What You Should Know
Before You Eat Oma Tuna
Pacific Bluefin tuna, also called “black diamonds,”
are the largest species of tuna.
The Pacific Bluefin tuna caught in Oma are called Oma Tuna,
and are the most valuable of all.
Why is Oma Tuna so valuable and famous?
Please read our page about「Oma Tuna」 to find out.
Learn about Oma Tuna and the charm of Oma.
Come enjoy the blessings of the sea and the fishermen’s culture.
|January 11||Funadama Festival|
|April 3||Benten Shrine Festival|
|Mid-May||Uchiyama Park Cherry Blossom Festival|
|July (Marine Day)||Big Catch Prayer Festival and Tenpi Procession|
|August 8-11||Inari Shrine Festival|
|August 14||Blue Marine Festival|
|August 16-18||Kasuga Shrine Festival|
|Early October||Oma Tuna Thanksgiving (tentative title)|
Throughout the year, there are many various religious rituals for the fishermen who often risk their lives working at sea. The year starts with the Funadama Festival at Inari Shrine, with prayers for bountiful catches and safety on the sea. The Benten Shrine Festival is held at Benten Shrine on April 3, the anniversary of the death of the sea goddess Benten. People go to the main shrine on Benten Island and perform ritual kagura (religious dancing). On the national holiday of Marine Day in July, there is the Big Catch Prayer Festival, where all the fishing boats in town sail out together, big-catch flags hoisted high to pray for safe and bountiful fishing. Offshore, a ceremonial amulet is lowered into the sea as a prayer for safety at sea.
In Oma, we hold a procession for Tenpi, a goddess who has protected people at sea since the Chinese Song Dynasty. Tenpi is also known by the name Maso, and she has believers all over the world, though they are mainly based in Taiwan and the rest of Southeast Asia. It is said that in 1696, Goemon Ito, a man who would later become mayor of Oma, was saved by Tenpi when on the verge of shipwreck during a particularly severe storm. From that point on Tenpi became venerated in Oma. Currently, Inari Shrine in Oma Town is the only place in northern Japan where Tenpi is worshipped. In 1996 we celebrated the 300th anniversary of Tenpi’s veneration in Oma with the first Tenpi Procession.
The Blue Marine Festival takes place during the Obon season, when many people return to their hometowns. With Oma Port as the stage, people have a good time enjoying the festivities. There is a rowboat competition, Oma Tuna is handed out to 1000 people, and we finish with a fireworks display at night.
The Inari Shrine Festival features a parade through the town. The parade is led by a person dressed as a tengu (a traditional Japanese long-nosed goblin) and a procession of children, who are then followed by floats (named Inarimaru, Niwakayama, Taishoyama, and Bentenmaru). The parade is accompanied with music in the style of Kyoto’s Gion Festival. Watching the musicians perform with more intensity any time the floats pass by each other is truly a sight to behold. The people of the town also enjoy dottoko, a chant recited by those pulling the floats. Dottoko is recited in the entranceway of all the households on the parade course.
The fishermen in Oma begin fishing for tuna at the beginning of summer when the tuna first start appearing in the Tsugaru Strait. Starting in September when the temperatures drop and the tuna start storing fat, we conduct tuna carving shows on weekends and holidays in the warehouse on the shore. You can also purchase tuna at these events. Stop by and watch the butchers’ expertise with carving these enormous tuna!