Best time to visit Japan

Eel Fishing in Japan 2024-2025

In order to attract eels, Japanese fishermen use an interesting technique. Check it out for yourself!

Best time: November–mid-April

Eel Fishing
Eel Fishing
Eel Fishing

Did you know that fishermen can really be quite crafty? Those who fish in the Yoshino River on Shikoku Island are the perfect example of the wit this activity requires. When the cold season comes and during the change of tide from low to high, local fishermen take advantage of the eels' love for light. Sometime around midnight or early morning the fishermen take their boats to the river and turn on the beam of strong light. Afterwards, they can just scoop up the eels without any effort. Not only this is a magical sight, but also a truly s​ly fishermen's tradition! The high season for this type of fishing falls on mid-winter. Sadly, though, with every year the amount of the eels decreases and soon this tradition might vanish as well.

Practical info

When is the best time of the year to witness eel fishing in Japan?

Witnessing eel fishing in Japan is possible every year from November to mid-April, normally around midnight or early morning. The high season is during mid-winter. Nonetheless, the quantity of eels is decreasing, threatening the continuation of the tradition. Show more

Where can I experience eel fishing on Shikoku Island?

Shikoku Island, specifically the Yoshino River, is a destination in which the ancient eel fishing spectacle can be observed. The tradition is handed down from one generation to another, and watching the process is magical, especially in the dark of night. Fishermen use strong lights to entice and collect eels. Show more

What is the technique used by fishermen to attract eels during the cold season?

To take advantage of eel's affinity for illumination, fishermen use powerful lights on the Yoshino River when the tide is shifting to draw eels toward the surface for easy capture, as they become entranced with the light in conditions of low light.Historically handed down, this method shows the appeal of this exotic animal to the Japanese fishermen. Show more

Why do eels love light and how is this utilized by Japanese fishermen?

Eels have a natural inclination towards light, a feature used to their advantage by Japanese fishermen who use it for a successful catch. Using the river and a bright light as a backdrop, the fishermen wait for the eels to approach the surface, making it easy for them to capture the animals that they catch. This is a gorgeous sight and a historical method that has been passed on as a tradition. Show more

Is the eel fishing tradition in danger of disappearing completely?

Unfortunately, the eel fishing tradition is likely to disappear altogether as there is a significant decrease in eel numbers each year. Pollution and alterations to waterways systems are reasons for this decline, and the fishing technique could be lost forever. Watching the eel fishing spectacle is possible today, but there is no telling how long it will continue. Show more

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