Melons, Fishing and Sushi!

Melons, Fishing and Sushi!

Taste the bounties of Shima, Mie Prefecture and enjoy exciting, hands-on activities as you prepare traditional food and learn about the local culture.

Written by Dan Lewis

-Author's Introduction
Originally from the state of Alaska in the USA, Dan Lewis is a long-term resident of Japan. He has lived in Mie, Ishikawa and Gifu Prefecctures, and currently resides in Nagoya, the capitol city of Aichi Prefecture. Dan is an avid fan of technology and nature - two areas that Japan is blessed with! He loves taking "the road less traveled" and discovering new places.

During a fun-filled day of cycling around Shima, Mie Prefecture, we were able to visit both a melon farm, and a hands-on cultural center where we could have fun fishing and cooking traditional Japanese cuisine.  After a couple of hours spent cycling and cruising around Ago Bay, we made our way to our first stop: MELON HOUSE Kawaguchi.

Set in front of gold-topped rice fields, MELON HOUSE Kawaguchi is comprised of 10 greenhouses full to the brim with bright green melon plants, and a cute cafe where you can enjoy freshly cut melon, melon ice cream and drinks.

Mr. Kawaguchi, the fourth generation of melon farmers in his family, gave us a short tour and overview of his melon farm. He said that there are fewer and fewer melon farmers due to the age of most of the farmers. He explained the process of growing and harvesting the melons. It takes 50 days from planting until harvest - a much shorter time span than I had imagined!

He explained that by pumping hot water through the pipes in the floor of the greenhouses, they can produce melons throughout the entire year!

One very interesting point that I didn’t know was that as melons grow larger, cracks form in the rind. Liquid seeps out of the cracks and hardens into ridges in an effort to seal the cracks. This process repeats again and again and results in the webbed pattern that we see on the melons in the supermarket!

Mr. Kawaguchi explained that their melons are known for their smooth aftertaste with no bitterness. They produce over 10,000 melons per season!  Wow!

We all wanted to taste the melons for ourselves and finally, it was time!  The covered patio just outside the cafe was the perfect spot! Surrounded by green rice fields, it was an absolute pleasure to eat the melon as a refreshment after cycling.

We enjoyed our melon outside, but the cafe interior is also a great place to relax and enjoy the sweet melon.  Bright and airy, the wooden construction gives a feeling of comfort and warmth.

Originally made by a group of five families, the melon farm was established in 1930.  During World War 2, the greenhouses were taken down to avoid detection from above. After the war, seven families cooperated to restart the farm under a government subsidy program.  The current greenhouses were constructed in 1964. And the cafe was built in 2016 - the same year as the G20 Ise-Shima Summit which was held nearby.



Operating hours 10:00 - 17:00 (last order: 16:30)

Closed on Wednesday (sometimes other as well)

Parking available on site

Melon picking: not available

Melons are available for sale and can be bought in a two-melon box. 

“The melons grown here are not available anywhere else, and are grown from seeds. The flavor is refreshing and clean.”  - Mr. Kawaguchi


With sweet melon still fresh in our minds and mouths, we were back on the road, cruising past the rocky shores of Shima.  Cirrus clouds spread out over the Pacific Ocean, creating a beautiful paint-brush feel to the landscape.

We came off the main road and into a narrower path, through a residential area.  The tile art on the pathway reflected the local residents’ dependence on the fishing industry, and foreshadowed our next activity.

We entered a large parking lot with a sign that read UMIHOOZUKI.  At first, I thought it was some kind of restaurant, but it turned out to be something much more!

Colorful glass balls - originally buoys used for fishing nets - decorated the entrance to the building. Inside, we were greeted by a huge lobster statue, and the manager, Mr. Tanimizu. He explained about our experience here.  First we would do some fishing. Then we would learn how to prepare the fish for drying. After that we would make a special Japanese dish for lunch. And finally, we would eat it all.

We moved out to the back of the main building where there was an outdoor fishing pond. A friendly guy, Mr. Suzuki, explained the system and helped us get our fishing rods set up with bait.

The mackerel were hungry and it took only a couple of seconds to get one on the hook. Staff was there to help remove the fish from the hooks, so it’s perfect for first timers. Fun and easy!

The fish were placed into a bucket of ice water and we wrote our name on a piece of paper so they know who caught which fish.  Then we moved back into the main building and into a large kitchen. Mr. Oyama was on standby at the colorfully decorated entrance, showing us where to go.

Here, Mr. Suzuki demonstrated how to prepare the fish for drying. A little cut here, a big cut here, spread it open and slice it here.  He made it look so easy!

Tourist attractions covered by this article