Ryan Jordan wrote a wonderful piece on his blog called “Tenkaranicity”.
“I suppose I like Tenkara because it’s a little bit on the fringe, but I think I like it more because it reflects a deeper simplicity that I’d like to achieve in other areas of life. In other words, I’d like to bring a little bit of Tenkaranicity to my home, my garage, my office, and even my locker of backpacking gear.” writes Ryan.
Tenkara like many other activities (think climbing, surfing, backpacking, …) is more than “just” fishing for a lot of people. Sure, it is a fishing method – most certainly it is not a religion nor a martial art – though, to be honest, I have a real hard time calling fishing of any sort a sport either. As some comedian has put it “fishing may be the only sport where the other player doesn’t know it is playing”.
Any activity that deeply connects with people has a chance to become a part of their lives. Without the need for them to explicitly say it, it becomes a part of their lifestyle. The enthusiastic climber can’t stop thinking about the craig he will visit next; his hands are callused; he often wears the practical clothing marketed to his tribe; he plans trips with the intent to visit specific climbing areas; he talks of the tough dihedral he climbed over the weekend and talks in admiration about the latest feats pulled by Dean Potter. He may also talk in admiration about the pioneers of climbing who started the sport-climbing movement in Yosemite Valley in the 70s, or about the StoneMasters! Like Ryan, the enthusiastic climber may also wish to bring some of “climbinicity” to his home, perhaps screw some climbing gym holds to some studs on the wall.
Tenkara has that effect on many people too. It is a method of fishing that has all the elements to engage a very large number of people – for different reasons. Tenkara has a long history and tradition that accompanies it. It has a story of being introduced outside of Japan. It has some of the coolest tools. It has the element of contrast (simpler when compared other methods of fishing). It goes well with other activities such as backpacking, kayaking, and even climbing. And it has a growing and welcoming community.
For example, you may hear Lance Gurney talking about how tenkara got him to thinking about simplifying things in his life. You may hear from dozens of people on the forum, on our Facebook page or the Tenkara Anglers Facebook group about how tenkara got them to include fly-fishing in their lives, either again or for the first time. And, of course, tenkara has also been one of the greatest activities for families to do together and teach their young that life doesn’t have to be that complicated. I feel super honored that introducing tenkara here has enriched the lives of many of them in one way or another. Tenkara has shown something new to just about everyone who has given it a try.
We know a lot of people for whom fly-fishing looked like nothing but a sport done by old middle-aged while males, but they saw how tenkara made fishing accessible and decided to try it. We know a huge number of people who have been backpacking most of their lives but for whom fly-fishing seemed like a distraction comprised of gear, then they discovered how minimalist and simple fly-fishing can be through tenkara and decided to adopt it. We also know a good number of people who never thought about fly-fishing in their lives, but who have always been interested in Japanese culture, so they decided to try fly-fishing because of tenkara’s Japanese influence, and then they got hooked. And, of course, we know well a very large number of people who have been fly-fishing their entire lives but then saw something unique in tenkara – maybe its advantages in the type of water they fish, maybe the opportunity to simplify their fly-fishing, or perhaps just a portable tool for specific waters.
The coolest thing about tenkara is that there is something in tenkara for everyone. For some it will be just another tool in their fly-fishing lifestyle. For a few people it will be a way to catch food. For others tenkara will become a part of their lifestyle. And, for others yet, it will be simply another excuse to get out.