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Accumu Vol.12

Old Professor and The River (Dedicated to“Kush”)

Wataru Hasegawa


I lived in a seaside town when I was small, and used to stand on the step of a Rabbit scooter along with my father. Together, we often went fishing. We dropped our fishing lines from the pier and had some snacks handy, a can of soda or some chocolate. A good catch of small snappers and horse mackerels made a nice lunch. My father was particular about how to unwrap the chocolate off the silver tinfoil, and he got upset with me if I did not follow his method. Once, I tossed the wrapper into the sea. The water appeared ultramarine from the white concrete pier where I was, and the silver tinfoil descended in a slow yet rhythmic movement, reflecting the sunlight on and off. I was fascinated at the scene, and watched it until it faded into the deep water. A black and white portrait my father took on that day is still with me. Years have passed since I grew up and my father is long gone. My memory of the day is somewhat tinted in the pale amber now except for the vivid color of the silver sparkle in the water. My admiration for the ocean and big rivers, which gives me the sense of unfathomable depth and infinite distance, started around that time in my childhood.

One summer, one of the Board members at KCG, Professor Robert Kushner invited me to join him in Alaska, and I took my vacation time to do so. I had been hospitalized for stress-induced pancreatitis in the previous year, and I meant to recuperate as well as to try my luck. It was a fishing trip, and we were after salmon.

Professor Kushner is a Professor Emeritus of RIT in Photographic Technology, Photographic instructor for the United Nations, and a Board member of Kyoto Computer Gakuin. At the same time, he is an avid angler in his personal life, and even enjoys calling himself a fishing professor. He is into outdoor sports, and drives his 4W off-roader for hunting as well. Despite his mature age, his bright eyes reveal his young heart when we talk about the outdoor activities. He is actually fit and tough as a young man while in the field. He is a stereotypical good old American hardboiled tough guy who loves nature with passion.

Alaska is a major outdoor “leisure land” of the great USA, and camping cars with number plates from all the States are on the roads dotted throughout the city. I heard that they drive through Canada, and it was impressive that I could even see cars from far away down South like Kentucky.

This place is fully equipped with the services to cater to the needs of its visitors from all over the world to their satisfaction. In the town newspaper, there were advertisements for leisure guides, all sorts of services for grownups to enjoy the outdoors from rental equipment, such as shotguns, fishing gears, and camping supplies, to weekly babysitters are easily found.

The Guide Center of Anchorage has centralized information on all rivers, mountains, ocean fronts and forests in the entire state of Alaska. Visitors look through them to charter a Cessna or a boat then head for their destination. Flying to the North in a small plane to chase reindeer, or sailing out from the Western islands to the Bering sea to hit halibut can start at a moment notice. Skiing, canoeing, MTB, any other sports, or simply anything is available.

Once they come back in town with their catch of salmon or deer in their car or in the plane, they can be handed to the butcher or canning shop, and immediately turned into smoked, canned, or vacuum sealed and chilled or frozen end-products professionally processed. Dressing the fur takes just a few days, or it can be stuffed within a week. Someone flies back to Florida without luggage can receive his entire acquisitions within a few days. Thorough pragmatism dedicated to enjoy outdoor may well be another face of wealthy America.

To get to the Wilderness, one is required to purchase proper licenses at outdoor shops. Fishing and hunting licenses are divided by the validity period from one day to up to one year. The game quota per individual in each region is meticulously regulated such as the daily quota of silver salmon for each river, the annual quota for the moose, which is three, for the caribou etc., and violations yield severe penalties.

The proceeds from the license fee go to wildlife research and conservation, and the annual cap is set statistically. University of Alaska Fairbanks has a Wildlife Biology Department is ranked as the top in the US. It approaches natural conservation of Alaska from an academic standpoint. The nature of Alaska is protected by the American value system, economically, academically, and culturally speaking alike.

The notable fact is that the overwhelming, majestic nature is thoroughly, completely “protected” for the purpose of people’s enjoyment. Unlike Hokkaido in Japan which considers “developing” the land, in the US, the land is under complete “protective management”. The nature there is not “untouched”. Rather, it is thoroughly controlled and protected by human hands.

The moment someone departs Anchorage, the city equipped with modern practicalities, the overwhelming scale of wilderness spreads before one’s eyes. The rivers are blue and their upstream waters reaches to glaciers. Snowcapped mountains stand high behind the green forests. The scenery of virgin wilderness surrounds in a 360 degree view. For those who wish to enjoy both highly developed civilization and open wilderness, Anchorage is the best place to live in. However, a fragile mind may end up suffering with a “values crash” because the gap between the two are so drastic.

After about a seven hour flight, I landed in Anchorage, Alaska. Though it was in the middle of the summer holiday of “bon”, few Japanese were heading to Alaska. Other passengers who deplaned at the airport were all Americans.

“Professor” arrived before me, and picked me up by a camping car. We loaded the luggage, and went to town for shopping. After picking up plenty of food at a supermarket and buying our licenses, we headed towards the rivers in the north of Anchorage, in which pink salmon (Sakhalin trout) were supposed to be in flocks. In Alaska, depending on the season and the location, in addition to the silver and pink, king salmon, over 1m in size, red salmon, and chum salmon are the five kinds of salmon one can catch. Needless to say, there are varieties of trout such as rainbow and steelhead as well, but our target for this trip was salmon.

Once we arrived at the point, we changed into waders and put the life vest on. We had the kind which expands if we pull the plug of its small CO2 cylinder. We were well prepared even if we got stuck in a deep spot. Then we move forwarded to set up our fishing gear.

Professor Kushner

The lure rod was Legacy of Fenwick, clear brown with some gold lines, and its gold ring reflected the morning sunlight. The cork grip fit smoothly with the palm of my hand. I selected Abu 5000C reel, its black and gold combination coloring matched nicely with the Fenwick rod. However, I had to change its flimsy rubber grip to hard plastic. The line was Spider wire; this boon of the latest technology is incredibly thin yet extremely strong. And for the lures, they were Pixee of Blue Fox, as its the standard of salmon fishing in Alaska. They were orange, pink, or green in color, suitable for different places, days, and the times of the day.

Together with Professor, we set up the gear without a word, with the exception of occasional mumbling; “Shit!” The string tangled up. “Goddamn!” Dropped the lure. Men want to be barbarous while fishing. Our mouths got foul.

Once the prep work was done, we, two men young in hearts with shining eyes, like a samurai with his sword in hand and a knight brandishing his, stepped into the river with our rods. When I unlocked the reel and shot, the shining silver line flew through the air with slight whistling sound left behind, and softly hit the river surface with a tiny splash. The cold air felt even tauter along the stretched fishing line. It was the moment of heightened tension.

A while later, after several casts of the lure, Professor yelled:

“Fish on!”

His rod was bending wide. Goddamn! He got ahead of me, I cursed to myself, but still saluted his first hit:


The clicking sound of Professor’s careful reeling traveled softly to the wooded background. The pink salmon which was about 45cm appeared on the river surface. I got a hit shortly as well.

“Fish on!”

“Good boy!”

The line was going out and rang the reel. The pull was quite strong. “Lift up your rod.”, “Don’t reel in too much.”, “Don’t stop reeling” and so on. The “fishing professor” next to me was fussy with each action. If I did not follow his advice, yelling followed: “Son of bitch!”, “Bullshit!”

Professor Kushner

Incredible fact was that the Professor Emeritus from a prestigious university who was quite proper in his office acted like a complete villain in the wilderness. In order to keep up and went along, I put on one of my many hats from the old days. It was hard to gauge how foul my “dirty words” sounded in English, and I got cockier as I responded to him; “Alright, bullshit Professor”, “I know. Man!”

Whatever we were talking about, the middle-aged and senior man in the fields of education, if not calling ourselves the “educators”, turned ourselves into someone with juvenile shining eyes and hearts of hunters. The pretense of being bad boys accelerated this transformation and allowed us to peel off the outer layers of city dwellers one by one.

Getting work done in an urban setting had made me feel inpatient all the time. Frustration was a torment. It ate me inside and made my body ill. And the intense physical pain was penetrating my spirit. I made up my mind to stay with the river for the moment, let the water wash away whatever had been built up in my mind and cleanse my soul. The eyes of the “boys” brightened more with the new catch of salmon in the daylight, and we shook hands.

We went up to the shore, and split one of the pink salmon in half and broiled it on the bonfire for brunch. We dipped the supermarket bread into coffee and washed it down, talking about nothing but fishing spots. Fresh salmon tasted delicious with only salt and pepper, and coffee made with the river water was clear and aromatic. Still, the sensory pleasure was far greater than the enjoyment of the taste at the time. The sky was high and blue, and I could see snow-capped McKinley in the distance. The air was truly clear and cold yet the breeze was gentle. And the river ran serenely.

After each of us caught our eight salmon limit, we went down south and dropped our catch at a shop in Anchorage. We were set to receive cardboard box full of canned smoked salmon the next day. We camped out on the beach, and the next morning, we left for the famous Kenai River with the Bering Sea on the right.

In the car, we went back to my childhood stories from the previous night. On my first fishing experience as a small boy, I caught a rainbow trout over 60cm, and my small frame almost gave up. Then, it was about catfish surprisingly good tasting despite its appearance. I remembered the way my father showed me how to knot the line. How I learned to strike the hook by experience. Love for fishing is often passed down from the father, and the good sea and good rivers nurture a boy into a big man.

All cars on the national highways were camping cars. We drove for a while and saw so many parked cars. There was a bridge. People were crowded above the narrow river flowing into the bay. When we looked down from the bridge, there were flamed colored fish covering the water surface; they were red salmon. We agreed on taking the opportunity, parked our car, opened up the hatch, and set our rods. We went down to the river and threw our lures in. This time, I had a hit with my first try.

“Fish on!”

“Mine, too”

I caught a male with a humped back, about 50cm long. The fish tail was twisting, and its side was tinted in deep red. Each catch of fish allowed me to take off another piece of the urban layer. The business world was far away beyond the sky. We need the ground beneath our feet even in the city, but we can truly ground ourselves in the wholistic sense only in nature. I held my catch in one arm and sensed the scent of the glaciers rising up from it.

The night fell, and we camped by a lake along the middle reaches of the Kenai River. “Today’s catch” was grilled red salmon with butter and some biscuits. We talked over the light of bonfire between us. The night story of anglers is always about women. The first woman, the bad woman, the time we fell in love even after growing up. We added our stories as we had some bourbon, and smiled. The fire outlined the profile of Professor, whose wrinkles showed the time he had accumulated and added weight to his words. There was a philosopher who said that the degree of one’s maturity depends on the number of the deceased he holds in his heart. I wanted to add that the degree of man’s richness and depth in his personality depends on the number of women he has loved. We had nice buzz under the starry sky, and stopped talking. We slipped into our sleeping bags early.

The wake-up call started at 3 AM. Needless to say, it was the yelling of the “Goddamn” professor. “Come on, get up! Fun of fishing is around the clock.” I crawled out with a sleepy head and slight hungover, and looked up at the countless stars. The polestar was high up in the midair. I prepared porridge with the leftover salmon from the previous evening. We had been eating salmon meal after meal.

I took out the rubber boat from our car, and inflated it with a foot pump. My rod choice for the day was Ugly Stik Tiger, same as Professor. We set a big spinning reel with the big rod. That was the preparation for the whole day.

Day broke. The rubber boat glided on the water like an ice hockey puck. Professor was in charge of throttle control. The boat swayed as the power was too strong. All I could see from the bow was his face. I turned my head around to see our direction until my neck got stiff. The engine was loud, but the sound of exhaust was shot straight behind as there was nothing to rebound it. We turned the engine off at a target point and trolled our lures. I chose a chrome colored lure from Alaska Hot Pack of Mepps Aglia. The lure sinking into the water resembled the tinfoil chocolate wrapper from my childhood. Its sparkle was pretty. Our boat was drifting down the river with the lures, all the way down until we got hit. The Kenai River ran, deep dark blue, wide. Time went on.

Sea is likened to Mother, and I think that the big river is like a father. Everything in existence flows in, then flows away. Fragility, emptiness, the cause and effects of the melancholy in life, they all come and go. So, man should just look on it while he looks up to the far away mountain. Thanks to the great river, more or less, the “Goddamn” professor was no longer buffooning, nodding in a straight face instead. And the river went on.

king salmon

It was unclear how many hours we had been drifting, I had started feeling sleepy, then suddenly felt the impact of the hit. It was a king salmon.

“Fish on!”


We were ready for the battle at once. When someone has a hit, others on the boat have to reel in right away so that the lines won’t tangle up. King salmon can easily tag a rubber boat, so we needed to turn the engine on to counteract. It is impossible to pull in king salmon without dividing the roles of steering and reeling in. We needed to work as a team to compete with the great power of the “king” of the great river. The fish was swimming away from the boat. I meant to reel it in, but the line was flying out. It would run out unless I did something.

“Reel in! Pull”

“I am trying!”

We struggled for quite some time, then the line came in easy. I was puzzled for a moment, and saw the king rushing toward our direction. It went underneath our boat to the other side. I dipped the tip of my rod into the water to keep the line from getting tangled up while waiting for Professor to turn the boat. Reel in, then reel out, and I repeated it over and over again. Eventually, the king started showing signs of exhaustion, and came up to the surface at last. It was big.

“It is over 1 meter, son of a bitch.”

“And it’s mine. Goddamn.”

We were yelling and cursing at each other like two kids while our boat was dragged around by the giant fish.

“Don’t slack the line, you idiot!”

“I know!”

We screamed at each other as we were tossed about.

“Lift the rod up. Be a man!”

”Portside! Turn the bow to the right! Now to the starboard!”

Neither of us paid attention to what the other one was saying at that point. We just followed the line that moved around with the king, and focused on our tasks. I reeled out and reeled in, then repeated it until my arms got numb. We were several kilometers away from the initial point of the strike. The king of the river gradually ran out of energy, and showed its red side. We came close to the shore to the point where we could stand, and I stepped out carefully without slacking the line. Professor moored the boat at the shore, and he stood by for the finale of our battle with net in hand.

“Ready! Man!”

“Alright! Goddamn!”

“Bullshit! It is heavy”

“You bet!”

“Got it!”


The king was in the net. I realized that I was soaking wet with sweat. We lost the sense of time during the hours of tugging. It was a long time, but felt as if it was an explosion in an instant. The fish was 120cm, quite majestic.

Later, Professor landed three kings, and I had no more. I reminded him that my first catch was the biggest of all, but he did not reply. Anglers always compete for the size, but also compete by numbers. It is always the case that man keeps his mouth shut when he notices who wins...the competition of size, or number of the catch. The “boys” ignored each other with silent conviction, “I am the winner.”

Professor Kushner

Night. Dinner was gorgeous, charcoal grilled salmon steak. The grease was dripping and sizzling on the crackling burning firewood. We had the first bite with some salt and pepper, then added capers and lemon. Next, we tried with seaweed and wasabi I brought from Japan. Topped with the roe marinated in soy source from the night before, fatty juice burst in my mouth. The gastronomic sensation gave me the sense of nature: the mountains, rivers and the sea of Alaska. “The fun with a woman only lasts for two hours, but the joy of fishing lasts all day long.” Listening to Professor’s silly small talk, I sipped my Wild Turkey once again.

“When you are pulled, you have to send the line out without fighting, but never slack. Reeling in is the basics. The important thing is the rhythm of push and pulls, but you are slow to pull.”

“I am not slow, Mr. Bullshit. You only last for two hours, but I can keep going for more than three hours.”

It was no longer clear whether we were talking about fish or women, but it did not really matter. I wished I brought some sake. I drank myself with the night sky and the floating moon in my glass. The liquor minimized our words. Our souls were cleansed and purified by the cold air. All my city layers were gone. Moon was looking down on us by the serene great river. The night aged. After the bonfire went out, the occasional sound of jumping salmon or trout traveled over the river that never slept.

Four days had passed like that, and the last day came. I decided to have my first king stuffed, and the rest of the catches were all canned in Anchorage. We both agreed that the silver was the best kind to fish and eat. Therefore, we picked a point where the silver flocked. There was a wide bank, and I decided to try with a fly rod. Professor showed me what to do in detail with his lovingly abusive manner.

Fly-casting is difficult. One points the rod to the sky, and swings it back and forth. The rhythm is important, and the line does not snap forward properly if the timing is off. The line of a master caster draws a large, beautiful curve, and sails through the air in a long distance.

Professor kept the rhythm chanting: “One, two, one, two!” And he checked my casting action. He yelled at me, as anticipated, whenever I failed to follow his direction. It felt as if I were in a boot camp as I went on swinging the rod back and forth. Somehow, my line eventually started making curves, and the fly-lure was dancing in the air.

Several days of the fishing trip were superimposed upon my colorless reflections and added new colors. Childhood memories came back more vividly. It came back to mind that my late father used to be fussy and demanding when he taught me something as well.

One, two! One, two! I swung the rod. The line drew the curve in the air. Andante, andante. The line caught the wind and traveled until the fly-lure met the stream of the river water, which ran in allegro.

“Fish on!”

The line got pulled tight.

“Nice boy!”

Jumped the silver with a splush.

“Good looking!”

The fish flew out. Fortissimo. Lightning on the water surface.

“Come on!”

I pulled up the rod. Silver scales sparkled the light, the droplets of the glacier spread in the air.


The boy in me proudly raised my “sword” to the sky like a knight, and showed off my manhood. The shiny silver splattered lots of water and the river scent filled the air. It was landed. I held the fish in my arms, and lifted it into the sunlight to honor it. The revelation was that my childhood memory and the intense frustration I had suffered in the city were mere backdrops for that precious moment, here and now.(Dedicated to“Kush”)


Something From Father to Son

Sky is white and pale

Drapes of clouds

Rising sun behind the sheer curtain

Illume the Goddess spreading her arms...

Looking up at Her

Far away beyond the rocky grounds

Share the bread and coffee

Without a word

something from father to son

Ocean is blue and wide

Silver threads of waves

Rising high and low

Stand the Goddess spreading Her arms...

Looking up at Her

Over the horizon, beyond the time

Carve the meat

Without asking

something from father to son

Mountains are red in reflection

Evening glory paint the sky

In gradation

Gone the Goddess beyond the horizon

Looking toward Her smile

At the final destination in life

Filling each other’s glass

Without a word

everything from father to son

長谷川 亘
Wataru Hasegawa
  • 京都コンピュータ学院白河校出身
  • 早稲田大学文学士,(米国)コロンビア大学文学修士(M.A.)・教育学修士(M.Ed.)
  • 京都コンピュータ学院校友会会長
  • 京都情報大学院大学教授
  • 京都コンピュータ学院・ 京都情報大学院大学 統括理事長
  • (中国)天津科技大学客員教授
  • 一般社団法人全国地域情報産業団体連合会(ANIA)会長
  • 一般社団法人京都府情報産業協会会長
  • 情報システム学会日本支部(NAIS)理事
  • 韓国国土海洋部傘下公企業 済州国際自由都市開発センター政策諮問委員
  • 専門は教育行政・大学経営,テクノロジー援用教育