Hokkaido’s Harvest Scenery: Autumn Edition
Hokkaido is known as Japan's food base, and is a treasure trove of a wide variety of foods, such as agricultural and livestock products, seafood, wine, sake and beer.
Autumn – from September to November – is the harvest season for fruits, potatoes and other root vegetables, rice, buckwheat and the like. It is also when marine products such as salmon and Pacific saury are landed.
We have gathered together some ‘taste of autumn’ harvest scenery, much anticipated by the people of Hokkaido.
Autumn Hokkai shrimp fishing seasons begins in Notsuke Bay, Betsukai
Autumn Hokkai shrimp fishing began on October 25 in Notsuke Bay in the town of Betsukai in the Nemuro region, with 23 ‘Utasebune’ boats belonging to the Notsuke Fisheries Cooperative leaving the port to fish for the first time. The traditional method of fishing that has been carried out since the Meiji era (approximately 150 years ago), in which the nets are pulled by manipulating the triangular sails of the boats according to the wind, will continue until November 6.
The seasonal ban on fishing was lifted on October 22, but operations were postponed due to lack of wind. In the shallow Notsuke Bay, the sails are used to pull the nets so that the eelgrass seaweed, which is inhabited by the shrimps, is not damaged by the screws of engine-powered boats.
The boats left the port at around 5:50 am. The fishermen navigated the boats by adjusting the sails, sorting the shrimps on the boat and returning those less than 9 cm in length so as to conserve resources. Although the wind was weak on this day, Yamaguchi Mitsuaki of the Shoa-maru fishing boat said “We were having a little trouble because the boat was not moving, but we managed to catch lots of female shrimp with eggs.”
The Hokkai shrimp fishing season takes place twice a year – in summer and autumn. According to the Notsuke Fisheries Cooperative, 1.4 metric tons of shrimp were landed on the 25th, three hundred kilos less than the catch on the first day of the autumn season the previous year. The port price per kilo is 4,500 to 3,300 yen (3,900 to 3,200 yen in the previous year), and the fisheries cooperative believes that “demand for Hokkai shrimp is increasing due to the hometown tax system in Betsukai and other areas.”