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The Fascination of Cormorant Fishing

Cormorant fishing on the Nagara River–a graceful ancient scroll painting bringing to life 1300 years of history and tradition.

Known as one of Gifu’s summer highlights, cormorant fishing on the Nagara River traces its beginnings back some 1300 years.

Cormorant fishing is an ancient fishing method whereby fishermen use cormorants to catch fish, an art that has been passed down over generations to the present day under the protection of those holding power in each age.
Oda Nobunaga protected cormorant fishing by bestowing the title of cormorant Fishing Master on fishermen, while Tokugawa Ieyasu is said to have visited Gifu frequently to view this spectacular sight.

Cormorant fishing on the Nagara River has also been widely loved by cultural figures coloring each age. After visiting Gifu and watching the cormorant fishing, famous Edo period poet Matsuo Bashō wrote the poem “Exciting to watch / yet eventually comes sadness / the cormorant boats,” and world-famous actor Charlie Chaplin is said to have been immensely impressed by cormorant fishing, which he came to see twice, in 1937 and 1961.

With its clear flowing waters, the Nagara River is one of Japan’s 100 most famous waterways. Shrouded in jet-black darkness, the river’s surface is dotted with the redly glowing flames of fishing lanterns, creating a fantastical scene that invites viewers into a subtly profound world as if travelling back in time.

Cormorant Fishing Viewing Boat reservations can also be made at Kinka. Please feel free to make inquiries.

We are sorry that we don't speak English at all. We also apologize that we do not provide religious diet that have restriction on some food. If that would be okay, we would like to welcome.

Photographs provided by the Gifu Prefecture Tourism Federation

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