Go Fish!

I'm Barry Petersen and this Letter from Asia comes from my office in Tokyo.

Ever sit in you office and wish you could sneak away for a little fishing? If you're in a big city, that's not so easy. You'd have to go a long way out of town, unless you're lucky enough to live in Tokyo.

When that Huck Finn moment is finally overwhelming, just grab the subway. And you'll soon be at the Ichigaya Fishing Center, this city's favorite fishing pond in the shadow of gleaming skyscrapers. Where you can find dad's teaching sons and granddads just hanging out.

"I fish to get rid of my stress," says Seiji Yamamoto. "I've been fishing since I was a kid."

Fishing teaches patience and inspires a sense of humor. The fishing was good, a writer once noted, it was the catching that was bad.

Here, you catch as many fish as you can, but you're only allowed to take one home. And it's a cheap treat. Six dollars an hour, a buck for a rod, 80 cents for bait.

"It's one of the few places in Tokyo where you can see a lot of sky," says Yutaka Imaizumi. Ask Yuji why he likes it and the answer is a simple. "It's fun!"

Tokyoites don't have a lot of choice. Local rivers are badly polluted, the harbor is full of dirty water and few fish, and clean streams or lakes are hours out of town. So it's Ichigaya or nothing. Which is why this place has been providing simple pleasure and wily fish for more than 50 years.

So we leave you with a proverb well known to those who love this sport: A bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work.
by Barry Petersen