samedi 5 septembre 2015

My encounter with Masami "Tenkara-no Oni" Sakakibara (Part 1)

I originally had the project to enjoy my stay in Takayama to go fishing on the Miyagawa but unfortunately this was a project failed because of strong thunderstorms that night had given the river an opaque grey stain. So I took advantage of these three days to visit the city and once again I had the chance to host a Japanese family with the opportunity to live in the historic center of the city, just a few meters to the Higashiyama walking course.

If you visit one day Japan I invite you to visit this city that will give you a very good overview of not only the rich culture of Japan but also of provincial life that is very different from what you might experiment in Tokyo or even Kyoto . Everything here is much quieter and serene than in big cities. Do not be surprised if walking through a residential area you see a man wearing a samue and sugegasa working in the rice field adjacent to his house. 

I devoted my days and visit the old town still making a few detours to go watch the river that was still greyish and spent the evenings with the Shimizu family. Although I have not had the opportunity to fish in this river where was born the famous Takayama sakasa kebari this stay in this beautiful city will remain an everlasting memory of my stay in Japan.

After a little more than three hours by train I arrived in Kakegawa, where I was greeted by Masami Sakakibara and his wife Coco. After nearly three years of contact only on the internet I was finally in the presence of the person by whom I discovered tenkara. His blog is definitely from that day my biggest inspiration and I would not even remotely consider going to Japan without meeting him. 

We had dinner in a restaurant whose food was delicious and the owner seemed a bit eccentric who seemed not to believe to have a French visitor! Masami-san and Coco are wonderful people who know how to put you at ease immediately and this first contact was very positive. As it was often the case during my stay strong stormy rain did on us while we were strolling in the city which gave us the opportunity to go home and watch DVDs among others devoted to tenkara. Thanks Masami-san for sharing with me these documentaries and answering my questions.

The next day I will know the house's cats trio while Masami-san was interested very closely to weather forecasts that were not really good, the least one could say, since a typhoon was announced to strike the area where he had planned to go fishing. Masami-san will decide to postpone the date of this fishing trip. 

When the rain finally stopped, we take the opportunity to visit the city and its beautiful castle. We will also visited an antique shop and the one of a manufacturer of samurai armor. For me who has been interested for a long time in history, civilization and culture of Japan this afternoon was really excellent.

The sky remained overcast all day but when Masami-san suggested me a casting session I accepted willingly and the fine drizzle that was falling from the sky was quickly forgotten. Who better than the man who designed some of the best rods in the world can provide you the better information on tenkara rods and lines?

I had the opportunity of a presentation on the rods and lines and the best possible combinations and then we started the  casting session and I must say that if  Masami-san's casting  is already impressive on a video that is really nothing compared to a live demo. Incredibly accurate. 

Masami-san is a very good teacher, he immediately identifies small defects in your casting and explains you clearly how to correct these defects. After making me try many rod/line combinations he did seem satisfied with my casting so he and myself were going back home. I had the pleasure and privilege to see him tie his kebari in front of me and then followed a very interesting conversation about that topic. Is it a coincidence that the greatest tenkara anglers, those who like Masami-san developed their own technique, evolved over time towards greater simplicity? Surely not.

Outside we heard a very strong wind and heavy rain, the typhoon was passing over the city. 

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