Trip Start Jul 26, 2008
48Trip End May 17, 2013
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Where I stayed
I arrived at the houseboat port in Nagara River at 6:15 in the evening and bought the ticket which I booked previous night. After a short stroll around the Gifu Park, I got on a houseboat with other 20 and counting passengers including some international passengers and four crew members. The boat started at 6:45 and went up the stream for the starting point of the cormorant fishing and arrived there at 7:00
Anyway, the show started at 7:30. The fishing boats left the bank in turn and went down the stream. Our houseboat accompanied one of them side by side. The fishing started in a minute. The traditional fishing technique has been preserved by the loads and emperors since ancient times. Now the cormorant masters belong to Imperial Household Agency. On the fishing boat, the cormorant master manipulates several cormorants with strings on their necks at the same time. The fishing boats have a torch at their bow in order to startle the sleeping fish in the river and to light them up. The cormorants are blind at night, so they head for a shining and moving object in the river by instinct. Once they duck into the water, they don' t come up to the surface until they catch a fish. According to the guide, the cormorants can keep 5 or 6 fish in their throat at one time. Then the master pulls them up to the boat to make them throw up the fish there. Its timing is also important, because the fish start melting in their throat soon
At the climax of the show, all the six boats lined up, coming from up to down the stream and chasing the fish together, which is called So-garami. At the end of the show, we saw some Japanese trouts caught by the cormorants. We could eat them in a restaurant run by a cormorant master on the next day. All in all, it was a short show, but very interesting.
Cormorant Fishing in Gifu
Just watch it. Seeing is believing.
Cormorant Fishing on the Nagara River from Wikipedia
It is filled with detailed information on its history, fishing process, viewing, and so on.