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Things to do / Traditional festivals

Uji River Cormorant Fishing

When visiting Uji in Kyoto, you'll most likely visit Byodoin Temple and Ujigami Shrine, and savor matcha (powdered green tea) or tea-flavored sweets. But for the next few months, there's another reason to get fired up for your time in Uji.

For a graceful display of a Japanese tradition that dates back to the Heian Period (794-1185), head to the Uji River where cormorant masters wearing traditional work outfits consisting of an indigo shirt with a black ebōshi (black lacquered-silk cap) and a straw skirt will use cormorants to nab fish from the water.

The spectacle will be heightened by a bonfire lighting up the nighttime scene. You can witness the event from the riverside, but there will be better vantage points from viewing boats to watch the cormorants skim the water to grab the fish and the masters skillfully bringing the birds back to the boat to collect their catch.

This event is one of the most popular attractions in Uji, so it is strongly recommended you get to a boarding place near Kisen Bridge well in advance. (Yuki Yamauchi)

The event will be canceled in the event of bad weather or high water level.