Japanese Language Fishing Terminology

This page of Sports Fishing terms (釣り用語) has some English, some Romaji, other phrases are only in Japanese, and will require some cut and paste into a digital translator. But if you are curious about such things, such as wondering what is the difference between Atari and Awase. Or wondered what the Japanese call a telescopic jointed fishing rod, 継ぎざお. Tsugi zao. You might find it on this one page list.


And of course John Sachen’s Tenkara Word Bank is still available, probably complete with some misconceptions about the precise meaning of some terms here and there. At least I know I have made a few mistakes in the descriptions I entered.


Hi dwalker

atari = アタリ = Fish side reaction
awase = 合わせ = Angler’s reaction

継ぎ竿 = tugi-zao =divided for each part fishing rod,
延竿= nobe-zao = telescopic jointed fishing rod,

If you want
Please let me know if i can help you

Thank you.
Atari, 当たり, always seemed to mean - fish hit. Fish strike.
But not hook set.

Awase, 合わせ. Has always been confusing. Because Awase is used many ways.

合わせ, often translates as - match, together.
It seemed to mean - hook set.
Getting the fish and the kebari matched.
Getting the fish and kebari combined into one.
A fish on the end of the line.

合わせる ( awaseru) appears to mean something different.
竿先端・ライズ Raising the rod tip at end of casting motion.

Shown in this drawing:

Drawing is from this website - テンカラ入門 Tenkara Introduction


Then there is this word - お問い合わせ ( O toiawase) = Contact Us.
A little bit like catching a fish. Combining two people together. :grin:

:confused: 合わせ is used in so many ways. It often seems to mean something much different.

But, it is fun trying to understand the different meanings. :joy:

me too::joy:
There are various kinds hook set and awase.
聞合せ =kiki-awase = feel a reaction at the rod tip
空合わせ kara-awase = To finish the Drift and equal to hook set
気配で合わせる = sixth sense hook set
Thank you very much
Something very fun::smiley:

合わせる = 合わせ+行う = hook up + Do

Fascinating thread! Thanks for those definitions @todoroki34 and @dwalker. :+1:

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Interesting phrases:
気配 (kehai) hint, sign, indication. 気配で合わせる = an indication of the hook set, when applied to fishing.
合わせ (awase) means: match, together, combine.
行う (okonau) means : to do, perform.
合わせ+行う = perform combining. When applied to fishing, apparently it means to combine the fish+fly together as one. Fish on! :grinning:

Anyway. One trick that sometimes works to figure out the meaning of Japanese words / phrases, is to google the Japanese word [space] in English. It does not always work, but when it does the top search result will be a box with several definitions.
For example:
This " 気配 in English " works, But it works better if you use the Japanese for “in English”
The kanji for English language is 英語 (eigo). For "in English language " add で (de) = 英語で
Google 気配 英語で [ kehai eigo de ]

Another interesting translation website is this one:

However, It has a very limited vocabulary. Especially few fishing terms. For example it does not know テンカラ. But for general use Japanese words it sometimes offers a more complete definition than kotobank or other websites. Worth a try.

合わせる is very extensive example. Though not specific to how it is used as a fishing term.


And 合わせる on Kotobank:


聞合せ =kiki-awase = feel a reaction at the rod tip
テンカラ竿先端に聞合せ Translates as - Listen to the tip of the Tenkara rod :joy:

It is interesting the stuff you can find looking at Japanese phrases. Off topic here, but a fun example. Jean Santos and I exchanged some emails about calligraphy, pens, and iron gall ink. The Japanese phrase for fountain pen is 万年筆. Those 3 kanji individually are - ten thousand + year + writing brush. iow, a pen that will write for a long time and not need to be dipped into the ink bottle.

I think it is a similar concept as 十色十人, 10 colors 10 people. or as one of the Tenkara Guides Guys, (John V.) once wrote on TFForum, when in Japan they explained that 10 colors really implied 万色万人, ten thousand colors ten thousand people. iow - it means an endless variation of tenkara styles. As with a lot of phrase you have to think in broad fundamental concepts to find the deeper meaning :smile:

Anyway, now I have a better understanding of the difference between テンカラ釣り (Tenkaradzuri or Tenkaratsuri) and テンカラ釣行 (Tenkara chōkō).

Amusing word play.


Thank you for your explanation :grin:

now understand

fishing word is a technical word

g - translation

I will make an effort to utilization it :persevere:

Thanks for the research @dwalker! Maybe you could add that to the resources wiki!?!

The same word

合わせ = awase = striking … British way of saying

当たり, あたり = Atari = Strike , Hit … Japanese way of saying same thing?

アタリ = 当り = atari = Fish’s work

合わせ = awase = striking = Fisher’s work

There are many ways of saying

Let’s talk slowly while drinking bourbon :smiley:

Cheers first

I like your idea very much!


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That might be how unusual looking kebari are discovered. :wink:

But with Saki instead of Bourbon.

As a general thumb rule I don’t think trying to learn kanji from Kanji books is a good idea. It just seems the wrong way to go about it. I have mostly just learned them from playing around on Tenkara websites, which has more Kanji associated with fishing than a general book about the Japanese language, that has very little fishing terminology.

And as has been pointed out in some of the above examples, the meaning is often different depending upon the sentence they are used in. And the way they are pronounced completely differently in different phrases is sometimes, well most times, difficult to grasp, and remember. Maddening on one side of the coin, but keeps it interesting on the other side of the coin.

For example, this is Water, 水 (mizu) . This is Water Surface, 水面 (suimen, or minamo), and this is Light Blue, 水色 (mizuiro), and this Water System, 水系 (suikei). You’re faced with a choice of mizu, sui, or mi. Growing up jumping back and forth across the Ohio River the worst I faced was whether 5 is fiive, or fiave. Or if I should say Ya’ll or You’uns. Or whether the thought of eating grits brought a smile or a yuk. :wink:

But that being said, if you have learned Hiragana, Katakana, and know what Furigana (振り仮名) are. I found that the Clay and Yumi Boutwell book, Kanji 100, is fairly useful.

I have probably learned more about the Japanese language (日本語) from George Trombley’s books, Japanese From Zero series , than any other books, JPZ 1 concentrates on Hiragana, and JPZ 2 adding Katakana. Though of course many Kanji are introduced along the way in both books, and in Vol 3 & 4 that I have not yet gotten to. I can only take so much formal self study.

Tae Kim’s app for iPad takes a totally different approach, no reliance on Romaji after the Hiragana, and Katakana are covered in the first two lessons. Straight to Kanji. Total immersion has it’s merits, especially if you have a great memory. I don’t. But I keep jumping back and forth between the two approaches to learning.

Anyway, last evening I discovered George Trombley published a new book in Nov. Kanji From Zero 1. The look inside feature is decently long. Lots of examples can be seen. It does a good job of showing the correct phonetics, that are often shown with the wrong phonetic in google translate. Showing the Onyomi (Chinese pronunciation) when it should use the Kunyomi (Japanese pronunciation or voicing) or vice versa.

And it does a decent job of explaining a broader description of their meaning. Which may be useful in helping to better understand the meaning of what is written on Japanese Tenkara websites, if you explore them. Maybe worth a look if you know Hiragana, Katakana, and already know several Kanji. I know several by sight, what they mean, but maybe not always recall how to say them. Here is one example - I know this Kanji 同 means “the same”, but I usually don’t remember the Romaji for it. But if I see a sentence, a diagram of a rod and line, that has these phrases in it, 竿・レベルライン・同・長さ, I still know it means the level line is same length of the rod. Because I already know and remember 竿, 長さ, and レベルライン. Or if I see 同じ+ 1。5m I know one is 1.5m longer than the other. Most often if I want to do a google search with 同 I just have to draw it. And then I see 同 is dou / dō, and 同じ is onaji.

Maybe worth a look if you already know some basic Japanese and would like to learn more in a concentrated format.
Even if you can’t remember the Romaji , you might remember the meaning.




Bummer !
I just discovered the above website, and its companion webpage /tenkara.html, and all the other webpages with books, etc. on the .big.or.jp/~sakufu/ website No Longer Exist. :cry:
I referred to those web pages frequently to see what new thing I could learn.
I discovered it demise a few minutes ago when I went to look for the casting diagram, that fortunately is, in the above January 19th post.

It was a great site that summarized all of tenkara not only a personal opinion

This website is fairly useful. With several translation options. But can still lead you astray.
Knowing hiragana and katakana will help understanding results or detecting if the translation is way off.


For an experiment, to get the hang of it. Try looking up some of the following:

1 hiro




Thank you @dwalker
I bookmarked

・・・What time do you go to bed? :grinning:

May not longer exist. Or if it does - access to it is blocked.

However, I have found a library list of the books the information on the website was taken from. fwiw.

つり人 社 ・山と渓谷 社 ・朔風 社
Tsurijin-sha ・Yama to Keikoku-sha ・Sakufū-sha
Fishing person company, mountains and valleys, Inc., Sakufu, Inc.


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