Since 2008, Elite Series pro Kota Kiriyama has been fulfilling his dream of connecting his home country of Japan to the American lifestyle he’s been enjoying for the other half of his life. His Kota’s American Dream tournament takes winners of a derby he hosts in Japan and takes them to the BassCat Owners’ Tournament here in the States. The result is a bridge between the United States and Japan by way of bass fishing.
“My goal in creating the Kota’s American Dream tournament is to share, with Japanese anglers, the American lifestyle I’ve been living here in the U.S.,” Kiriyama said. “Most people in Japan live in cities and don’t have time or money to come to America based on their salary, so this is a way to get them over here. So, in a way, just participating makes them winners. It’s much harder in Japan to have a boat and have time off to fish a tournament.
“I want us to understand each other and learn from each other,” he said. “We have so much to offer each other in terms of experiences and lifestyles that it’d be a shame if we didn’t get together in something like this.”
Kiriyama said that each and every contestant who’s visited the States has been blown away by even the smallest differences.
“As soon as they step off the plane, everything shocks them. They see big lakes, lots of room and lots of boats being trailered everywhere, and that’s something that doesn’t happen a lot in Japan,” he said. “Most importantly, they see opportunity and how much freedom we enjoy over here as well as how big everyone’s heart is. They’re always thrilled to meet Americans.
“Bass fishing is an international language. Although we don’t speak the same language, we have that common thread and passion. I want to share that with everyone. Seeing their smiles on stage makes all the work worth it.”