Taiji Whale Museum

HOME Dolphins and Whales in Japan Vol. 020

Taiji Town, Wakayama Prefecture

Date taken /Mar, 2018

Historically and geographically, Taiji is located at the migration point of whales and dolphins (small whales), and I think it is a historical necessity that whale fishing occurred in Taiji where there was no industry.In the past, catching whales was a fight for life, and I believe that whale fishing was conducted with a sense of reverence.But the current dolphin drive fishery is an act of slaughter involving the interests of dolphin rolling. Female banded dolphins, which are highly intelligent and sensitive, are sold to aquariums and amusement facilities around the world for prices ranging from 15 million yen to around 40 million yen per head.The majority of these dolphins are supplied by Taiji. After the dolphins are driven into the cove, they are sorted and the remaining dolphins are killed for meat. In the process of researching dolphins for my trip to Taiji, I saw a documentary film called "The Cove". In the film, I couldn't stop crying when I saw the image of the cove of Taiji being stained red with blood.
"I think there are a few problems with the reporting style of The Cove. But despite the problems, I think the images shown in the film are undeniably true.
When I came to Taiji to cover the dolphins and stood in the landscape of the slaughterhouse, I could remember the scene. When I came into contact with the surviving dolphins in Dolphin Bay, I felt nothing but kindness, not resentment, from them, and all I could say was, "I'm sorry.

The above sentence is what I felt when I first visited Taiji in January 2014. Since then, the problems in Taiji seem to have settled down after some twists and turns.
The following text and photos are from my visit to Taiji in 2018, four years later; the 2015 visit is introduced on this website as "19 /Old style whaling.

(The bridge over Moriura Bay is the entrance to Taiji Town.)

I am now in Taiji after a long absence. The dolphin fishing in Taiji has been seen as symbolic in many ways, and there is even a tendency to make it seem as if we are raising the banner of environmental protection by expressing our "opposition to Taiji.
In response to this, Taiji has been silent until now, but with the release of the movie "O-Kujira-Sama", Taiji is trying to promote its stance both domestically and internationally, and I felt such an atmosphere when I came to Taiji.
A roadside station will be opened in Taiji, and next year a movie with the "Whale Museum" as a backdrop will be released. At the same time, a sequel to the movie "The Cove," a symbol of opposition to the whale, will be released, and it seems that the noise about whales will continue.
With that out of the way, here are some photos of Taiji Town, with a focus on the Whale Museum.

You will be greeted by a giant statue of a mother and son humpback whale.

The whaling ship "Daiichi Kyo Maru" was completed in 1971. It participated in the 26th Southern Ocean Whaling Expedition that year and retired after the 14th Northwest Pacific Whale Research Expedition in 2007.
It is 69.15 meters long and 10.03 meters wide.

The photo below shows the "claw," the tool used to pull the whale up to the catcher boat.(It weighs three tons.)

A full-body skeletal specimen of a blue whale (26m in length).

As soon as you enter the museum, you will see a life-size replica of an ancient whaling technique in which North Pacific right whale are chased by seco boats (catcher boats).

A skeletal specimen of a fin whale.
Gray whale skeletal specimen.
Skeletal specimen of a Mesoplodon ginkgodens
Tongue of a whale embryo. There are folds around the tongue to make it easier to suck on the nipple.
Measuring age with whale earwax. The case of baleen whales.
In the case of toothed whales, age is measured by teeth.

A "seco boat" (catcher boat) in Taiji Town, painted in extreme colors. According to Mr. Sakurai, a curator at the Taiji Town Hall, besides being identifiable from a distance, it is probably used as a religious ritual to mourn the end of the whale's life.

The front of the bay is Mukojima. Whale boats were made here.
Whale fishermen from other parts of the country also made their homes on Mukojima.

A whaling ship in the early Meiji era.

The whaling ship "Daiichi Kyo Maru" was completed in 1971. It participated in the 26th Southern Ocean Whaling Expedition that year and retired after the 14th Northwest Pacific Whale Research Expedition in 2007.