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Best time to visit Japan

Cormorant Fishing

One of the oldest fishing traditions in the world, Ukai fishing is a fascinating practice. Check out just how it's done!

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This season is marked by many interesting activities in Japan. However, one of the most unique and oldest is a certain fishing technique using cormorants. Ukai, as it is commonly called, usually starts at 7.30 in the evening on the Nagaragawa River, in the Gifu Prefecture. The tradition of training cormorants to catch fish dates back over 1300 years. The sight is also a spectacular one. There is no lighting apart from torches on the boats which makes the scene somewhat sinister and spiritual. The birds with their long necks circle the boats and river with trout in their mouths while traditionally dressed trainers shout commands and the cheering crowd watches the spectacle with a relaxing drink of sake. The small trout caught in this way is later offered to the Emperor. Charlie Chaplin is believed to have exclaimed "Wonderful!" while watching this ceremony. Check it out for yourself!

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