Kari Grohn's Home Page - Japan - Rishiri




Rishiri Island, Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park

Rishiri Island is the northernmost island of Japan. It is located about 20km off the northern tip of Hokkaido. Together with neighbouring Rebun Island, Rishiri belongs to the Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park. Many of the island's 6,000 inhabitants are making a living from tourism and fishing. 

When I visited Rishiri, konbu (seaweed) was collected by the Local Fisheries Cooperative Association, which is responsible for the management and protection of these resources. In the morning I walked along the village road and saw fishermen sitting on the side of the village road with konbu parcels. I was interested in everything and villagers were interested in me. Some locals invited me, a stranger, to their houses. I had a very nice time till the evening. When returning I met the villagers again. They gave me small things, such as soft drink and an ocean green blown glass fishing net float ball etc. I was born in remote North Karelia, which is situated next to the Russian border. I feel that unreservedness and natural inquisitiveness are characteristics of my people and Rishiri people.

Konbu (kelp) is very rich in minerals, calcium, iodine, vitamins A, B1, B2 and C and other nutrients. Today Japanese consume more seaweed than any other people in the world. A historical account describes how konbu was among the gifts presented to the imperial court in 715. The finest konbu comes from the northern coasts of Japan. Rishiri konbu is the best seaweed for dashi (a soup stock). It produces a wonderfully clear broth, and clarity is one of the criteria for dashi.