Whaling communities plug the hunt

Kyodo News

Whaling culture still forms an important bond for coastal communities that earned a living by hunting the sea mammals, residents claim.

Katsutoshi Mihara, head of the municipal assembly of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, said “whaling is like the keel” of the town.

The community has maintained its tradition of whaling and culture based on the industry, while offering gratitude for the gifts from nature, with young successors continuing the tradition, the 72-year-old Mihara said.

The town was the location of the Oscar-winning 2009 U.S. documentary “The Cove,” which focused on Taiji’s contentious dolphin slaughter.

Taiji now has 13 whaling boats with a total of more than 20 crew members in its whaling cooperative. The boats catch small whales using nets. The fishermen catch seven small whale species, including bottlenose dolphins and a type of pilot whale not covered by the International Whaling Commission, with the permission of the Wakayama governor, within a permitted hunt period and catch limit.

In the Wada area of Minamiboso, Chiba Prefecture, summer is for hunting Baird’s beaked whales.

Catching of Baird’s beaked whales began in the area during the Edo Period, in what is now the town of Kyonan. Dried meat of the species is a traditional local food called “tare.”