The music group that my daughters attend had their annual Salmon fish egg fertilization event this weekend. It started on Saturday for me when I joined a group of 14 other parents and travelled by bus from Kawasaki to 「木戸川 Kidogawa」 (Kido river) up in Fukushima prefecture. We arrived at the river at around 1:00PM after leaving Kawasaki at 7:00AM.
So I got to see how Japanese river Salmon are caught and how their eggs are removed from the female, the fertilization process and how the fish hatchery works in general. I also learned that the Salmon we eat here in Japan is not river Salmon but ocean Salmon. Fishing the river Salmon is illegal. Makes sense now since the Salmon return to the river to lay their eggs. So our group had special permission and so received 4 female and 4 male Salmon for the following day's event.
So the following day (today as I type) all the families met at the 「宮前区役所 - Miyamae Kuyakusho」(Miyamae ward town hall) to see the fertilization event. One of the music school teachers cut open the 4 females and removed the eggs. All pretty medieval and yes the females die. Actually all 8 fish were killed and we ate Salmon soup later that day. So the males are milked and the whole mess is stirred about and each participants received a small dish of about 10 to 15 fertilized eggs to take home and to grow into Salmon. By next February the Salmon eggs will have grown into fish and they are released into the 「多摩川 Tama-gawa」 (Tama river) which borders Kawasaki and Tokyo. This is yet another event for the kids at the music school.
So now in our fish tank we have about 20 or so fish eggs ( I volunteered this morning and helped out with the event and so received 2 little dishes of eggs instead of 1 dish ) to grow into Salmon to be released into the Tama river next year. It is a fun family hobby that I hope will educate the kids about the great circle of life, fish in general and responsibility as the kids will hopefully take care of the eggs. You need to keep the water at a fairly constant 15 degrees and keep the tank clean etc. With a little luck we'll have 20 Salmon by next February. I might try and keep one fish past February and grow it in the bathtub. My wife doesn't like the idea though....