August 4, 2016: Iwabokki Sluice, Kushiro River amd Kushiro Wetland

Today, our bus was a lot much livelier than usual – we set our first stop at Megumi Park to pick up Mr. Kosugi and the other supporters from the Kushiro Salmon Society. We got to know the locals’ perspective of the Iwabokki Water Gate, which was our next stop.

We got to see the historical monument before us that sadly had killed the river’s current. This is where the troubles are piled up because the Society wants to open it up in order for salmon to thrive down the stream. However like all problems, there are a lot of complexities and controversy in this heavy decision. First, there is a worry regarding the sedimentation that would be brought downstream if it were to open. Second, there are a lot of other organizations that do not agree upon the ideals of the Society. Third, it is already impossible to open or destroy the gate because it’s rusted beyond use and that it’s become a historical and tourist site.

These factors show that one situation of one organization deeply affects everyone around them – even us Sophia exchange students; understanding these locals’ perspectives and conflicts makes us aware of all the stakeholders that are or will be involved. We must be wary of all consequences especially ones related to nature’s balance.

Our next stop was at the hike along the Kushiro river. This was probably the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done throughout my whole stay in Japan besides Disney Sea. I was completely taken aback by the dangerous insects, prickly and heavy vegetation that slapped against my face as well as the mud sliding and sinking. I still can’t believe it all happened within 2 hours. I couldn’t even take pictures because I was too preoccupied with all those near death scenes. But at one point, we reached atop a hill midway the journey and we had this wonderful view of the river’s length. At that point, the wind was steady and light against my skin and the sun was glimmering against the the water. I was at awe at this river… For like 5 minutes before we went back into the wilderness.

We went to 2 more restoration sites under the care of Mr. Sugawara – the Kayanuma Area River and Hororo Area Wetland. We got to get up close and personal with these areas with our boots to protect us. I had a bad time walking in Hororo’s wetland that I ended up falling hands and knees down on the sinking mud. I saw it coming though.

Despite the endeavors in these natural wonders, there is a beauty and rarity within them that no man can simply create. These are places that need conservation with the aid of humans especially in this exploiting era that we are unfortunately creating. We need these sites more than ever.


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