During spring vacation, I took a friend’s bike (since I don’t have one of my own) to search around neighborhood and hopefully finding something interesting to be seeing. This random ride turned itself into an afternoon of exploration through the streets of Kami-soshigaya.
After 6 months in Japan, I realized that I’ve never took the chance to know more about my surroundings. We often take for granted what is near us; that’s the truth! One of the most remarkable sights of that afternoon-bike-ride was discovering that close to my house was a TOHO STUDIO building. For those who don’t know, the Toho Studio is famous for feature-films like the Godzilla franchise and Seven Samurais (Shichinin no Samurai). Because of this founding, I kept following that street and end up founding the Sen River (Senkawa).
This river had a great impact on me. It reminded me a lot of the rivers in my hometown in Brazil (São Gonçalo, Rio de Janeiro) where rivers are transformed into waterways-canals mostly for water-waste disposal. However, almost simultaneously as I did this observation, I realized that this river was different; There were several wild-ducks swimming on the waters of Senkawa. Ducks are bioindicators of water quality – they don’t swim into densely polluted water-bodies. Therefore, this river is far different from the concept of canalized-rivers that I had.
Human history, overall, is linked with the presence of water. The utter necessity of water for drinking, farming and factory activities made cities to develop alongside river’s or shore’s sites. Even religious matters are related to rivers; The Noa Arch, Jesus walking above Nile River, Moses opening a path through a river to free his people. I was interested to know more about Senkawa history along with the human development on this area. After a brief research about this river, I couldn’t found any relevant information in English, unfortunately. That’s exactly where my lack of Japanese skills frustrate me! But, through pure empiric observation, I could see that there were several Shrines and Temples alongside this river course. Maybe it has some esoteric reason for this, I don’t know… It’s just speculation. Nevertheless, after following rivers course by bike, I could see several houses that were really different with the ones I’m used to see in Kami-soshigaya. Let me explain: Kami-soshigaya is a residential area fulfilled with really wealthy people. But those houses alongside the river were more modest and kept becoming more and more modest as I followed the rivers down-course. A little research about human development along rivers shown that this is a really common stratification through society; As much down-river you go, the water gets more dirty (due pollutants disposed into water) and, therefore, this sites are designated for low-budged-housing. That was confirmed by me, since the duck’s population ratio decreased abruptly.
The vegetation on Senkawa river was almost inexistent. There were undermost grass and herbaceous, nothing much expressive since we are talking about a canalized-river. Although the lack of vegetation, I was forced to remember a survival strategy when you are in the woods. Well, long story short, I got lost during my two-hour-bike-ride! And, to make matters worse, my internet wasn’t working! Therefore, I remembered the following survival technique: “When lost into woods, try to find a river by its sound and follow it down-flow”. So I did it. After some minutes, I’ve found a street with a busier traffic and followed it. I turned left on that street and after a few seconds pedaling, I found a little Shirine or Temple – you tell me after looking into the picture bellow. I stopped there and made a prayer thanking to the divine entities for all the good that has been happening into my life. I picked up my bike again and continued my track when, suddenly, I got dumb-founded to find myself in the street that I live! I still don’t know how, but, maybe, the supernatural forces of that temple/shrine helped me to find my way along river site.