Survey: Tenkara

17.07.25

Dissertations

テンカラ釣りと伝承毛鉤

The right and left side tail feathers of a peacock, which is used as a material to make fishing flies (produced in Ishigakijima, Okinawa Prefecture).
毛鉤の素材となる孔雀の左右の羽根(石垣島産)。

"Fly fishing", which consists of using flies disguised as insects to catch trout, who feed on aquatic insects such as mayflies that fly around the surface of rivers, has a long and extensive history. The details of its origins are not certain, but it is said that the act of catching fish using flies existed in Macedonia and was described by Roman author Claudius Aelianus in his book on natural history. It was also widely popular among the noble class in England during the 17th century, and the technique was also described in Izaak Walton's "The Compleat Angler" (1653) and John Dennys' "The Secrets of Angling" (1652), two works that are known to be literary masterpieces regarding the art of fishing.

川面を飛ぶカゲロウなどの水棲昆虫を捕食するマス類の魚の食性を利用し、それらの昆虫に見せかけた毛鉤(フライ)を用いて魚を釣る「フライフィッシング」の歴史は長い。その起源の詳細はわかっていないが、古代ローマの著述家アイリアノスが書いた博物誌の中に、マケドニアでのフライを使った釣りについての記述があるという。17世紀にはイギリスの貴族の間で広く親しまれるようになっており、釣り文献の古典として知られるアイザック・ウォルトンの『釣魚大全』(1653年)やジョン・デニー『釣りの神秘』(1652年)にもその技法が記されている。

The mayfly, an aquatic insect that is an important food source for trout.
トラウト類が捕食する水生昆虫カゲロウ。

Towards the end of the 19th century, the tools and techniques continued to evolve. The fishing rods, which had been made from wood, became smooth bamboo, while the fishing flies, which had been made from horsetail hair, shifted to silk. Fly fishing made its way to the United States years later, where it continued to develop independently from its origins. In addition to the spread of new technology, such as the use of carbon rods and nylon lines, the United States became the place with the most advanced fly fishing techniques beginning in the mid-20th century up until today.

In contrast to fly fishing, of which its roots are in Western Europe, a fishing technique using traditionally Japanese-style fishing flies has also existed in Japan for many years. During the Edo period, while fly fishing was widely practiced to catch sweetfish in the rivers near villages, a different style of fishing using flies to catch fish such as Arctic char and trout was practiced in mountain streams. Today, the latter style is referred to as "Tenkara fishing".

19世紀末になると道具や技術が進化し、木製だったロッドはよりしなやかな竹製へ、フライラインは馬の尾の毛からシルクに変化。その後、アメリカに渡ったフライフィッシングは独自の発展を遂げ、カーボンロッドやナイロンラインの普及とともに、20世紀半ばから現在に至るまで、同国はその先進地となっている。

こうした西欧をルーツとするフライフィッシングに対して、日本にもまた古くから伝統的な和式毛鉤を用いた釣法が存在していた。江戸時代には、人里近くに棲むアユを対象とした毛鉤釣りが広く行われた一方で、山深い渓流では毛鉤でイワナやヤマメを狙う、現在では「テンカラ釣り」と呼ばれる独自の釣りが行われていた。

Many theories existed about the birthplace and origins of "Tenkara fishing" and there are many mysteries surrounding it, but the use of that name to describe all Japanese-style fly fishing taking place in mountain streams began as recently as the mid-1960s. In any case, what is important is that while fly fishing was widely enjoyed in England more as a hobby, Tenkara fishing was passed down in Japan by professional fishermen and hunters who sold the fish that they caught to mountain lodges.
Although not much information about the history and tools used for Tenkara fishing has been preserved, many of the techniques developed by professional fishermen who dwelled in the mountains have been passed down to future generations.

「テンカラ」の発祥や語源については諸説あり、謎に包まれているが、この呼称が渓流での和式毛鉤釣り全般を指して使われるようになったのは比較的最近であり、昭和40年代以後のこととされる。いずれにしても重要なことは、イギリスのフライフィッシングがゲーム性を重視した"趣味の釣り"として広く楽しまれてきたのに対して、テンカラは渓流で釣った魚を山間の宿などに卸す「職漁師」と呼ばれるプロの釣り師やマタギたちによって受け継がれてきたということだ。テンカラ釣りの道具、技法についての歴史や体系的な情報がほとんど残されていないのも、彼ら山のエキスパートである漁師たちの編み出した技が"秘伝"に近い形で細々と伝承されてきたためである。

Tenkara fishing, which does not use fishing reels, was developed in mountain streams in Japan, where the rivers are relatively narrow.
リールを使わないテンカラ釣りは川幅の狭い日本の山岳渓流で発達したもの。

In contrast to fly fishing where fishing rods are equipped with reels, a simple rod and string are used for the Tenkara tackles. Originally, the rods were made with bamboo, the lines were made with horsetail hair, and the fishing flies were made from the feathers of various birds such as copper pheasants and peacocks, or from the cotton extracted from flowering ferns. These fishing flies were constantly being developed and evolved as "trade secrets" through trial and error by fly craftsmen all over Japan, and were only passed down to a select handful of people. Today, these rare fishing flies are referred to as "traditional fishing flies".

リールのついた竿を使うフライフィッシングに対して、テンカラのタックルは竿と糸のみのシンプルなもの。かつては竿は竹、ラインには馬の尾の毛を撚った糸が使われ、毛鉤の胴毛や蓑毛にはヤマドリ、キジ、クジャクなどの鳥の羽根、あるいはゼンマイの綿毛など身近なものが利用された。こうした毛鉤もまた各地の毛鉤師たちが試行錯誤を重ねて生み出した「企業秘密」として、ほんの一部の人々にのみ受け継がれてきたものであり、誰にも継承されることなく忘れられたものが少なくない。その中でわずかに伝わる一部は現在、「伝承毛鉤」と呼ばれている。

A reproduction of the legendary Oku-Nikko Gorochi fly, made using the brightly colored feathers of female pheasants.
再現された伝説の奥日光ゴロ蝶毛鉤。雌雉の毛足の長めの胸毛で明るい色のものを使用。

A fishing fly that uses the thread made from the cocoon of a Japanese silk moth./A fishing fly made from the covert feathers of a peacock.
ヤママユの繭とその繭の糸を使った毛鉤。/孔雀の飾り羽根を使った毛鉤。

A "sakasa kebari" or "backwards fly" is unique to Tenkara fishing. The fly opens up when it is pulled through the water upward and downward.
テンカラ独特の逆さ毛鉤。毛鉤を流す時に上下に誘いを入れる操作をすると蓑毛がフワッと開く。

Mr. Takaaki Sasaki, owner of online shop "Sasaki Densyo Kebari" in Koga, Ibaraki Prefecture, is a rare "fishing fly expert" who collects information about traditional fishing flies from various regions and manufactures and also making them available through his shop. Born and raised near Watarase River, a major river in the northern Kanto region of Japan, Sasaki fell in love with fishing at a young age. "When I was a child my uncle gave me old fishing flies, and I was mesmerized by their different colors. I always thought that I wanted to try catching fish with them one day," he says. As fly fishing requires highly specialized knowledge, experience, and technique, "I was taught by older fishermen about the art of fly fishing, and began investigating and learning more about old fishing flies on my own".

茨城県古河市でオンラインショップ『佐々木伝承毛鉤店』を営む佐々木貴章さんはこうした各地の伝承毛鉤の情報を蒐集しながら継承し、自ら製作・販売している稀少な「毛鉤師」だ。渡良瀬川に近い同地で生まれ育ち、幼少時から釣りに親しんだ佐々木さんは「親戚の叔父さんが古い毛鉤を大事に持っていて、その色とりどりの毛鉤を見て、いつか自分も釣ってみたいなと思っていた」という。毛鉤釣りは高度な知識と経験、技術を必要とするため、「親しくなった高齢の名人の方に教わったり、自分なりに古い毛鉤について調査しながら独学で覚えていきました」。

"Masutsuri Fu Iwana Yamame", published in 1935 (Author: Kouki Meguro, Tokyo Sugiyama Shoten). Information regarding traditional fishing flies is collected from past literary documents such as this one.
昭和10(1935)年発行の『鱒釣り附いわな やまめ』(目黒廣記著、東京杉山書店)。こうした過去の文献から毛鉤の情報を拾い集めている。

As mentioned earlier, information regarding traditional fishing flies was kept strictly confidential and was not disclosed to the general public, so learning about traditional fishing flies that only experienced fishermen were familiar with, who were well-versed on the ecology of fish in their nearby habitats is not an easy thing to do.

"I studied up on traditional fishing flies by reading the few documents that have been preserved over time and talking with local fishermen. Traditional fishing flies have been passed down with care through generations but it still remains highly secretive, so it was difficult to even get people to show them to me. I was able to earn their trust over time and finally was able to get them to teach me about the materials used to make and assemble traditional fishing flies."

先述のとおり、「門外不出」である毛鉤の情報は広く公開されることはあり得ず、土地の魚の生態を知り尽くした釣り師のみが知る伝承毛鉤の知識を深めることは容易ではない。

「数少ない文献記録をあたったり、地元の人達の間で伝わっているものを聞きこんで調べたり。毛鉤は大事に伝承されてきているので、非常に閉鎖的で、個人間でもなかなか見せてもらえません。長い時間をかけて通い、少しずつ信頼を得て、初めて毛鉤の素材や巻き方を教えてもらえるという具合ですね」。

Feathers from a kingfisher, considered the gem of mountain streams.
渓流の宝石カワセミの羽根。

Feathers from a crested kingfisher, considered the best hunters in mountain streams.
渓流のハンター山翡翠(ヤマセミ)の羽根。

Most of the information was passed down through word of mouth, so the original shape of fishing flies remains unclear, and not many actual traditional fishing flies remain today.

"For example, the "Gorochi fly", which was commonly used by fishermen at Lake Chuzenji in Nikko, was made from the feathers of female Japanese pheasants and tied together using thread made from the cotton extracted from flowering ferns. There is only one known Gorochi fly that exists today and is exhibited at a museum, but no one knows whether it is the real thing or when and who it was made by. The only way to determine its authenticity is to match it with the details described in old documents. There are also fishing flies called "Kingoma" and "Gingoma", which were made from the feathers of Japanese bantams and also used in the Nikko region; these two types were previously discovered at an antique flea market."

口伝による継承が中心のため、オリジナルの形態が不明な場合も多く、古い毛鉤の実物もほとんど現存していないという。

「例えば、中禅寺湖界隈で使われていた有名な奥日光の『ゴロ蝶毛鉤』と呼ばれるものがあって、蓑毛は雌のキジの胸毛、胴にはゼンマイの綿毛を使って巻かれたものとされています。これは現存している実物がひとつだけあり、博物館に展示されていますが、それが本物かどうかはわかりませんし、誰が作ったかもわからない。文献に記されている内容を合わせて、総合的に判断していくしかないんです。同じ日光では胴にカワネズミの毛を使用したと伝わる『金胡麻』、『銀胡麻』と呼ばれる毛鉤がありますが、これは過去に現物が骨董市で発見されています」

Cotton extracted from flowering ferns, which is primarily used as a material to make fishing flies.
主に毛鉤の胴材に使われるゼンマイの綿毛。

Feathers from the back of a peacock (produced in Ishigakijima, Okinawa Prefecture).
孔雀の背中部分の羽根(石垣島産)。

Many of the traditional fishing flies were made with materials distinct to the regions where they came from, and there are countless different types of fishing flies with unique characteristics throughout Japan.

"The "Togatta fly" that was used by fishermen in the Sumikawa region in Miyagi Prefecture, is an extremely unique type. A fisherman friend of mine who I had known for many years taught me that instead of using tail feathers of copper pheasants, the Togatta flies were made using the bone marrow of the pheasants that appeared when the feathers were plucked. At Watarase River in Tochigi Prefecture, best known for being the home of the Ashio Copper Mine, the fishing flies are tied with copper wire instead of the standard thread to make them heavier."

伝承毛鉤の多くは、各地域独特の材料が使われることが多く、それぞれに特色を持ったバリエーション豊かな毛鉤が全国に無数に存在する。

「宮城県の澄川の職漁師が使っていた『遠刈田毛鉤』は山鳥の雌の尾羽根毛ではなく、羽を引き裂いた時に出るストーク(髄)の部分を使った非常にユニークなもので、これも懇意にしている方の元へ何年か通って教えてもらいました。また栃木の足尾銅山で有名な栃木県の渡良瀬川では、銅線のワイヤーをスレッドの代わりに使ってタイイングし、毛鉤を重くするものがあります」

Tail feathers from a copper pheasant used to make the "Togatta fly"./The covert feathers of a peacock (produced in Ishigakijima, Okinawa Prefecture).
遠刈田毛鉤等に使用する山鳥の尾羽根。/孔雀の飾り羽根(石垣島産)。

By utilizing the knowledge and experience gained over the years, Sasaki spends his days manufacturing fishing flies inspired by the traditional. Stabilizing a hook with a fly tying vise, he carefully ties together rare materials using silk thread and creates beautifully handcrafted fishing flies.

"I put my own twist on the traditional fishing flies and sell them as originals. In recent years, many cheap knockoffs have been circulating over the internet, so I pay careful attention to prevent imitation fishing flies from being sold."

佐々木さんはこうして得た知見と経験を駆使して、日々、伝承毛鉤の製作を行っている。フライタイイング用のバイスにフックを固定し、絹糸等でさまざまな希少な素材を巻き上げる緻密な作業により、美しく細やかなハンドメイドの毛鉤がひとつひとつ生み出されていく。

「秘伝による伝承毛鉤は僕なりにアレンジを加えて、オリジナルの毛鉤にして販売するようにしています。特に現代ではインターネット上で安易にコピーされて酷い事になりますので、模造品が出回らないように注意しています」

Mr. Sasaki using tools such as a vise, bobbin holder, and whip finisher to tie a traditional fishing fly.
バイス、ボビンホルダー、ウィップフィニッシャーなどのツールを駆使して伝承毛鉤を巻く佐々木さん。

Utilizing local plants and animals, many of the traditional fishing flies that were refined over the years was a tool of necessity used by professional fishermen to catch as many fish as possible in short periods of time avoiding damage to them from overuse. On the other hand, although they were manufactured strictly as fishing tools, Sasaki was mesmerized by their physical appearance as well as the subtle details incorporated into making them.

"To be honest, if you use an authentic fishing fly and have the proper technique, you can catch fish using any type of fly. However, real fishermen never compromised their appreciation for the aesthetic beauty and functionality of their valuable tools. The fishing flies were never meant to be made to show off to others. In the past, craftsmen were extremely particular about the fishing flies they used when crafting them. I always thought this philosophy and way to be cool and pure."

地元の身近な動植物を駆使し、長い時間を経て洗練されてきた伝承毛鉤の多くはあくまで職漁師の生活とともにあり、そこには「あり合わせの素材と必要最小限の道具で、短時間でより多く、商品である魚を傷つけずに釣る」という無駄を省く釣りの思想が込められている。しかしその一方で、仕事道具でありながら、単なる見た目の派手さや精巧さとは異なる部分で「すごく凝っていてこだわりがある」ところに佐々木さんは惹かれるという。

「正直を言えば、ちゃんとした毛鉤を使って正しい技術があれば、どんな毛鉤でも釣ることはできるんです。だけど、彼ら職漁師たちはやはり自分の仕事道具の美しさや機能性に妥協はありませんでした。人に見せるためのものじゃない。たったひとつの毛鉤を、自分だけが使うための世界にものすごくこだわって作っていたんです。その美学が本当にかっこいい、粋だなあと思いますね」

A fishing rod from American brand "TENKARA ROD Co.". With a total length of 8 feet (2.40m), the rod features a short design.
アメリカのブランド〈TENKARA ROD Co.〉のロッド。竿全長8フィート(2.40m)のショート設計。

Fishing using Japanese-style flies was relatively common in various regions until around the 1950s, but the deterioration of the natural environments during the period of high economic growth resulted in a decrease in the number of fish in the rivers, and fish such as char and trout were primarily farm-raised. The changes of the times ultimately led to a temporary disappearance of the Tenkara fishing technique. However, in recent years Tenkara fishing is showing signs of a revival. "Today, Tenkara fishing is beginning to become more and more popular in the United States, the home of fly fishing," says Daisuke Tsuchiya owner of "GROUNDSTORE", a specialty shop in Chofu, Tokyo that carries Tenkara fishing-themed fashion products and outdoor gear. Rod maker "TENKARA USA", which is also carried by the store, is a brand that was founded in Boulder, Colorado in 2009. "The idea of Tenkara fishing, which uses lightweight and simple systems to catch fish, has become very popular among backpackers and minimalists who are very particular about the tools they use."

Tenkara fishing is the ultimate rational technique that has been polished and developed by professional fishermen. Its functional beauty is now making a comeback on the world stage.

職漁師による和式毛鉤を使った釣りは昭和30年代ごろまでは各地に存在したが、高度経済成長期に自然環境が悪化して川の魚が減少、イワナやヤマメは養殖が中心となり、時代の変化とともに姿を消していった。こうして一時は忘れられたテンカラ釣りの技法だが、近年になり再評価の兆しを見せているという。「今ではフライフィシングの本場、アメリカでも『TENKARA』が注目を浴び始めています」と語るのは、東京・調布市でテンカラ釣りをテーマにファッションとアウトドアギアを扱うセレクトショップ『GROUNDSTORE』オーナーの土屋大介さん。同店が商品を取り扱うロッドメーカー〈TENKARA USA〉は2009年に米コロラド州ボルダーで生まれたブランドだ。「道具にこだわりを持つバックパッカーやミニマリストたちの間で、軽量・シンプルなシステムで釣れるテンカラのアイデアが熱く支持されています」。

職漁師だからこそ磨き得た、究極の合理的な釣りの技法。その機能美が今、世界を舞台に復活を遂げ始めている。

A look inside "GROUNDSTORE" a specialty shop located in Chofu, Tokyo.
調布市のセレクトショップ『GROUNDSTORE』店内の様子。

SASAKI DENSHO KEBARI
6-2 NISHIKI-CHOU, FURUKAWA-CITY, IBARAKI 306-0037
Closed: No scheduled
densyo-kebari.com

佐々木伝承毛鉤店
306-0037茨城県古河市錦町6-2
定休日:不定休
densyo-kebari.com

GROUNDSTORE
1-23-11 WASHINOUE BLDG 1F, KOKURYO-CHOU, CHOFU-CITY, TOKYO 182-0022
042 480 0595
Opening Hours: 15:00-21:00
Closed: Every Sunday and Holiday
groundstore.jp

GROUNDSTORE
182-0022東京都調布市国領町1-23-11ワシノウエビル1F
042 480 0595
営業時間:15:00-21:00
定休日:日曜・祝
groundstore.jp

Survey, defined as: to examine or inspect. In these features, we will be reporting on things, people, places, or cultures that inspire us in our daily work of making products.

"Survey"とは「調査・検分」の意。〈visvim〉が日々、ものづくりをする上でインスピレーションを与えてくれる魅力的なモノ、人、場所、文化などさまざまなトピックを独自の視点で取り上げ、レポートします。

edit & text: Kosuke Ide
photo: Keisuke Fukamizu

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