Ties Between Usho (Cormorant Fishing Master) and Cormorants

Status of the Usho

 Currently, there are six Usho performing Gifu Cormorant Fishing on the Nagara River. Only these six Usho on the Nagara River and the three Usho in Oze Cormorant Fishing, or nine Usho in total, have been appointed as Usho by Shikibu-Shoku, the Imperial Household Agency in Japan.

Business names of the Usho families of Gifu Cormorant Fishing on the Nagara River

Characteristics of cormorants


 In Gifu Cormorant Fishing on the Nagara River, they use Japanese cormorants, which are larger in size and stronger than the common cormorant. Cormorants have good eyes. Before they fly away from an enemy, they discharge the fish that they have kept in their throat.

Cormorants fed in a bird hut

Imperial cormorant fishing / cormorant fishing observation by imperial family members

 “Goryo Ukai” refers the duty of the Ukai of Shikibu-Shoku, the Imperial Household Agency and cormorant fishing to catch Ayu (sweetfish) to be delivered to imperial family. It is performed eight times during the cormorant fishing season.

Showing cormorant fishing by inviting ambassadors in Japan and their spouses as well as government ministers and their spouses.

The prince observing cormorant fishing

Living with cormorants

The Usho show affection to the cormorants. And because the cormorants recognize this affection, the cormorants strive to catch fish every day.

Memorial services for cormorants

Usho and cormorants are Family.