Biwako Lake Prefecture

A few years ago when I turned on the TV I came across a program about Biwako Lake and it showed natural spring waters surrounding people who lived there. I sincerely enjoyed this indescribably sentimental footage.

Photo&Text by tamachangg

A landscape suddenly appeared in front of my sight and I could not recognize that it was even a japanese landscape at first. I had been drawn into the footage that was visual poetry unfolding within the TV for a full sixty minutes.

This kind of well is called a "kabata". Each household here has an on-site well where water is drawn from the natural springs that connect to a shared reservoir system. Kabata’s water maintains a temperature of around 14 degrees C (57.2 F) all year on average, so summer tap water is colder and winter tap water is warmer. So called "pond pots" are put in the flowing spring waters directly and the water flow is used for seasonal vegetables to float in and cool, as well as for washing your face, and washing food scraps away after eating by letting them float over the pond pot’s edge.

The reservoirs of each house are linked together so naturally drainage from houses on upper stream comes down to houses on lower stream. Being careful to only drain food scraps humans would eat, these bits of food coming down are eaten by carp and catfish in successive ponds. However, if anything poisonous is drained from up the stream, all fish in the lower stream will die. This water system is based on mutual trust within the local area to prevent such events.

The carps and catfishes are grown in these ponds as pets. They are omnivores and can eat all of the leftovers in most dishes. (Of course, this pond is not food garbage. The people don’t throw away uneaten food directly.) Although the fish can eat greasy things like curry, vegetable scraps that someone wouldn’t eat are not acceptable for their appetite.

Harie Shozu no sato Commission
+81 0740-25‐6566
372 Harie, Shin Asahi-cho, Takashima city, Shiga, Japan

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