Highlights and access methods of Ukai(Cormorant fishing) on the Nagara River (Gifu Prefecture)
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The cormorant fishing on the Nagara River is a traditional fishing method performed on the Nagara River in Gifu Prefecture, with a history of over 1300 years. It takes place at night, with the cormorant master (the person conducting the cormorant fishing) using the light of a lantern to control the cormorants and catch fish. The sight of this is a valuable one in which tradition has been passed down in its original form, and it is known as a tourist attraction.
In this article, we will explain the attractions of Ukai(Cormorant fishing) on the Nagara River in Gifu Prefecture and how to access it for those who are traveling to Japan from overseas.
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Cormorant fishing on the Nagara River, located in Gifu Prefecture, is an astonishing spectacle where history, culture, and nature intersect. The traditional fishing technique, called Ukai, has been practiced for over 1300 years. It involves a master fisherman, known as an "ush?", who uses cormorant birds to catch sweetfish, locally known as Ayu. The ritual is a marvel to behold as it's conducted on wooden boats lit by blazing bonfires against the backdrop of the dark river.
In the warm summer months, from May to October, the ush?s take to the river every evening. With precise and practiced movements, they direct the cormorants to catch the Ayu swimming upstream. The boats, firelight reflecting off the water, and the ush?s clad in their traditional attire, present a mesmerizing and otherworldly view, as if time has stood still. The grace and skill of the ush? and their bird companions are a sight to behold.
What's more, there's no need to worry about language barriers, as the beauty of Ukai transcends words. The rhythmic calls of the ush?, the crackling fires, and the spectacle of cormorants diving into the river under the dark night sky create an atmosphere that is incredibly moving and needs no translation.
An added delight is the local cuisine, with Ayu being the star of the show. Many visitors choose to combine watching Ukai with enjoying an Ayu-themed meal on a houseboat, making for an unforgettable dining experience. The sweet, tender fish can be enjoyed grilled with salt, in sushi, or even as a topping on soba noodles.
The address for boarding the cormorant on the Nagara River is 1-2 Minatomachi, Gifu City. The nearest station is JR Tokaido Main Line Gifu Station or Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line Meitetsu Gifu Station. Transfer to Gifu Bus and get off at Nagarabashi. A short walk away.
Several notable attractions are located near Ukai(Cormorant fishing) on the Nagara River:
Sitting atop a mountain, Gifu Castle is a stunning site that draws visitors from all over. Enjoy the beautiful view of cherry blossoms in spring and the splendid scenery across the seasons.
Kawara-machi Historic Street
This district, with its preserved old town atmosphere, offers traditional Japanese sweets, sake, and crafts. Visitors can enjoy shopping and dining in historical buildings.
Yanagase Shopping Street
Located in the heart of Gifu City, this shopping street is the place to go for local food and souvenirs. It's filled with a variety of shops and restaurants, offering a lively atmosphere.
For hiking enthusiasts, Mount Kinka in Gifu City is a must-visit. Enjoy panoramic views of Gifu City from the peak, and relax in the fresh, serene natural environment.
Official site about Ukai(Cormorant fishing) on the Nagara River :
Thank you for reading to the end.
( Written by Tatsuo Ikura )