For the long-awaited Soma-tour, Chef Kato of restaurant ‘Catoe’ will prepare an Italian course using the fresh fish of trawler-fisherman Kikuchi. The plan for the 2nd day (for those who opt to stay overnight) will be an activity everyone can enjoy: clam digging! Come enjoy all the sea of Soma has to offer!
※The overnight plan is scheduled for the May 21-22, and included three meals (lunch and dinner on the 21st, breakfast on the 22nd). *those wanting to stay overnight, please fill write this in the ‘Additional Notes’ bracket on the application form.
Seishomaru (Trawler) – Motofumi Kichikuchi https://poke-m.com/producers/915
Catoe (Restaurant) https://www.instagram.com/catoeakaghianda/
The Soma area suffered a great deal of damage due to the earthquake of March this year, and it will take some time to recover.
Consequently, although it is very unfortunate, we have decided to cancel this tour.
Have a seasonal taste of Soma, with fish freshly caught from the Seishomaru!
The sea at Soma is full of different kinds of fish, like salt-water eel, octopus, flounder, halibut, horsehair crab, and squid. There are also many local species that are not usually found on the national market, but very tasty. Have a taste of what Soma in season has to offer, through the fish from Kikuchi-san's fisherman's direct delivery service, his pride and joy.
Take in the view of Matsukawa Bay and enjoy seaside activities at Haragama♪
The bus will first take you over the bridge that separates the Matsukawa Bay from the Pacific Ocean, to enjoy the view from Osu Beach. Once you get out of the bus and climb the short, steep hill up to the Yugao-Kannon Temple, the view is superb! While taking in the scenery, Kanno-san of the Minatoya Hotel will tell you all about the lives and history of the people of Matsukawa Bay. At the Haragama shore, which kids of the area see as their own playground, enjoy some seaside activities like crab-catching together with Kikuchi-san. A real sea-side activities professional will teach you all you need to know.
An exquisite Italian lunch course with a luxurious ocean view!
The long-awaited return of Chef Kato! He will bring the concept of his restaurant Catoe (expressing the seasonality of Fukushima) to Soma, through his ample use of Soma's fresh fish and vegetables. Let Chef Kato make your heartbeat go faster with his Italian lunch course!
Hop on the boat for some clam-digging!
As an optional activity for day 2, why not join in a clam- digging workshop? A small boat will bring you to the location. Get the full sea-experience in Soma, while enjoying the magnificent view of the sun reflecting on the water! (Additional fee of ￥5,000, max. 10 participants)
Make a brief stop at Hama-no-eki Matsukawa Bay, opened in October 2020
Every day, the food court where you can enjoy Soma’s fresh catch of the day is packed with both locals and tourists. Hama-no-eki even serves as a citizens’ kitchen, and is the place to be for local specialty products. Look forward to exciting original product line-up of the Soso-region.
※Due to the earthquake of March 16th 2022, large-scale renovation works are being done in Soma, incl. at Hama-no-eki Matsukawa Bay. In accordance with these works, the route may be adjusted. Thank you very much in advance for your understanding.
Optional activity: Clam Digging!
On day 2, why not take in the full early-summer Soma-sea experience with a clam-digging workshop? Take a small boat to the digging point, and dig for in-season manila clams with a large rake-like tool. A great chance for those without the necessary tools and for first-timers.
※Max. number of participants is 10 people. Additional fee applies (￥5,000 per person), to be paid on-site. Activity may be changed or cancelled according to weather conditions. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
Stay at hotel Minatoya, right next to the harbor, for the full Soma experience
Hotel Minatoya is located right next to Matsukawa Bay Fishing Port. In walking distance from the Matsukawa Grand Bridge and Matsukawa Bay, it is the perfect place for a morning stroll. Hotel owner and local key-person Konna-san’s friendly personality is sure to give you new energy. All rooms have an ocean view and will give you a feeling of freedom, that’s sure to make you want to visit Soma again!
★Hotel Minatoya https://www.minatoya-souma.com/cuisine
※(Bath-)towels, toothbrushes and yukata are included.
※An additional ￥2000-fee applies for those staying in a room on their own.
※If the number of applicants exceeds the hotel’s maximum capacity, it may be necessary for some to stay in alternative lodging.
- 22 years as a fisherman started with a promise... Owner Offshore Trawler Seishomaru - Motofumi KIKUCHI
- Kikuchi-san is a 22nd year-fisherman, something he once swore he would rather die than become. Producer of 'Hama-no-eki Matsukawa Bay', co-editor of the 'Soma Taberu Tsūshin'-newsletter, and creator of 'donko bōru'-dumplings, he promotes Soma's fish through delevoping new products and trade routes.
Born in a shipowning family in Soma’s bountiful fishing zone
The Kikuchi-family has been the owner of fishing trawlers for generations, and made a living by going out fishing themselves. Motofumi-san is the fourth in this line. Before the 3.11 disaster, the Soma-area was known as a very bountiful fishing grounds, boasting one of the highest yields in the country for coastal-and offshore fishery, a wealthy diversity of species and excellent quality. It was a vibrant fishing town filled with young fisherman, who were more than happy to take up the job, having grown up seeing their fathers make a good living.
Kikuchi-san Sr. used to be a fisherman as well, but was injured while on the ship, and had already quit by the time his son was born. This was one of the reasons Motofumi-san decided he would die before ever becoming a fisherman. Yet, as a third-year college student, when his father had fallen ill, he made a promise to cheer him up: “After I graduate, I’ll take up fishing.” Never did he himself believe he would actually do it.
A 40-member family meeting: no more escape
After a tough fight, his father soon passed away. Motofumi-san was the only boy out of five siblings. As the old customs state that only men can go on the ship, Motofumi-san was left as the only direct family member able to inherit the Seishomaru. At a family meeting at which more than 40 relatives came together to discuss Motofumi-san’s future course, his uncles all pressured him: “So, Motofumi, what’s it gonna be? You’re taking up fishing, aren’t you?” Motofumi-san realized there was no more backing out, and accepted his fate of becoming a fisherman.
The ship Kikuchi-san operates is a bottom-trawler. Bottom-trawling is one of the toughest types of fishery, in which a trawler boat will set out to sea and drag a net for two hours before reeling it in. The huge amount of caught fish has to be sorted into different types in the short amount of time before the next net is raised. This process continues for the whole time on board. When during the hot season, this will go one for two days, one night. But during the cooler season, where there are more fish to be caught, this becomes a period of three days, two nights. All the while, there is no time to sleep. Kikuchi-san even caught himself sleeping on his feet sometimes. Whenever the work wasn’t progressing properly he would be yelled at by his seniors, making it an ordeal both physically and mentally. At times he thought about throwing himself into the sea just to get away from this hardship. Nevertheless, 22 years have passed since he became a fisherman. Whatever kept him going?
“No way this line is ending with me” and his comrades
No desire to become a fisherman from childhood, becoming one anyway out of necessity, and very tough working conditions. When asked why he did not quit: “Because I didn’t want the family business that goes back for such a long time to end with me.” But is that really the only reason?
After 3.11, the once-flourishing fishing port held its breath. But 11 years later, the port is recovering step-by-step to its former glory. The diversity of species is as rich as ever, from high-grade fish to lesser-known yet delicious local species. Properly showing the quality of these local species and bringing them to market is once of the ways to promote Soma. At Hama-no-eki Matsukawa Bay, the facility Kikuchi-san worked on as a producer, there is a food court where you can try these Soma-specific local species in the “Jizakana-don” (local fish-bowl) and the “Ryoshi-no-makanai-don” (fisherman’s meal-bowl).
Kikuchi-san’s new projects started when he was no longer able to go out fishing after 3.11. He joined forces with his fishing comrades and the people working in the local ryokan-inn business, who were all facing the same difficult circumstances, in an effort to restore the area.
While interviewing Kikuchi-san, suddenly the owner of Hotel Minatoya, Kanno-san, showed up. When Kikuchi-san asked what a good activity for the day would be, Kanno-san proposes, “How about crab-fishing?,” the kind of idea one would expect to come out of a brainstorm between two men who both grew up playing on the beach. Kikuchi-san has many friends of roughly the same age who all grew up in Soma. These local comrades he can always turn to for advice, and people like Chef Kato wanting to use Kikuchi-san’s fish in his restaurant; undoubtedly these are the people who keep Kikuchi-san going.
※The area, including Hama-no-eki Matsukawa Bay, is currently undergoing restoration works from the damage of the March 16 2022-earthquake. This interview, as well as the photos, is of July 2021.
- "'Local production/local consumption' is only natural, right?" Owner & Chef, Catoe Tomoki KATO
- "For vegetables, fruit or fish, the season changes every 2 weeks. You get the freshest products from areas close enough to get them yourself. Local production/consumption is just natural," says chef Kato, helping farmers, hunting and fishing himself, all to express Fukushima's seasons his cuisine.
Everything started from his surrounding
Chef Kato is from the town of Yabuki in Fukushima Prefecture.
He is from a family of part-time farmers, and grew up eating their own vegetables and rice. “My grandpa used to be a hunter, and my dad ran a Chinese-cuisine restaurant, so ‘food’ was always around when I grew up.”
As a real grandpa’s kid, they would often go to the local cycle racing track together, where Kato-san would look up to the cyclists who made a killing. Wanting to become a cyclist himself, he entered a school with a cycling club. However, an injured sustained during training forced him to find a different path.
The next idea that came to mind, was the way of a chef. After graduating high school, he entered the Japan Culinary Institute (Nitcho) in Koriyama City, where he first met Chef Ayuta of restaurant ‘La Cometa’ who was a visiting lecturer. Having heard from his teachers that Chef Ayuta was brilliant, he did not hesitate to approach him. Amazingly, in May, after only one month since entering the institute, he already got Chef Ayuta to directly allow him a future place of employment.
Experiencing the seasonality of Fukushima in Soma’s bay
During holidays, Kato-san would fo to Tokyo to help Cheg Ayuta at his restaurant, and as promised, after graduation he started work at ‘La Cometa.’ After four years of training, he moved on to restaurant Trattoria Tartuca in Nakameguro (Tokyo), in order to learn Italian home-cooking. He spent five years there. After coming back to Fukushima, he studied under Chef Yaguchi at restaurant Papa’Caldo in Aizu-Wakamatsu. In 2013, 13 years after entering the culinary world, he opened up his own restaurant, TRATTORIA La Ghianda.
He gained popularity for his restaurant with his Italian cuisine using Fukushima’s products in the spirit of local production/local consumption. However, because the restaurant mainly served a la carte dishes, he had to make many sacrifices to cater to the customers’ needs and wishes. Kato-san wanted to convey the seasonal products of Fukushima, and what he considered Fukushima’s best, as much as possible. This is also why he insists on using fish from Soma.
He decided that he would be better able express Fukushima’s best products through course menus, in which the full coordination lies with the chef. Also, rather than choosing not to use certain products because it is Italian cuisine, he pro-actively opts to use products such as soy sauce from a local, traditional soy sauce brewery, of which he knows the brewers are skilled. In order to serve the type of seasonal products on his own terms, in 2020 he opened his new Italian restaurant ‘Catoe,’ which mainly serves course menus.
“This is what I want to do now, and it allows me to express Fukushima’s seasonality,” says Chef Kato.
If I do this, it’s gotta be with him.
This is actually the 2nd FoodCamp for Chef Kato. In 2015, before the Food Cart was painted in its current way, he served a meal on a farm field, in the pouring rain. As we did not have the necessary staff or appliances, it was a difficult task for Chef Kato. The fact that he was willing to give it another chance, is all thanks to Kikuchi-san.
“I don’t want to do the same thing with the same people” said Chef Kato, but accepted the request on the basis that he would be able to do FoodCamp in Soma, where it would be the first time, and with Kikuchi-san, whom he could trust. It reflects the level of trust these two have with each other. How did it come about?
As soon as the news of the test operations of the Soma Fishing Port came out, Chef Kato instantly reached out to someone to introduce him to a good fisherman in Soma. Fish caught off the coast of Fukushima is called ‘Joban-mono’ and there were already quite a few chefs who used fish from the Onahama area, but not many who used fish from Soma. Also, Soma offers many types of bottom fish, including many rare ones. It made Chef Kato all the more curious to learn about the opening of the Soma Port.
This is when he was introduced to Motofumi Kikuchi. When he requested local fish species, he was surprised to actually get fish he had never seen before. When he asked how best to prepare this type of fish, he got a nonchalant look from Kikuchi-san. “I don’t know either, but some of the older fisherman here say it’s good!” According to Kikuchi-san, “Making sure to use everything you find in your net is the most sustainable way of fishing.” That is surely true. Chef Kato: “If someone says something is good, natually more people start ordering. That way, things that were perceived not to have value, start getting valued. Take for instance goosefish. Nobody used to pay anything for goosefish. But now, it’s a winter delicacy!
“Even though there may still be many hurdles to overcome, if people come here, they will find out everything Soma has to offer for themselves,” Chef Kato says with a cool demeanor. But beyond those words lie the hopes and dreams of this extraordinary pair.
※Masks were only taken off for the purposes of the photos.
Pick-up / Meeting Place
Pick-up by taxi (Koriyama Kanko Kotsu Taxi) from your house or place of stay in Koriyama, or at Koriyama Station. Pick-up time is usually around 8:20. We will inform you of your pick-up time one day before the tour.
*For those scheduled for pick-up at Koriyama Station, please arrive at Koriyama Station by 8:30 am.
Departure for the tour site, from the Magonote Travel Asaka Office.
* Those coming to the Office directly, please arrive by 8:50 (limited parking space).
Take in the Matsukawa Bay view!
First, the bus will drive over the frand bridge at the Osu Seaside that separates Matsukawa Bay from the Pacific Ocean. Once you get out of the bus and climb the short, steep hill up to the Yugao-Kannon Temple, the view is superb! While taking in the scenery, Kanno-san of the Minatoya Hotel will tell you all about the lives and history of the people of Matsukawa Bay.
Next, meet up with Kikuchi-san at Hama-no-eki and enjoy some seaside activities at the Haragama shore with a real sea-side activities professional. The contents of the activity is a surprise! Become like a seaside kid, and enjoy it to the fullest!
*Please wear comfortable clothes you do not mind getting wet (no need to wear swimclothes or an extra set of clothing).
*Please bring sneakers you do not mind getting wet, crocs or watershoes, that protect your feet at the beach (for those who do not join in the seaside activities, comfortable shoes are enough).
*As the activities take place outdoors, please bring things like a hat, towel etc. to guard you from the sunlight.
Chef Kato regularly uses Soma's fishery products in his cuisine. What kind of menu he will present is still a mystery. We are sure that this tag-team of Chef Kato and producer Kikuchi will present an Italian course lunch you will not easily forget!
*about 2 hours scheduled for lunch.
*those staying overnight will head out to the hotel after lunch (check-in at 15:00)
Visit the Hama-no-eki Matsukawa Bay, opened in October 2020. Besides a great variety of reasonably priced fish, other regional specialties such as fresh vegetables and fruit are also available. Even if just to have a look, it is a fun place to be.
*It is possible to have products shipped (incl. cooled/frozen products).
Departure from Hama-no-eki Matsukawa Bay,
Arrival in Koriyama
After arriving at the Magonote Travel Asaka Office, you will be brought by taxi to your home or place of stay in Koriyama City, or to Koriyama Station.
*For those planning further travel by public transportation please prepare an itinerary from after 18:00.
Check-in at Hotel Minatoya. Take a relaxing break before dinner.
Dinner & Hot Spring Bathing
± 19:00 p.ｍ.
Enjoy dinner at Hotel Minatota. After dinner, there will be time to enjoy the hot spring baths.
Check-out & lunch/shopping time at Hama-no-eki Matsukawa Bay
After check-out, enjoy shopping at Hama-no-eki Matsukawa Bay. For those who would like to enjoy lunch, we recommend Hama-no-eki Casetto (own expense). Enjoy the fresh fish Soma has to offer this season, with dishes such as the “Jizakana-don” (local fish-bowl) and the “Ryoshi-no-makanai-don” (fisherman’s meal-bowl).
Those interested in joining the clam digging (additional fee of 5,000 yen per person) will go by boat to the clam digging point and enjoy a clam digging session at Matsukawa Bay in low tide. Bring home all the clams you catch. Those opting not to join the clam digging session will have time to relax in the hot springs of Hotel Hiten.
*Depending on the weather circumstances, the clam digging may be cancelled, therefore the clam digging additional fee will be charged on-site on the day of (we recommend you bring a raincoat with a hood in case of bad weather).
After the activity, there will be time to warm up from the cold seawater, relax and get refreshed at the hot springs of Hotel Hiten.
Departure from Hotel Hiten, return to the Magonote Travel
Arrival in Koriyama
After arriving at the Magonote Travel Asaka Office, you will be brought by taxi to your home or place of stay in Koriyama City, or to Koriyama Station.
*For those planning further travel by public transportation please prepare an itinerary from Koriyama Station after 18:30 on May 22nd (Sun).
- May 21 (Sat.)
Per person, one-day trip (incl. tax) 18,800 Per person, overnight trip (incl. tax) 31,800 *Please write which course you prefer, and if you would like to join the activity (clam digging) in the "Additional comments" part of the application form. *Clam digging activity: ￥5,000 per person (to be paid on the day) *For those opting to stay in a hotel room on their own, please note there is an extra charge of ￥2000 *Same price applies for children, and participants arriving on-site with their own vehicle.
- What to wear/bring
- ・As we plan to do seaside activities and cloam digging (changed in case of bad weather), please wear comfortable clothing you do not mind getting wet. Change of clothes is also possible.
・*Please bring sneakers you do not mind getting wet, crocs or watershoes, that protect your feet at the beach (i.e. rubber soles) (for those who do not join in the seaside activities, comfortable shoes are enough). Please also bring a towel to wipe your feet.
・This tour takes place outdoors. Please prepare a hat, cap or towel to protect you from the sunlight.
・In order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, please wear a mask.
- Conditions of Participation
- Participation open to everyone over elementary school-age, and able to participate on their own (no need for accompaniment by a care helper, or with permission from a doctor). Same price for adults and children.
- Operating Company
- Koriyama Kanko Kotsu K.K
- Tour Operator
- Magonote Travel's own staff will accompany the tour.
- Payment Method
- Please refer to "How To Apply" for more information.
- Travel Insurance
- Travel insurance is required for all tours, in case of accidents and emergencies. The insurance fee is included in the price. For this reason, we need to ask for your date of birth.
- Cancellation Fee
The following cancellation fees will be charged for tours with lodging and tickets: 20 to 8 days in advance: 20%, 7 to 2 days in advance: 30%, the day before the tour: 40%, on the scheduled date before the tour starts: 50%, no-show without notice: 100%.
For one-day tours, the following fees will be charged retroactively from the day before the start of the tour: 10 to 8 days in advance: 20%, 7 to 2 days in advance: 30%, 1 day in advance: 40%, on the scheduled date before the tour starts: 50%, no-show without notice: 100%.
- In case of bad weather
- The tour will not be cancelled in case of bad weather. However, in case the tour has to be cancelled due to a natural disaster, you will be informed one day before the tour. In this case, you will receive a full refund.
- Minimum number of participants
- If there are fewer than 15 participants the tour will be cancelled. In such case we will inform you at least 4 days in advance.
- Terms and Conditions of Travel
- Please visit the ‘Terms and Conditions of Travel'-page.
- Other points of caution
- In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we ask all guests to fill in a health-check form beforehand. We will send you the details after we have received your application. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.