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Sunday, December 18, 2011

The historical background of the formation
the Taiji Bay Whaling Office in Japan
During the 11th year of Keicho (1606), Wada Chubeh Yorimoto, the mayor of Taiji, along with Iwemon of Sakai in Senshu (Osaka Prefecture) and Denji of Morozaki Bay in Bishu (Aichi Prefecture), were the first ones to start whaling in Kumano.
Harpooning was the whaling method used during that time, but since when a whale dies it goes down to the bottom of the ocean, timing was crucial. So after years later, just before a whale died, 2 ships would come along the side of the whale, and a log was used to connect the 2 ships, and ropes would be used to tie the whale.
Since this harpooning method wasn't very successful at that time, whaling in Kumano ended after 2 years. (This information obtained from "The History of Whaling in Higashimurou Ward, Wakayama Prefecture" published in the 7th year of Showa).
During the 4th year of Genna (1618), Wada Kinwemon Yoriteru, the eldest son of Chubeh Yorimoto, revived his father's whaling business. He employed Yoheiji of Onozaki Bay, Chita Ward in Bishu (Aichi Prefecture) as a "hazashi" (the person in charge of harpooning).
Others outside of Kumano, have also started whaling, as a result, the supply of whales began decreasing gradually.
Wada Kinwemon Yoriteru had three sons, the eldest, Kinwemon Yorioki, the second oldest son, Kakuwemon Yoriharu and the youngest, Jurouwemon (or Hanroku) Yorinao. The eldest son, Kinwemon Yorioki inherited his father's business, but due to illness, the second son , Kakuwemon Yoriharu assisted and ran most of the whaling business. The Kinwemon Whaling Group consisted of 3 smaller whaling groups: Kinwemon Yorioki's group, Kakuwemon Yoriharu's group and Chubeh Yorinori's group.
In the 2nd year of Kambun (1662), the whaling ships became painted, and there were 15 members in the crew, using 8 sets of oars, they were able to run at high speed, the duties of the crew became specialized and more efficient . In the 3rd year of Empou (1675), Kakuwemon became mayor of the Outa area, which consisted of 20 villages around the Taiji Bay and entered into the agreement "The Whale Thrust Law" with mayors of seven other bay areas (Taiji Bay, Moriura Bay, Uragami Bay, Shimosato Bay, Katsuura Bay, Ugui Bay and Miwasaki Bay).
This agreement was to limit indiscriminate whale hunting and settle disputes between rival whaling groups, which had become violent at times, due to the decreasing supply of whales. The supply of White Whales, Sperm Whales and Grey Whales had become limited at that time, but there still was an abundant supply of the Humpback Whales.
One day, Wada Kakuwemon watching a cicada caught in a web of a spider, came up with the idea of using a net to capture whales. So in the 5th year of Empou (1677), Kakuwemon developed the whale method of capturing whales with a net, then harpooning the whale to kill it. Before the whale died, the whale is drawn near the ship and a rope is tied around the whale's nose to prevent the whale from going down after dying. Eventually, other whaling groups withdrew, Kakuwemon Yoriharu continued using the method of using a net to catch whales and he was successful in capturing the humpback whale. In the 3rd year of Tenna (1683), The Kakuwemon Whaling Group captured 91 Humpback Whales, 2 White Whales and 3 Grey Whales and became famous worldwide. Wada Kakuwemon was recognized by the second Kishu clan master, Tokugawa Mitsusada, for his accomplishments in the whaling industry and was granted the family name of Taiji.

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