Cormorant Fishing in Japan

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For much of history, people have used animals to aid in hunting and gathering. In certain parts of Asia, a bird has helped its human partners catch fish. Cormorant Fishing in Japan 2 The cormorant is a large water A Fishing Bird bird with an almost primitive 1 When you think of fishing, appearance. Its long, thin neck you probably imagine standing by a makes it look something like river with a rod and reel. However, a reptile. You can often see it there is more than one way to standing with its wings held out to catch a fish. Have you ever heard dry. This fascinating bird is adept of anyone using a bird to catch at catching fish. It is able to dive fish? A bird called a cormorant has underwater and stay there for long been used for centuries to catch periods of time. While underwater, fish in certain areas of Japan and it searches for fish, which it China. catches in its long, hooked beak before returning to the surface. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only. The Fishing ProcessHistory 3 Cormorant fishing in Japan 5 At the beginning, people used has not changed much since its cormorant fishing as a means to beginnings about 1,300 years ago. obtain food. A well-trained bird The birds are captured and carefully can catch enough fish daily to feed trained for their job. The owners a family. This method of fishing feed and house the cormorants. The became very popular in Japan. birds are very well treated their Before long, it was supported by entire lives, almost like family. This the Imperial Household Agency. is evident in how long the birds To this day, it is protected by the live. While a wild cormorant lives government. The Nagara River, only about four years, the tame where most of the fishing takes bird has a life span of up to twenty place, is kept clean and healthy. years. With time, a genuine respect The hope is that the tradition can develops between owner and bird.continue through the ages. 4 The fishing process is actually 6 As fishing techniques fairly simple. Accompanied by one improved and more fish were or more birds, the owner paddles caught, cormorant fishing became out on the water in a boat or raft. an industry. Nearby factories A band is fastened around each processed the fish so it could be cormorant’s slender neck so that it sold over great distances. In time, cannot swallow a decent-sized fish. the number of fish caught by the This does not injure the bird, which birds began to drop off. Soon, more is still able to swallow smaller modern fishing methods came fish. The owner then releases the into use. There was no longer a cormorant into the water to search need for large-scale cormorant for fish. The bird’s throat can hold fishing. However, it is improbable up to six fish. When its throat is that the practice will ever die out full of fish, the bird returns to the completely. In some villages, you owner, who removes the fish and can still see owners fishing with deposits them into a basket. The their birds. Cormorant fishing is bird is then released once again to also a beloved cultural event that catch more fish. draws tourists to Japan. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only. season. The ubane are then Fishing on the Nagara Today paddled out onto the river, one 7 The season for cormorant at a time. The fishing masters fishing is from May through attract the fish with bright burning October. Tourists from all over fires in metal baskets suspended the world watch the action from from the front of the boats. Next, viewing boats set up along the from ten to twelve cormorants are Nagara River. The fishing takes released into the water from each place on six flat-bottomed boats boat. The birds are on leashes called ubune. These boats are attached to the small bands around designed to sail across the shallow the base of their necks. The skill waters where fish are easier to of the fishing master keeps the catch. Each boat carries a fishing leashes from tangling as the birds master and one or two assistants. dive repeatedly for their catch. In The fishing master wears the same the light of flaming torches, the type of traditional clothing that graceful birds charm the audience was worn 1,300 years ago. by diving, swimming, and, of 8 Each evening, fireworks light course, catching fish. up the night sky to signal the official beginning of the fishing ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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