We saw this awesome festival in Arashiyama called Cormorant fishing. It’s where these ancient fishing masters train cormorants to hunt fish, keep them in their throats then regurgitate them. The practice has begun since 960 AD!
This is the description of cormorant fishing according to Wikipedia:
To control the birds, the fishermen tie a snare near the base of the bird’s throat. This prevents the birds from swallowing larger fish, which are held in their throat, but the birds can swallow smaller fish. When a cormorant has caught a fish in its throat, the fisherman brings the bird back to the boat and has the bird spit the fish up.
Here is a close up of the snare in the cormorant
We were all lined up in boats like these.
Then the fishing began. The cormorant fisherman rows past us in his boat. The ceremony becomes more exciting as it’s fueled by Japanese drums and fire. The cormorants duck (so the speak… couldn’t resist) into the water hunting for fish. Then the cormorant fisherman takes them out and forces them to regurgitate the fish.
Nothing quite like it.
To learn more about cormorant fishing, click Wikipedia’s Cormorant Fishing.
Another off the beaten path trip we took was to Otagi Nenbutsuji in Arashiyama. I heard rave reviews about it in travel blogs. They all said it was worth the trip to get up there.
When we first went to look for it in Arashiyama (near Kyoto), we made the mistake of starting from the bottom and work our way uphill. What a mistake! It was hot, the climb was steep and uphill, full of people and by the time, we almost made it up there (probably walk for another 20 more minutes) we were tired and sweaty and have had enough of Arashiyama.
After consulting the blogs, I found the best way to get there. The second time we went we took a taxi cab up to Otagi Nenbutsuji from the Arashiyama station. It was a 5-7 minute cab ride and easy! After visiting the Otagi and Adashino (a solemn big graveyard site of 8,000 Buddha statues that date back to 800 AD–this was another 10 minute walk down), it was a 15 minute easy walk downhill past a traditional medieval farming neighborhood to the main attractions of Arashiyama.
Eating Buddha- my kind of Buddha!
“I don’t like people” Buddha
Achieving nirvana – without hair
the Otagi Nenbutsuji site
8,000 Buddhas at Adashino Nenbutsuji
Visit these blogs to learn more about these awesome off the beaten sites in Arashiyama:
Adashino or Otagi Nenbutsuji
How to get to Otagi Nenbutsuji
We are traveling in Japan hitting up Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. Two hours from Tokyo we went to Daibutsu to see one of the biggest Buddha of Japan carved in the mountains. It was off the beaten path and had very few tourists. Just a warning, the climb is quite steep and going up to see the biggest Buddha is quite long and is the steepest uphill climb of all. Overall, I’d say the climb would take more than 2 hours.
First stop- a huge traffic God buddha carved into the stone
Tons of tiny buddhas adorned the path towards the Big Buddha
Each Buddha has a different face and expression. I read there are 2,000 of these tiny Buddhas all over the mountain
Even tiny Buddhas like this
These are the size of your finger. These tiny statues are found next to the giant Buddha
Then finally the Big Buddha itself. It really is worth the climb
It is worth a whole day trip. If you’re in Japan, go off the beaten path to Nihonji Buddha.
Visit these blogs to know how to get to Nihonji Buddha:
How to get to Nihonji Buddha in Japan
Nihonji Temple- Getting there is half the fun