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Fishing in Onagawa Town

Miyagi Prefecture

A short fishing excursion to the coast of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture; one day after the powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Japan on March 16th 2022.

As the long winter of Northern Japan has finally come to its end, the start of the Spring fishing season has finally arrived! For this fishing trip in Onagawa, some friends and I aimed to catch black rockfish and prepare them at a sushi restaurant into delicious sashimi. However the day before, our plans for this trip were nearly cancelled due to a 7.3 earthquake that struck off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture in the same location as the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Northern Japan 11 years ago.

Through causing disruptions and damage around Northern Japan, the town of Onagawa was luckily ok and our fishing captain still wished to welcome our group.

Arriving in Onagawa from Yamagata City at sunset, we were welcomed by the many stray cats at the port and prepared our gear. Cat Island is actually right nearby here, but you can enjoy friendly cats all along the coast as the local fishermen often give them part of their catch.

Setting out right at dusk we took a short ride into the beautiful moonlit bay of Onagawa aiming for our target special of black rockfish, a delicious small fish perfect for sashimi.

We fished for these rockfish with small jigs bouncing off the seabed for a few hours anchored right in the bay. There was a full moon this night which was not quite ideal for fishing but being able to see the far off islands in the bay made being out on the water wonderful which is half the fun in our opinion.

Together with our group, we managed to pull in about 30 rockfish until calling it a night and heading back. A decent haul and plenty for our dinner plans the following night.

For many of our tours we prepare our fish by hand or together with chefs, but for dinner this time we decided to enjoy a delicious course of sushi and other wonderful dishes featuring the rockfish prepared by a famous sushi chef in Yamagata City.

This course featuring fresh uni from Hokkaido, white shrimp from Toyama, a special type of salmon called “Sakura Masu” from Northern Japan among many other dishes over the course of the night.

No matter how long you live in Japan, the culinary arts of this country simply never ceases to amaze.

Even with such top class ingredients, the chef prepared a delicious dish of black rockfish sashimi for us that easily held its own with its deep flavor and beautiful white sashimi. We’ve talked about this a lot in our videos and tour page about catch and cooks, but catching your own fish and eating it truly gives you a deeper understanding and appreciation for your dish which we highly recommend! Having our fish featured in this dinner course made this dining event even more enjoyable, a major feat given how fantastic the entire course and chef was. Read more about our catch and cooks here.

Lastly we would like to make a special thanks to the fishing group who put together this excursion and taught us how to catch the rockfish!

Like us they are based in Yamagata and are just a great group of guys from all walks of life who just love fishing. Their group name is 釣れ過ぎぐらい どいい which roughly translates out to “It’s just right to catch too much.”

You can check out their channel below where they document their fishing adventures across Japan!

Picture of Derek Yamashita

Derek Yamashita

The Hidden Japan Creative Director. Following his passion to connect with his roots as a Japanese American, Derek started a life in Japan after college living in the deep countryside of Yamagata Prefecture. Falling in love with the trails, cycling courses, fishing and all that the countryside had to offer, Derek co-founded a travel company called The Hidden Japan in 2018. The Hidden Japan focuses on promoting the deeper sides of Japan beyond the big cities by working closely with rural communities to offer order-made boutique tours letting travelers experience Japan alongside the local people.


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