Japan’s Fishing Paradise

The bountiful waters around Goto and Tsushima islands

Off the coast of Nagasaki Prefecture in Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost major island, a series of islands are set in sparking blue water. The beauty of the area takes your breath away. This is where Tsushima and Goto islands are located.

Goto and Tsushima are blessed with one of the world’s best fishing spots. It is here — in the waters surrounding these remote islands — that Japan’s fishing industry often gets its biggest haul of various types of fish. The fish caught in this region have a reputation in Japan for being the most delicious.

The secret to the superior taste of the fish caught here has to do in part with the region’s special terrain and its ocean currents.

In the waters surrounding Japan, for the most part, warm currents come from the south, and cold currents from the north. The rich ocean currents are a blessing to Japan’s fishing industry.

Among these currents is the Kuroshio, the world’s largest warm current. Around Goto and Tsushima, the Kuroshio Current crosses the cold Liman Current, spurring a lot of plankton growth.

But that’s not all. The seabed here is one of the world’s leading continental shelves and is a shallow 200m deep. The sunlight hitting the shallow waters brings a rich bounty of plankton. Plus, the rivers that run off from the mountainous islands into the ocean bring humus from the deciduous forests, which feeds the plankton. The pristine forests from these unpolluted islands flow bit by bit into the ocean, creating a body of water rich in nutrients.

This is why the area is so rich in plankton. Many fish ride the ocean currents to this region so that they can feast on the region’s bounty.

One more aspect of the region adds to the superior taste of its fish: the currents in the waters between the islands are very fast. The fish that can handle the speed of these currents tend to be muscular and fleshy, which translates to a more delicious taste. This is one of the reasons the seafood from Goto and Tsushima are so sought after by Japanese chefs.

Two ocean currents come together to create an environment rich in nutrients. The waters around Goto and Tsushima are the result of a series of happy coincidences that add up to create one of the world’s best fishing spots. That’s why many chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants around the world source some of their fish from these waters.

Author profile

Bruce Rutledge loves books, baseball, and Pacific Northwest beer, He also loves Japan and has dedicated his career to telling more stories about the country through books, magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, and now, on Origami magazine. He works in Seattle's Pike Place Market. Come visit him in his store in the Down Under.