Nagaragawa onsen Juhachiro Cormorant fishing Founded more than
160 years ago.


‘Ukai’ or Cormorant fishing is a classic fishing method that has been passed down for 1,300 years,
and is a summer tradition on the Nagara River.
It is held from May 11th to October 15th every year.

On the surface of the Nagara River enveloped in darkness, a red-hot bonfire appears fantastically,
cormorants catching sweetfish and fishermen manipulating the reins are united in the virtuosity
of the classic fishing method of cormorant fishing.
Forget the present and enjoy the mysterious and profound world thatmakes you feel
as if you slipped back in time to a thousand years ago.

Ukai has been loved over time.


Ukai on the Nagara River has been protected by those in power at the time. It is said that Nobunaga Oda protected Ukai by giving the fishermen the status of “Usho”. Ieyasu Tokugawa often visited Gifu to watch Ukai, and while protecting Ukai, he had the ayu-zushi made in Gifu transported to Edo. Ukai has also been loved by many cultural figures. When Basho Matsuo visited Gifu, he saw Ukai and left a famous poem. The famous actor Charles Chaplin is said to have visited Ukai twice and highly praised the splendor of Ukai, praising Usho as artists.

36年7月 松尾岐阜市長と会談

Currently, the Ukai on the Nagara River is the only Ukai for the Imperial Family in Japan. The cormorant fishermen ‘Usho’ are formally entitled and called ‘Imperial Household Agency Shikibu-Shoku Usho’ and their tradition has been passed down from parent to child for generations. The sound of yelling “Houhou” and tapping on the boat’s edge by Usho have been selected as one of Japan’s top 100 soundscapes. The set of 122 pieces of tools for Ukai on the Nagara River has been designated as an important tangible folk cultural property of Japan, and the method of Ukai on the Nagara River has been designated as an intangible folk cultural property designated by Gifu Prefecture.


Eight times a year, ‘Goryo Ukai’ is held at the Imperial Palace on the Nagara River, and the ayu caught there are not only presented to the imperial family, but are also dedicated to the Ise and Meiji shrines.

What is the classic fishing method of Ukai?


In Ukai, a ‘Usho’, or cormorant fisherman manipulates 10 to 12 cormorants with hand ropes.
It is one of the traditional Japanese fishing methods of catching sweetfish that gather at the bonfire one after another.
Because Usho live with their cormorants on a daily basis, they catch ayu beautifully showing movements that match each other’s breath.
The cormorants are made to spit out the caught sweetfish into a spitting basket (a bamboo basket).

In addition to the Usho, the person in charge of manipulating the fishing boat,
‘Tomonori,’ and Usho’s assistant, ‘Nakanori’, boarded the boat.
Teams of three go down the Nagara River while catching sweetfish.

Ukai ‘Karikudari’


‘Karikudari’ is to watch Ukai while going down the river with Usho’s fishing boat. You can see up close how Usho handles the ropes and how the cormorants catch the sweetfish. In addition, if ‘Karikudari’ is not possible due to river conditions, there is also a “Tsukemise” where a viewing boat is fixed on the river bank and you can observe Ukai.

Climax of Ukai, ‘Sogarami’


In ‘Sogarami’, six Ushos’ boats are lined up across the width of the river, driving the sweetfish into shallow water all at once. Usho, the cormorants and the boats work together to drive the sweetfish, while making yells of ‘Hoo Hoo’. This shout has the effect of calming the cormorant.

‘Ukai komichi’, a passage leading to the boarding area.


Passing through the exclusive passage from the building to the dock, you can board the ship, which is a privilege only for Juhachiro. However, there are stairs, so wheelchair users will be guided on a separate route.

Schedule to enjoy dinner on Ukai spectators' boat

17:30 go to boarding area

Please gather at the lobby and we will show you to the boarding area via “Ukai komichi”.

17:45 explanation of Ukai

A Ukai explanation is provided by the Usho at the boarding area. It is popular because you can hear stories unique to Usho. (Some days may not be held due to weather or events.)

18:00 boarding, departure

Proceed the boat upstream from the dock. After that, the boat is anchored on the river bank until Ukai starts. Enjoy onboard meal while enjoying the surrounding scenery.

19:45 Ukai starts

Fireworks signal the start, and Ukai begins.

20:30 returning to the dock

The schedule may change depending on the season and the number of boats. You can also use ‘Ukai komichi’ when returning to ryokan.


Schedule to enjoy Ukai watching after dinner

17:15  Dinner starts

Enjoy kaiseki cuisine in your room or at the restaurant. Hida beef hot pot and sweetfish rice porridge are made with great care, using plenty of high-quality ingredients from Gifu.

19:00 gathering at the lobby and boarding/departure

Come down to the lobby. Move to the boarding area via ‘Ukai komichi’ There are stairs. If you have any concerns about moving, please contact us in advance.


19:45 Ukai starts

20:30 returning to the dock

The schedule may change depending on the season and the number of boats. You can also use ‘Ukai komichi’ when returning to ryokan.