Oka Osamu, head of the Osaka Bay Iwashi Kinchaku-ami fishing cooperative, has two claims to fame. One, he developed a collaborative system for whitebait fishers, who had been selling their hauls individually, to help them stabilize the market for their catches, an initiative that attracted the attention of fishing operatives throughout the country. “Ocean currents enter Osaka Bay both from the Pacific Ocean and the Inland Sea, with many rivers draining from surrounding mountains, the waters are rich in nutrients. We can harvest whitebait continually from May through December,” says Oka, whose fishing career began upon graduating from high school. Two, Oka is a professional singer, whose stirring ballads may be viewed on YouTube.
Kinchakuya, a restaurant operated by the fishing cooperative, serves fresh seafood. The star attraction on the menu is shirasu-don, a bowl of fresh whitebait on rice. Whereas most whitebait is sold to processors, Kinchakuya is one of the few places where diners can enjoy fresh whitebait.