The photo above is that of a Koi (Japanese carp). This one is a Goromo - one of the many different varieties of Koi . One of my first and certainly not my last.


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I have been keeping Koi since 1995 when I built my first Koi pond. Since then, I have the privilege of building 2 more ponds, each one an improvement over the previous. This site aims to share my experiences (good and bad) with my garden ponds and Koi keeping as a hobby over the past 13 years or so. I welcome any feedback and comments that will help me become a better Koi and pond keeper and/or improve this site. This site contains links to merchants that offers quality products for sale online or products I used myself. Thank you for visiting this site.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hida Furukawa and its canals full of Koi

 

Hida Furukawa is a small town just 20 minutes north of Takayama by Japan Rail (JR)'s local train.  Hida Furukawa, like Hida Takayama, is situated along the Miya River and  are often referred to as “twins,” and both preserve the atmosphere of the Edo Period. However, it is not as well known and touristy as Takayama.

It featured a beautiful section of the old town with colourful carps swimming in the canals along the street. As a Koi enthusiast, this is something I must see since I am in the vicinity. From Takayama, I planned a short trip to Hida Furukawa taking the relatively frequent train into the Hida Furukawa train station. We arrived shortly after 1 PM. Leaving the small Hida Furukawa train station, we found the town practically deserted in the afternoon.

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Hida Furukawa Train Station and the deserted streets.

We mae our way to the famed canals which was not far away.  Bingo! There were indeed large Koi swimming in the clear and flowing waters of the canal. We also saw a few residents. Mostly elderly folks, with the younger folks mostly working somewhere outside of town.

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The Koi were mostly chagoi and ogons. For me, it was quite disappointing not to see varieties like the sanke, showa, kohaku and other nicer varieties since Japan is the originator of fancy Koi varieties.

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There were a few stations with vending machines where we can buy Koi food from.

One of the house had placed a container filled with bread for visitors to feed the Koi with. I feed the Koi with those instead.

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The Koi were not very eager with the bread. They must be quite well fed.

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One end of the canal lead from the river. It ran across the entire town to the other end where there were temples and shops.

Koi was introduced into these canals as part of the initiative to maintain a clean canals within the town. It worked. Koi needed fairly clean water to thrive and these canals, with water fed continuously from the nearby river, needed no artificial filtration to remove fish waste.  Just pump water in from the river, put up some metal gratins to keep the Koi from escaping into the river and a natural balanced eco-system is created and maintained. Only possible in Japan.

 

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The Koi all swam in a line, naturally against the current, much like the Koinobori I saw at the Miyagawa Morning Market in Takayama.

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We went pass the Enkoji temple on one side and storehouses with white earth and mortar on the other side of the canals. There we saw a mother with a kid, enjoying the canal walk like us.

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The other end of the canal with the shopping area and temples.

We came to the end of the canals and what seems to be the shopping area in Furukawa.

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Besides the canals with Koi, Furukawa has also an old town with the look and free like Takayama but without the tourist crowds in the afternoon.

We decided to take the 3 PM train back to Takayama and did not explored Furukawa further. Furukawa also offered an interesting guided cycling tour by Satoyama Experience. My original plan was to do a half day cycling tour with them but decided to skip this.

Overall Hida Furukawa was worth a half day excursion from Takayama just to see the big and thriving Koi in the canals. Or to join a cycling tour for those who have not experienced the rural Japanese countryside with the beautiful rice paddies, mountains, villages and nice local folks.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hida Takayama and its Miyagawa River where Koi swim free

 

Hida Takayama is a city in the mountainous Hida region in Central Japan that is easily accessible from Nagoya or even Kyoto by train. The city has many attractions such as its beautifully preserved old town, morning markets, Hida Folk Village, preserved buildings and its festivals during spring and autumn. I travelled to Takayama the evening before, by bus from Kanazawa via Shirakawago and had planned to use Takayama as a base to explore the surrounding area.

There were two morning markets in Takayama and these were worth seeing while visiting Takayama.   While I was on my way to the Jinya Morning Market, I had to cross the red coloured Nakabashi Bridge over the Miyagawa River. Something red caught my eye in the waters below.

I could not believe my eyes that such a beautiful sanke would be swimming free and wild in the river below. I quickly scan the water for more and I saw a few other koi in the river.  The river was also supporting other wildlife like a heron that was hunting on the rocks. The water quality in the river must be good to support such big fishes. 

From the Jinya Mae morning market, I walked along the streets of Takayama towards the other morning market, located  on a road along the Miyagawa River and aptly called the Miyagawa Morning Market. Miyagawa Market was busier and has more stalls than the Jinya Market.

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May is the month where Children’s Day is celebrated. Giant Koi-nobori or carp streamers were swaying over the Miyagawa River. In Japanese culture, the carp symbolizes courage and strength because of its ability to swim against the current and up a waterfall. In the old days, it was celebrated as the Boys' Festival, and one streamer was hung for every boy in the family, expressing hope that each boy in the family will grow up healthy and strong like wild carps. Now, it is changed to Children’s Day which includes also daughters.

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Beneath the carp streamers were more real life wild carps, playing and feeding in the river.

Koi and carps were living well in the river. Some tourist were feeding them with food bought from an enterprising stall.

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I think the Koi would have survived without the handouts from the tourists. The ecosystem in the river would have been clean, balanced and good to sustain these fishes and other wildlife. Awesome!

One last note. If you happen to visit Takayama, don’t just appreciate the Koi and other attractions. You must eat the mouth watering Hida Beef. And time permitting, do a side trip to Hida Furukawa, a sister town near Hida Takayama with even more Koi!

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