Hakodate, the southern section of the Hokkaido island in Japan, has some of the freshest, cheapest, and most interesting seafood I’ve ever seen. Their specialty is ika squid. And by specialty, I mean they have invented all sorts of ways to eat ika squid, ranging from raw and still wiggling to boiled with a miso sauce glaze to chopped up and deep fat fried in a batter.
The Hakodate Morning Fish Market, however, takes the cake for the most interesting way to eat ika squid: Fishing for it.
How to go Ika Squid Fishing in Hakodate
1. Go to the Hakodate Morning Market
The Hakodate Morning Market is one of the best things to do in Hakodate (check out this other article for more cool things to do at the Hakodate Morning Market). It is a five minute walk east of the main Hakodate Station, open from 5am to noon. Ika fishing is one of the more fun things to do at the Morning Market.
2. Walk through the market until you see Ika squid swimming in a shallow plastic pool
There are a couple places to go ika squid fishing. The one I went to was in the center of the market, across from a giant restaurant. However, I saw a couple other places as well.
General rule of thumb, if you see a lot of ika squid swimming in a shallow plastic pool or tank with fishing rods nearby, you can fish for the squid.
3. Pay 1,000yen
4. Pick your fishing poll
5. Hook the barb into the triangular head of the Ika Squid
Most of the employees won’t speak English. If you speak Japanese like me – great for you. If not, just remember to hook the barb (instead of a traditional hook on the end of the fishing poll, it is a spiky barb – like those annoying weed/seeds that latch onto your pant legs and poke you) on the head of the ika squid. And by “head” I mean “anywhere on the triangular head.”
I hooked a squid in less than ten seconds. It’s sadly easy.
6. Pull it out of the water (and try not to feel guilty)
My dad took me fishing a couple times when I was little. I only caught a fish once – we were doing catch and release. Anyways, I felt awful when I pulled the fish up. I thought it must have been in so much pain (I bit my cheek once and it hurt like hell, I can’t imagine how the fish felt with a HOOK stuck into its cheek). It was just flopping around while I cried and my dad tried to unhook and release the little thing.
I felt a twinge of guilt when I pulled the wiggling ika squid out of the water in Hakodate.
7. Pass the fishing poll and squid over to the owner
The sign said “Ika Squid Fishing.” It didn’t actually say anything about EATING the squid you caught. So, when I caught the fish in less than ten seconds, I was disappointed by the fact my ten second preview as a fisherman cost 1000yen. that’s like 100yen a second. Not cool.
Then the owner took the wiggling squid and poll and told us to follow him to the restaurant.
8. Follow him across the street to the restaurant
Some have restaurants attached; some have deals with nearby restaurants. It depends.
9. Wait at the table while the squid is being prepared
We had to wait less than two minutes for our freshly cleaned, shaved, and sliced ika squid to arrive
Raw ika squid is one of my favorite things in Japan. I love the raw ika squid sushi (sashimi) and eat it whenever I can. I’ve never had ika squid this raw – I could taste the difference (and the quality difference).
11. Try not to feel freaked out (because the legs are still twitching) or guilty (because you sentenced the squid to die). This is harder than it looks
Look at this video. Do you not feel guilty? You just sentenced an ika squid to die. Feel the weight of your choices.
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