Sunday, September 23, 2012

Onagadori (Long Tailed Rooster) center Kochi

When my wife was preparing our itinerary for our trip to Shikoku we got a number of tourist brochures posted to us from the local tourist information office. One such brochure had an attraction that immediately caught my eye. It had merely three sentences and a small photo: "The Onagadori is a rare bird that has been adopted as a natural treasure and bred in the Onagadori Centre. The tail of the male bird can grow to over ten metres long. Onagadori have been bred in Kochi since the Edo era to improve the species". There was no address or phone number and just a red blob indicating it's location somewhere vaguely near Kochi City. Ten meters? are you serious ? this I have to see.

After a little more research I found a map that included the location and we set off to visit the birds in the afternoon on a Wednesday. After stopping to ask for directions at a petrol station, we arrived at the centre to find it firmly closed, even though it was only around 3pm. There was no indication as to why it was closed or even if was still in business, however the sound of a cock crowing convinced us it was worth coming back for.

The next day the hotel receptionist managed to find a telephone number for the centre and called them to confirm the opening times. Apparently yesterday had been some sort of chicken holiday and they had been closed, but they were open today. So we set off for a second time and arrived back here:
Onagadori centre Kochi city
We paid the 500 Yen entrance fee and the lady behind the counter took us around to the back. She apologised profusely for not speaking any English, and we apologised for not understanding any Japanese. The bird cages were all closed, but soft clucking and shuffling noises indicated that each cage was indeed occupied.
Custom built cages for the roosters.
The lady produced a battered copy of National Geographic magazine from 1970 with a fascinating article regarding the birds and a Polish bird fanciers magazine with an item on the birds as well. She then opened just one cage and allowed us to admire the bird inside.
A mighty fine bird

The tail is absolutely unbelievably long!
It is so long she keeps it coiled up neatly and attached to a hook inside the cage you can just see on the left above. She gently uncoiled the tail and allowed us to gingerly lay the fine black feathers over our arms for a photo opportunity:
We admired the bird and his feathers and I took a few more photos, before he was soon closed up again in his custom built cage. I got to take a few more photos of some the exhibits of photos of the birds with celebrities and various other momentos. I also noticed a 1982 copy of the Guinness Book of world records (sadly the record does not appear to be on their website). On our way out, as the lady once again apologised for not speaking English, she gave us a tail feather from one of the roosters.
I just measured it at 2.22m. We are at a bit of a loss as to what do with it. Any suggestions?

I really hope the centre survives and continues to breed these wonderful creatures
The address is 4-8 Shinohara, Nankoku-shi, Kochi-ken, Shikoku ( if you head out of Kochi city towards the airport, it's on your left on route 55 just beside the Yellow Hat tyre garage.

Opening times are 09:00 to 17:00 from March to October, and 09:00 to 16:00 the rest of the year. Tel: 088 864 4931.


Mo said...

Oh what an adventure. real life is stranger than our imginations

anika said...

Hi! I just stumbled here while looking at feather photos on google. What a great experience! That feather is gorgeous!

It would make an awesome piece of art work. You'd have to figure out how to mount it to some paper or board, but you could get it framed. A framer might even know how to mount it properly!

Thanks for sharing your story & pics! It was fun to see!