There are still a lot of schools of Japanese falconry(most of them were established during Edo period), and many falconeers have develooped their technique in their owwnnn ways.
The purpose of this association is to organize practicing the art of traditional falconry in Japan, to train its followers (falconers), and to carry out research on raptors. We have received some criticism that our activities do not follow the mainstream of faoconry in its true traditional way.
Nevertheless, we have to face the reality;it is getting more difficult to secure falconry lands because a lot off areas in Japan have already been urbanized.
We hope you understand our present situation.
Falconry imploys falcons, hawks, or eagles, in hunting game: raptors’
“hunting” instinct is utilized in this hunting.
In Japan, a falconer originally collaborates with persons with hunting dogs and persons with riding horses.
At first;, dogs find and chase prey in the bush.
After making sure the prey flies to the sky, the falconer releases the hawk to catch the prey.
The Hawk usually does not come back to the falconer,holding prey, after the hunting; it settles down and has a short rest with its prey in its talon. Before the hawk recovers its fighting instinct and eats the prey, the falconer has to find the hawk and lures it away from theprey with bait.
Nowadays hunting dogs and horses do not join the hunting.
The skills, methods, and equipments are all different from one school to another.
The history of falconry
Falconry has origins in far eastern countries like Mongolia, China, India,and Turkestan, starting around l000 B.C..
It was introduced to Persia, and reached to Europe by nobles and churchmen
around 400 B.C. to gain great popularity in l3th century.
Falconry was also introduced to Japan in the age of Emperor Nintoku (355 A.D.) and was the popular game of the nobles.
Falconry thrived during Edo period.
Especially the third shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu and the 8th Tokugawa Yoshimune are big ffans of falconry: the owned huge falconry lands in Edo city and its suburb. Special offices for falconers were placed to make the law about falconry.
However, falconry lost popularity with the introduction of guns in l492.
Vast environmental changes such as modern industrialization also cause the popularity of falconry to pllummet; it is restricted to a small number of followers nowadays.
Types of raptorss
Falconers need to take the size of prey into consideration, when they choose a raptor in hunting.
Sparrow hawks are good for the hunting of small birds such as skylarks and thrushes, and goshawks for bigger prey such as pheasantsl, copper pheasants, wild ducks, and rabbits.
Both types have short wings and long tails, which are effective for chasing prey in forest.
They fly in midair and attack prey in flank.
Hodgson`s hawk eagles and golden eagles are used for hunting bigger birds, rabbits, or even young deer.
They have long wings (normally 2 meters long) and float high in the air.
Once they find prey, however, they “fold” their wings and dive down on prey.
Few falconers keep these raptors these days. Whereas Hodgson’s hawk eagles are very wild, golden eagles (bigger than Hodgson’s hawk eagles) are usually tamed and easily trained.
Falcons are used for birds such as wild ducks or doves.
In the same way as the above two big raptors, falcons also dive down on prey.
Kestrels are chosen for small-scale hunting.
They look like falcons, but have their own hunting skill: they fly low and approach prey without attracting its attention.
Goshawks and falcons are the most popular raptors because of their dynamic hunting and their docility.
How to keep raptors
Keeping raptors in healthy is the first step for a good hunting.
Hawks should be kept in cages outside, and it is better to shelter them from outside noises.
They are supposed to go outside only during training or sunbath hours (early morning in summer and until noon in winter), but it is no problem to keep them on the outside porch all day, in case you are unable to secure the place for the cage.
When keeping them indoor, you need to cover the floor(especially under the perch) with clothes or newspapers; dropping scatter.
Falconers need to hand-feed fresh, low-fat meat regularly once a day.
Equipments are leather fetters (like collars for dogs), leading reins, and hoods.
Some hoods are decorated, and mainly used for covering falcons or eagles’ heads to soothe them.
In other countries, hoods are also used even to hawks.
Falconers also use a leather grab to hold their hawk upon their fists, a whistle to give orders, and wide,shallow container to give their hawk water;.
Leather grabs should be strong enough to protect falconers, fists.