Ukai in MiyoshiAddress: Tookaichi Sinsui park, Tokaichihigashi, Miyoshi, Hiroshima
"Miyoshi no Ukai” (The Cormorant fishing of Miyoshi), is a special summer experience in Miyoshi that is also designated as an intangible cultural folk property of Hiroshima. Started in the Warring States period, it's a traditional fishing method boasting a long history. Cormorants, a type of diving bird, move about elegantly while on a rein held by the fishermen, all in front of customers. When it's finished the cormorant fishermen are also willing to stay and talk to customers, the closeness between the cormorant fishermen and the customers is another attraction of the activity.
Another important role that supports the ukai fishing are the rowers who row an observation boat for visitors. Matsuki Kazumi debuted as a rower in June, 2019. She supports the ukai fishing as the only female rower supporting the Ukai fishing.
Miyoshi has a lot of good things that urban areas don't have.
The role of who those who felt it keenly
Born and raised in Miyoshi, Matsuki went to Tokyo for college. "Tokyo has a lot of places to play and it's easy to get around. It was really convenient, but... I realized that I prefer living in a quiet place surrounded by nature." After graduation, she worked in Tokyo for three years before returning to Miyoshi where she started working for the Miyoshi City Tourism Association in June of 2016. When she started working there she was made painfully aware of how she didn't know anything about her hometown. Yet, the more she worked there the more she liked Miyoshi and communicating with the residents became more fun. "I learned a lot of things from people, went to various places in Miyoshi and realized that Miyoshi has a lot of nice places." Following this sentiment the way she was working was approved and in April 2018, she was catapulted to being in charge of ukai fishing, a centerpiece of tourism in Miyoshi.
A heavy rain made her decided to be a rower
After being put in charge of ukai fishing, the first thing she did was to talk to cormorant fishermen where she learned a lot of new things. "It was really fun to be able to understand things that I didn't know little by little." But because of a heavy rain in July 2018 they couldn't fish for about a month. The port where they embark was covered with a lot of mud and sand and there was a fear of not being able to fish for a while. However, seeing cormorant fishermen and boatmen trying so hard to rebuild with many staff and local residents, she started feeling even more strongly like "I want to be able to support ukai fishing in Miyoshi." Her answer was "become a rower". She started to practice in May 2019 with senior rowers who stood by her and helped her practice. She learned how difficult it is as you don’t use just the arms but the whole body to row a boat forward but also how delicate you need to be to push the boat while minding the flow of water and cormorant fishing boats. Eventually, with support from the senior rowers, she successfully debuted as a rower in June 2019.
Sharing the attraction of ukai fishing as a rower
Here in Miyoshi cormorant fishermen hold the reins and the cormorants catch fish directly in front of customers. Three cormorant fishing boats work in cooperation with each other at most, which is a fishing method called "ayanari".
Maintaining a certain distance from each other, fishing boats drive fish from a deep area into a shallow area with observer boats lining up with them closely.
But it's hard to maintain a specific distance while rowing as being too close is dangerous and being too far makes it difficult to watch the ukai fishing.
At meetings before they start fishing, cormorant fishermen tell rowers the route of their boats on the day and the rowers have to remember the route.
It's very captivating to see the ukai fishing from a 4 meter distance on an observing boat.
Hisaka Bungo, a holder of "Miyoshi intangible cultural property" and the chairman of cormorant fishermen says, "The moments when cormorants dive under the water and the moment they jump out of the river while catching fish is especially worthy of note. When cheer comes out of an observer boat, it makes me really happy. We talk to the rowers and make plenty of eye contact to make sure all the boats move around safely. We'd like a lot of people to come enjoy the ukai fishing up close in Miyoshi."
When the fishing is finished, customers can see the fish that were caught at the port.
"Thanks to the great cooperation from Matsuki we got a lot today! The customers seemed to enjoy it, too." Hisaka said while smiling all over, showing the fish in the case.
The fishing customers were also excited to see the fish, and took pictures with cormorants that were resting and spreading their wings.
The rower, the fishermen and cormorants.
“Miyoshi no Ukai” is composed of all three.
"Hisaka's cormorants don't squawk at all, so you would think they are quiet and gentle. But they actually move really quickly and catch fish. Today's customers enjoyed seeing it." says Matsuki cleaning up a tourist boat, "There are a lot of difficult things, but it makes me very happy to be able to do things little by little and see customers reacting to the cormorants and fishermen." She smiled and seemed lively even after rowing a big boat with her small body. She told us she wanted to make the ukai fishing of Miyoshi more famous and also increase the number of boatmen. The movement of the cormorants and the movement of the fishermen’s reins are interesting but the powerful rowing that allows people to enjoy seeing them is also worth watching.
|スポット名||Ukai in Miyoshi|
|所在地||Miyoshi Ukai port of embarkation, inside the Tookaichi Sinsui park, Tokaichihigashi, Miyoshi, Hiroshima|
|料金||Sunday - Thursday: Adults (3,000yen), Elementary school students (1,500 yen) Friday and Saturday: Adults (3,300yen), Elementary school students (1,650 yen)|
|営業時間||7:30 pm - around 8:30 pm * The deadline for applying is 7:00 pm, the boarding time is 7:30. * Every night except during stormy weather or muddy water|
|お休み||The day of Ukai Festival and Miyoshi Fireworks Festival|