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Harie is a unique rural neighborhood where homes draw clean water from an ever-flowing spring directly from the ground into private wells called kabata. A local NPO conducts tours of the area and homes with kabata.Harie is in Takashima, Shiga, near JR Shin-Asahi Station on the Kosei Line, the gateway to Shin-Asahi and Harie. 新旭駅 MAP
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Statue in front of JR Shin-Asahi Station east side.
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JR Shin-Asahi Station west side.
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On the west side of JR Shin-Asahi Station is this building where the local tourist info office is. You can rent bicycles here too.
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Road to Harie. It's about a 25 min. walk from Shin-Asahi Station. The water stream on the right was muddy to my surprise.
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When I visited Harie in late April, the water, which supposed to be crystal clear, was muddied from the rice paddies being drained. Late April to June is probably not a good time to visit Harie due to the rice paddies.
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Bird looks for its meal in the stream.
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Sign points the way to Harie.
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Sign saying that you are entering Harie where water is a treasure. The important thing to understand about Harie is that you need a guide to see the kabata water springs in private homes.
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A local non-proft group called Harie Shozu-no-Sato Committee conducts tours of Harie. For 1,000 yen, they will spend 90 min. to take you to see numerous kabata in private homes. Call 090-3168-8400 to make reservations. hariekabata.com
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In 2014, The Shozu-no-Sato Committee 針江生水の郷委員会 won the top Ecotourism Grand Prize エコツーリズム大賞 sponsored by the Japan Ecotourism Society and Environment Ministry. Harie Hiyoshi Jinja Shrine 針江日吉神社
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The guided tour is well worth it. I highly recommend it. The Harie-Okawa River would be crystal clear if it weren't for the rice paddies being flooded. MAP
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The tour starts at the Harie Kominkan community center. They don't have English-speaking guides, so bring a translator. 針江公民館
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Large carp in the roadside streams help keep the water clean by eating food scraps from washed dishes, etc.
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Many houses and wooden walls in Harie are black.
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The wooden walls are actually half-burnt, almost like charcoal.
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This is the first kabata we visited. There is a pipe which spews the spring water from 12 to 25 meters below the ground. The original water source is called moto-ike.
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Most kabata have two water sinks (ike), the one on the right (tsubo-ike) is for washing summer vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumber. The one on the left (hata-ike) is for washing dirty root vegetables like daikon, carrots, and spinach. 川端
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Imagine having a spring in your own home spewing drinkable water 24/7 for free. This kabata has a few baskets. The oblong one is used for fish, and the ones on the right were used to dry bowls.
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Kabata shed is usually either attached to the main house or right outside it.
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When they wash pots and pans, the koi fish eat the food scraps to keep the water clean. Also see my YouTube video here.
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Harie Okawa River has baikamo underwater flowers. It was muddy when I visited in late April because of the rice paddy flooding. 針江大川
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Baikamo in Harie-Okawa River
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A shopping stop was here where they sold these model dragonflies well-balanced on its nose, called Kabata Tonbo.
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Kabata shed.
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A roadside spring.
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Roadside spring with waterwheel.
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Roadside spring, one of the oldest and longest lasting.
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Sign saying that Harie is not a tourist spot, that a guide is required to see the kabata.
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Kabata shed of a lake fisherman.
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Can't tell in the photo, but these were the biggest carp you've ever seen.
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Another shopping break was this fisherman's shop where you can buy ayu sweetfish caught in Lake Biwa.
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Sometimes the kabata is outdoors with no shelter.
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Shodenji temple
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Shodenji temple belongs to the Soto Zen sect of Buddhism. 正伝寺
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Shodenji temple has its own spring spewing drinkable water.
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Shodenji temple's kabata. Women like this water as it feels creamy and makes their skin feel smooth and soft.
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Shodenji temple also has a spring feeding this pond with various fish.
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Underwater baikamo flowers bloom year-round since the water temperature remains almost the same.
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Snail trails. These snails are food for the fireflies in June.
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Water quality report.
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Someone's outdoor kabata where we could drink the water or even put it in plastic bottles to take home.
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A tofu maker puts tofu in a kabata.
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Gardening seemed to be a popular pasttime in Harie. With all that free and clean water, I can think of many things to do besides gardening.
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Since this kabata has small fish, a net is put over the water to prevent birds from entering.
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In summer, you can see more vegetables in the kabata. This means most of these homes are farmers.
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About this kabata. The well is 12 meters deep, water temperature is around 13 C year round.
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This stream with baikamo has not been muddied by the rice paddies.
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Sharp Electronics once filmed a TV commercial here for their TVs.
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Stream with baikamo
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This kabata was in a Japanese garden.
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It had colorful koi.
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The heart of Harie has this waterwheel.
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A symbol of Harie.
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Kabata shed attached to a home.
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Now we are at a place called Nakajima.
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Nakajima and Harie became famous in 2004 when NHK TV broadcast a program about the Harie kabata and a fisherman in Nakajima.
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Nakajima. An old fisherman departed from this dock and went around to catch fish to eat at home. He also gave a few fish to the birds which waited for him. 中島
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Nakajima is really nice. But right behind this scene is a neighborhood of summer homes. Also see my YouTube video here.
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Soon after we got to Nakajima, this black kite flew above. I tracked it with my camera. 「ピーヒョロロロロ…」
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It then swooped down to the water and I started clicking away whether it would catch a fish or not. I was delighted to see it catch this large fish and captured the moment.
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What a catch. It was my first time to capture a shot like this. I love these graceful and elegant birds which have a distinct cry.
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Here's a close-up of the bird's claws grasping the gills of the fish. The bird sure knows where to grab a fish. The fish had no way to escape this grip.
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Shin-Asahi has a nice bicycle path along the lake shore.
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About 100 meters offshore are two large rocks in the lake. They appear above the surface only when there is a water shortage. This little shrine with two rocks are for praying for rain. 二ツ石
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About Futatsu-ishi (Two Rocks).
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Cycling path along the shore in Shin-Asahi, Takashima.
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Shin-Asahi
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Bird-watching area in Shin-Asahi.
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Bird-watching center
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Bird-watching shack
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Shin Asahi Windmill Village, admission charged. will visit here soon and post photos. MAP
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Shin Asahi Windmill Village
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Genjihama Beach
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Genjihama Beach in Shin-Asahi.
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Shin-Asahi manhole cover with a windmill design. Takashima, Shiga Pref.
   
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