Wondering where to go during these hot summer days? Why not go to Nagara River (Gifu Prefecture) to enjoy the cool river breeze while watching fishermen masters perform ukai, an amazing 1,300-year-old fishing technique?
What makes ukai special is the fact that the fishermen (u-sho) don't catch fish themselves but utilize cormorants (a type of wild bird) to do the job. And they do it amazingly skillfully!
The type of fish caught by cormorants here is special, too. It is called ayu (sweet fish), a type of freshwater fish which is well-known for its sweet flesh and nice aroma! Salt-grilled ayu is a common ayu dish and can be found in local restaurants, ryokans, and hotels.
Ukai is performed every night (except Harvest Moon Day) on Nagara River during ayu season between May 11 and October 15. A great way to watch ukai is to board the Ukai Viewing Boat. While on board, you can enjoy dinner (yes, of course they serve ayu, too), sip some sake, and watch ukai from the best angles.
★Access: 16 minutes by bus from JR Gifu Station or Meitetsu Gifu Station
Photos & report by Huong Tang
* 15 JTNC Travel Reporters are currently reporting from Central Japan.