Mission Japan: Gloucester Goes Far East for New Ideas and Opportunities


By Mayor Carolyn Kirk

Travel is always a whirlwind of activity, excitement and with any luck, eye-opening experiences. And my mission trip to Japan—in search of economic growth and to spotlight Gloucester’s cutting-edge fisheries science based on sequencing fish DNA—was rich in all of these. These pictures—and more to come—give an overview of the incredibly informative experiences I had while supporting our community. A world of opportunity is coming to Gloucester through places like Japan that will expand job growth on our working waterfront, support fishing and spur growth.



Big city, where fish is big business.

Kirk Kirk2 Fish

Tsukiji fish market selfie – taken at 3:30 a.m. after 30 minute wait in downpour! There was a two hour wait for a tuna auction. Dozens of market faithfuls waited patiently for the bidding to begin.

MightMac2 MightMac

35summers keeps the historic Mighty Mac boatwear brand alive and well. And, with some hard work, a renewed presence in Gloucester in the months ahead.


Fishing tourism is alive and well in Japan!



Kagoshima is the government seat of the prefecture on the isle of Kyushu, 850 miles south of Tokyo, home to a new concept in sustainable, minimal impact aquaculture.

boat2 mask

Japanese innovator Global Ocean Works, one of the Gloucester mission’s primary funders, has created a fish farming operation different than anything I’d ever heard about. It has a very unobtrusive presence in the bay and uses best sustainable practices to minimize maritime impacts. Its processing facility — a state-of-the-art, sterile operation — is equally impressive.

kirk3 kotasu

Traditional dining around a kotatsu is a staple of Japanese business. I was honored to dine with executives from Kagoshima Bank, another mission funder, and GOW.

Owaki welcome

Warmest possible welcome by Mayor Owaki Masaya of Tarumizu, home to GOW’s aquaculture center.

proton center center 2

The suburb of Ibusuki features a destination life sciences center focused on cancer treatment and research. It is one of a few places on earth where patients can get therapy via a $175 million proton beam. The Ibusuki Medipolis offers patients a resort hotel and spa while they undergo cancer treatment for multiple days or weeks.



The Phoenix Hall is a Buddhist temple built nearly 1,000 years ago and contains the great statute of Amida. Immortalized on Japanese currency and postage stamps, it is designated by the UN as a World Heritage site.

ice cream

Traditional tea houses are a staple of Japanese life but Green Tea Ice Cream — a favorite of President Obama –provided a delightful diversion.


The world famous bullet train in Kyoto is a great way to travel.


tamano tamano2

The trip would not have been complete without spending time in our sister city of Tamano. Mayor Susumo Kuroda was the consummate host, taking our delegation on an extensive tour of public art installations across the waterfront, historic and modern fishing operations, even traditional boats that 5th graders are required to learn about. Gloucester is privileged to have a special relationship with Tamano and it was an honor to represent our community there.

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