HOW TO ENJOY SPRING SEASIDE JAPANESE STYLE

Arrival of real spring definitely increases occasions of outing. As the weather is neither hot nor cold, less bother for towels to wipe sweats and heavy coats, just appropriate for going out!

Feeling so even today, the arrival of spring must have been more long wished-for days in times that winter was more bitter. Starting from plum blossom-viewing late February, the cherry blossom- viewing and several festivals praying for good harvest in autumn take place all over Japan as celebrating the springs’ arrival.

spring

Rape flowers are one of the spring symbol of Japanese scenery. Bloom in fallows all over Japan with spring arrival.

In the old days, when there were less recreations and less occasions among public, easy gathering in or harvesting which children could also participate with their elder families were one of the recreations. The representative of spring should have been ‘Shiohi-gari’, meaning hunting on low tide by the beach. If you look up in a Japanese-English dictionary, many dictionaries translate the word as ‘clam digging’ which is quite correct regarding by current manners and customs, but if you look back the history, hunting something on the low tide is more precise. Still, for the children, clam digging should have been what they were to participate in. Besides, if the beach also had rocky stretch nearby, children together with the elders would amuse themselves, again also to get something that would be their food, by ‘Iso-asobi’ – tide pooling.

suzaki_hiroshige_01

Beach at Suzaki in Edo, now around 1 chome, Toyo, Koto-ku, Tokyo. The place was a popular spot for SHiohi-gari in Edo period.

We think there might be very few tourists who come to Japan for Shiohi-gari or Iso-asobi, as most of them don’t want to spare their precious time playing like children by the beach. But for those who are working, studying or having a long holiday in Japan could consider the idea which is not bad, in fact, it’s pretty fun, to have fun in natural conditions like kids or with kids. Especially to those who are not beach lovers or swimmers like us who have never spent time for sun tanning on the beach and don’t like to spend our day-offs in the crowd. So, we think that the best season for going to the ocean side at this time of the year, we mean, before summer comes.

Before introducing how to Shiohi-gari & Iso-asobi Japanese style, let us write a little bit on the background detail.  For those who want to skip, below is the list of content links;


 
 

In General

As you know, Japan has long coastline.
According to the List of countries by length of coastline on Wikipedia the Top 5 countries are as below;

Land area coastline ratio

  1. Canada — 9,984,670 km² – 202,080 km – (coast/area Ratio) 22.22
  2. Indonesia — 1,811,569 km² – 54,716 km – (coast/area Ratio) 30.20
  3. Russia — 16,377,742 km² – 37,653 km – (coast/area Ratio) 2.30
  4. Philippines — 298,170 km² – 36,289 km – (coast/area Ratio) 121.71
  5. Japan — 364,485 km² – 29,751 km – (coast/area Ratio) 81.63

So, putting apart huge countries like Canada, Russia and other archipelago countries, such as Indonesia and Philippines, Japan can be said a country which has very complicated coastline of a ria coast, which means we don’t have so many long beaches but many rocky shores which are good for tidepooling at low tide.

manazuru_mitsuishi_01

The beach of Manazuru, Mitsuishi.

 

Broad History of Shiohi-gari & Iso-asobi

As you can see, Japan is composed of chain of islands surrounded by sea. With such circumstance, the Japanese have been relying their food on the gifts from the sea even those who live far off the shore by exchanging their products to seafood that lasted fresh longer or processed goods. Dried fish, seaweeds and KamabokoW (fish paste made into various shape, and steamed) should have been major marine products that were distributed to the inland. Among them should have been shellfishes which could be distributed fresh, wrapped in wet seaweeds, to the wealthy who could use post horses.

kai_oohi_04

The replication dolls of playing with ‘Kai-ooi’. Photo from Himeji City Official Site.

The oldest records of seafood are of Heian periodW by aristocrats in the ancient capital of Kyoto which seem to have enjoyed the seasonal change by the seafood. Besides eating, shells of shellfishes were used as precious ornaments or elegant game tools like ‘Kai-ooi’ or ‘Kai-awase’, ConcentrationW card game played with paint-decorated common orient clamW shells played by noble women or children.

As the time goes by, when peace stood under Tokugawa shogunateW, facilities of communication and merchants spreading their trades made seafood more familiar to the Japanese. The transfer of the capital from Kyoto to Edo, where sea is close should have spread the culture of seafood in daily life. There remains an anthology imitating one of the oldest Imperial anthology of Heian period, Kokin WakashuW, consisting 85 poems on themes of 85 shellfishes called “36 (sanjyu-roku) kai uta-awase”. In this book, you could see titles of shellfish names as Asari (clam), Hamaguri (common orient clam) and Kaki (oyster) which are still shellfishes the Japanese eat often.

kai_oohi_03

‘Kai-ooi’ shells, made from ‘Hamaguri (common orient clam)’ with images of the chapter ‘Wakamurasaki’ painted of The Tale of GenjiW. Production & photo by ‘Mikawa Kobo‘. More infomation could be found on ‘Kai-ooi’ in their site in English!

makie_kaioke

Sets of ‘Kai-ooi’ in gold-lacquered box which were one of the things that noble brides took with them. The box still remains as one of the Hina doll furnitures of Girls Day. These sets belonged to one of the wives of Shogun. Photo from The Tokugawa Art Museum Official Site.

It was from then that on the spring tide when the ebb is at its largest that people headed the beach as Shibaura, Takanawa, Shinagawa, Tsukudajima, Fukagawa and Nakagawa of Tokyo with their families and friends to hunt something seafood, easy to catch or collect where depth of the sea level is shallow, mainly clams but flounders and other fishes fail to escape. This spring custom was familiar to both the rich and the poor, becoming one of the rare occasion for poor men to catch a glimpse of a truly pure closeted maiden of the rich who would almost never come out into the public.

36kai_uta_awase

Pages from “36 (sanjyu-roku) kai uta-awase”, the anothology with themes of shellfish. You can see pictures of shellfish under the poems written.

Unfortunately in present Tokyo, the place where you could enjoy Shiohi-gari and Iso-asobi lessened, enjoyed only in one or two beaches. Still, if you could travel a bit, for about an hour or two, out of Tokyo, there are several places where you could enjoy Shiohi-gari and Iso-asobi , Japanese style!
 
 

How to Shiohi-gari

What to take with you :

  • Hat – with elastic cord recommended to avoid being blown away, protection from sunstroke
  • Towels
  • Long Sleeve Clothes – to put on when cold
  • Beach Sandals – or any shoes you don’t mind getting wet
  • Rubber Gloves – avoiding sands getting into finger nails
  • Basket or Bucket – to put in your clams, sold at every 100 Yen shop all over Japan or can net bags can be bout at pay-beaches
  • Plastic Bag – useful as trash bags, to put in wet shoes & towels and taking your clams back
  • Handy Rake – for those going to the beach not selling

rake

Handy rake. Sold at DIY shops or could be bought or rented at the beach.

net

Shellfish nets. Sold at DIY shops or could be bought at the beach.

basket

Not the ‘necessity’ but useful if you have it. Sold at 100 Yen shops.

rubber gloves

Rubber gloves sold at convenience store, drug store or 100 Yen shops.

 

Look up for the tide table :

Check the high and low tides’ time of your destination beforehand. Always remember the time when low tide ends while you are enjoying your Shiohi-gari to avoid disaster as some beach tide rise in a rapid speed! It is said that an hour before the peak of low tide is the best time for collecting clams. You can check the tides at the site below;

 

Tips on digging the clams :

suzaki_toyokuni_01

Not only digging but hunting! LuckyEdo man caught flounder failed to escape. Drawn by Toyokuni Utagawa.

In general, it is best to dig the edge of the water because the waves would wash away the sand that is covering the clams. If clams were there, they would float so that you could collect them easily.

But in the controlled beach where you would have to pay the entrance fee, clams are thrown onto the beach beforehand which the clams are found elsewhere.

It is best for you to look for tiny air vent holes of the clams on the sand and dig under them. It is said that if you find one, there should be about another 30 clams around it.

Good Luck!

suzaki_toyokuni_02

Look at his face!!


 

What to do with the clams :

asari_sakamushi

“Sake steamed clams”, easy to make with microwave oven. How many dishes would your yield be?

It will be a great dish if you are living or staying in a place with kitchen facility. The easiest menu would be ‘Wine or Sake Steamed Clams’ made easily by putting clams on a dish, pour 40ml (per 300g of clams) of Wine or Sake with finely chopped parsley and garlic, cover the dish with cling wrap over the dish and put it into microwave oven (500w) for 2 minutes.

BE SURE to remove the sands in the clams by putting the clams in salted water (1tbsp salt per 500ml water) for about 1 to 3 hours before cooking.
Sands inside the clam while eating is a real put-off so it’s better for you to do this procedure well! Rinse the clams well with water before cooking.

Clams, clams, clams!

Clams, clams, clams!

If you have enjoyed Shiohi-gari, collected many clams but are staying in a place without cooking facility, the best thing would be for you to put them back to the sea again or to give them to some one around you who were poor in their collecting. You may see many children enjoying Shiohi-gari at the place, so it maybe a good choice for you to give them to the kid who looks pity who has not got his / her own clams. That should be a great memory of spring for the kid!
 

Others :

Apart from beaches that mark for Shiohi-gari, many beaches have regulations not to catch, collect or fish marine creatures without permission of local Fisheries Cooperative Association. This applies to the creatures caught while enjoying your Iso-asobi. It will be better for you to enjoy these activities in a right place, though you might have to pay about 500 Yen to 1,600 Yen as an entrance fee of the beach, to avoid troubles as being fined quite a lot as 300,000 Yen!

shiohigari_now

SHiohi-gari today. Not much have changed apart from people’s fashion!

At beaches where imposing entrance fee, you could buy rakes, nets for you to take back your clams and shops, showers or restaurants are located nearby.
 
 

How to Iso-asobi

It is a bit childish to give you the following tips because there is no local rule here, we would like to put some notes for beginners!

Young and gronwn-ups enyoing ‘Iso-asobi’ at Arazaki, Mitsuishi Beach in summer. Photo from ‘Kodomo-to asobou’‘.

  1. Check the low tide time!Before going for tidepooling, check the low tide time.
    Useful site to check the tide – tide-forecast : http://www.tide-forecast.com
  2. Be sure to arrive at the destination at least 1 hour before the low tide time. Otherwise you will not have enough time at the shore.
  3. You can go further at the shore but be aware of the sea-flow. Always make sure of your way back.
  4. Don’t bother local fishermen, don’t take any fish or shellfish home without permission. (Sometimes you have to buy tickets for fishing.)
arazaki_kouen_01

Sea hare in tide pool of Arazaki Beach. They spew out purple liquid as a startle response.

While the tide is low, It is very exciting to search for various kinds of animals which are moving, such as small crabs, hermit crabs, shrimps, fish, nudibranchW and sea hareW. Sea anemones are also cute.

 

 

 

 

clownfish

Clownfish can be seen in Japan if you have chance to scuba dive…

Since we are not in the tropical regions, the colours of creatures are not of what you see in equatorial sea.
So don’t expect to see a scenery like the picture on the right  in the shallow pool….  though you may have a chance if you scuba dive deeper.

However, finding tiny fish and hermit crabs living in tide pools will surely bring you a smile onto your face!

 

 

Specific Beach Information

Beach for Shiohi-gari

  • Information :

    Location
    Address
    Tel
    Website
    Opening Hours
    Parking
    Facilities
    CHarge
    Marine Park (Umi no Kouen)10 Umi no kouen, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa pref. 045-701-3450 (Umi no kouen)http://www2.umino-kouen.net/facilities/shiohigari/ (Japanese only)No time set though tide confirmation in advance recommended.1,688 spaces, 300 Yen per hour, 1,000 per hour for big vehicle.Toilet, shower, changing room, rest area and coin lockers.
    Handy rake sold.
    Free
    Hashirimizu BeachHashirimizu kaigan, Yokosuka-shi, Kanagawa pref.090-2911-5419 (Tobu Fishermen's Cooperative Association, Asari-bu Party)http://members2.jcom.home.ne.jp/motoiya/siohigari.html (Japanese only)2 hours before and after the low tide, depending on the tide, dertails on website.100 spaces, free for first 1hour, extra 200 Yen per 30 minutes.Toilet.
    Handy rake rental avaliable.
    Free basket & plastic bag avaliable.
    Adult / 1,200 Yen
    Child / 600 Yen
    Including 2kg (child / 1kg) clam takeaway.
    Kaneda Beach, Shiohi-gari Jo1 Kitahama-cho, Kisarazu-shi, Chiba pref.0438-41-0764 (Kaneda Beach, Shiohi-gari Jo)http://www.kaneda.or.jp/ (japanese only)Depending on the tide, dertails on website.1,000 spaces, 300 Yen per hour, 1,000 Yen a day for big vehicle.Toilet, changing room, rest area, restaurant and coin lockers.
    Handy rake sold.
    Adult / 1,400 Yen
    Child / 700 Yen
    Including 2kg (child / 1kg) clam takeaway.
    Kuzuma Beach, Shiohi-gari Jo2265-3 Kuzuma, Kisarazu-shi, Chiba pref.0438-41-2696 (Kuzuma Fishermen's Union)
    0438-25-1140 (Shiohi-gari Information Telephone Service)
    http://www.kuzuma.or.jp/ (Japanese only)Depending on the tide, dertails on website.1,000 spaces, free.Toilet, changing room and rest area.
    Handy rake sold.
    Adult / 1,400 Yen
    Child / 700 Yen
    Including 2kg (child / 1kg) clam takeaway.
    Egawa Beach, Shiohi-gari JoEgawa, Kisarazu-shi, Chiba pref.0438-41-2234 (Egawa Fishermen's Union)http://www.egawa-gyokyou.or.jp/shiohigari.htm (Japanese only)Depending on the tide, dertails on website.800 spaces, free.Toilet, shower, changing room, rest area and coin lockers.
    Handy rake sold.
    Adult / 1,400 Yen
    Child / 700 Yen
    Including 2kg (child / 1kg) clam takeaway.
    Kisarazu Beach, Nakanoshima ParkNakanoshima, Kisarazu-shi, Chiba pref.0438-23-4545 (Kisarazu Fishermen's Cooperative Association)http://www.jf-kisarazu.jp/index.html (Japanese only)Depending on the tide, dertails on website.
    Bus avaliable from Shiohama Parking on Sunday and National Holiday.
    400 sapces, free.Toilet, shower, changing room, rest area and coin lockers.
    Handy rake rental avaliable and sold.
    Adult / 1,400 Yen
    Child / 700 Yen
    Including 2kg (child / 1kg) clam takeaway.
    Funabashi Sanbanze Kaihin Park40 Shiomi-cho, Funabashi-shi, Chiba pref.047-435-0828 (Funabashi Sanbanze Kaihin Park)
    047-437-2525 (Shiohi-gari Information Telephone Service)
    http://www.park-funabashi.or.jp/bay/bshio.htm (Japanese only)Depending on the tide, dertails on website.797 spaces, 500 Yen a day, 2,000 Yen a day for big vehicle (reservation in advance required)Toilet and coin locker.
    Handy rake rental avaliable and sold.
    Adult / 430 Yen
    Child / 210 Yen
    60 Yen per 100g required for clam takeaway.
    Ushigome Beach1434-3 Ushigome, Kisarazu-shi, Chiba pref.0438-41-1341 (Ushigome Fishermen's Union)http://www1.odn.ne.jp/ushigome.gk/ (Japanese only)Depending on the tide, details on website.1,000 spaces, free.Toilet, changing room, shop.
    Handy rake sold.
    Adult / 1,400 Yen
    Child / 700 Yen
    Including 2kg (child / 1kg) clam takeaway.
    Futtsu BeachFuttsu Kaigan, Futtsu-shi, Chiba pref.0439-87-2233 (Futtsu Fishermen’s Union, Shiohi-gari Desk)http://www.jf-futtsu.com/ (japanese only)8:30 or 9:00 ~ (depending on tide)1,200 spaces, free.Toilet, shower, changing room, rest area, restaurant and coin lockers.
    Handy rake sold.
    Adult / 1,600 Yen
    Child / 800 Yen
    Infant / 700 Yen
    Including 2kg (child / 1kg) clam takeaway with net bag.
    Hasaki Swimming Beach9572-1 Hasaki, Kamisu-shi, Ibaraki pref.0479-44-8069 (Sun-Sun Park Rest Area)http://www.kamisu-kanko.jp/kankou-page/sunsunpark.html (Japanese only)10:00 ~17:00 (Apr ~ Jun, Sep ~ Oct),
    8:00 ~18:00 (Jul ~ Aug),
    10:00 ~ 16:00 (Nov ~ Mar).
    600 spaces, free except 500 Yen a day from late July to mid August.Toilet, shower (100 Yen per 3 minutes), rest area.Free
    Otake Beach1326-4 Otake, Hokota-shi, Ibaraki pref.0291-32-3964 (Yamada Baiten, a beach house by the beach)http://www.ric.hi-ho.ne.jp/yamadabaiten/index.html (Japanese only)Every Saturday, Sunday and National Holiday during 19th April to 29th June.
    Releasing orient clams at 10:00 and 14:00.
    2,500 spaces, charge included in Shiohi-gari charge.Toilet, shower, changing room, rest area, restaurant and coin lockers.
    Handy rake sold.
    Adult / 1,500 Yen
    Child / 1,000 Yen
    Family ticket (2 adults & children) / 3,000 Yen
    Nikkawahama Swimming BeachNikkawahama, Kamisu-shi, Ibaraki pref.0299-90-1217 (Kamisu-shi, Commerce, Industry & Sightseeing Department) http://www.kamisu-kanko.jp/kaisuiyoku/index.html (Japanese only)9:00 ~ 4:00400 spaces, 200 Yen a day.NoneFree


 
 

Rocky Beach for Iso-asobi

Arasaki Park (ARASAKI KOUEN)

Arasaki is a cape at the west side of Miura-Hanto peninsula which overlooks Sagami Bay.  From here, apart from a great view of the ocean,  you could also enjoy the great view of Mt. Fuji and Amagi Mountain Range from the sea if you are lucky!

arazaki_kouen_07

A path leading to the shore from the park by the parking. Photo from ‘Kotdomo-to asobou‘.

arazaki_kouen_03

Rocky beach of Arazaki. Suitable for both Iso-asobi and fishing!

In Arasaki park, there is a lovely hill for a picnic and a seaside hiking course. You can enjoy your relaxing time even after the low tide zone is covered with water.

arazaki_kouen_04

Looking into the tide pool to find….

arazaki_kouen_06

Sea anemone and ‘Ishidatami’ shellfish, like periwinkle you seen in pool tides of Europe. Found in Arazaki Beach tide pool.

How to get to Arasaki :

Take ‘Yokohama-Yokosuka Road’ from Hodogaya IC and take Miura-Junkan Road at Yokosuka IC and take off at Kinugasa IC. After the exit turn left and keep going for about 5 km and at the T cross turn left and go toward south on the Route 134. At the crossing ‘Arasaki Iriguchi’ turn right and go forward about 10 minutes.

How to get there on train :

Take Keikyu line and go till the last stop ‘Misakiguchi’ and take bus bound for Arasaki

  • Details on train : http://www.haneda-tokyo-access.com/en/index.html
  • Information :

    Address : 6-5320-3 Nagai, Yokosuka-shi, Kanagawa pref.
    Tel : 046-824-6291
    Website : http://www.kanagawaparks.com/verny-mikasa/ (Japanese only)
    Opening Hours : 08:00 ~ an hour after sunset
    Toilet : Avaliable
    Parking :91 spaces (including 3 oversized vehicle spaces)
    Parking Charge : Free except for 1,000 Yen on Saturdays, Sundays, National holidays and from 20th July to 31st August, 2,000 Yen for oversized vehicles a day.

 
 

Cape Manazuru, Mitsuishi (MITSUISHI KAIGAN)

Manazuru is located on Manazuru Peninsula on Sagami Bay in Kanagawa Prefecture.  The very end of the peninsula is called Mitsuishi where you could enjoy strolling along the ‘Shiosai Yuhodou (Shiosai footpath)’ towards “Mitsuishi”, the three huge rocks standing on the very end of the peninsula.  Apart from Iso-asobi, this place is great for fishing where many fishing fans visit.
Since the beach is rocky, shoes that are easy to walk in are must.  The sunset view would be a good picture here, so if you have chance to stay here long, don’ miss the moment!

manazuru

Birds’ eye view of Manazuru Peninsula and Mt.Fuji with its’ top with snow.

 

manazuru_mitsuishi_02

“Mitsuishi” rocks. They have long been a plce of worship in this area. The rope across the two rock tops are the sacred ropes you see in shrines.

This picture is when the tide was low when you could walk near to the sacred Mitsuishi rocks!  But it’s really gard to walk because of the big round rocks….

mitsuishi hide tide

“Mitsuishi” in a high tide where the path are under the water.

How to get to Manazuru :

Take Tōmei ExpresswayW and at Atsugi I.C. change to Odawara-Atsugi Road.

odawara_atsugi_roadsign

At Odawara Nishi I.C. Odawara-Atsugi Road ends and continue going on SEISHO BY-PASS and keep going till the end. It will take you to normal road, National Route 135.

At Manazuru Station turn left to Prefectural Route 739. At the end of the road you will find a car park of Cape Manazuru site where souvenir shop, cafe, restaurant and Endo Shellfish Museum are located.

How to get there on train :

Take Tōkaidō Line to Manazuru Station. Express train doesn’t stop at Manazuru Station. So get off the Express train at the nearest big Station Odawara and change to Local train.
At the Manazuru Station take Izu Hakone Bus (Japanese site only but brochure in English, Korean and Chinese are available on profitable fare coupons and routes) to “Cape Manazuru”. There is a bus every thirty minutes.

  • Information :

    Address : 1175 Manazuru, Manazuru-cho, Ashikagashimo-gun, Kanagawa pref.
    Tel : 0465-68-1112
    Website : http://www.manazuru.org/capemanazuru.html (Japanese only)
    Opening Hours : 09:00 ~ 16:00 (17:00 from 17th July to 31st August)
    Facilities : Souvenir shop, cafe, restaurant and Endo Shellfish Museum
    Parking :Available
    Parking Charge : Free except 500 Yen from 17th July to 31st August a day.

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