GERO, Gifu — A traditional fishing display using fire to drive sweetfish into nets is luring tourists and amateur photographers to the Maze River in this central Japan city.
During the fishing event, visitors to the river in the Gifu Prefecture city of Gero are treated to scenes of fire reflecting on the dark surface of the river at night.
The drive fishing method is a tradition in the Maze district, and has been conducted as a sightseeing event by the “Clear Maze River sweetfish fishing corps,” led by members of a local fishery cooperative, since 2012.
When it becosmes dark around the river, group members chant, “Ho ho,” as they swing bamboo rods measuring about 4 meters in length with burning torches hanging from their tips. The fire surprises the sweetfish, which are driven into fishnets.
On Sept. 2, the first day of the event, 10 group members participated and caught 25 sweetfish measuring some 18-23 centimeters. Naoki Koike, the 58-year-old head of the team, commented, “There is a lot of algae due to the severe heat, and because the fishnets which had algae stuck to them were noticed by the sweetfish, we didn’t catch many. But the ones we did catch were big and plump.”
The event is also scheduled to be held on Sept. 9, 13, 16 and 20, starting at 7:30 p.m. each evening. Visitors can observe the traditional drive fishing for free.
(Japanese original by Tadayuki Otake, Takayama Local Bureau)