The Hamarikyu Teien is one of Tokyo’s nicer parks, and has traditional Japanese street performers and displays of falconry every day. Every year at New Year’s, however, they have a bigger demonstration of falconry that is much bigger than the daily demonstration.
Unless I’m mistaken, this is an owl rather than a hawk.
Traditional falconry outfit.
The members of the falconry club seemed like real bird lovers. They paid great attention to their hawks, and obviously took very good care of them. That’s why it was so surprising when, at the end of the demonstration, they released a pigeon and let a hawk take it down. The pigeon was not killed, but it did seem unnecessarily cruel. I quite enjoyed it up until this point, but I’m not sure I’d go again.
There’s more information about Takagiri, the Japanese art of falconry here.
The group that puts on the demonstrations, the Suwa Falconry Preservation Society has a homepage at: http://www.falconers-hermitage.com/index.html
The demonstration is held on the first weekend in January every year. Check the Japan Times Festival page for more information.