Ukai 鵜飼 （Especially at Oze 小瀬, in the Nagaragawa river 長良川 of Gifu-Prefecture)
This is a fishing method to catch sweetfish using cormorants.
Ayu can not survive without having a lot of beautiful water flowing in a river.
In Japan, this fishing method using cormorants: Ukai has been conducted in about 10 rivers .
Among them, Ukai in the Nagaragawa River is said to be the most dignified Ukai.
Ukai of Nagara River is one of the traditional fishing methods protected by Nobunaga Oda,
a famous warrior. Ukai has a history of 1300 years.
There are two places where Ukai has been certified in Nagara River, one is held at the foot of Gifu Castle, and the other is at Oze, Seki in Gifu 岐阜県関市小瀬.
Ukai at Oze is done in the upper stream of the Nagara River, so you can enjoy the scenery in the more natural.
Here, I introduce you Ukai at Oze and the shop of Ayu cuisine operated by Masaaki Iwasa, one of Usho 鵜匠: A fisherman who trains a cormorant to capture sweetfish and is certified by the state. There are only 7 people called Usho in Nagara River basin.
Among Ushos in Japan, only Ushos in Nagara River basin can dedicate sweetfish to the royal family.
Ukai show is held after late afternoon. A small boat on which Usho takes in the dark lights the torch and comes from the upstream. You take another small boat with several other customers and wait in the stream of the river that boat Usho takes.
Ukai show starts.
You enjoy Ukai show in front of you while riding the boat. It’s about 40 minutes of fun.
Several cormorants are connected with special thin rope operated by Usho .
You do not have to think that the cormorant is hungry and poor.
The cormorant can not eat big sweetfish during the event, but can eat small sweetfish or other fish that can pass through the throat. And furthermore the cormorants can reward many fish as the event ends.
Ukai is held from 11th May to 15th October every year. It is done every night except Mid autumn moon and water rising.
Let’s enjoy Ukai of Oze,Seki in Gifh-Prefecture, shall we?
This is a picture “Ayu cuisine Usho-Iwasa of Oze” 鵜匠の家 岩佐 (linked to his homepage).