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Cormorant fishing boat tours in central Japan start after virus, rain delays

Passengers on tour boats watch cormorant fishing along the Nagara River in the city of Gifu, on June 15, 2020. (Mainichi/Takeshi Terada)

GIFU -- This year's first operation of tour boats to watch cormorant fishing along the Nagara River in this central Japan city, initially postponed due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, finally got started on the evening of June 15 after additional rain delays.

The annual "Gifu Cormorant Fishing on the Nagara River" event began on May 22, and observation boats were scheduled to start operations from June 13, but they were pushed back due to rain causing the river to rise.

More than 1,000 visitors boarded the vessels on May 11, 2019 when that year's cormorant fishing season started. This year, only 11 guests joined the tour in three boats on the first day of the event on June 15.

As a measure to prevent coronavirus infections, the vessels were allowed to carry only half the number of usual passengers, and eating and drinking were prohibited onboard. Participants filled out a paper asking them about their health, had their temperatures checked, and sanitized their hands from around 6:30 p.m.

Due to the water level, observers watched fishermen do their work from a boat that was anchored, instead of cruising down the river with them. Participant Natsumi Matsushita, 33, who came from Nagoya in the neighboring prefecture of Aichi, smiled and said, "It was my first time watching, but it was very beautiful. As there were only a few passengers, I could see the skills of the fishermen up close, and was able to have some room between myself and others, which I'm grateful for."

(Japanese original by Shinji Yokota, Gifu Bureau)

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