, 2017

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
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Tai fish (Sea-bream)

Sea-bream and Japanese mind
An introduction to a festival float which is dedicated to the fish "Sea-bream".


Hi, friends!
This month, I will tell you about a fish which is something special to Japanese people from old time
Sea-bream is the fish. In Japanese, it is called "Tai".
In Japan, Tai is the king of the fish. Japanese people have loved Tai for many centuries as an authentic fish. At weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, many other happy occasions, Tai is always in the center of the table.

Karatsu has a famous festival, and its history goes back more than 100 years.
Each town made a special float to do a parade. Designs are various. Some Lions, some helmets, some other fictional animals, and so on.
Among them, there is a float which is shaped as Sea-bream. Very unique. And it is popular.

This Sea-bream float belongs to a town called "Fishmongers' town."
Today, Mr. Osamu Takushima tells us a story about their float Tai. Please enjoy.

Osamu Takushima

『The Fifth Festival Float of Karatsu, The Tai』 








1:The Fishmongers town



In Edo Period, Karatsu was one of the Castle towns, which was schemed and built around the castle.
It was often the case that the same occupation's merchants lived next to each other. For example, grocers, kimono-shops, swordsmiths, ...etc.
Among them, our fishmongers' town existed.
You will see the red circle on the old map.
It was near the river mouth, and it must have been very convenient to carry the harvested fish by small boats.






  This fish has been loved by Japanese people for a long time.
Looks good.
Taste good.
Abundant in the near sea.
The word Tai reminds people a word 'Medetai' which means "Congratulati

At the Karatsu Festival, Fishmonger's town people treat friends and relatives to a huge cooked Tai.


The Tai Float


The shape of Tai looks simple, but if you try to draw it, it is quite difficult, if you are an adult. But if you are a kindergarten child, Tai must be your most beloved float.
Tai is the most popular motif of children's drawing.


 A triangle seen from the front
 A diamond seen from the side  An ellipse seen from the back




Movable part

The tail of this float can be folded or removed.It was necessary to make it like this because it should sometimes go under some obstacles like electrical wires or the shrine gate.The body itself can make the head go down or up.




Male or female?
Have you ever been interested in the gender of some floats?
This Tai is obviously a male, judging from its shape of the face!
An adult Tai fish has a protruding forehead.
Some of the floats are males, others females. There is one ! The fictional bird Phoenix!


4:The Journey of Tai



In 1979, our Tai was invited to join the Carnaval de Nice.
Since then, he has travelled abroad twice, and his domestic journey was 5 times.
Everywhere, it was welcomed enthusiastically!

This year, our Tai was polished and the wheels were renovated. Wider than before, the same size of the original figure.

To commemorate the year when Karatsu festival floats were registered as UNESCO's World Cultural Legacy, we are happy and feeling more enthusiasm about continuing this important festival.
I hope you will enjoy this year's Kunchi Festival more than ever.







 Thank you, Mr. Takushima.
We will surely enjoy meeting your fabulous Tai!
Japanese minds have always loved and adored Tai for hundreds of years. There are folkstories and legends of tai fish.
Tai is the king of fish.
Tai is most delicious in spring, when it has eggs and is ready for delivery. Skin turns into cherry-blossom color, pink and bright. We call it "Sakura-dai", meaning Cherry blossom Tai.
Please come and try it. It is a taste of heaven.

Thank you for your visit.
Looking forward to seeing you next month again.
Harumi Okochi
mail to: info@yoyokaku.com