A walk along the river plain

Ross Hall

September 22, 2021
(Updated on November 2, 2021)

Photograph of a river plain with tall green grassed in the foreground, a ridge with houses in the midground and mountains looming in the background

This is where I live. If you squint hard, you can see my house.

I’ve been looking out across the valley every morning for the past 9 months. My ambition has been to walk around along the river that winds its way from a lake up in the mountains to meet the Myohoji river. I tried it once, only to find my way blocked by Japan’s obsession with turning every riverbank into concrete.

Yesterday I finally took that walk. The sun was bright, the sky blue, the heat of the day cooled by a gentle breeze. With rucksack on my back, and camera around my neck, I explored the plain. No longer were the allotments small parcels of barely perceptible land I see from my bedroom window. They were full of vegetables and fruit, even the occasional farmer tending their crops. The green velvet clinging to the slopes opposite my house became bamboo woods. Hidden amongst them was the temple, whose bell sounds out at 6 o’clock, whether morning or night. Houses tucked away on mountain sides. An old motorbike left so long the hillside is absorbing it.

Photograph of a Buddhist temple with a small structure in the foreground and the main shrine in the background
The shrine that calls out at 6 o’clock, morning and night.

For a couple of hours, it was just me, the landscape and the camera. There was nothing to demand my attention but the beauty of my surroundings, and the occasional commitment to a shot. All the worries and stresses accumulated over the past few weeks evaporated in the sunshine. I could breathe again.

Photograph of an abandoned motorbike with plants growing through the frame
An abandoned motorcycle, slowly being absorbed by the landscape.

There is more to explore. New tracks to follow, and roads to walk. Construction work on the concrete riverbanks rumbles on, almost two months behind schedule. I assume the unusually wet summer we’ve had slowed them down. Perhaps they’ll finish by Christmas.

Photograph of a waterway in Japan showing the concrete river banks and stepping used to reduce flooding
The river at the base of the plain, straightened and stepped with concrete.

Before then the trees will turn from green to red. Once again I’ll venture out and explore a different path, find a new way to cross the river plain.

Maybe I will finally reach the lake that feeds the river.

I'm Ross, a digital editorial designer and content creator from the UK now living in Japan. I help growing companies plan, source, produce and promote a range of content. Find out more

Like what you read? Sign up for my weekly(ish) missive, delivered straight to your inbox.