sharing some.

Adam Trahan: You have my permission, just take them as you need it.

Daniel: Thanks and I’ll make sure to put links to your complete stories on your websites and wherever you’re posting them. I think it’s really fun to see those things as well. I always try to make that as a resource. How did you guys get around? We get a lot of questions from people just about to go to Japan and they contact me saying, “can you recommend us to anybody there”; “can you put us in touch with that guy?” I mean a get a fair number of questions and it’s a little bit challenging because Japan doesn’t really have a guiding culture. It’s really hard, there’s not that many people that you can hire as guides.

Adam Trahan: Adam-chan, can I take this and lead into you?

Adam Klags: Yeah, you bet you can.

Adam Trahan: Okay I’ve been twice and I’m from a city that does not have trains. Our city is horrible, it really is huge, everybody has a car. And it’s not a very well planned city. So I’m unfamiliar with trains. We have one light railway and it’s just back and forth across the city. So I’m a little intimidated by taking trains but Adam-chan picked out a nice hotel at the end of the railway, the skyliner train from Narita Airport into Ueno, which is about 40 or 50 minutes by a train. And literally you get on the train at the station, at the airport which is just a quick walk. You get on the train and then you ride the 40 or 50 minutes whatever it is, and then when you get off the train, it’s less than a minute walk to this hotel.

Adam Klags: Yeah you’re across the street.

Adam Trahan: You’re literally across the street. I mean you could hold your breath and still make it. And so he picked out a good hotel right off the bat. And then, I did not realize that I was running around so much in my trips before, that I really missed the lesson on how to navigate the trains while I was over there. And it came to me watching Adam-chan go up and pick his ticket that he’s from New York, and he’s used to it, using the train system. You can go up and then select the language and select the fare and then buy your ticket and we’d go. It’s in conjunction with your phone, you use Google Maps in the transit portion of the Google Maps on your smartphone and it becomes extremely easy. And I’ll have to say that Adam-chan, he didn’t give me a class but I just watched him and I’m the kind of a person that does well with see one, do one, teach one. So I learned a lot by him not helping me. By me just watching him navigate the system. So I’d learned passively and Adam chan, this is probably a good place for you to jump in.

Adam Klags: Sure thanks for that, I appreciate it. It’s interesting to think about it through that lens cause I didn’t really think about that cause I’ve always been from New York. So for me when I went there last year, it was the same thing. Actually here’s the trick for anyone who wants to know, it’s not a trick. You just go to the booth as soon as you get off the flight to rent a wifi to buy is for — I don’t know around $8 – $9 a day I think it comes out to, all said and done. And that gives you wifi connection for no extra charge the whole time you’re there. So you can just then connect your phone to it and treat it like you’re using your phone in the United States because it will tell you in English which train to get on and whatnot and then all you have to do is look at the signs in the station which luckily almost all have English. But yeah, I guess it was doable. So we did that because cabs are very, very expensive. Which we took a few of and we were like whoa that was a lot for not that much of a trip [chuckles].
Daniel: Yeah that’s actually a very valuable tip, renting the wifi hotspot. There’s a bunch of websites that you can rent ahead of time when you get there and you pick it up but you can do it there and it. The first time I did it was this year where I rented a device for the whole time.

Adam Trahan: So you did it too, yeah.

Daniel: Yeah, it’s so worth it. Cause then you get a map and it tells you the subways and shows your map where you are and that kind of things. So yeah that’s very good advice.

Adam Trahan: That first night I got there, I’m in Tokyo and I can’t sleep and I have a friend here

John S. who saw me log into Facebook and he was like, go! Right now you gotta go to Tsukiji Fish Market. Like John, I just got here and he’s like, no you gotta go now it’s 2:30 in the morning in Tokyo. So I had listened to him and I took a cab and the cab was — it was like $30 for a 3 mile trip to Tsukiji. I went and experienced the grading of the sushi and the auction and the whole thing. It’s an amazing — one of my favorite memories of this visit and I decided to walk home and the 3 mile walk was no big deal but it was $30 for a cab. The cabs are expensive, trains are not.

Daniel: Yep, I felt so stupid one time, actually I think that made it into the video of my trip with Sebato-san where I get to this place and am super exhausted. I just get off the plane and I take like 3 or 4 different train rides to get to where we’re gonna meet. It’s a long way. I mean you have to go from the airport to Tokyo and I’m just completely exhausted and then I’m supposed to find his address for the magazine headquarters and this is like 8 or 9 ‘o clock at night or something and I’m just about to fall asleep. And I’m trying to figure out exactly where it is and I can’t really seem to find it. So I hailed a cab and it was like, the cab actually drove around [chuckles]. He was so stupid because the cab literally drove around the block, he didn’t know exactly where the address was, so he stopped and the meter is running and he goes out and asks somebody like where can I find this and I realized it was like right behind us. So he drove back a little bit [chuckles]. It was literally like one trip around the block. Almost 360 degrees around the block. I was right next to it but I couldn’t find it. I think it cost me like $8 or something. I wish I had the wifi hotspot then on that trip [chuckles].

Adam Trahan: Yeah the wifi is not free there. You have to have a device to connect to. There’s just very limited internet connection unless you buy a phone plan or something like that.

Daniel: Now let’s talk about besides Tokyo where most people would probably first arrive. In terms of getting around and fishing in Japan, do you guys have any advice? Maybe start with Adam-san about how can somebody actually fish in Japan? What do you think is the best way to get there and go fishing? It’s a tough one.

Adam Trahan: For me, I can only tell my experience and that is essentially making plans. For me it’s about my website, it started out with my website and then moving on to social media but somebody will like what you do and you start friendships that way and its usually an English speaking friend. So with myself becoming friends with someone who is over there, is important to me. I believe now that I could do it on my own, it would be a lot more difficult, I believe I could do it but it’s much more efficient to go with someone to share the experience and to share the cost. The tolls are super expensive if you rent a car and you’re going across a hundred miles, your toll maybe $60 to $80.

Adam Klags: Yeah that was very interesting.

Adam Trahan: So to share the expenses with another person, that’s important. And there are enough people over that are pretty vocal about trying to help you. In our case, I think Isaac of Fallfish Tenkara, he is — I’m not exactly sure of where he’s at and if it’s a business but he is the man on the scene over there, English speaking guy. I’m sure he’d be happy to take or meet someone if he can to go fishing; if his schedule allows. So for me, it’s meeting with people and you can have an idea of where you wanna go. Like the guidebook that I gave you, there was some good information in there but it’s all about Japanese and understanding where you wanna go and having a plan.

Daniel: Yeah, yeah. What I’ve started telling people more often than not is join one of Facebook groups like Tenkara Angler is just fairly active or one of the forums online and see and maybe mention that you’re going to Japan if somebody is available, they might get back to you. Developing a relationship over a longer term like you do is probably the best way and I’m gonna make sure to put a link to Isaac’s website, Fallfish Tenkara. As I mentioned the guiding culture is not really existent in Japan. And just a little advice for anybody listening, if you do strike a friendship and you can’t really hire a friend to take you fishing. But if you’re lucky enough to connect with somebody, just bring him a very nice gift and enjoy the experience and their doing it because they enjoy it too. Japan is a big gift giving culture so it’s important I think to mention that. But yeah, I think developing relationships is probably the best way. Did you guys have much experience, I was curious about in terms of buying fishing licenses or do you have to really do much when you’re fishing with your host?

Adam Klags: We have a unique situation actually with that. It’s interesting that you mention that. We actually at both times went in at like dawn. I mean like really early, like 5:30 – 6ish. And the fishing ticket areas were closed. I don’t know if they took care of it for us after or had arranged it ahead of time with maybe Sebato-san or somebody. One of the days I think they said it would be fine because if there was patrol, you pay on the spot. It’s different here. It’s not like, oh we caught you, here’s a ticket. It’s like oh hey like do you have a ticket? so sorry if not. Like would you like to buy one? Yeah sure we’d like to buy one. So they said, that’s how it worked on the rivers that we were on.

Adam Trahan: That’s a good way of putting it.

Adam Klags: We didn’t actually have to. Last year however, we went to an office and there was like a fishing ticket office and it had this crazy wall of people who had just totally raped the river of a 100, 150 fish a day and it was a competition of who could take the most fish and all of them were being kept, I mean it was unbelievable. So the people I was fishing with, have a different opinion of how to fish and Tenkara for them plays into a catch and release a lot, it’s not so much like Keiryu which is often associated with taking so many fish. So it was an interesting experience, very different this year than last year about where I was fishing.

Adam Trahan: For those that aren’t following along, each river system typically requires a local fishing license of a day or a couple of days but it’s not like one license for all of Japan or for one island. It’s literally navigating a system of finding the license for that river or streams where you’re fishing.

Daniel: Yeah. I think that’s logistically probably the most challenging thing of fishing on your own in Japan because as you mentioned it’s like each area and its like sometimes, it’s a watershed; sometimes it’s a branch of a river has its own license. I mean it’s incredibly confusing and without a local person, it can be really, really hard but I think to Adam-chan’s point, like at one point I was actually fishing with one of the river patrols, these are mostly volunteers and they go around but yeah it’s not like you’re gonna get fined and jailed [chuckles] if you don’t have a license. It might be a little bit more expensive, I’ve heard. Like the one time that I was fishing with a patrol and he found a couple of guys that didn’t have licenses, he was super friendly to them, there was no animosity, it’s like — just because I think they understand it can be challenging. And they had to pay on the spot, and it was like an extra couple of dollars, I think. But I’ve heard of another place, if you do get caught, it doubles your ticket. So usually a day license is roughly 10 bucks, so maybe you’ll pay 20 bucks but I think — I’m realizing if I were to go on my own and I can’t find it, I’ll probably just fish and deal with it.

Adam Trahan: Right, you ask for forgiveness.

Daniel: Exactly.

Adam Trahan: Asking permission or finding the permission.

Daniel: It’s not ideal, not my main recommendation

Adam Trahan: Make sure you have a couple of bucks with you [chuckles].

Daniel: Yeah, have some cash on you, they’re not gonna take credit cards; they’re not gonna have square up in the rivers [chuckles].

Adam Klags: Yeah and there are some options too for people in a similar situation to me where I made friends through the internet, through a couple of different methods, actually through multiple people who connected me in different countries in Italy and Japan it’s great. But not everybody has the ability to do that or maybe you just want to go there for a day or two. Isaac actually is a guide. Isaac guides not just Tenkara but he guides outdoor trips, climbing trips, skiing trips. So I think he focuses mostly on foreigners through his military base and their connections there. But he’s available for hire for that. There are other fishermen who are masters also who you can hire as a guide which we did not need to do which was very, very awesome, at the same you can do that and that will help you. And I recommend you do that because I hear that that includes often being picked up from the train station and you can email with them and get instructions about how to get there. So it may cost you a little bit but that’s worth someone’s effort and time to help you out. And you shouldn’t be shy, I think about taking advantage of that because these are nice people and they know a lot and they can show you a great time too.

Daniel: I’ve been trying to recruit a few people and let them know that there’s a demand for guiding services and because it is not really a part of their culture in the mainland of Japan to get paid to fish. It’s hard to find those resources but yeah.

Adam Trahan: I’d like to — I know we’re at about 50 minutes. There’s a couple of things that I think you would like to know that I would like to talk about would that be okay?

Daniel: Yes please. Absolutely and I wanna make sure I respect your time cause we’re talking late at night and everybody has got something to do. So let me know if we’re running a little too long but yes please Adam-san.

Adam Trahan: I’m pretty sure that Adam-chan wants to talk about this too and basically it’s about — I wanna again tell you I really appreciate you for introducing me to tenkara and Japanese tenkara. Sebato-san, the way that you have portrayed him is excellent, he’s a very kind soul and forager but when he was young, he was a bad ass. He is a climber fisher. We’ve seen some video of him now and I’ve shared some video with you of him when he was younger but we were in the bonsho and we saw some pretty amazing stuff in his presence and him showing us these videos that were produced in Japan that are just on a different level of fishing than we know in our media. More on the level of shower climbing with a fishing rod. And amazing places where you can catch these fish inside of the cliff in a little pool. But he would climb with a rope and tying a rope on a rock and then throw the rock up above wedging it. [chuckles]. Yeah and then just climbing up the rope to the next pool and catching fish. He is something. He is the number one guy as far as hardcore climbing and fishing that I have seen. Daniel, you touched on it but this guy has done it and it’s what — I don’t know how many decades ago it was but 20 years ago.

Daniel: I take a lot of inspiration from him and like some of the stuff that I’ve seen. It was not that long ago that he was really doing some of this very hardcore almost like what I really enjoy doing like mixing climbing and fishing. I think in Japan there’s a little bit better opportunities for that kind of thing but I think it was about 3-4 years ago that he came up with some kind of sickness, it might have been pneumonia or something that took the wind out of him a little bit. But I remember I think it was maybe 6 or 7 years ago Dr. Ishigaki was telling me that just a few weeks before Sebato-san took him somewhere and they had to jump this gap where the river ran but if you fell, you’d fall like a 100 or 200 feet or something and Dr. Shigaki was just telling me about this big trip and he couldn’t really — Dr. Shigaki is not a climber but this is like very recent where he was doing this really gnarly stuff for sure. So I’m glad you bring that up. He is something.

Adam Klags: It made chills go down my spine actually when you just brought that up, it’s funny watching, sitting there in the bansho watching those VHS videos on that old TV with them. And by the way, it’s worth mentioning so we mentioned how it rained and so we got back to bansho and it was raining, so another party showed up that was unscheduled and I guess they had been camping and they didn’t want to deal with being out there and they showed up and it ended up being that the ex editor or CEO of Keiryu Magazine and some of his crew. So they showed up, so we were at one at the big table and they had a separate table but in the same room where these guys and we were all around Sebato watching the video and it was like — one crew like Ishii san and Kura san and their friends and Keichii san and some of his friends and it was Sebato and some of his friends and then it was these people and it was us from the US and it was just this epic moment of like Sebato essentially bringing us all together Sebato san bringing this all together — excuse me. And I think that he’s a figure who’s a person who brings people together. And that’s makes him a special person and he — man, the things that he could do, Adam described it perfectly. I hope we get to see those, they talked about hopefully getting that license and I think they’re gonna work on that and maybe we’ll be able to download and buy a couple of these videos, I hope so.

Daniel: That would be cool. Yeah that will be very, very cool actually. So both of you guys have visited Japan a couple of times a few other people have gone, I wouldn’t say there’s a wave of Americans going to Japan to fish. But have you guys talked to anybody there like do have any idea what they are thinking or why are these people coming here or what are they thinking? People taking up Tenkara and then even going there, I guess.

Adam Trahan: They like their type of fishing being adopted in other places. They like it that we do this and they wanna spread it and Adam-chan, maybe you can talk more about it. Sebato-san is getting older and the guys that we were with, they were my age 40s, 50s and they wanna spread it and keep this going. And it’s important because younger people have to get into it in order for it to be carried on. They were very happy that we were there, they know what we’re doing right now is what they want to happen. They want us to spread it and I don’t want to get into the intricacies of what we’re doing versus what they’re doing. What they do in their fishing is as anglers is a whole lot different than getting out of the car and hiking at a mile relatively flat and just fishing. They’re mixing a little bit more shower climbing, a little bit of climbing and hardcore hiking. But they want to share it and they want it out there.

Adam Klags: Yeah. I think that’s a good way of saying it. I think that they’re intrigued with what’s going on here and they definitely are watching what’s going on here as well. They look to it, I think they know there’s the power for some to sell rods and equipment and stuff like that. For others, there’s just a love, as Adam said of it being expanded and kept alive and that’s huge. Some things that I noticed when I was in Japan is that when I was there this year and last year, part of my focus in going, was not just to go fishing cause there’s places I could fly to for cheaper that are different, not as cool but that I could catch way more fish in, like Colorado for example but that’s not why you go. And going there part of the reason was about understanding tenkara. Like I wanted to know more about, okay what is this thing that we’re doing here, what is it in Japan, why is it and that’s what I was watching for. And I learned a lot about that and I think that there are different factions and different groups and I wish could explain that to everyone, so maybe they’d understand.

Tenkara is a time and a group people and a place and a thing and that place is 80% mountains and those people are interested in fishing, not just for catching the most fish, not just for the sake of fishing. And there’s a style that they use that has similarities across Japan and that’s interesting to learn about and watch and I can’t wait to do that more.

Daniel: Yeah that’s well put in. And as we wrap up, do you guys have some plans to go back anytime in the near future?

Adam Trahan: 2 or 3 years for myself, I’ll take my little son Noah. I want to introduce him to international travel and Japanese tenkara. So that was my excuse to go for the next trip. I’m married and I’m still happily married and these trips are — they’re a little expensive. For me as a married person being away from my wife, she has no interest in fishing up on river valley [chuckles] in a foreign land. But my next trip 2 to 3 years and I’m already starting to loosely plan it and save, that sort of thing. I figure I’ll probably go every 2 or 3 years, that’s what I can afford and that’s what I can do to get away from my job.

Daniel: How about you Adam chan, any plans to go back?

Adam Klags: Yeah, I mean unfortunately, I haven’t yet made an exact plan when I’ll be able to do it next but I am all in, definitely will be going back, I hope to do it if not next year, the year after, whenever I can put it together. Because honestly it’s just really — even if you took — I hate to say this — even if you took the fishing, the tenkara fishing out of it, Japan is still an amazing place. And it’s more than just fishing, it’s about the people you meet and the culture you see and the amazing sights. It’s like being totally overwhelmed to your senses in every way. So my recommendation is go with an open mind.

Daniel: Excellent guys. It was an incredible pleasure to talk to you both about this very recent trip that you had as Adam-san, Adam Trahan put it on a message to me earlier, it’s good that we’re doing this right now so that your memory hopefully is still fresh and it seems like it is, so I appreciate you making the time in your busy evenings here.

Adam Trahan: Anytime.

Daniel: Hopefully our listeners will have enjoyed the conversation but the conversation can keep on going. I’m gonna post a link to both of your websites, if anybody has any questions you can find it on the and you can probably connect easily with both Adams online, on Facebook and so forth. But yeah thanks so much for time guys, I really appreciate it.

Adam Trahan: Thanks [inaudible]

Adam Klags: Thank you I appreciate it.

Daniel: Thank you very much for listening to the Tenkara Cast. I’d like to extend a special thank you to Nick Ogawa also known as Takenobu. Check out his music at We’ll be posting links to any references we made in this podcast such as Takenobu’s Music on our website And until next time, on the Tenkara Cast.

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» Interviews, Podcast, Tenkara Culture » Conversations: Japan

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