A Day at the Docks

In some parts of rural Japan, or at least on small islands, days off are a unique chance for families to spend time together.  Students are often gone from home from seven in the morning until seven at night, and are even gone during many weekends for school sports and clubs.  When they aren’t participating in school related activities, they’re often studying (or playing with their friends for those less educationally oriented).  For parents, the scarcity of jobs combined with Japanese workplace culture means they are often forced to work long hours, even without overtime pay.  Days like this week’s Marine Day, then, are rare days for family togetherness and for enjoyment.

While every family has their own traditions, one favorite place to spend some quality time seems to be the docks.  During the summer, when it is too hot or expensive to tour more inland places, the docks can provide an affordable outing for the family.  On Marine Day in particular, its no wonder I found families fishing together down at a local fishing port.

While some of my students were going for larger fish, and happily showed off their catches, the majority of the fishers were hunting for the small fish that can be fried and eaten whole.  An interesting method is used where a long pole is used to sink a line with many small hooks, chum is then thrown into the water around the hooks.  The feeding frenzy then provides a good chance of snagging a confused fish or two!

Fishing provides a fun way for young and old to do something together that can also feed families and tie them closer together.  The bonding experience provides an opportunity for the young to learn from the old.  Of course, if anyone gets too warm, there are plenty of relatively safe places to jump from and take a dip in the ocean.

On other holidays, I’ve seen families bring tents and barbecue to the dock side for all day festivities that trailed late into the night, often ending in fireworks and sparklers.  How do you spend your summer holidays?