For lovers of river fish cuisine: Tsukeba

June 23rd, 2013 by
Category: Cuisine, Information, Seasonal Topics

Do you like eating river fish? I mean really, really like it? And does the idea of eating river fish in a simple shack along side the river from where the fish came sound appealing? Then perhaps you should try eating at a “Tsukeba”.

Salt-rubbed grilled river fish 'haya' at Shomura Tsukeba fish shack


Tsukeba fish shacks are a unique feature of the region along the Chikuma River. They dot the river from as far upstream as Saku, and downstream as far as Matsushiro. Traditionally, ‘tsukeba’ describes a place (‘ba’), actually a rocky mound in the river, where a river fish called ‘haya’ comes (‘tsuke’) to nest. They are caught by a net and typically skewered and grilled over a flame. Tsukeba have evolved to also include bait and other services for people fishing for ‘ayu’ sweetfish later in the season, and some Tsukeba also operate as restaurants where guests can enjoy a multiple-course meal featuring river fish prepared in various ways.  Because permanent structures are not allowed to be built along the river bank, by necessity Tsukeba fish shacks tend to be just that — simple, unglamorous shacks.

I recently went to Shomura Tsukeba here along the banks of the Chikuma River in front of our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada. The cuisine was excellent — you can’t get any more ‘local’ or ‘seasonal’ than river fish — and the setting there along the river took us to a different dimension. Enjoying the haya and ayu delicacies while watching the river steadily flow by and feeling the breeze on your face is something you can only experience here at the Chikuma River and now, during the haya and ayu season.

Shomura Tsukeba along the Chikuma River

Shomura Tsukeba offers two courses, 2,500 yen and 3,000 yen. They will soon be transitioning from haya to ayu, and plan on running through the end of July.

Shomura Tsukeba. Tel# 090-5209-6590 Hirabayashi-san. Or feel free to call us here at Kamesei Ryokan 026-275-1032, to make a reservation.

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