Japanese seafood heavyweight Nippon Suisan Kaisha (Nissui) is preparing to harvest 2,400 metric tons of domestic farmed salmon to coincide with the launch of its annual manga-inspired sales campaign. Manga are Japanese comics or graphic novels.

The company is set to harvest salmon from the farms of wholly-owned subsidiary Yumigahama Suisan farms, starting this month with coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) from its Sakaiminato farm and cherry salmon (Oncorhynchus masou) from its Sado farm further up the west coast, followed by coho from its Sado farmbeginning in mid-May.

Launched in 2013, Nissui's Sakaiminato salmon, named after the port at which it is landed, has become one of Tottori prefecture's major marine products.

Raised in rough waters in the west coast's Japan Sea, the salmon is known for its firm meat and for the ikijime processing method used to slaughter the fish. The practice involves the insertion of a spike into the brain of the fish, immediately paralyzing it and preventing muscle movements that release lactic acid and ammonia into the fish, affecting flavor and texture of the final product. The method also leads to the blood contained in the fish flesh retracting to the gut cavity, producing a better colored and flavored fillet and prolonging shelf life.

It is a preferred processing method by Japanese chefs because it also allows the fish to develop more umami when aged. Umami means “essence of deliciousness” in Japanese, and its taste is described as meaty and savory.

Yumigahama Suisan is fully integrated from production of broodstock to the freshwater farming of fry and the transfer to the sea, followed by processing and shipment.

To coincide with the harvests, Nissui has launched a sales campaign and TV commercial featuring famous Japanese manga series "GeGeGe no Kitaro" created in the 1960s in the same province as its salmon.

Sakaiminato City, where Yumigahama Fisheries is located, is the birthplace of Shigeru Mizuki, the original author of "GeGeGe no Kitaro," and PR activities use the slogan "Sakaiminato City, the city of fish and Kitaro." Nissui has been collaborating with "GeGeGe no Kitaro" since 2018.

Alongside the advertising campaign the company will run a lottery in which 500 people will win an original QUO card - a Japanese pre-paid card - of "GeGeGe no Kitaro" loaded with JPY 3,000 (€23.30/$27.55).

Nissui began production of farmed salmon in Sakaiminato on a trial basis in December 2011. It began full-scale aquaculture operations in November 2013. It is now working together with Nippon Steel Engineering to develop a large offshore fish farming system to enable growth of its operations without the binds of coastal interference.

Alongside its salmon aquaculture operations, Nissui is farming yellowtail kingfish and bluefin tuna and in 2019 began jointly developing a large, land-based recirculating aquaculture system for chub mackerel, the first of its kind in Japan.

Working with Yumigahama Suisan and Hitachi Zosen Corporation, Nissui aims to start commercial operation in 2023. Underground seawater will be pumped into the system reducing the risk of disease or of parasites like anisakis which will then be treated and recirculated.