Monday, January 31, 2011

Sakana-kun (Mr. Fish)

Do you know Sakana-kun (Mr. Fish) ?

He is a fish researcher, TV personality and illustrator, whose real name is Masayuki Miyazawa. When I happened to see him on some TV shows several years ago, he was talking in a high-pitched voice with a childlike jolly twinkle in his big eyes, with a fish-shaped headwear on, sometimes jumping up and down joyfully. I saw his unfailing interest in fish and knowledge about them exuding from the way he talked.

Some years ago, I knew that he became a visiting associate professor at Tokyo Kaiyo University ( Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology) established with a merger of two national universities; Tokyo Shosen Univ. and Tokyo Suisan Univ. Interestingly once he failed to enter the latter university as a student. Despite failure, he didn't give up and proved himself in the field he was interested in.

Well, later last year, there was a big news which made a headline; The fish found in Lake Saiko in Yamanashi Prefecture was identified as a “kunimasu” salmon, a species that was believed to have become extinct 70 years ago. In 1940, because of the project of a hydroelectric power plant, lots of acidic water was drawn from the river into the Lake Tazawa in Akita Pref., the species’ only native lake, which resulted in extinction of the species.

Lake Tazawa

However, there were reports saying five years before the project, an attempt was made to preserve the species by transferring its roe in Lake Saiko. The list of extinct or threatened species continues to grow worldwide but as for this species, with a consideration of people involved they seemed to have survived in secret.

                                          Lake Saiko with Mt. Fuji at the back

Well, how did Sakana-kun contribute to this discovery? When asked by his old acquaintance, a professor of Kyoto Univ., to draw a picture of kunimasu salmon, he collected some “himemasu”, a kind of sockeye salmon, for the reference of his work.

To his surprise, among them there happened to be species he thought to be kunimasu itself and brought it to the professor to confirm it.

The Emperor, known as a fish researcher, gave credit to him and people involved for the discovery in his statement prior to Emperor’s Birthday conference.

By the way, he once wrote a message to children who were bullying or being bullied on the paper as follows;
“In the world of fish, I find there is bullying. Take “mejina” for example, they are swimming along well enough in the sea but once put into a small water tank, one of them becomes a subject to be left out and attacked. When I move it to another water tank, the bully begins to attack another subject. Likewise while I remove the bully, another bully comes out.
When in junior high school, that kind of thing happened in a small club I belonged to. I had a friend who was being ignored by the club members. I often accompanied him on fishing at the seashore. Just dropping a line together away from school seemed to help him feel relieved.
I think myself to be odd but when I am in nature and absorbed in fish, I forget something unpleasant or depressing. It’s a shame to stay within a small cage, and bully someone or dwell on something that is not nice to think about when it’s time to make good friends. Why don’t you get out and feel a broad sky and the seas.”

My husband has engaged in fish related business for a long time and he would often go abroad to purchase fish. He developed his interest in fish because he liked to “eat” them, though. So I’ve had some attachment to Sakana-kun. I hope he continues to pursue his career to help preserve and reproduce fish resources and play as a lovable role model for children and adults as well.

At the congress with the Emperor at present. Sakana-kun has his own style with a headwear on, which has become a part of him.
(all images in this post are from website)


  1. Hello, Cosmos.
    I really enjoyed reading your post.

    It was a respectable project that they have moved the Kunimas-salmon from Tazawa Lake to Saiko Lake 70 years ago.I would like to pay tribute to Mr.Sakana-kun’s enthusiastic research, which resulted in the discovery of Kunimasu salmon. I also believe that the story of the fish put in a small pot, told with his joyful personality, must have encouraged the bullied students. I like this sweet story very much.
    The background color of your blog is beautiful!!
    *Red rose*

  2. Lovely post!

    Sakana-kun's character and his way of thinking are both so nice.
    And, that you and your husband have an interesting common subject is also nice.

    In my case my husband is definitely sportive and I'm not. So I try to have time to go out and walk together.

    By the way, when my husband I visited Okinawa, we observed Kumanomi through the bottom of glass boat. They were so cute.

  3. Excuse me for my igonorance, but I’ve learned the existence of Sakana-kun for the first time when he was addressed by the Emperor last autumn. This post is so helpful to learn more about him and the photos of Lake Tazawa and Lake Saiko are beautiful. Thank you.

    Interestingly, in English we call the groups of fish as “school of fish”. In a group of small group in (human) school, there tends to happen bullying.

    By the way, you acquired new skill to arrange several photos in one frame. Well done!

  4. Thank you, Red rose, for your comment.
    He said that audience was amused by a bit funny way of his talking at first but gradually they came to listen to him with some respect. Funny but his sincere devotion to his study and lovable character have been a good influence on people,especially on children, I hope.

    Thank you for the compliment on the background color. I am trying various pattern just for fun.

  5. Haricot

    It’s not that I’m very much interested in fish but I remember doing kind of snorkeling at Cebu in Philippine. Under a clear emerald water ,starfish was at the bottom of shallow and tiny fish were swimming around me.
    I don’t know what kumanomi are like, but I can imagine how they were cute.

    Enjoy walking with you husband! Thank you for the comment.

  6. Stardust,

    I'm a little embarrassed to say this, but the last picture you made a compliment is from the website as the way it is. I wish I could have done the arrangement for myself. My skill still remains low! Could you tell me how to do?

  7. Oh, cosmos, it's me who is embarrassed! Each picture in the frame looks to have a link to the original, so I thought you arranged the photos from the website into one frame. Now I made sure that a click on each photo linked to the same picture in the frame. Sorry for causing unnecessary uneasiness. I myself would like to know how to arrange pictures in one frame.

    Anyway, I really love the photos of the lakes. The clear, beautiful lake water makes me convinced that the lake could be a nice habitat for fish, and the different colors of water which change according to season, weather, time, or the amount of light, with sky and lake reflecting each other, are beautiful.

  8. Thank you for your wonderful blog. I'm very glad to hear that “kunimasu” salmons have survived in Lake Saiko helped by the thoughfull people.

    Everyday many species are disappearing from the earth, this is definitely good news!!

    I am very surprised as in the world of fish also bullying exists. When they are stressful in a small watrer tank, one of them is chosen and bullyed. It seems to release stress for the survival of the entire groupe by sacrificing one. This is only my guess.

    I enjoyed your blog very much. Thank you again!!

  9. I went Lake Tazawa in last year. Its water was very clear. I heard that Tazawa Lake is deepest lake in Japan but only one kind of fish can live because acidic water began to flow into it. Kunimasu extincted from Tazawa Lake at that time, didn't they?
    I have misunderstood Sakanakun. He is a Sakana-doctor,isn't he?

  10. Your “garden in May ”is very beautidul!
    I have not noticed that until now. It has hidden for a long time below???


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