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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Constant visitor, 87, keeps returning to CNMI to fish

Eighty-seven-year-old Kazuo Sato, a repeat Japanese tourist to the CNMI, shows yesterday a photo of the day he caught an 80-kilo tuna 20 years ago in Anatahan waters. (Haidee V. Eugenio) Even at the age of 87, Kazuo Sato keeps coming back to the CNMI, which he first visited in 1993 mainly for recreational fishing. He said that even in their twilight years, many retired Japanese continue to find solace in the CNMI’s weather, waters and people for their fishing expeditions.

“I started coming here in 1993 as a tourist, mainly for fishing. Fishing is a hobby for me. I stopped only eight years ago when my wife passed away. But now I’m back again. I won’t fish this time but when I come back in June this year, I will go fishing again,” Sato said at yesterday’s interview, through Hideo Kato, who served as translator.

Even with his small frame, Sato said he knows he can still fish on the islands north of Saipan using a rod and reel.

“I am still excited about fishing,” he added.

He keeps a memoir and a photo album of his fishing trips to the Northern Islands since 1993.

One of the sets of photos he’s most proud to show during the interview at Himawari was the day he caught an 80-kilo tuna in Anatahan waters in 1994, exactly 20 years ago.

“That’s my biggest catch,” the retired bus and taxi driver from Tokyo said.

Sato said he wants to share his story to show how elderly Japanese continue to pursue their passion, be it recreational fishing or something else. He said his visit this time around is to escape Tokyo’s snowy weather and later, to fish again.

He said he has noticed that the face of tourism, at least on Saipan, has changed. Sato said many restaurants, for example, now cater not only to Japanese tourists but also to Chinese, Korean and Russian tourists. In some restaurants, he said, he could not find a Japanese menu these days.

Back in the days, Sato would come here as part of a group of tourists wanting to go fishing. He said he used to stay at Hafa Adai Beach Hotel during all his previous trips but due to the lack of available rooms this time, he stayed at the much smaller yet efficient Himawari Hotel, also in Garapan.

He said the CNMI still has a large elderly Japanese market to tap to visit the islands.

Japan continues to be the CNMI’s main tourism market.

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