Japan may-well have a population of 128 million but be only 1.56 times the size of the UK, but wow, does it have nature! Countries of the world could learn a thing or two about keeping your streets and rivers clean and allowing nature to take flourish.
Due to the landscape of Japan, the mountains rule. This has forced the population to gather together on any vaguely flat land by the coastline. Our new home is a great example of this, as in parts you can walk from the coast to the mountain in five minutes. This makes for very slim hamlets and an elongated city in Shimonoseki! But what this means is not only glorious scenery close by, but also nature!
Dan and I have a family of wild terrapins that live on the corner of the river next to our apartment. We get to say hello to Missy and Simon (and the others, as yet un-named) on a daily basis. Next to them lives a (I’m going to call them crew) of ducks. They have recently moved into town. Alongside them we have our resident white crane and school of huge black and grey fish. This is all within a 20 by 20 meter space! It is teeming with it.
At dusk out come all of the bats. At first I thought we had a load of crazy bugs, until one flew by and I saw they were actually far more かわいい(cute) than that. There are hundreds of them! A quick bike ride to our local shopping mall takes us through rice paddies full of frogs and up the river path which is totally owned by crabs. I have never seen crabs dominate like this, but that path is their town. They make the path look like a living beast with their sideways gait!
Each morning as I leave I am greeted by the caw of a large bird. I have been watching them with slight fear and great admiration since I arrived, as they are huge! They are certainly not as common as the sparrow but I see one every day. It is an Eagle! Or the Mountain Hawk Eagle to be precise. Apparently the population is declining, but certainly not where we live! How wonderful it is each day to see an Eagle in flight.
On Thursday 3rd November Japan had a public holiday for `culture day`. Dan and I soaked up the culture by taking a 15km hike to `swan lake`, in the mountains above our home. The walk into the countryside was beautiful and easy, as, like most popular places in Japan, there was an easy road path for us to follow. On route we saw a wild cat, praying mantis, and giant cricket! Along with lots of birds and mountain views.
On our arrival at the lake things got a little more exciting! The water of the lake was home to many ducks and swans and there was a rugged lake walk for us to take to fuel my need to explore. I get a real kick out of taking a path to an unknown destination…the path led us round the lake and promised future adventures with further paths branching off it up the mountain side. Nature nature was really all around. We saw the worlds largest spider and I found the skull of the worlds most terrifying mountain dwelling beast. No idea what it was, but look at those nashers…
The best bit was still to come. At the close of the path we saw more swans and shark sized fish. There was one fish that was actually as large as the body of a swan! I decided to ride that particular fish back down the mountain to our apartment…however, the swan had other ideas and bullied the fish back into the open lake (for reasons unknown, except that I can imagine the swan was unhappy the fish was behaving as a big fish in a small pond). So we continued on the walk round the other side of the lack to take up back to path that would lead us home. And there I saw it…at first I thought it was a hornet. As I dove for cover, something else caught my eye. A tongue. It was a humming bird hawk moth! So I confess, I was more excited when I thought it was an actual hummingbird, but still I have to say it was amazing to see. It danced across to the flowers and had no fear of the giant looming humans!
Maybe my initial jokes about becoming a bird watcher will, after all, come true! Or a moth watcher at least…