Foreigners of Japan: Invasive Species & Concrete Rivers

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The first part of our field trip took place at a park, but we were there not only to play but to learn. Although I’ve been to Inokashira Park before, I was still a foreigner to the management intricacies of it. (I felt like an invasive species, and I wasn’t alone; there were nets in the river to catch invasive species.) One interesting theme I observed was human engineering to imitate nature, especially when the guide explained how the shorelines of the river were built as a slope to support different kinds of plants in the water at different depths: floating leaf plants, floating plants, etc.

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When we entered the aquatic section of the Inokashira Zoo, I was impressed to find that many of the residents were invasive species. I thought they’d be executed once discovered, but I was pleased to find that they were given a home instead.

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The latter part of our field trip showed us the more artificial part of nature: rivers of concrete and a gigantic, underground storage facility for floodwater. We observed nature in the context of engineering feats and learned of urbanization’s effects on landscapes, especially how concrete and asphalt surfaces make rainwater accumulate quickly and cause floods more easily.

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Our next stop was the underground tunnel where controlled river water would enter during heavy rains and the likelihood of a flood.

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Dark, damp, and hollow. Encrypted notes of ヒ and ウ written on the cold, hard walls. Sounds like the perfect scene for a horror movie, not the setting of a field trip. We walked forward into the unknown and eventually emerged into a wider area with another passage stretching ahead of us, except this one was covered with water and a shroud of mist. All of a sudden, there was a movement out of the corner of my eye. Professor grabbed ahold of something moving in the water. Dun dun dun! It was a river monster!!! No, wait, even scarier: an invasive species, crayfish!

That concludes the once-in-a-life field trip I was lucky to take part in. Thanks for reading!

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