Japanese fishers celebrate start of 2023

Fishers based at a port with the largest annual catch in Japan have marked their first day at sea in 2023.

A fleet of over 30 fishing boats sailed from Choshi Port near Tokyo in the annual new year event on Thursday. They hoisted large flags that they normally put up on their way back to port following a rich haul.

The fishers poured sake rice wine into the sea in a ritual to pray for the safety of their operations and good catches in the year ahead.

Local officials say that Choshi Port handled about 236,000 tons of fish last year, making it the largest port in Japan in terms of catches for the 12th year in a row.

A tourist who watched the event said she was impressed by the sight of so many fishing boats going out to sea at the same time.

Hatakeyama Shinichi, a skipper of one of the boats, said they sometimes had to put up with rough conditions last year. He said he hopes the waters will be calmer and bring good catches this year.