Having lived in Murakami for nearly 4 months, I’ve gotten used to the hanging salmon carcasses. Huge salmon are hung by the tail from every other store, restaurant, and house around town. We used to take pictures of these interesting customs, but never really knew why…??? until:
I was sitting at my desk at Minami Elementary when Kawamura-sensei, the friendly 4th grade teacher, ran up to me exclaiming “Naomi-sensei, do you know Shiobikisake?” “Nope” “Would you like to see?” “OF COURSE!!”
Parents and grandparents (members of the PTO) came in for a 4th grade event where they showed students how to clean, gut, and salt freshly caught salmon. Here’s the story:
The Miomote River is located on the northern part of Murakami Proper. Around this time of year, the Iyoboya Salmon return from the north to spawn. Loads of fish are caught, and are prepared the famous Murakami way. To begin, the outside of the sake is scraped to get all of the white film off. The bottom is then cut in two slits, from the head to around the belly area, and then from just below the belly to the fin. The reason they cut it in two slits is because Murakami is a samurai town. Back in the day, samurai used to kill themselves by cutting their own stomachs. This is such a sore subject that the Murakami salmon are the only salmon in all of Japan that refrain from cutting the stomach. All of the inside guts are taken out, the sake is washed of all its blood, and now ready to get heavily salted. The salted salmon is laid out for a week or two to preserve the fish. After this time, the extra salt is washed off and the salmon is ready to be hung out to dry for 1 to 10 months!! Supposedly this is the most delicious way to eat salmon, and I can’t wait!!