Post by washi on Sept 23, 2015 16:49:57 GMT
Japanese people work too hard, and usually spend a lot of additional time commuting back and forth. My wife's son usually leaves home at 6 am and returns about 11 pm. Like other salaried employees, he gets no paid leave, except for national holidays. This year, 3 national holidays lined up with a weekend, to create a rare event (the last was 6 years ago) called Silver Week. My stepson and his family drove to Kyoto, and my wife and I joined them for one night at a traditional Japanese inn. One of the things we did together was to go and watch the traditional cormorant fishing on the Ōi River.
The Ōi River may not be the shortest river in the world, but it is certainly the shortest one I know. I measure just a half a mile between the point where the swiftly moving Hozu Gawa leaves the gorge at Arashiyama, and the Ōi Gawa flows under the Togetsukyō bridge to become the Katsura Gawa river. (Enough of you probably remember at least one of my rants on the subject of the difficulty of talking about rivers that are constantly being renamed as they flow along to the sea, that I won't repeat it here, but those of you who can't remember can perhaps imagine.) To tell the truth, until I read up on the cormorant fishing, I didn't even know the Ōi Gawa (大堰川 = "Big Dam River") existed.
Fishermen have been using trained cormorants to fish in Japanese rivers for at least 1300 years. A cord is tied around the bird's neck, so that smaller fish may be swallowed, but larger fish must be surrendered to the fisherman. The technique was once common, but now exists almost entirely as a tourist attraction. There are 13 places where one can still witness this ancient practice. The most famous two are in Gifu Prefecture, and the fishermen there are employed by the emperor and are given the august title of "Imperial Fishermen of the Royal Household Agency". (The woodblock print by Keisai Eisen shows the Nagara River in Gifu.) A few of the fishing sites (not the one at Arashiyama) allow customers to purchase the catch, the sweet-meated, trout-like ayu, spitted and grilled over a charcoal fire.
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