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Whitebait Fishing on Yoshino River

Midnight magical illumination across a grand river

The Yoshino River is the largest river on Shikoku Island, running from the Tokushima plains through the Kii Channel. During the cold season from November to mid-April every year, innumerable whitebait fishing boats appear on the Yoshino. The magical view of many fish lamps illuminating the river at night is something to behold.

Whitebait fishing attempts to catch natural glass eels (eel fry) in order to cultivate them later. Tokushima's whitebait fishing is famous for its traditional techniques. When the tide changes from low to high, glass eels swim up river on high tide from the estuary. Fishermen, taking advantage of the glass eels' attraction to strong light, flash beams on the river surface from midnight to early morning (12 a.m. to 4 a.m) on the dark nights of the new moon. When these eels swim up near the river surface, the fishermen scoop them up. Of course, these magical beams not only attract the glass eels but us photographers, as well!