Hiroyuki Arakawa first rescued the Asian sheepshead wrasse during the construction of an underwater Shinto temple gate.
There are many strange and sweet stories of kinship between man and animal, but few are as lovely as the 30-year friendship between a fish and the diver who nursed it back to health.
“I’d say we understand each other,” Arakawa said in an interview for Great Big Story, “not that we talk to each other… I kissed her once. I’m the only person she’ll let do it.”
Hiroyuki Arakawa has a deep connection to the water, having begun diving at the age of 18. Now 79, he still enjoys his trips to the depth where he can visit his long-time friend Yoriko, an Asian sheepshead wrasse (kobudai in Japanese) he rescued 30 years ago. At the time, Arakawa was working to supervise the construction of a underground Shinto temple gate. The fish had suffered an injury to her mouth but still swam over to greet Arakawa. Over the next ten days, Arakawa fed her crab eat from his hand as she recovered.
“I’m not sure if it’s the nature of the kobudai or not. It’s probably because there is a sense of trust between us. I guess she knows that I saved her… that I helped when she was badly injured. So for me to be able to do that, I am proud,” Arakawa told GBS. “I have an amazing sense of accomplishment in my heart.”
Watch the video below for the whole sweet story.