The sea of Okhotsk… Just the sound of it makes me shiver. Only a curtain of fog separates the Russian Kuril Islands from Japan along the narrow straight. Getting out of the car on the harbor of Rausu on the East coast of the Shiretoko peninsula in late August confirms my gut feeling. It is barely 12°C at 8 a.m. and the drizzle makes it worse. Nonetheless, the harbor is quite busy: it is the high season for salmon fishing.
Fishermen know where to throw their nets: this is the time of the year when salmons gather in the sea, about to swim upstream of the rivers where they got born.
Even if it is still a bit early in August, we take our chances and drive about one hour inland to Sakurano-taki, a waterfall on one of the many rivers of Hokkaido.
Finding it is not that easy, but as soon as we arrive, we are rewarded! Looking at that spectacular show, we can’t refrain ourselves from screaming a “wow!” every time we see a salmon jumping out of the water. Getting closer, we can clearly see them, some being quite dark, some being bright pink.
The waterfall is about the right height: low enough for the salmons to try and jump over it and high enough so that they will keep trying for a while… Their jumps are impressive: some go quite high, about 1.5m out of the water, some try a more horizontal approach while some seem to have a death wish merely smashing themselves into the rocks! And they just keep trying: after jumping, they swim to a slower current area, and go back for another attempt.
We are puzzled by this show and keep watching in the cold rain, trying to capture it on camera. Even if we own a quite decent gear, capturing this spectacle requires big and heavy lenses (and expensive!) and our pictures can hardly convey our amazement.
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