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Ugui-tsuki, a traditional fish-catching method practiced in Tottori Area

A cultural event held to conserve the traditional fish-catching method

Once again, on Sunday (10/02/2022), I participated in a cultural event about Ugui-tsuki (うぐい突き) held by local community in Ketaka Town, a rural area of Tottori. Organized by International Affairs Division (IAD), Tottori University, 24 representative international students from Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Palestine, Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Gambia, and Kenya went to Ketaka by bus. 

This event was held in the area around Ozutsumi Pond, in Mutsuo, Ketaka-Cho, Tottori, the area belongs to the San’in Kaigan UNESCO Global Geopark. It means that in this geographical area, the sites and landscapes have geological significance and are managed with a comprehensive concept of preservation, education and sustainable development. Based on the information, the pond created by the Lord of Shikano Castle during the Warring States period for agricultural water irrigation, and the Nagae River flows through the pond. The water flows into the pond is also came from the natural spring water called "Fuse no Shimizu". As an agricultural area, water is very essential so this pond gives benefits to the local people. In this old period, a traditional fishing (fish-catching) method was adopted from traditional fish-catching method practiced in Thailand, and since then local people in Tottori Area have practiced this traditional method, called ugui-tsuki. 

Tottori University students and local people participating ugui-tsuki at the Ozutsumi Pond, in Mutsuo, Ketaka-Cho, Tottori.

For the event, the local committee released more than 100 fishes into the pond. After some explanation during the opening ceremony, wearing tabi shoes, international students participated to catch the fish with a kind of bamboo trap together with the local people. Actually, this cultural event was held to conserve the traditional fishing method as one of their local wisdoms. No wonder, children from the area around the pond were also invited to participate in the event and they enjoyed so much. Although a few participants caught some fishes, it was really difficult to catch the fish with this method, and I got no fish. 

Someone may ask about the effectiveness of this traditional fishing method compared to the current invented methods. Of course everyone knows that it is not comparable. However, I think (and we must agree) that it is not the most important goal. At least, the knowledge of this local wisdom could be transferred to other people across Japan and other societies, including the international students, and most importantly to their future generations with the hope that these generations can continue to conserve this local wisdom. 

After finished experiencing this traditional fish-catching method, we cleaned our legs from the mud with the natural hot spring prepared by the local people. We cleaned the shocks and tabi shoes also, and change our wet clothes at Mutsuo Community Center near the pond.

In the event, there were some food stalls selling some local fruits, foods and beverages, and Tottori University also had a intercultural-exchange booth displaying some pictures and information about foreign countries. In the food stalls, from fresh harvested grapes, persimmon, sweet potato, coffee made with the spring water from "Fuse no Shimizu", kaki-gori, reimen (kind of korean-style noodle with soy sauce soup), takoyaki, taiyaki, grilled fish, as well as curry were available there. I talked with some local people there, including those who prepared some foods in the food stalls. I was surprised when I talked with a man in the curry food stall. He explained that they usually serve wild boar meat curry as the local delicacy, but at that time they used deer meat as its main ingredients. Wild boar meat used to be an ingredient for hunters during the old times, and as an alternative, they hunted deer from the surrounding forest-mountain area. It must be delicious, but of course I could not taste it because I do not eat any meat other than halal (or considered as halal) meat. It was around 1 p.m. and I was hungry, so, I bought takoyaki and that was enough to hold me. 

Thanks to the event organizer, local people at Ketaka-Cho, and the Office of International Affairs Division (IAD), Tottori University for giving us the Japanese cultural experience. Looking forward to participate in the future events.

This blog post is actually a post-activity essay I submitted to the International Affair Division (IAD) Office of Our Campus, Tottori University. Thanks for reading, and let's join the conversation.  

Veterinary anatomist | School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, IPB University

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