Traditional falconry skills demonstrated in Tokyo

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A falconer releases a trained bird during a demonstration of falconry skills at Hamarikyu Gardens in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

Falconers put on a display of their ancient craft at an event on Tuesday at Hamarikyu Gardens, the same bayside oasis in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward that had been the shogun’s hunting ground using hawks and falcons during the Edo period (1603-1867).

Back in those days, the birds of prey were trained to catch wild game by falconers who served aristocrats and the shoguns. The traditional techniques have been preserved by members of the Suwa Falconry Preservation Society based in Ome, Tokyo.

In Tuesday’s event, the society members displayed various falconry skills, such as having the falcon fly from the hand of one falconer to that of another standing some distance away, or calling a falcon perched on a tree branch to return to their hand.

“It looked really cool the way the man and the falcon became united in the hunt for prey,” said a 10-year-old boy from Kinokawa, Wakayama Prefecture, who watched the event with his parents.