Home > Japanese Culture > The fire reflects their obedience

The fire reflects their obedience

Last August, I enjoyed cormorant fishing at the Kiso river. It is so-called ukai in Japanese.

Cormorants are a bird living around sea. Fishers catch them by the seashore, and train them after cutting their specific feathers to prevent them from flying. Fishers teach cormorants how to swim, how to land on the boat’s railing, etc. Also, fishers grind cormorants’ beaks in order not to injure fishers. Cormorants’ necks are bound with strings. That is the secret why cormorants don’t swallow fish. It is difficult to find the right degree of tension. Too loose to throw up fish, too tight to catch fish.

Cormorants fishing at the Kiso river have gone for over 1,300 years. Inuyama city, where I went, treats this traditional fishing as an important thing. So, now that all fishing masters are civil servants of Inuyama city hall. I just thought how much their extra for overtime because cormorants fishing usually start after the sun falls.

This is where we waited for the boat to ship.
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It is called yakatabune, which you can enjoy eating local dishes, such as sweetfish.
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This is what I ate. You can see one roast sweetfish. It was quite delicious. I wanted it to be more salty, though.
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Savoring local dishes, you can enjoy sightseeing. This is the Inuyama castle, which I wrote before.
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They are veterans boatmen, who are also good at talking. Their talk gave us a happy time.
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We took a rest at the area in the middle of the river. All stones were ground and shaped like a ball.
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Cormorants fishing had started. One fishing master handle ten cormorants at the same time. You can see the strings. Fishing masters keep the fire on in order to attract sweetfish. All the crews on the boat put a special and traditional costume, and the costume can prevent the crews from the fire.
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At the end of program, fishing master explained how they train cormorants and how cormorants catch fish. You can see a cormorant sitting on the edge of the boat. The relationship between fishing masters and cormorants looks closer than I expect.
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Can you see the cormorant next to the fishing master? He(she?) is so cute. He behaved so good. I want my dog to look at his attitude and become obedient.
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It was my second time to enjoy cormorants fishing. I’d like to be there again.

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Categories: Japanese Culture
  1. September 15, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    This is the first I’ve heard of this type of fishing. It takes a lot of patience to wait around for a fish to take a bite.

    You should ask what was the trick to getting the cormorants so obedient.

    Happy to know that you had fun. 🙂

    • honeypotter
      September 17, 2010 at 7:45 pm

      Hello, girlgeum! 😀

      No, girlgeum, it didn’t look as you guessed. The problem was, to cormorants, it’s tough for them to catch a long thing like eels, and to fishing masters, it’s hard for them to keep standing in front of the fire. 😦

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