The ukai 鵜飼
Print Keisai Eisen representative of cormorant fishing.
View of a boat used for ukai.
Boats for cormorant fishing.
Cormorant fishing, ukai, old fishing technique, ply the rivers of Japan from May 11 to October 15 for over 1300 years ...
The inspiration for many prints and poems, ukai cormorant fishing is an integral part of Japanese tradition.
In a technique that originated in China, cormorants are attached the fisherman's boat by a rope. The birds fly over rivers in search of ayu, a sweet-tasting freshwater fish consumed mainly in the summer. To prevent their winged companions from swallowing the fish, fishermen tie a rope around the throat of the bird.
Using cormorants was a huge success, and the method was handed down from father to son in the Nara period (710-794), and eventually became the emperor's official fishing technique.
But today, fishing methods have led to the decline of the ukai.
Yet some cities such as Gifu, Fuefuki, Kyoto, and Uji continue the tradition five months a year and transform the business into a tourist attraction.
After three fireworks from above the Nagara River, cormorant fishing season begins in Gifu, cradle of ukai. By the light of burning lanterns, boats move in the night. The birds then dive to the fish attracted to light.
Boats - available to enjoy this night show - dancing boats, restaurant boats accompany the ceremony.
Cormorant fishing on the River Uji, Kyoto v ideo Dream Trip