NEFFP – Wife’s Chao Phraya Catfish Day (12.01.18)

2018 – The start of a new year, a new dawn ….. And hopefully some great fishing …!!

To kick things off, a visit with wifey to the NEFFP in Behrang to target some large Chao Phraya Catfish in the rain …!

The wife started proceedings with a large Amazon Redtail, within 15 minutes of us starting:

Amazon Redtail Catfish #1

Followed, after a 45 minute break (in which I got my leader broken off by a large fish) with a big Chao Phraya Catfish, her first ever:

Fighting Chao Phraya Catfish #1

Chao Phraya Catfish #1 on the bank

Chao Phraya Catfish #1

Shortly thereafter I got my first runs on the board, with a series of Amazon Retail’s, punctuated with another break-off, a pulled hook and a couple of missed strikes between us:

Amazon Redtail Catfish #2

Fighting Amazon Redtail #3

Amazon Redtail #3, c.15 kg

The bite had slowed a little, and Mako made her way to the end of the pier to try fishing lampam live-bait, now that the rain had stopped. It wasn’t long before I heard her shout and saw her struggling with a big fish that she eventually landed, an Amazon Redtail probably approaching 20 kg:

Amazon Redtail Catfish #4, c. 20 kg

Even before she’d landed this fish I had to run back to my rod to engage yet another large predator, another Amazon Redtail:

Amazon Redtail #5

We were now in a duel, me soaking dead-baits against the wall trying for Chao Phraya Cats, the wife free-lining live-baits for whatever bit. We went toe-to-toe, landing consecutive fish. She was first up with an Asian Redtail Catfish (there predatory catfish love live-bait):

Asian Redtail Catfish #1

But my patience paid off – I was rewarded with a hard fighting Chao Cat:

Chao Phraya Catfish #2

Wifey followed up with another Asian Redtail (this is one of the risks with fishing live-bait …. too many Asian Catfish):

Asian Redtail Catfish #2

They were definitely on the hunt as dusk approached and descended into evening darkness, as I picked up a brace in quick succession:

Asian Redtail Catfish #3

Asian Redtail Catfish #4

But then wifey pulled a rabbit out of the hat, hooking a huge and aggressive fish on her last live-bait. It took her all of her strength and will to bring this fish to the net. The fish of the evening, a large Chao Phraya Catfish approaching the 20 kg mark:

Struggling to subdue the unseen adversary …!

Chao Phraya Catfish #3

I had one last chance, with a huge strike right at the close of the session, but unfortunately pulled the hook after a few minutes battle with what felt like yet another Chao Phraya.

The final scores were:

2 Chao Phraya, 2 Amazon Redtail and 2 Asian Redtail Catfish for the wife and 3 Amazon, 2 Asian and one Chao Phraya Catfish for me. A very enjoyable and productive Friday afternoon – early evening session.

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.15) Natural Exotic Fishing Pond - Behrang, Catfish, Catfish - Amazon Redtail, Catfish - Asian Redtail, Catfish - Chao Phraya | 4 Comments

Tokyo (24.12.17 – 07.01.18)

This was my third visit to Japan in a single year (a new record for me). This time it was a family gathering to celebrate Xmas and the New Year.

I arrived on Christmas Eve and the first port-of-call was to visit my son at the pub where works, The Rose and Crown Pub in Yūrakucho:

The Rose & Crown Pub

A glass of Tokyo Pale Ale please, barman …!

An authentically decored British style pub, complete with decent food and nice Japanese beers. I highly recommend a visit if you are in Tokyo.

Christmas Day dawned bright and clear:

Tokyo Tower & Mt. Fuji – Xmas Day

Siôn had to work, but the rest of us headed off for an Xmas buffet dinner at the Dai-ichi Hotel, Tokyo Seafort:

Xmas Dinner – Dai-ichi Hotel

As usual, we spent a good deal of time walking around the Shiodome – Shimbashi are. We were blessed for the most part with cool weather, but clear skies and winter sunshine:

Shiodome modern cityscape (l) / Stone inscription with Dentsu building (r)

Shiodome Caretta lights (l) / Ginza Nine (r)

Shiodome architecture: Denstsu Building (l) / Office block (r)

Me and Mako also got to visit some other Tokyo sights as we walked around different parts of the city:

Suitengu Shrine (26.12.17)

We had a family dinner on the 26th December to celebrate my (early because Siôn was working) and Siôn’s (late because he’d been in KL) birthdays. We went to a Ninja theme restaurant in Akasaka:

Ninja Akasaka

The service and food was excellent and the concept was novel.

Oishi food selection

Unfortunately we carried on partying at a karaoke bar in Shimbashi …. until 4 am in the morning. I didn’t expect to be butchering “English Civil War” and “Tommy Gun” by The Clash on my 54 th birthday ……!!

It was a lazy actual birthday on the 27th, marked by a spectacular sunset:

Tokyo Mt. Fuji sunset

Later in the week we made the usual excursion to Odaiba to sample the entertainment on offer:

Rainbow Bridge lining Odaiba to the mainland

Fuji TV building light show

Aqua City: Receptionist robot (l) / Punk inspired boutique poster (r)

Unfortunately the wife had to return early to KL, just before New Year. My youngest son also had to return to the UK for the start of the second school term of the academic year. I took the opportunity to take him to Midori in Ginza to experience their excellent sushi:

Otoro sushi, Midori Sushi (30.12.17)

It was well worth the 4 hour wait ….1 we managed to spend a few hours enjoying beers in The Hub British pub a few doors down the street.

As New Year’s Eve approached, and after having my eyes opened to the Japanese love of drinking, I thought it wise to post a few pictures of public information signs that I’d seen in the Metro stations. Besides the usual reminders to help the old, disabled and women with children, it was interesting to see posters warning people of the dangers of excessive drinking. In particular I was surprised to see warnings against drunken violent behaviour – I’ve never witnessed anything like this in Japan and, whilst certainly not at the levels seen in the west, it seems that Japan is not completely immune to drunken bad behaviour! 

Metro Station public information posters

New Year’s Eve arrived and we headed out to the Golden Gai area of Shinjuku – an old fashioned district of small and unique bars crammed together in a network of narrow alleys. The bars were small, sometimes only holding 5 or 6 patrons, but with a wide variety of colourful characters:

New Year decoration (l) / Golden Gai bars (r)

http://youtu.be/qrE24k2uMPI

Whilst Siôn had planned out the visit to the bars, Ceri had remembered that we needed to eat traditional food, so we bought noodles, tempura, black beans and omlet from a local convenience store:

Traditional New Year’s Day food

The only thing we were missing was mochi and pork (and Mum, of course).

Ceri and I had to take it easy on New Year’s Eve as we had to get up early – Ceri was returning to the UK and had an 11.30 am flight to catch from Haneda. Luckily, it’s close by our apartment so it wasn’t too rushed to get to the airport in good time. Ceri got upgraded and was able to use the BA Club Lounge. I saw him safely on his was and then got the train back to Hamamatsuchō Station. It was a lovely morning, and still early, so I decided to take a walk around the area and visit some of the canals and waterways that are a feature of this area:

Hamamatsuchō waterways

In the afternoon I made a visit to the Meiji Jingū  (Miji Shrine) in Shibuya – it is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. It is traditional for Japanese to make a first visit to a shrine in the New Year and the Meiji Shrine is a popular choice.

Torii Gate

Entrance to the courtyard. Signs depicting the Year of the Dog

Meiji Shrine main building

Shrine buildings surrounding the central courtyard

After the shrine visit, as I was walking back to the metro station, I saw the imposing modern building that had been prominent the night before during our evening out:

NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building

For the remainder of the week, I was left to my own company, as Siôn was busy with a full work schedule. I set about exploring Tokyo alone, for the first time ever. Despite a turn in the weather I consistently walked > 10,000 (ichiman) steps each day as I explored the city. Each day started and ended by passing through Shiodome and/or Shimbashi stations:

Shimbashi Station

Old Shimbashi Station

I also ventured out in search of a hardware shop to try to replace the broken filter on the bath re-heater, and to find tackle shops in Shibuya:

Omotesandō Station Lantern (l) / Hachikō Memorial Statue Shibuya (r)

And I couldn’t resist visiting Tsukiji Market to see the sights and smells of the sea:

Bluefin Tuna carcass

Tsukiji market: Restaurant Sign (l) / Old power lines (r)

I always followed a good day’s walk with good food and a beer or two. Often in my local, The Man in the Moon Irish pub in Shimbashi:

Roast beef, salad, chips and Guiness

Yes please

Another very pleasant and enjoyable trip to Japan.

Posted in (4) Japan | Leave a comment

NEFFP – Amazonians (22.12.17)

My first time to wet a line in almost 2 months ….!

I met up with Noru at the NEFFP in Behrang for the final fishing session of the 2017. I arrived a little late, and Noru was landing his first fish as I arrived and his second just after I commenced fishing. He had 3 on the board before I got my first fish, a personal best Amazon Redtail Catfish pushing 20 kgs, a good scrap on light spin gear and 30lb test – I though it was going to be a Chao Phraya Cat given the intensity of the fight:

Amazon Redtail Catfish c.20 kg

After Noru’s initial flurry of fish the bite slowed and the heavens opened in a short, but intense rainstorm:

Rainstorm approaching

After the storm the bite sprang into life just before 6 pm, with a rapid succession of stikes. I got my second fish of the session, another good sized Amazon bringing our combined total to 5 landed:

Amazon Redtail #5

Noru had some new toys to try out – a Shimano Stella 08 SW8000PG and a custom Kraffmen popping rod, which he duly put to test:

Amazon Redtail #6

Noru with Amazon Redtail #7 and the new toys

The skies were still brooding, the clouds engulfing the distant mountains looking like a smoldering volcano:

View east from the NEFFP

Brooding, ominous skies

The bites came in flurries, and we both missed bites and lost fish. I, in particular, lost a number of fish, including the only Chao Phraya of the day that took a prawn bait. I had the leader on the reel and the fish near the bank. I was making the characteristic late-stage runs when it managed to break the 50lb hook-length off at the swivel – I suspect it got wrapped around the leader during casting (the prawn bait was spinning during casting) causing a cut-through.

After another lull the bite started to pick up again at dusk. Noru got his 7th fish, for #9 of the session to close out his ticket:

Noru with Amazon Redtail #9

Noru then waited as I finished off my session. He put out one last cast on my 30lb outfit as I waited for a strike on my heavier rig. As my session counted down, the light rig was hit and I had a final tussle with another decent sized Amazon, a fish in the 15 kg+ range:

Amazon Redtail #10, 15 kg+

Amazonian ……

This was the last fish of the session. Noru had put 7 on the bank and I’d landed 3 Amazon Redtail Catfish, including a personal best for me. Noru had got to give his new tackle a good test. A very pleasant Friday afternoon!

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.15) Natural Exotic Fishing Pond - Behrang, Catfish, Catfish - Amazon Redtail | 3 Comments

Fishing Videos – the current catalogue (16.11.17)

The good, the bad and the ugly …..

My full fishing videos – the full catalogue.  From my early, crude attempts to my more recent, “slick” productions complete with cool music soundtracks … :-). But definitely some decent fish.

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdi-_GmDegF8aerJRi2-L1A/videos?sort=dd&shelf_id=4&view=0

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (2) Oman, (3) South Africa, (4) Japan, Fishing Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

Kuala Rompin – 96 not out! (28-29.10.17)

This was my forth visit to Kuala Rompin this year (including a 5 day mega-trip in August), and my third trip to target sailfish. I was chasing a personal target of 100 billfish and 100 sailfish, and was vainly hoping to achieve this target within 10 calendar years – I first fished here on 27-28th October 2007 and have been fishing here a couple of weekends a year ever since. However, in the past few years the fishing has been a bit erratic, with poor fishing during traditionally good times of the year and sometimes exceptionally good fishing in normally slow times (see my blog entry from June this year here):

https://agriffinandrew2.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/kuala-rompin-perfect-10-2-monsters-17-18th-june-2017/

Anyway, I needed 7 billfish for my 100 and 8 for 100 sailfish (I’d caught a single black marlin here during one of my early trips back in 2008 ….). I new it was a tough target so was not too confident or concerned about it, particularly as I was fishing with two other people, Jochen and Julian, so it would require an exceptional catch of around 20 sailfish for the weekend for me to get the required numbers as part of my share (not an impossible target but certainly a stretch target!). But the real reason was to chill and enjoy good company and fishing.

We arrived early Friday evening, as per usual, and caught up on the fishing news over cold beers and local food. I had my favoured fried tenggiri, chips and salad. The fishing, which had been good, had tailed off in the week, with typical numbers falling from 6-10 to around 3-4 per day. So, with expectations curtailed, and a few more beers, it was time to retire and be fresh for the following day.

Day 1 (28.10.17)

The day followed the usual routine – stop and FADs to gather bait and then search for signs of sailfish activity. Bait was easy, mainly tamban, but with a smattering of selar (scad) and various small mackerel species. The first stop was at Tok Rahmat, but the water was green and there was very little sign of activity. We decided, after a hour of zero activity, to head further offshore to Pulau Berhala. As soon as we arrived it was clear that the sailfish were about – birds were around in numbers, chasing schools of tonggol (bonito) or moving around with intent anticipating feeding opportunities. We then saw sailfish actively feeding at the surface, and positioned the boat for a drift, and put out two baits on casting rods. Jochen went to the bow and commenced popping.

Almost immediately we got a take, Anthony set the hook and Juliana stepped up to fight the fish, only for the hook to pull about 5 minutes into the battle. Suddenly, I felt my live-bait jerk and free-lined my bait. But nothing. I picked up the line with my index finger, with the bail arm open, and waited. After about 5 minutes by bait was pulled violently and line began peeling off my spool. I flipped the bail and set the hook on a reasonable sailfish for the first of the trip. It put up a good fight but came in with it’s stomach extruded (it was cleanly hooked in the jaw hinge), so we revived it and took a few quick pictures of it in the water:

Sailfish #1

We re-set our baits and continued fishing. Conditions were good – light winds with no chop, but a large rolling swell signalling the impending monsoon season. After a missed strike, we were on again an hour and a quarter after the first fish. Jochen did the honours and brought in what was to be the the biggest fish of the day:

Jochen fighting Sailfish #2

Sailfish #2 boat-side

Sailfish #2

Although the fishing was not spectacular, we were getting regular attention from sailfish or at least were getting shots at feeding sailfish. Our popping efforts were also probably helping, but despite raising the odd fish they were not striking at the lures. After a couple more missed hits and dropped fish we got our third of the day just before 2pm, Julian bringing in a juvenile sailfish to complete a set of one fish apiece:

Juliana with the juvenile Sailfish

Within the hour we were in action again, my turn again to fight a smallish, but aggressive “teenager” for fish no.4 of the session:

Sailfish #4

This fish proved to be the last of the day. We had two further hook-ups, with Jochen suffering a pulled hook and a broken leader in quick succession. Ominously, the bite seemed to slow into the late afternoon, and we had to leave by 4.00pm due to the long run back to port – we were aided in the journey home by surfing on and with the big swell which made for a very pleasant ride home and made beer drinking very easy …. I’m sorry to say that Jochen fell asleep and Anthony and me ended up drinking his beers too …!

We arrived back in good time and had a feast of chicken curry and fried kerisi (red bream) – Jochen, Juliana and the deck hand had been jigging them up all afternoon – I’ve never seen so many caught. But they did make delicious eating.

It had been a reasonable day on the water with 4 from 8 sailfish hook-ups landed.

Day 2 (29.10.17)

Despite an abundance of live-bait, the slow-down in the sailfish bit that had started mid-week and was evidenced by the slowing bite the previous day continued with a vengeance into the second day. Once again we went to Berhala Island after gathering live-bait. There was still some sporadic bird activity and signs of feeding sailfish but activity levels were clearly much lower than the previous day. After numerous sets we had nothing to show except for one follow on popper from a juvenile sailfish and one (missed) strike as we were winding in baits to make a move. 

By early afternoon we’d move to a nearby FAD to try for tenggiri, again without success. We then decided to return to Tok Rahmat where we’d started the previous day – one of the boats had caught a few sailfish here the previous afternoon. When we arrived, a number of boats from the fleet were fishing and there was sporadic, localised sailfish feeding activity. We started chasing birds and setting drifts near to activity. Finally, after having feeding sailfish passing by us on a number of occasions without a touch (including after throwing a live-bait on a sailfish chasing a popper), the deckie suddenly managed to entice a strike out of nothing whilst soaking a live-bait at the bow.

Juliana took the rod and was involved in a struggle with a large and feisty sailfish on Anthony’s Stella SW10000PG set-up. Anthony guided her through the fight, including helping to keep the fighting belt in place ….

Juliana fighting Sailfish under Anthony’s guidance

After a good 10 minute battle, as the sailfish inched tantalisingly closer to the boat (and leader range), it made a last gasp series of leaps and managed to shake the hook and earn its freedom:

Sailfish throwing the hook

We were defeated. We’d been fishing hard without success and it was cruel indeed to lose this fine fish right at the end of the day. My mind turned to what seemed to be inevitable, we were looking at a skunk for day 2. We still had around 45 minutes of fishing left though, and we continued to hunt down surface activity and cast live-baits. 

Finally, after another half-an hour, when all seemed lost, I heard the elastic band retaining my line snap as a sailfish took my bait (we were drifting with the bail-arm open and the line retained beneath elastic tied around the rod handle). Line was tearing from my Stella SW8000HG reel and I waited a few seconds to ensure the bait was firmly in the fish’s mouth and closed the bail arm to engage the fish. I offered the rod to Jochen but he generously let me take the fish:

Fish on!

I worked that fish hard, determined to get it to leader ASAP to try to avoid another lost fish, and it put up a stubborn fight before eventually coming to be leadered:

http://youtu.be/7NMG_5vZU08

Sailfish #1

After this first sailfish of the day we fished on for a further 20 minutes but without further incident, before making the journey back to port. As usual for a Sunday evening, it was a rush to break down and pack the tackle, load the car, shower, eat and hit the rod to try to get back to KL at a reasonable time before the return to the daily grind. 

It had been an uncharacteristically slow trip for the time of year, but it is always a privilege to fish for sailfish off Rompin in the company of friends. We landed 5 sailfish, plus lost the fight to a further 5 fish. My personal tally was 3 fish landed, and my billfish score is now 96. I will be back again next season, so it’s 96 not out!

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.01) - Kuala Rompin, Sailfish | Leave a comment

NEFFP – Chao Phraya Catfish bite #3 (20.10.17)

Me and Noru hit the Natural Exotic at Behrang to target Chao Phraya Catfish. There was a Chao Catfish bite going on (again), but unfortunately not for us ……

I arrived just before Noru, at 3.40pm,  to the sight of a local angler in my preferred spot already hooked-up to a large Chao Phraya Catfish. I quickly rigged up, bought my ticket and some freshly butchered keli bait and started fishing as close as I could to my spot. Noru arrived a few minutes later just as the other anglers moved position towards the end of the fishing pier. We took the opportunity to move further up the pier to my favourite location.

It started off slow ….. very slow. The angler to our left got a good strike (on chicken guts bait) and brought in another Chao Cat. At the same time I got a hit on a large keli head bait. I set the hook and the fish ran powerfully to the right, before turning and pulling the hook. It was almost certainly a Chao Catfish. And that was it for the next 3 hours …..!! 

The angler fishing chicken guts had a succession of mainly Amazon Catfish from the end of the pier and to our left. He also landed at least one further Chao Cat. In-fact, he was about the only person catching, actually virtually the only person getting strikes.

Noru finally lost his patience and, with around an hour left of the session, moved to the end of the pier to try for Amazon Catfish. He had one good hook-up that broke him off under the aerator paddles and another break off. But it was slow going. I spent ten minutes soaking a bait their too, trying to avoid what was looking to be an inevitable skunk before moving back to my original position.

Then it happened, as darkness fell and with 20 minutes left on the clock ….. my rod tip twitched violently. I picked up the rod and flipped the reel into free spool. Line began paying out. I gave it a few seconds before engaging the bail and setting the hook on a good sized fish. 5 minutes later a tell-tale sickle dorsal fin broke the surface and I had a Chao Phraya Catfish in the net and on the bank:

Chao Phraya Catfish landed

Chao Phraya Catfish c.15 kg

This was a nice sized fish of c.15kg, and I was grateful with this catch to save the session. I pinned on another keli head bait and cast out again, whilst I started packing up my gear and breaking down my second rod.

Then, with 5 minutes left my rod buckled over under an aggressive strike from another good sized fish. I picked up and struggled to subdue the beast …. it ran left towards the aerator paddles and I could feel my line chaffing on some unseen underwater structure. The rod then suddenly sprang up and I thought I’d lost the fish but as I wound down it was still on. A few minutes later the fish was ready for netting – a fat Amazon Redtail Catfish again knocking on c.15kg that had given a good account of itself. My leader was badly chaffed – the sudden release of pressure that I’d felt earlier must have been the line pulling free from the snag.

Amazon Redtail Catfish, c.15 kg

These last gasp fish saved my day. Noru (who’s now working close by this location) vowed to return mid-week to have another crack at the Caho Phraya Cats …!!

Posted in (1) Malaysia, (1.15) Natural Exotic Fishing Pond - Behrang, Catfish, Catfish - Amazon Redtail, Catfish - Chao Phraya | 2 Comments

Japan (7-17th October 2017)

My second visit of the year to the metropolis of Tokyo, Japan. AS usual, I’ll try an incorporate some references to fish and fishing in the following picture travelogue, starting off with a visit to Sushi Zanmai in Shinbashi for a sushi dinner:

Sushi Zanmai, Shinbashi

Whilst strolling around Shimbashi in the early evening, we happened across this bar/restaurant with some interesting deep-sea fish species on the menu:

Deep sea delicacies ….

09.10.17

On the second day of my visit the fishy theme continued with an early afternoon stroll around Tsukiji fish market:

Tsukiji Market – Dried salmon (l)/ Grilled tuna street food (r)

Old Tsukiji market building

Tsukiji -ji (r) / Tsukiji Hongan-ji  Buddhist Temple (r)

And fish were the subject yet again,later in the day,  with a visit to Tokyo Sea Life Park, where the main attraction was the large bluefin tuna aquarium. Bluefin Tuna (Hon Maguro), is revered in Japan and intimately woven into it’s food and culture:

Bluefin Tuna cuddly toy (almost as expensive as the real thing at c.£200)

A display at the entrance gives the visitor a sense of the size that Bluefin Tuna can attain (although the scale is a little off unless I’ve grown over the past few months …):

Bluefin Tuna size comparison chart

Tokyo Sea Life Park

Inside there were a number of attractions, including exhibits of sea-life from shallow and deep marine environments, and a number of climatic zones:

Queensland Grouper

Hammerhead Shark

But despite the attractions on offer, the centre-piece was the tank full of giant Bluefin Tuna, swimming majestically (if too fast to adequately photograph) around the large aquarium:

Hon Maguro

The following picture gives an idea of the scale of the aquarium and the Bluefin Tuna inside:

Bluefin Tuna with people for scale

And the video show’s them at their majestic best, swimming effortlessly with barely a flick of the tail:

http://youtu.be/fxA13o73DKo

Shiodome and Shimbashi

The Shiodome and Shimbashi areas where I stayed have some interesting modern architecture:

Dentsu (“Knife-edge”) Building – by day and by night

Kyodo (l) & Dentsu Buildings (r) – Shiodome

Shimbashi Station

Tokyo Tower at night – view from Shiodome

Odaiba (11.10.17)

Odaiba is s a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo and near to my wife’s apartment in Shiodome. The island is home to shopping and entertainment complexes, and is a popular tourist attraction.

Fuji TV Building

Rainbow Bridge

We had dinner at a steak restaurant at Diver City where I encountered this interesting White Shark mural:

White Shark, Diver City

We finished the day with a visit to Joypolis amusement park also situated in Odaiba:

Joypolis

We used to bring the kids here whenever they visited Japan, usually every summer. We’re still not too old to enjoy its delights ….

Joypolis entry tickets

Although photo’s are not allowed, we did manage to get a few snaps of out computerised images:

Pixellated selfies

13.10.17

As usual, the quality of the food was outstanding. For dinner on this day we chanced across the “Amazing Wagyu” whilst exploring Ginza:

Wagyu beef ready for the grill

Roppongi (13.10.17)

I made a late evening visit to Roppongi with my son as he wanted to take some photographs of the area:

Roppongi night scene

After getting hassled by foreign touts trying to get us to go into strip bars (I’ve heard that it’s a scam and once inside you will be menaced into buying extortionately priced drinks or get robbed … or both – I’m not sure why the police and authorities tolerate this, I’ve certainly not experience it before in Japan) we decided to move on. We came to the Roppongi Hills area, which provided us with good views and photo opportunities:

Bronze Spider Sculpture at Roku Roku Plaza

Roppongi Hills views

Benkei Fishing Club – Akasaka

Surprisingly, we even manage to get in a fishing trip. My wife found this place on the web, and it was only a few subway stops away from where we were staying. We visited first to do a recce and then returned a few days later to try our hand at spinning for large mouth bass.

Benkei Fishing Club Boat House

The lake is part of the Benkei Moat which was formerly a part of second circular moat to Castle Edo ..!! 

Interestingly, the road adjacent to the lake acts as an emergency road in the even of a major earthquake. The sign signalling this road bears the image of a catfish – it was once believed that a giant catfish, the Namazu, lived in the mud under Japan. The Namazu was thought to cause earthquakes when it thrashes about trying to escape its guardian, the god Kashima …!

Earthquake information sign

We spend an enjoyable few hours rowing around the lake casting soft plastics, but without success. It was very odd to be in the middle of the city but in such a pleasant natural environment:

Benkei Moat lake, Akasaka, Tokyo

Kamakura (15.10.17)

Once again another later start to the day saw us taking the train from Tokyo to Kamakura around 1.30pm. We didn’t help ourselves by taking the wrong train ….! Still, we got to the picturesque city of Kamakura around 3.00pm, just in time to see a couple of it’s many wondrous ancient sites.

I’ve visited Kamakura only once before, way back in the summer of 1991. On my previous visit, I don’t recall seeing the tsunami warning signs with height above sea level information and I suspect these are new since the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake. Interestingly, I remember being overawed by the main attraction of Kamakura, the bronze cast Daibutsu (the Giant Buddah) statue, and reading that it wa s once housed in a temple that was washed away by a tsunami in 1498 A.D. …… and the statue itself is situated about 16m above present day sea-level:

Tsunami warning signs & Kamakura Daibutsu

The Great Buddah – Entry tickets

The Great Buddah itself is awe inspiring and still in remarkable condition, considering it was constructed in 1252 and has survived a number of storms, tsunamis and earthquakes, including The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 ….!

Daibutsu resides within the Kōtoku-in Buddhist temple complex, and is a regal figure at 13.35m in height:

The Great Buddah of Kamakura (Daibutsu)

An information plaque gives the key dimensions and history of the statue:

Daibutsu information plaque

The Great Buddah of Kamakura (Daibutsu)

Despite our late arrival and the dreary rain, we managed to squeeze in one more attraction, the Hasedera temple:

Hasedera Temple – entry tickets

Hasedera Temple is another of Kamakura’s Buddhist Temples, this one possible dating back as far as 729 A.D. It is famous for housing a massive wooden statue of Kannon (Goddess of Mercy). Key information is given in selected pages from the temple information pamphlet:

Hasedera Temple – information pamphlet

Hasedera Temple – entrance

Kannon-do Hall

I found this warning sign interesting – Red Kites are making a come-back in many places in the UK, and used to be a common sight over Elizabethan London where they fed on carrion and rubbish in the city. It’s interesting to see that they’ve adapted to the presence of man here too, stealing food from the hands of unsuspecting tourists …

Kite warning sign

Stone Lanterns

Jizō statues

Midori Sushi (16.10.17)

And what better way to finish off a pleasant visit to Japan than to enjoy the delicious fare on offer at Midori Sushi restaurant in Ginza:

Chūtoro sushi and Asahi beer

This was our son Siôn’s first visit to this restaurant (one of me and the wife’s favourites). Guess which beer was his ….

Assorted sushi – Ebi, Shake, Maguro

Chūtoro, ōtoro, sake and clam

We mostly feasted on chūtoro (medium fatty bluefin tuna)  ōtoro (fatty tuna), ebi (butterfly style cooked shrimp) and sake (salmon), but we also enjoyed ika (squid) and hotate (scallop).

Otoro Sushi

Oishikatta ….!

Departure 17.10.17

And that was the end of my holiday. One last delightful memory of Japan – I had an excellent meal in JAL economy washed down with an ample supply of red wine and Asahi beer whilst I enjoyed a string of unexpectedly good films. One of the most pleasant flights that I can remember …

I had the menu by Yukino Katrura. Delicious!

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