Tuesday, 25 June 2013


長良川の鵜飼 . 나가라가와 강 가마우지 낚시 . 长良川的鸬鹚捕鱼

The cormorant fishing season, or ukai 鵜飼, takes place in summer, and Mom said this was the main event that we made the day trip, from Nagoya to Gifu-city, for.

Tourist Information Centre @ JR Gifu Station
Model of the comorant - Mom had to tell me many times that it is not a duck

We took a bus from Kinkazan Ropeway, and alighted at the Ukaiya 鵜飼屋 stop instead, so that we could cross the Nagarabashi bridge 長良橋.

Ukaiya 鵜飼屋 bus stop
Nagarabashi 長良橋

Nagara River, Mt. Kinka, and the Ukai Sightseeing Boat Office 岐阜市鵜飼観覧船事務所 on the right

Mom collected our tickets from the Ukai Sightseeing Boat Office 岐阜市鵜飼観覧船事務所, and we saw the ukai briefing for groups boarding early.

Ukai Sightseeing Boat Office 岐阜市鵜飼観覧船事務所
Boarding point is behind the Office

Be punctual, and the green slip is to be given to the boatman when boarding
Waiting area opposite the office - there are toilets, a video show on ukai, and a gift shop

Mom had planned to have dinner at a soba-ya but it was too far away and we did not have a lot of time left, so we had cakes instead at Kawaramachiya 川原町屋 café (Tel: 058-266-5144) @ Kawaramachi Row Houses 川原町のまちなみ, which was very near the Ukai Sightseeing Boat Office.

Kawaramachi Row Houses 川原町のまちなみ
Exterior of the famous ryokan - Jyuhachiro 十八楼
Tamaiya-honpo 玉井屋本舗 sweets shop
The souvenir to buy - Ayu-gashi 鮎菓子
Kawaramachi was strangely quiet and deserted that day

The Kawaramachiya 川原町屋 café is very beautiful, and we were their last customers for the day (last order at 6.30pm, closed at 7pm).

After entering

Outdoor seating available

Pass the bar counter
Through the inner courtyard

The dining area - you need to change into the slippers provided to enter

It was fun calling for the waitress with the bell!
I had the cherry yoghurt mousse cake 550円
Mom had the traditional Japanese sweets 抹茶白玉ゼリー 600円

7.05pm - Time to board!
It was easy to spot our boat as there were only 2 boats left at the pier, and we had to take off our shoes onboard. Many people brought along food and drinks, and some were wearing the yukata.

Shoes off, and to be put into these bags given
Lifesavers also act as back cushion
Rowing off to the main event area

Enjoying the view along Nagara River
All boats were lined up along the riverside to wait for the ukai to start
As we waited, we watched a traditional Japanese dance performance

Fireworks signalled the start of the ukai @ 8pm.
I could see the cormorants 鵜 at work although it was dark, and our boat was following the Cormorant Fishing boat 鵜船 as the Fishing Master worked. An Uncle also went to each boat to show the fish that the cormorants had just caught.

6 cormorants to a boat

Ayu 鮎 

Ukai ended about 30 mins later, and our boat slowly headed back to the boarding point. The gentle sway of the boat made me sleepy and I dozed off while sitting upright.

At about 9pm, we took the bus back to JR Gifu Station, and we went to Mister Donut for supper before returning to Nagoya city.

Nagarabashi 長良橋 bus stop opposite the ukai area
I felt very hungry as soon as I saw Mister Donut
I got the kids combo - a toy, a donut and a kids-sized drink - for 440円

I was still excited about what we saw after we reached home, so I called Grandma to tell her all that I had seen and learnt today!

Notes from Mom
  • Prior reservations are a must, and you can either book through a travel agency, hotel, or via their website (in Japanese), and it is important to provide a mobile number in case of cancellation due to heavy rain etc. The confirmation email (for bookings made via the website) is sent immediately
  • Smoking is prohibited on the boats, so ignore the column in the reservation page which states 'Smoking 喫煙船' (they are all marked as cross anyway)
  • Either plan to have an early dinner nearby, or bring onboard a takeaway, or take up their meal + ukai package (おまかせパック Omakase Pack)
  • Recommend that you bring a camera that is good in taking pictures of moving objects at night ... my photos did not come out well with my digital camera
  • Easy to reach via the public bus, and it is also near other Gifu-city attractions like Mt. Kinka Ropeway 金華山ロープウェーUkai no Sato 鵜飼の里 etc
  • One of the boatman spoke rather good English, so his narration made the show more interesting
  • My only bugbear was about not getting a good view of ukai - 2 boats were tethered and moved together to follow the Cormorant Fishing boat 鵜船, and unfortunately, our boat was behind the other sightseeing boat so our view of ukai was largely blocked and most of us were rather unhappy about it. My hunch is that we will probably not have this problem if we had booked Course A or had taken the おまかせパック Omakase Pack
  • I had picked up the Shoryudo Card 昇龍道ウェルカムカード at the airport, so it gave a 300円 discount for each ticket
  • As the sky turned dark, many flying insects and bugs were attracted to the lights in the boats, so kids may get a little squeamish about it
  • A great experience for families and kids!

Ayu sweets 登り鮎

     Address:    岐阜市湊町1-2 (岐阜市鵜飼観覧船事務所)
     Tel:           058-262-0104
     Directions: Take Bus No. N80, 86, 32 (in the Takatomi direction 高富行き) or the City
                      Loop Service 市内ループ線左回り from the bus terminus outside JR Gifu
                      Station 岐阜駅 (15 mins; bus fare for adults 200円).
                      Alight at the Nagarabashi 長良橋 bus stop and walk for 1 min
Duration: May 11 - October 15
Charges:  Course A: Boat departs at 6.15pm, and it includes the ukai briefing
                              Adult 3300円 / Child (ages 3-12) 2900円 - price is valid for all days
               Course B: Boat departs at 6.45pm or 7.15pm, and no briefing included
                              Weekdays Adult 3000円 / Child (ages 3-12) 2600円
/Public holidays Adult 3300円 / Child (ages 3-12) 2900円

              おまかせパック Omakase Pack (meal + ukai) has fixed departures dates and will
              cost Adult 4800円 / Child (ages 3-12) 4000円.

              The other option will be to charter a boat, which has different charges but will
              offer greater flexibility on the dates.

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