The Boats of Japan

Popeye’s Japan 2006. Photo Terry Battisti

Although this may not qualify as an “historic” piece, last week we posted a story about international bass boats and a question was posed by a reader whether I or anyone else had seen the small versions that Ranger produces. Well, in fact I have.

On one of my first trips to Japan (2006) I was lucky enough to spend some time touring the local tackle shops and boat dealerships around Tokyo. My guide and close friend, Dodge Katayama, took me to what is the biggest tackle and boat dealer in all of Japan – Popeye’s. The shop was on what I’d estimate at least 5 acres of land, which is huge when it comes to a shop in Japan. The tackle store alone was between the size of an Academy and a Bass Pro or Cabelas. The boat shop was about the same size as any you’d see in the U.S.

Ranger 155VS made especially for the Japanese market. This boat is 15 feet in length and was fitted with a 60-hp Mercury. Photo Terry Battisti March 2006.

Inside the store, Popeye’s had a good display of the “smaller” 10- to 13-foot aluminum boats that I showed in the piece last week. Outside, though, they had an amazing number of glass boats. Some of these glass boats were full-sized U.S. models, including Larry Nixon’s 2005-year personal Stratos that was for sale. What really intrigued me were the Japan-only glass models made by Ranger. These were 14- and 15-foot boats not available in the U.S. market and rated up to a 60-hp motor. The boats sat on Ranger Trail trailers and were outfitted with everything a bass angler would need.

A 14-foot Ranger bass boat made especially for the Japanese market. Photo Terry Battisti March 2006.

Anyway, I felt you all might get a kick out of seeing some shots taken from that day at Popeye’s in 2006. I guess the fact that they were taken nearly seven years ago does qualify them as “historic” too.

On a side note, I spent roughly $300 that day on tackle. Of that $300, the best $60 I’ve ever spent on tackle allowed me to acquire four “New in Box” Lure Ichiban Balsa Pro topwater lures. They were sitting on a shelf with dust on them with a price tag of 14,950 Yen – or roughly $14.95 USD. For those of you who are Balsa Pro fans, you know what this means.

I hope you enjoy!

  • fish_food

    Thanks for posting this, Terry!

    By the way: How does the action of the Balsa Pro compare to its injection counterpart, the LC Sammy? And the wood Sammy that came out around 2005?

    The amount those baits sell for is c-r-a-z-y!

    • Hey fish_food,

      I can only say that the Balsa Pro has an action all its own. The plastic Sammy 100 and the Wooden Sammy don’t even compare. The deal with the Balsa Pro is its ease of which it moves in the water and its silent action. There is no substitute when it comes to a walking bait for ultra clear water presentations. As for the price of the baits, I fortunately got mine when they were still available at the $25 price then lucked into four more in Japan. Would I pay $100+ for another? Right now, no. But if I ever lost all mine I have to say I would.

      You’re welcome for the posting of the piece and thanks for asking for it.



  • ignacio

    hi i was curious where is the shop located in japan?

  • Ignacio, I’m not sure exactly where it was located but it was somewhere in the Tokyo area. Maybe an hour outside of Tokyo.

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