Last weekend, Matsumoto Castle held its first ever falconry event!
Historically, during the Edo Period in Matsumoto, there were samurai who served as falconers under the feudal lord of Matsumoto Castle. This event was a demonstration of these traditions.
In the old castle town of Matsumoto, there was an area called Takajomachi(鷹匠町) named after the falconers, or “Takajo” in Japanese, that lived there. There was also another area called Esashimachi(餌差町) where the small birds that were used to feed the falcons were raised (in Japanese, “e” means feed or bait and here “sashi” refers to the person giving the food).
The falconry show was performed by the Suwa Falconry Preservation Society (see Japanese website here). Apparently members of this society go through a tiered qualification process in order to become falconers! The three types of birds of prey trained by falconers are the Harris Hawk, Norther Goshawk, and the Japanese Buzzard.
The show started off by the falconers walking the falcons slowly around the performance area, so the birds could adjust to their surroundings.
Next, the falcons flew between two people and then returned. They flew quite low! Falconers do not only train the falcons to use themselves, but the birds were trained in a way that anyone could use them, for example, in the past, the feudal lord himself.
So since anyone can technically have the falcon to do what it was trained to do, some people in the audience got to try it out themselves (including the mayor of Matsumoto!).
The next part of the show demonstrated how the falcons could strike other birds out of the sky: live pigeons were released and the falcons caught them with their talons right in mid-flight!
The last part of the event was all about letting the audience take photos of the falcons and their trainers. Let’s hope this event happens again next year!
This blog post is based off of the Falconry Show article on the Japanese website. Please check it out here if you are interested!