Mayu Kawahigashi／Fish Meister, Fish Storyteller
Ms. Kawahigashi tells me, “I’ve loved fish since I was little.” She is a certified “Fish Meister and Adviser” and has been appointed by the Japanese Ministry of Fisheries as a “fish storyteller.” She has been working hard to promote the consumption of more fish on the island.
Ms. Kawahigashi moved to Yakushima from Tokyo in 2011. Now she lives with her husband, a fisherman, and their two-year-old son in the village of Anbo. Before settling in Yakushima, she traveled and fished much of the coast of Japan, studying local fishing methods and food culture along the way.
“So much here on the island was new for me. I suffered from culture shock.”
Surprised by the variety of fish and the rich local food culture, she decided to settle here and explore this territory that was so new to her. In recent years Japanese are eating less fish and the people here on Yakushima are no exception. In response, Ms. Kawahigashi collaborated with the Yakushima Council for the Promotion and Improvement of the Local Fishing Industry to create a recipe book titled Pickled Fish, How to Eat Yakushima Fish Deliciously and Wisely.
“I felt that we needed to change the way we consume fish.”
Ms. Kawahigashi has always been an earnest researcher, so – in an effort to create recipes that “were varied, tasty and preserved the fish well” – she dedicated a full year to compile and complete this recipe book. And those who buy fish at one of Yakushima’s local fish markets are entitled to a complimentary copy.
While working to promote the local fishing industry, Ms. Kawahigashi often runs into major barriers. I asked her how she keeps at it every day, without giving up. “Because I’m fond of the fish here, I can’t bear to see such delicious fish go to waste.” Hearing these words I could feel the extent of her love for these fish.
Written by Sanpo-tei Rei Ogata