Preservation of the ancient Japanese art of falconry, a hunting tradition

People and community

Aramco Asia Japan (AAJ) signed an agreement with SUWA Falconry Preservation Society (SUWA), Japan’s oldest falconry school, recognizing its efforts in raptor conservation, a century-old tradition in the East Asian country.

Among numbers of similar entities in Japan, the SUWA is active not only in preserving its tradition but also promoting Japan’s falconry culture worldwide, particularly in the Arab world where the falconry culture is highly esteemed.

Ms. Noriko Otsuka, the society’s 18th generation head and her master Mr. Zenjiro Tagomori have been invited to participate in Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition every year since 2007, playing a pivotal role in the exchange of falconry expertise. They have been exploring ways of developing solid ties with the Middle East. 

As for Saudi Arabia, there are more than 20,000 falconers. To support the pioneering role of the Arab falconers and the Kingdom’s interest in this heritage, a royal decree was stipulated to establish the Falcon Club in the Kingdom in 2017.

Noriko Otsuka, 18th-generation head of the Suwa school of falconry offers a demonstration of her skills during the Funaoka Grand Festival at Kenkun Shrine in Kyoto.

The culture of falconry was recognized as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO and Saudi Arabia is one of 11 countries listed.

The Aramco - SUWA initiative is supporting a wide range of activities, including the cultivation of junior falconers, exhibitions that present notable performances of traditions to local communities, preservation of falconry culture and training for next generations to carry on this heritage.

An evening program titled “Connecting Arabia and Japan through falconry" organized by AAJ is one example of collaboration, where Ms. Otsuka, one of few female falcon masters, appeared with her master as well as their falcons in one of Tokyo downtown office buildings after work hours for a lecture and live performance.