Firefly Squid Marine Tour
In my home prefecture of Toyama, there’s a firefly squid run every spring. They’re little squid that shine like fireflies, hence the name “firefly squid”. They have a lifespan of about one year, and once they spawn, their short lives come to an end. Their habitat includes both the Japan Sea and the Pacific Ocean, but they come in great swarms to spawn close to shore in one part of Toyama Bay, and sometimes there are so many that the surface of the ocean looks like the Milky Way. This phenomenon of firefly squid swarming at the sea’s surface has been designated as a special natural monument.
At the Namerikawa fishing port in Toyama, there is a firefly squid tourist boat that runs for a limited time every year, and people can go out early in the morning to see the firefly squid. It’s funny how we never notice the famous tourist attractions in our own hometowns. I decided to check out the firefly squid harvest right away.
One day in April, at 2:30am. We arrived at the tourist boat we were scheduled to ride in Namerikawa port. There was a light rain falling and we thought the trip might be cancelled, but the waiting room at the Firefly Squid Museum was full of smiling middle-aged and older people wrapped in life jackets. Yes, the people of Toyama love firefly squid so much they’ve actually built a museum for them. I poked around the gift shop in the waiting room until it was time to get on the boat. Firefly squid-themed products, dried firefly squid snacks, and many other souvenirs that are relatively unknown outside Toyama fill the shelves.
At 3:00am, it was finally time to board the boat. About 50 people got on the boat, and we went about 20 or 30 minutes out to sea where the stationary nets were. The early morning sea air is still very cold in April, so if you go, I recommend dressing warmly. The sound of the boat’s motor and the sound of the waves cut through the black sea of Toyama Bay. When we arrived at the fishing grounds, the fishermen started pulling up the nets, and the seagulls swooped in. The lights on the tour boats and the fishing boats were turned off. Then, what’s this? There’s a sparkling sea of blinking blue firefly squid! How fantastic! Apparently they light up when they are stimulated, so the fishermen toss the squid around in the net. This brought a round of cheering and applause up from our boat.
From the earth’s perspective, humans and firefly squid are more or less the same, so I sincerely believe that humans should gratefully receive a tiny share of the wealth from land and sea, and humbly return to the earth. On my way home, I received some freshly caught firefly squid, so I boiled and ate them right away. They look so funny and taste so good; they’re such cute little guys. I like them so much I’d like to get a firefly squid charm for my mobile phone or maybe a firefly squid keychain. Hip-hip-hooray for the bounty of the sea!
Season: Early April to Early May
Contact: Namerikawa City Tourist Association 076-475-0100