Tokyo ward welcomes return of seasonal grilled fish festival

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Pacific saury are grilled during the Meguro no Sanma Matsuri in Meguro Ward, Tokyo, on Sunday.

In a residential corner of Tokyo the sights, sounds — and smells — of autumn were alive and well as the Meguro no Sanma Matsuri festival was held Sunday.

Skilled chefs cooked sanma Pacific saury over a charcoal grill during the event in Meguro Ward where participants can get free tastes of the seasonal fish.

This was the first time the event has been held since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Given a decrease in saury catches, the organizers had considered canceling the festival for the third straight year. The fishing community of Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, which became friendship cities with Meguro Ward in 2010, was eager to provide saury in thanks for the help received in the aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

This generosity made the event possible, even if a month later than usual.

Because of the smaller catches — last year the total haul was only a tenth of what it was 10 years earlier — only 1,000 saury were available, instead of the usual 5,000. The event still drew about 9,000 applications, showing its enduring popularity.