When you think about Summer in Japan, one of the things that will come to mind may be goldfish, which are known as ‘Kingyo’ in Japanese. Kingyo designs can be seen in many shops in the Summer. I have often seen Kingyo in large bowls outside restaurants in the Summer. I have heard many people say that looking at the fish makes people feel cooler.
Goldfish scooping can often be found at festivals in Japan. This limits the opportunity to try goldfish scooping. The good news is, there is a place called Kingyozaka that offers this all year round. I got the opportunity to go to this shop and try goldfish scooping, which always looks like so much fun.
Kingyozaka has been a goldfish shop for over 350 years and supplies fish to other shops and festivals stalls. The restaurant has been there for over 13 years and is a place for people to relax while they eat.
The first thing I learnt was that goldfish scooping is known as Kingyo sukui in Japanese. The fish for the Kingyo sukui are kept in a tray at ground level so that people of all ages can reach it. Next to the tray are small fish shaped bowls to put the fish in when you have caught them. You can pay 200 yen for one scoop or 500 Yen for three scoops.
The scoopers are called Poi. The frame of the Poi is plastic and scoop itself is paper. The idea of the game is to try and scoop as many Kingyo as possible without the paper in the Poi fully breaking. When the paper breaks, the game ends. Even though it looks easy, there is quite a bit a skill needed. I was given a tip to try and slowly scoop the fish, rather than try to be to quick. With my Poi ready in hand, I tried to decide which fish would be the easiest to aim for.
On the first few attempts I didn’t catch any fish. It was quite hard, but really fun at the same time. I then tried scooping the smaller fish that were near the surface, this seemed to work better.
At last I managed to catch a small silver fish, but then missed the next few attempts after that.
It is important to make sure the fish have enough water in the bowl.
Then the paper started to break. You can still play when the paper starts to break, but this makes it very hard! I think I improved on my second Poi; I managed to catch another two small fish.
Restaurant and Shop
After I had finished the Kingyo sukui, I had a look around the shop. There are many cute Kingyo designed goods that you can buy.
Upstairs is a restaurant where you can take a break and enjoy food and drink. The cafe is goldfish themed and has a very relaxed feel to it. I ordered an apple juice. The place mat the drinks came on, had Kingyo embroidered on them.
After finishing my drink, I had a look at the other Kingyo behind the goldfish scooping area. The Kingyo come in many different shapes, some are round, some have bumps on their heads and others have square looking faces.
I had lots of fun playing Kingyo sukui and would definitely like to try it again. Even though it was a really hot day, I forgot about the heat while I was playing the game. Maybe I will get better next time and be able to catch the bigger fish.