Invasive species have been recognized to be one of the major threats for biodiversity. Intensively intervening in the food chain, they are responsible for endemic species’ depletion directly by high predation or indirectly through important resource competition. Invasive species are sometimes introduced on purpose or by mistake. However the consequences are usually dramatic for biodiversity. Therefore, various techniques to fight against the invasion of species have started to develop. Per example on carribean islands, where cats had been brought from England by the colons and represented a major threat for the impressive amount of endemic birds on the island, an important project has been led over the last 5 years to catch all the cats by hand to protect the bird populations. But when it comes to the case of a water pond, this kind of option seems unapliable. To get some answers about this thoughts, we went on July 28th of 2014 to assist to an event consisting in cleaning the Tonbo pond in Sekimae park of Kichijochi. This traditional technique is called Kaibori and has been practiced in all Japan since ages.
A Kaibori consists of draining a pond completely until only mud and a slight layer of water remains, in order to take out all aquatic animals of the pond with nets. This being done, invasive species are seperated from endemic species by local ecology specialists. Finally, after refilling the pond with fresh water, these are reintroduced while the invasive species are kept away. Some might even be soled on fish markets in some cases.
But Kaibori as well encompasses a pedagogic perspective. Indeed, after having been briefed on how to fish out the fishes and crustaceans, and briefly explained how to differenciate the “good” from the “bad” animals, kids, essentially primary pupils are in charge with their family to get read of the invaders, armed with a net each.
This kind of event does not only provide a lot of fun for the children and their family being in the mud and catching fishes and crustaceans for several hours, but it is as well an efficient way for all to get aware of invasive species issues and reduce the risk of introduction. In fact, most of invasive species, in the case of the Tonbo pond and surrounding ponds or lakes in Japan, are due to a lack of people’s awareness: fishermen liberating non sellable or eatable yields, families letting their domestic fish or tortoise swim into natural water, etc… Those acts are usually well intended as they aim not to kill directly some kind of living beings. Opening the Kaibori project to an environmental education initiative leads people to realize that those well intended actions are in reality causing much more trouble than people think.
Having a kaibori as a public event enables as well people to get in contact with their surrounding water environment and realize the benefits enjoyed from a clean and biodiversity rich neighborhood. People create a personal linkage to those water points around the places they live and thus get more incline and willing to protect them from disruption or pollution.
For all those reasons, kaibori is realized every year in Kichjochi. However, kaibori has some limitations. As it is necessary to drain almost all the water, it is not possible to make it on a bigger pond or lake, however it is in those big lakes like lake Victoria of Tanzania, that invasive fish or plant species have the most disastrous impact on biodiversity, and where it is the most difficult to control the introduction due to the transnational frame.
Last week I went to Canal Cafe with a friend who have taken this class last semester that had been telling me how great this place was. This place is located a minute walk from Nishi-guchi of Iidabashi Station.
A quick historical background about Canal Cafe. It was first started by the 東京水上倶楽部 in 1918 as a leisure space for the local people. There were about 100 boats on this 600m long canal. They use to sell Ramune (ラムネ) and shaved ice (カキ氷). During the summer you could see the fireflies and launched some fireworks. And in the Fall, they lit the lanterns and float them down the water. However, as the years go by less people were coming. This is why they decided to open the Canal Cafe so that they could make people return and be a place where they can relish the calm Tokyo airspace.
Once you get there you can choose from either the deck or the restaurant side. I went there as lunch and sat at the deck side. Though we sat at the deck where there were no overhead shade and our head burning, we got to see kids getting excited to go on the boats. They would go on with an adult but of course adults are the one rowing the boat the whole time. hahaha. The boat ride is 600 yen for 30 minutes.
Also the menus are different if you go to the deck side. For deck side lunch you get to choose from 3 different types: pasta, panini and curry set. I had the tomato based pasta with chicken, snow peas, eggplants, and onions. It was delicious. Of course others looked great as well. The price is very reasonable if you go during lunch time ranging from ￥1300 to ￥1500, however I believe that dinner is quite on the higher end ranging from ￥4000 to ￥6000 yen.
While leaving, there was a poster saying that fireflies are starting to come out now. If anyone is interested in going to see the fireflies or to have a nice lunch or dinner, I would recommend checking this place out.
Also as an upcoming event, there is Hawaiian Night on August 28 & 29. For more information: http://canalcafe.jp/
Last week I went to the kaibori event in the park of Sekimae. Even though it was an extremely hot day that day regardless of the heat there were many kids there to enjoy this event. The purpose of this event was to drain the pond in order to clean up the pond from trash and fishes there that did not belong.
The pond would first be drained of water until it is shallow enough for the children to go in. The fishes in the pond were moved into containers to be divided into which belonged in this pond and which did not because some residents around this area would at times abandon their pets here although I am not entirely sure of where these other fishes are put after being divided.
This event seemed like a nice way for kids to have fun while at the same time learn about the importance of keeping our environment clean by holding these types of events for them. Although it was a hot day seeing the kids go into the pond to catch fishes they seemed to have an enjoyable time and it was interesting for me to learn about the importance of these events.
In July, I had a chance to visit Bangkok, Thailand and joined a fishing tour in Bangkok Bungsamran Fishing Park, organized by Bkk Fishing Tour.
It was my first fishing experience, so I was quite nervous to give it a try, but with a help of a kind fisherman John (tour guide) and two of my friends I was able to make my first fishing experience into a memorable one.
Bungsamran Fishing Park is located an hour away from the center of the Bangkok city. It was opened in April 1984 to create a place where guests can enjoy some of the best fresh water fishing in the world. The park was famous for Mekong Delta Cat Fish, which could weigh from 2kg to 80kgs. Moreover, Bungsamran had one of the biggest giant Siamese Carps that could easily break the world record.
Although it was my first experience to go fishing, I got to experience fishing one of the biggest fish that they offered.
The rule at this park was not to kill the fish that you have caught, and we were responsible to put the fish back into the water as soon as possible, after fishing. This was quite interesting for me, becuase ‘fishing’ from a Japanese point of view is to catch the fish and to eat the fish in the end.
I have always wondered the reason why people fish for leisure, and asked the tour guide John why he enjoyed fishing.
John mentioned that especially in freshwater fishing, the fish size are unbelievably huge, and it turns into a long battle. The act of getting pulled by the fish and pulling with all the power you have makes fishing turn into a game. John said that this is the addicting part about fishing, and you are able tofeel the power of nature, when you put yourself in a game of fishing.
As I have experienced this myself, it was true that each round of fishing felt like a game between you and the fish. And in the end, when you pull the fish out from the water, I was able to feel this sense of ‘winning’ the game versus the nature.
Starting fishing from 7a.m., I have noticed how the reaction of the fishes changed as we continued our session. In the first two hours, we barely got any fish but when we entered our 3rd hour, the fish kept pulling our rods non-stop.
According to John, this was because the “fish got used to the taste of our food” as the time passed. So the key was to keep using the same bait with a same flavor throughout the day.
Until I joined this fishing tour, I have never understood the true meaning of fishing and the fun of it, but by getting such an experience, I was able to understand and value the fishing experience.
On July 27th, I decided to go Kaibori event with some of my classmates to Sekimae Park in Musashino. this day was extremely hot, but when we got to the park, there were a lots of kids and parents who were participating kaibori (around 100 people with around 13 staffs). And the park was very small. First, we listened to what staff tried to explain about what kaibori is. The purpose of doing kaibori was to make the river/ pond clean (and protect) as possible from trashes or living species that eats other species. However, the event in Sekimae Park was to separate those living species into good and bad.
When all the kids and parents were starting to do kaibori event, we (classmates) interviewed one of the staff to get more detail information. While we interview, we noticed find our that they have proceeding this event for once a year for 19 years. And the reason they are doing kaibori is because Musashino area doesn’t have ant natural river flows, most of all water ponds are man made and there are people throwing their pets into the pond (such as tropical fishes and turtles), which it breaks the ecosystem circulation of the park. So in this kaibori event in Sekimae Park, they were dividing the good and bad species (releasing catfish, carps, and minnow/ taking out crayfish, bluegill, and black bass). Other then this, the staff told us that they choose kindergartners through middle school students to do this event during the summer vacation. After interviewing the staff, I realized that kaibori is not just a small events for people, it was a to protect environmental ecosystem in where people lives in with other living species.
In April 19th, I went to the festival called Earth Day Tokyo 2014 in Yoyogi Park. The purpose of this festival was people should protect our planet, Earth. And to protect the Earth, we should save our natural resources, don’t waste any other products that we are using, and protect the animals (give good cares and promote adoptions). When I went to the festival, there were many ways and divided sections explaining how people can protect nature.
When I first went into the festival, there were a lots of people around the information table where they could get the booklets about this festival. What they distributed, what they sell (goods, foods, and plants), kid’s activities, and what they performing. while I was looking around the festival, products section caught my vision. There were clothes and hand made ornaments. Most all the clothes were printed by natural coloring matter and ornaments were hand made.
Not only that, the performance was another interesting events. There were associated singing groups from school or clubs, but there were also actual singers singing at the festival stage. And there were many people eating organic foods that were selling, while they listening to the performance and talk shows.
Sumida River Fireworks
Living in Tokyo, running into festivals that you hadn’t kept track of are quite a common thing; especially during the summer. It may sound weird that the Sumida River Fireworks, being such a big festival, would be considered one of these “untracked” festivals, but for me, summer festivals had become such a common occurrence that I had come to remember the names but never the dates they occurred.
The picture quality above shows how unprepared I was when I finally noticed what the sound was about. Knowing how big the usual fireworks are, I knew immediately that they weren’t the common fireworks that are shot at the baseball matches at the Jinguu Stadium every so often. It made me realize that I had just missed seeing the Sumida River Fireworks. That said, I wasn’t really in a rush to get the best angles or anything because I knew I would be seeing this again next year.
So… knowing that this is a late post when considering the Sumida Fireworks were a few days ago, I thought I would do some background research to help make this post a “little” bit more interesting.
First thing to note about the Sumida River Fireworks festival is that the festival itself is very old. It had originally started back in 18th century by the 8th Tokugawa Shogun Yoshimune who hoped to get the citizens back on their feet after a large spread of the cholera bacteria. The fireworks were supposed to be a way to mourn for the people who had died from outbreak. Back then, the “festival” consisted only of roughly 20 shots of fireworks, managed by the firework makers of the Kagi shop. As the festival grew in size, another firework shop was introduced into the festival called the Tama shop. Even now it is a common thing to shout “Tama ya~” and “Kagi ya~” (literally meaning Tama shop, and Kagi shop) and this is because the Tama shop and Kagi shop back in the edo period competed to outperform each other in their craftsmanship of more diverse and extravagant display of fireworks. During the Meiji restoration, Second World War and the reconstruction period, the festival had been cancelled for various reasons including water pollution of the Sumida River, and only in the late 1970’s was the festival revived as the Sumida Fireworks Festival (the festival did occur prior to the 1970’s, but not so frequently or at its current scale).
Its relationship to the river can is somewhat shallow considering it’s not a festival to celebrate the river itself, but it is important to note that the Sumida river was an important factor in doing a fireworks festival in the middle of Tokyo. When you consider the fact that the fireworks were meant to be for the common people heavily affected by the cholera outbreak, it was important for the fireworks to be visible to many people. For this reason, the Sumida River, being one the major rivers that run through Tokyo/Edo, was the only safest and practical spot for a major event.