Essey by Cormorant Fishing Master"Yamashita"
Once again, this year, a wild cormorant, with cobalt blue eyes and hooked beak, has arrived to join our family.
For him it is a drastic change of environment, from the rough seas to a human family.
I keep talking to this new family member, while stroking his head and caressing his body, until he recognizes me as a trustworthy creature.
Dialogue with him can only begin by showing deep love and affection.
I lovingly touch his head and throat, while he gazes at me with his clear eyes, and gradually he will begin to show trust, and to fawn on me. This is what every cormorant fisher does every day of the year, throughout his life.
Cormorant fishing on the Nagara River is a tradition stretching back 1300 years. The skills of this encounter between man and cormorant have been handed down from generation to generation. An apprentice fisherman, a cormorant fisher’s son, learns about the partnership between man and bird through observing his father and inheriting his manner. There can be no perfect written manual to these skills.
Today, the cormorant fishing on the Nagara River is a special summer attraction, and takes place every night from May 11 through October 15. From the foot of Mount Kinkazan, bonfires can
be seen emerging from the darkness, and soon spectators can see the six boats moving downstream. The fishermen wear a unique hat called Kazaori Eboshi and a kind of straw skirt. By the light of
the bonfires, they hold the twelve birds on leashes, and call “hoh ? hoh ? hoh” to drive the birds to fish. The twelve birds dive with agility and grace ? some resurface with empty beaks, while
others proudly swallow their catch.
I feel real love and admiration to see them at work, and at that moment I feel that they are my real partners. Even we fishermen never cease to be enthused by the beauty of the scene, and we know that it is all made possible by nurturing the cormorants as part of the family, and by the solid traditions of the profession. It is with great pleasure that I invite you to come and see for themselves the cormorant fishing in Gifu.