Let’s talk today about a curious though beautiful natural phenomenon that occurs these days on the West coast of Japan.
The Toyama prefecture, on the west coast of Honshû island, is one of the few places in the world where can be found a small squid species called ホタルイカ hotaru-ika (“Firefly squid”). The firely squid are producing light thanks to a special organ called “photophore”, emitting a fluorescent blue flashes. Each squid has thousands of them, mostly located on their tentacles and around the eyes.
The firely squids usually live in deep in the ocean, more than 1200 feet under the surface. However the strong waves and sea currents of the Japan Sea naturally push a large number of squids into the Toyama bay area during the springtime, between March and June.
The main reason tons of these bioluminescent squids are gathering into the Toyama Bay is… to make babies! The Toyama Bay waters are a place of reproduction for these species during the spring 4-month time. Basically these lights are meant to attract small fish, on which the squids can then feed, and also to attract females of the same species for mating.
The phenomenon, although not very known by the foreigners visiting Japan, attracts thousands of tourists each year, for the squid show of course, but also for Toyama area wild nature scenery and local fauna. Around 3:00AM, boats loaded with fishermen and curious people leave the port of Namerikawa, where is also located a museum dedicated to this original marine species. When arrived at appropriate spot, the fisherman cast their nets, capturing in just a glimpse hundreds of these “living diodes”, making them emitting their mystical blue lights in the water, turning the night see into a vibrating fluorescent pool!
More information about Toyama can be found on the following website: http://visit-toyama.com/en/
As some of you who know the Japan can imagine, Seafood-lover Japanese people are eating hotaru-ika. It is considering a fairly rare and it is usualy more costly tahn other common seafood. It is soft and tasty. Excellent boiled and served with sumiso, a dip-sauce made of miso and vinegar! If you are traveling around japan with a JR Pass during spring, do not miss the enchanting spectacle!
Mata ne !