Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Spring marked by squid in Japan bay

Spring marked by squid in Japan bay

Kosai restaurant in Namerikawa, Japan, serves two kinds of hotaruika sashimi: a thawed frozen version (front) and another with the internal organs removed. Japan News-Yomiuri
Kosai restaurant in Namerikawa, Japan, serves two kinds of hotaruika sashimi: a thawed frozen version (front) and another with the internal organs removed. Japan News-Yomiuri

Spring marked by squid in Japan bay

JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI - In Toyama Bay, it is just about prime fishing season for hotaruika, otherwise known as firefly squid.

Already well known for its rich flavour, which goes well with vinegared miso or pickled in a soy sauce-based mixture, the squid has also attracted attention in recent years for its high nutritional value.

Once spring arrives, hotaruika come to Toyama Bay to spawn. Namerikawa, Toyama prefecture, boasts the largest haul of the squid in the prefecture. Local fisherman Kazuhito Mizuhashi said they “try to maintain the resource” by catching firefly squid when they return to the deep sea after spawning.

In early March, this reporter was offered a ride on a boat heading out for fixed-net fishing. The job involved a “parent” vessel and “child” vessel working in tandem.

The boats left port amid complete darkness at 3:30am to head for a spot 1 to 2 kilometers out at sea. First, the child vessel closed the net’s opening and took a position facing the parent vessel with the net between them. Next, the fishermen carefully pulled the net in by hand so as not to damage the hotaruika.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Once spring arrives, hotaruika squid come to Japan’s Toyama Bay to spawn. Japan News-Yomiuri

That day, the haul included more than 3 kilograms of firefly squid and a large number of sardines as well. The vessels returned to port by 5am, where the catch was immediately bid on and sent for processing. The hotaruika season peaks around April and lasts until June.

Hotaruika have roughly the same amount of vitamin A as kabayaki grilled eel fillets, research by Toyama College Professor Hiroyuki Takeuchi shows. The squid are also rich in vitamin B12, which helps prevent anemia, and taurine, which strengthens liver function.

The Toyama-ken Hotaruika Kyokai, an association made up of local fishermen and others, encourages consumers to eat firefly squid on the mid-spring Day of the Ox, which falls on April 27 this year.

“It’s great to eat hotaruika around when the seasons change, which is when people tend to get sick,” said Ryoji Tanaka, an executive at the Toyama prefectural federation of fishing cooperatives. “In addition to popular cooking methods, such as boiling them in salted water, you can also add them to pasta or pizza.”

Now there is a new addition: eating hotaruika raw as sashimi. However, due to reports that parasites have been found in their internal organs, the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry recommends eating the squid after its internal organs have been removed.

The Hotaruika Museum, located next to the Namerikawa Port, houses the restaurant Kosai, which serves both variations of hotaruika sashimi until April 13.

Hotaruika caught off Toyama prefecture are usually boiled in salted water before being shipped nationwide, while some vendors deliver frozen squid. Boat services that let tourists see hotaruika being caught are available through May 6 in Namerikawa. Visitors can also get a firsthand look at how hotaruika emit blue fluorescent light at the Hotaruika Museum, as freshly caught squid are on display there throughout the season.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon