Visiting a River: Ootagiri River

This past weekend I visited my hometown, a small in village called Komagane  in the Nagano Prefecture of Japan. I, being born in but not raised in this area, know little about Komagane and the surrounding mountains. However, there is one place that I have never not visited every time I visit: that place is Ootagiri-kawa, a river that gets its water from the Kiso Komagatake mountain.

Ootagiri-kawa is a beautiful river that in which you can watch the water flow underneath you from a bridge (komakusa-bashi). Once you cross the bridge, there is a concrete-based stairs designed to look like rocks, that leads you to the edge of the water. On a hot day like the day I visited, you will usually find children playing with their friends as their parents watch from the shade under the trees. I also noticed that those who were old and strong enough to cross the river would set up a small picnic on top of a boulder to fish. The foot of the bridge, under the shade and hidden by tall grass, is usually where young couples would come and enjoy some peace as a date-spot. Recently, there has been an increase in tour buses stopping by this area. The small cottage-like shop has become a business that sells souvenirs of Nagano’s famous food, as well as the popular Suzuran milk ice cream. This year, a new section of the store had become popular especially among younger visitors: the gelato station that sells gelato made out of the famous Suzuran milk.

The air is fresh, trees tall, the wind keeps the area breezy, and not too hot even when the sun is out. This year, because of the delay in tsuyu or rain season, the river had significantly less water than previous years.

Nevertheless, everyone that visited seemed to have fun while submerging their feet into the clear, cold water. I noticed that the shallow edges of the river had a mix of human-placed stones as well as natural stones that were originally here. According to my father, the stones were put in at some point in his high school years so that children can cross to the middle land of the river in order to get to the boulder in the middle of the river. However, walking deeper into the river one would notice that the rocks are much heavier, larger, and the surface rough. My dad a few of these rocks, and showed me the type of creatures that hide under the rocks.

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Small creature on the top left part of the rock

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same creature, larger in size and on the surface of the rock

 

 

However, I cannot help but to notice the decreasing amount of water that flows downstream every year. I am not sure if it is because of the timing that I visit, or because of another cause. Yet each season, I go and take photos just to notice how much water is lacking, and how much the grass has grown and the rocks gone dry. I truly hope I have just been visiting on unlucky days when the river is not at its best state.

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2016, February 

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2015, August

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2015, August

 

Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park; is it make sense to have the park in major city?

I think it is really nica to have such a wild park in Tokyo. I have six reasons for that. First of all, to have such a park in the city can increase access for people to nature. As the park can access easily, (about 20 minutes by train from Tokyo station) people who do not usually have chance can enjoy these nature. It is good to get touch with nature because if people get to know how it is fun to touch with nature, people may get interested in about environment. Secondly, the park can be used to invite foreign people for sightseeing. Because there are so many wild birds close to the city, people can get knowledge of what kind of birds are in Japan. Thirdly, as to maintain the wild park, people can get knowledge of birds habitat; how to protect environment which birds likes, when they are arrive, how to make place to rest for the bird. That kind of knowledge can be used to protect bird’s environment in other part of Japan. For example, in the Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park, the staff try to invite a bird called Sterna albifrons sinensis and tried hard to make the nice environment for them. What they tried to invite the birds are; make the invitation place like island to protect them from enemy; prevent grass to grow because they habitat sandy place and so on. They wanted to invite the bird because they are in red list of Japan. It is listed in 絶滅危惧II類(VU), which means same stage as Vulnerable in IUCN’s list. Fourthly, the effort to protect environment for birds can increase the habitat for birds even though it made by humans. To quote from the Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park, “Every year, shorebirds, ducks, waterfowl and songbirds can be seen here. Since 1990, 226 species of birds have been recorded in the park (as of March 2015).” Even if it is made by humans, it is good to increase bird’s habitat.

In conclusion, it is good idea to have such a wild park even though it is artificial because; people can touch with nature easily; the park can be interesting for foreign people; people can get better knowledge about wild birds; the effort to maintain park can increase birds’ habitat.

 

Citation

[1] 林英子、森本幸祐、深町加津枝ほか『生物多様性と造園学―東京港野鳥公園におけるコアジサシの誘致を事例として』http://ci.nii.ac.jp/els/contents110004305543.pdf?id=ART0006476902
Visited in 2017.5.18
[1] 環境省 『レッドリスト 鳥類』報道発表資料 哺乳類及び鳥類のレッドリストの見直しについて 平成10年6月12日http://www.env.go.jp/press/files/jp/1767.htmlhttp://www.env.go.jp/press/files/jp/1767.html visited in 2017.5.18
[1] WWF Japan 『レッドリストについて』https://www.wwf.or.jp/activities/wildlife/cat1014/cat1085/
Visited in 2017.5.18
[1] Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park http://www.wildbirdpark.jp/en/index.html
Visited in 2017.5.18

Natural amidst the Artifical

By Priyanka Gupta

40060824-1B71-4172-AB1D-48F92B4F6622A picture of the Tidal Flats Tokyo Wild Bird Park

Japan is indeed a highly developed nation. The rapid economical development in the 1980’s in the quest to modernise the country has enabled it to become one of the economic super powers. However, in this its race towards rapid industrialisation; Japan has forgotten to focus on its sustainable development. According to Catherine Knight who is an independent researcher and the publisher of a journal known as the natural environments and wildlife conservation in Japan, Japan’s natural habitats, including its wetlands, rivers, lakes and coastal plains are dying due to rapid industrialisation.

My trip to the Tokyo Port Wild Bird park enabled me to gain first hand knowledge regarding the research carried out by Catherine Knight.

This Park was originally created for the Ohota whole sale market. The market was not built until much later and hence, the land which was reclaimed for the market began to take its natural coarse. The area became rich in life and attracted many bird species.

In the midst of an artificial area known as Tokyo Bay, a natural area came into form. This area became rich in biodiversity as different types of vegetation began to grow there. It also attracted many bird species which began to migrate there. Some of them being the Kawau, Suzume as well as ducks known as the Eastern spot billed duck.

The conservation of this park is considered to be a joint initiative by the Government as well as many Non Governmental organisations which work together to perform various tasks such as Research and Development, Habitat management as well as Reed Bed management.

According to Catherine Knite who quotes the reports made by the Statistics bureau of Japan; In today’s Japan, 67 per cent of Japan’s land area is forested. However, a large proportion of that—about 40 per cent—is coniferous plantation forest. With this is mind conservationist and park volunteers are making attempts to allow more deciduous trees to grow in the park, as these trees are not as dense at those of the coniferous kind and can allow sunlight to penetrate which helps to aid the growth of various types of vegetation below it.

According to the Nature Conservation Society of Japan; wetlands cover approximately 50,000 hectares (0.13 per cent of Japan’s land area), but many of these are threatened by water pollution and land reclamation projects. The Tokyo wild bird Park however is making considerable efforts to preserve the Tidal flats which are also a type of wetland. According to Kazuo Saigawa, the Chief Ranger of the Tokyo Wild Bird Park; These Tidal flats are necessary as sunlight can penetrate easily in its shallow waters which enables photosynthesis to occur. This leads to a flourishing eco system.

To conclude with my observations at the Tokyo Wild Bird park, I feel that with the shift of the focus of the government from rapid development of the ‘artificial’ which includes mostly industrialisation towards the ‘natural’ which includes conservation of the ecosystem Japan may,  in course of time improve on strengthening its biodiversity and environment.

Wildlife Park in Metropolis?

As I have been to many wildlife parks in many areas, they have the same environmental process. From the definition of the wildlife park, in my opinion, I think it is the guarding of the wildlife in that area by preserving the natural area including the surrounding. Thus, I think the wildlife park can even be established in the metropolis like Tokyo as long as it can maintain the standard of living of the wildlife to serve the main objective of the establishment.

Nowadays, the human’s livelihood has changed and that is the reason why we need to protect the nature. Firstly, the population is growing at an exponential rate. When a number of people are growing, the demand for resources is also increasing. Secondly, there is a phenomenon of an increase in economic growth and technological progress. Economic growth has led to a higher standard of living which causes the consumption of the resources to go beyond the basic necessities of human needs. At the same time, advances in technology have also made it easier to use resources. As a result, infrastructures have been created more and more in this world. Thus, wildlife would be invaded by these processes. The establishment of the wildlife park will preserve animals, also some native species in that area, for people in this and the next generation to experience the nature in first hand while increases the awareness of the responsibility and the guardianship to promote and preserve the wildlife conservation.

I used to have an experience at the “Willowbank wildlife reserve” in New Zealand. Its main objective is to preserve wildlife, especially New Zealand native species, such as Kiwis which are not displayed in the cage. Furthermore, it also introduces the wildlife providing the wildlife’s information in the natural surrounding which can be wandered and fed freely under the control of experts. There are events and a restaurant surrounded by the glass which visitors can observe the wildlife while eating without destroying the nature which is one of the strategies to attract the visitors. This wildlife park is located near the Christchurch International Airport taking 5 minutes by car and 15 minutes from the central city which provides a convenient access to visitors.

On the other hand, compared to the Tokyo port wild bird park, it contains the same objective which is to open up for the education and preservation of the wildlife including the insects in the forest and grasslands. Both locations are also similar which is near the city and the airport. In contrast, the Tokyo park website specifically claims that this park is able to have a picnic for leisure. I have not been to this park so I do not whether there is a specific place to arrange these events or not. Because the wildlife livelihood contains some basic knowledge, visitors might act some inappropriate circumstances which is harmful to nature.

Furthermore, the location of the wildlife park might cause nuisance to the wildlife. In the case of Tokyo wildlife park, it surrounds by the infrastructure, such as the market and factories which might cause the pollution and unsuitable environment to the wildlife. The wildlife park official should take a responsibility to manage a suitable environment to preserve their habitats since humans invade into their areas.

In conclusion, the wildlife park is one of the place which can increase the awareness of visitors as long as humans can strictly maintain the appropriate definition and objective of the establishment. For example, the protection of the relating factors, visitors and surrounding areas which can create negative effects to the park.

Sources:

1. “New Zealand Tourist Attractions | Willowbank Wildlife Reserve & Restaurant.” New Zealand Tourist Attractions | Willowbank Wildlife Reserve & Restaurant. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2017.

2. “Let’s enjoy bird watching in the center of Greater Tokyo.” Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park. N.p. n.d. Web 14 May 2017

Dandelion/ Taraxacum Officinale

Who knows this beautiful tiny flower name?

It’s Dandelion or scientific name is Taraxacum. There are 30 species of Dandelion that can be found all over the world, such as Taraxacum albidum, Taraxacum Californicum, Taraxacum Japonicum and etc. They are native to Eurasia and North America.

Dandelion is a yellowish flower that propagate as wild flower. The Dandelions flower opens to greet in the morning and closes in the evening. as time goes by and it reach it’s limits, the yellow part of Dandelion flower will turned white.  “The dandelion provides its seeds with a slightly more complex flying apparatus, a tiny disc of radiating threads that form, in effect, a parachute. A dandelion presents these seeds to the wind hoisted on the top of a stem and arranged as a fragile elegant globe.”-Attenborough

Dandelions are flowers that be used in medical field, edible to consume and also as ornaments. Did you know the roots of Dandelion is said to be diuretic (makes you pee) ?. It is also claimed to be a mild laxative, and it’s consent the milky latex has been used as mosquito repellent. There are many benefits of Dandelion to human.Traditionally, Dandelion more popular as ornamental flowering plants compared as medicine. This is because the flowers of Dandelions look brilliant and frequently seen in gardens or park.

Nevertheless, Dandelion green from young plant can be eaten raw in salads. Dandelion flower also can be cooked and eaten. Dandelion mainly used in Asian Cuisine and also many people use Dandelions for wine making. Dandelion have rich source of vitamins A,C and K. It also contains high level of iron, calcium and potassium.

As I say before, every parts of Dandelions is useful. I found this beautiful Dandelion flower at Sanadabori Grounds in front of Sophia University’s main gate.

Thank You.

Philadelphia fleabone

Can you tell the difference between two flowers? It is different species of fleabone.

The left one is Philadelphia fleabone, it’s origin is North America but is is introduced as alien species in East Asia and Japan. Erigeron philadelphicus is it’s scientific name.

It’s very pretty flower but it’s regarded as weeds in Japan because they prevent food to grow sometime.

It was really challenging for me to find whether it is Ph

source: https://ja.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ハルジオン

“Dandelion! Goes to the sky”

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I believe that most people around the world have seen this little cute plant, the dandelion.

This well-known plant is called Dandelion, Tanpopo (タンポポ) in Japanese, and Taraxacum for scientific name. It originates from Eurasia and North America which is unbelievable since many Japanese medias use it as one of noteworthy symbol and it does not originate in Japan. Furthermore, there are approximately 100 species of dandelion, and all are beneficial. Thus, I cannot distinguish what species they are. Normally, it is a common meadow herb of sunflower. It has an ability to propagate easily since it can be easily transferred, it exists around the world.

The name “Dandelion” comes from the French “dent de lion” which means lion’s tooth referring the serrated leaves. A dandelion flower is composed of numerous small yellow florets. On the other hand, the picture above shows dandelion seeds which can be propagated by transferring away by the wind about 8 kilometers. When it reaches the ground, the seed will grow as another dandelion flower which can be seen as an unwanted plant.

Every part of dandelion is beneficial for human and animals such as insects or birds consume seed as a food. For human, the root of dandelion can be used in the process of producing drinks such as coffee, tea, root beer and wine. Since dandelion is high in minerals, nutrients, and vitamins, the dandelion has been used in a production of medicine which is widely well known in Chinese traditional medicine for over a thousand years. The dandelion is very useful for human body. For example, strengthens bones, cures liver disorders, promotes digestion, aids in weight loss and skin and reduces risk of some diseases etc.

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In addition, there are many Japanese animations which use the dandelion as a symbol of happiness and hope. For example, “Dandelion! Goes to the sky”, one of the episode in “Doraemon”, raising the realization of how nature life feels when the main character, Nobita, is wearing eyeglasses. The dandelion flower is represented as a mother to take care of seeds until the last seed is blown for an adventure life. Meaning that when humans do not realize about nature’s emotion, they will not take any responsibility or awareness into consideration. Thus, this episode tries to raise awareness for humans to respect the nature.

Sources:

  1. “Taraxacum.”Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Apr. 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
  2. “Just Fun Facts.”Fun and interesting site. N.p., 01 Jan. 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
  3. “13 Surprising Benefits of Dandelion.”Organic Facts. N.p., 16 Feb. 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.