Betsukai’s ‘Kenjo Nishibetsu salmon’ sway in the cold breeze

The salmon being died after the salt has been removed
Fisheries workers carefully salt each individual salmon

The ‘kampuboshi’ (drying in the cold sea breeze) of ‘Kenjo Nishibetsu salmon,’ which was originally offered to the Edo Shogunate, has begun in the town of Betsukai in the Nemuro region of eastern Hokkaido. The salted, matured salmon – which hang like drapes in front of the Betsukai Fisheries Cooperative building – have become part of the town’s early winter scenery as they sway in the wind. The drying will continue until early December.
The salmon that are used are large male smolt salmon weighing 3.2 to 3.6 kilos, which were caught in fixed nets by early October. The gills, internal organs and blood are carefully washed and the fish are frozen until the period when the temperatures drop.
The process, known as ‘yamazuke’ (mountain pickling), began at the Fisheries Cooperative’s processing plant in late October. Unrefined salt is rubbed onto the outside of the salmon as well as inside its belly, before it is carefully stacked and stored. The same process is repeated the following day and the fish are then stacked on their opposite sides – in what is known as ‘tegaeshi’ – and matured for another day. ‘Kampuboshi’ is a process in which the salt is removed from the matured salmon, and then two sticks are used to open their bellies before being hung to dry. This traditional way of drying salmon means the fat from the head of the fish soaks easily into the body and allows for better air circulation.
As well as whole fish, slices known as ‘nenrin’ are also sold, but reservations mean that some products are already sold. Delivery of the products will begin throughout Hokkaido and beyond from November 20.


Betsukai Fisheries Cooperative’s processing plant