だいぶ間が空いてしまいました。春のツアーや炭焼きを経て、気がついたらもう6月。ここ数日で緑も空気もぐっと濃くなり、夏の到来は避けられそうにありません。

It’s been a while since the last post. Spring was spent doing a bike tour and charcoal making, and the next thing we knew, the air had become moist and heavy. Seems like the approaching summer is unavoidable.

島の初夏と言えば磯。大潮に合わせた3日間の解禁日が、5月半ばを皮切りに3回開かれます。その間人々の挨拶は「磯は行ったね?」。目玉はウニだけど、ミナやらトコブシやらの貝類もお楽しみらしい。みんながあまりに磯磯してるので、山育ちで貝類に興味がない私もとうとう磯体験。

One of the big events in early summer on the island is iso, the peried during which people can harvest the bounty of the seashore. There are three separate three-day periods, each set during the full or new moon when tides are higher and lower than usual. There is also ama in which people are allowed to swim/dive to catch abalone or turban shells. Iso is done only on the seashore. During the iso season, people ask each other “Did you go to iso?” instead of “How are you?”. I had to go check it out even though I have no interest in shellfish.

耕耘機は島では大事な交通手段。 Small tillers are an important mode of transportation.
耕耘機は島では大事な交通手段。
Small tillers are an important mode of transportation.

掻き棒とテボとおやつの枇杷を積み込んで、馴染みのじいちゃんの年代物耕耘機で磯場に到着。まずびっくりしたのがおばあちゃんの足取り。ゴツゴツぬるぬるの岩場をしょい籠しょってヒョイヒョイ渡っていきます。最近腰が痛くて歩くのも大変なはずなのに。そんなばあちゃんが「これはクズマ、圧力釜で炊くとふわふわしておいしかよ」「カタキャはそのまま焼いても甘辛く煮てもよか」と教えてくれます。クズマやカタキャはそこらに張り付いているけど、ウニは石の下や海藻の間に隠れています。岩のくぼみにはまっている「穴ウニ」を見つけるとすっかり宝探し気分。こりゃあ燃えるわけだ。ウニはいなくても石の下は海の生き物たちの天国。色も形も様々、でも一様にぬらっとしていて、身近なような異質なような。

おばちゃん本人が入りそうなしょい籠はじいちゃんお手製。A big basket made by Tokuzo san for Matsuno san
おばちゃん本人が入りそうなしょい籠はじいちゃんお手製。A big basket made by Tokuzo san for Matsuno san

My bamboo craft teacher Tokuzo san drove his antique tiller with his wife Matsuno san, Brett and me on the trailer behind. We arrived at the vast Oshima iso and started looking around. Matsuno san has a chronic backache that makes it hard for her to walk, but that day she hopped between slippery rocks like a bunny. She pointed at various kinds of shellfish and told us their names. Uni, sea urchins, are the primary target of iso. Unlike some other shellfish, they are hidden and it feels like a treasure hunt to search for them. I was excited when I found spiky dark red balls under rocks or in little caves and I don’t even like to eat them. I could imagine how much more exciting it would be for those who love to eat them.

至る所に出来た潮溜まりは、どこもまるで竜宮城。ピンクや紫や青の岩肌と、その間で揺れる海藻やイソギンチャク、滑らかに這い回るウミウシ。全くの異世界です。波の音すらしない静けさの中、巨大ナメクジにヒレがついたようなウミウシのゆるやかな移動を見ていると、思考というものが無意味に思えてくるものです。

The falling tide left numerous pools on the rocky shoreline and each pool presented a curious scene.  Sea anemones and seaweeds were swaying while sea slugs crawled smoothly between pink or blue rocks. There was not even the sound of waves or wind. Staring in silence at the mysterious sea slug and its gentle movement brought me to a different world.

磯の後はウニ割り。これも気長な作業。 Shucking uni.
磯の後はウニ割り。これも気長な作業。
Shucking uni.

遊びみたいな収量だけど、ウニと貝、お目当てのテングサもしょって引き揚げました。「磯上がりにはこういうもんがうまか」と出してくれたジャガイモの塩茹でが、懐かしい味でおいしい。磯は驚くほどお腹が空きます。そういうものみたい。 何はともあれ、島の人が燃える磯とやらを体験できて満足です。これからテングサを白くなるまで洗って干すの繰り返し。恐ろしく暑い夏の心強い味方になるのです。

Our catch was nothing like the islanders’, but I was satisfied especially because I got some tengusa, a type of red algae used to make agar-agar. It has to be washed and sun-dried several times until becoming all white. It’ll be one of our staples during the exhausting heat of summer.

一度洗って干したテングサ。ちょっと白くなってきた。 Tengusa after one cycle of rinsing and drying.
一度洗って干したテングサ。ちょっと白くなってきた。
Tengusa after one cycle of rinsing and drying.

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