By Hidehiro Saga / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer
15:00 JST, September 18, 2023
Just seeing the exterior of the building, which looks like a Showa era (1926-1989) penny candy shop, is nostalgic. Musashinoen, a fishing park, has been in operation for more than 70 years near Wadabori Park in Suginami Ward, Tokyo.
“I like this old-fashioned atmosphere,” the third-generation owner Daisuke Aoki, 56, said. “New stuff doesn’t fit here.”
The entrance is lined with autographs of celebrities who’ve visited for filming TV shows or on their own time. There are also the handprints of sumo yokozuna brothers Wakanohana and Takanohana. They used to come to the park when they were kids.
Musashinoen currently has four ponds, keeping carp and Japanese crucian carp as well as a “shark” with its huge head sticking out of the water. Musashinoen received the shark sculpture after it had been used for a movie filmed there.
For 30 minutes of fishing time, it costs ¥600 for adults and ¥500 for junior high school students and younger. Visitors get ball-shaped bait on a plate and a fishing rod. “Tips for fishing” listed where the rods are kept include: “Don’t blame fishing equipment for your poor catch.”
The park is crowded with families on weekends, but weekday visitors can fish in peace and quiet. After choosing a spot and sitting on a randomly placed beer crate, I got down to serious fishing. According to Aoki, fish stay relatively high up in the water during the summer and stay in the depths during the winter. The trick is to adjust the bobber’s position and suspend bait off the area where the fish are.
While listening to a chorus of cicadas, I waited for the bobber to move. I had visited Musashinoen before for fun and wowed surrounding visitors by catching a carp. Eager to relive that past glory, I pulled the rod but missed despite feeling a strong tug on the line.
A 73-year-old regular who caught a big carp beside me advised, “Keep the rod upright. You won’t catch fish with a slack line.”
I found myself busy with setting bait and changing locations searching for the best spot, totally immersed into fishing like a child. I had a blissful time trying to outwit the fish.
Address: 2-22-3 Omiya, Suginami Ward, Tokyo
Access: A 15-minute walk from Nishi-Eifuku Station on the Keio Inokashira Line.
Memo: Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (6 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays). Cafeteria opens at 10 a.m. Closed Tuesdays and Thursdays.