Category Archives: Japan

A Walk to the River

On December 8, 2018, the sun was shining and a cold northwest wind was blowing clouds across the sky. Hoping to see an interesting horizon, I walked to the riverbank along Yasugawa (野洲川).

The riverbed is mostly dry, but it supports vegetation near the left bank.

Vegetation along Yasugawa

Vegetation along the left bank of Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City

On the riverbed I saw one low cosmos plant with a few flowers. Most of the flowers were drooping down to the muddy ground, but one was standing tall.

Cosmos flower along Yasugawa

Cosmos flower along the right bank of Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City

Susuki grass grows abundantly where the riverbed gets enough moisture. Small ponds fill in high water, and some apparently have underground sources.

Vegetation along Yasugawa

Vegetation along the left bank of Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City, Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) in the background

Vegetation along Yasugawa (野洲川)

Vegetation along the left bank of Yasugawa (野洲川) in Deba, Ritto City, Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) in the background

At my destination beside the river I set up a tripod to photograph little rapids with Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) and other mountains in the background. I took many photos as moving clouds rapidly altered the light on different parts of the scene. Finally the mountain showed its autumn colors, and a large patch of blue added perspective to the sky over the distant mountains.

Yasugawa (野洲川)

Yasugawa (野洲川) upstream from Mikami, Yasu City (near Hayashi, Ritto City), Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) in the background

Location (Google maps):

Autumn foliage 2018

Autumn foliage in Shiga Prefecture 2018

October 22

Fall colors at Konze no sato

Konze no sato (now 滋賀日産リーフの森)

Fall colors at Konze no sato

Konze no sato (now 滋賀日産リーフの森)

Fall colors at Konze no sato

Konze no sato (now 滋賀日産リーフの森)

November 8

Fall colors

Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Kitazakura, Yasu City

Fall colors at Tōhōzan Anyō-ji Temple

Tōhōzan Anyō-ji Temple (滋賀県 栗東市 東方山 安養寺)

November 9

Fall colors

Along the path to Takano Shrine (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

November 10

Omifuji Karyoku Park woodland trail (近江富士花緑公園 森林散策コース)

Omifuji Karyoku Park trail (花緑公園 森林散策コース) above the Botanical Gardens in Kitazakura, Yasu City

Fallen leaves and maple tree in Omifuji Karyoku Park

Fallen leaves and maple tree in front of the Forestry Schoolhouse in Omifuji Karyoku Park (近江富士花緑公園 森林のわくわく学習館) in Yasu City

Fall colors in Omifuji Karyoku Park

Garden beside Furusatokan at Omifuji Karyoku Park (近江富士花緑公園 ふるさと館) in Yasu City, Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background

Reconstructed Yayoi period dwellings

Reconstructed dwellings in Yasu City Yayoinomori Historical Park (野洲市弥生の森歴史公園)

November 13

Fall colors and Mikamiyama

Fall colors at the ground golf course along Yasugawa in Tateirichō, Moriyama-shi, Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background

November 15

Fall colors at Yayoinomori

Water lily pond in Yasu City Yayoinomori Historical Park (野洲市弥生の森歴史公園)

Fall colors at Yayoinomori

Water lily pond in Yasu City Yayoinomori Historical Park (野洲市弥生の森歴史公園)

Fall colors at Yayoinomori

Water lily pond in Yasu City Yayoinomori Historical Park (野洲市弥生の森歴史公園)

Maple trees near Sato no Ie (里の家)

Maple trees near Sato no Ie (里の家) in Kitazakura, Yasu City

Reservoir in Autumn

Reservoir above Omifuji Botanical Gardens in Kitazakura, Yasu City

November 20

Fall colors at Shusse Fudoumyou (出世不動明王)

Stairs at Shusse Fudoumyou (出世不動明王) on Mount Myokoji (妙光寺山) in Yasu City

Fall colors at Shusse Fudoumyou (出世不動明王)

Stairs at Shusse Fudoumyou (出世不動明王) on Mount Myokoji (妙光寺山) in Yasu City

Fall colors at Mikami Jinja (三上神社)

Maple leaves at Mikami Jinja (三上神社) in Myokoji, Yasu City, Mikamiyama in the background

Mikami Jinja (三上神社)

Mikami Jinja (三上神社) across Oike (御池) reservoir at the base of Myokojiyama (妙光寺山) in Yasu City

November 25

Fall colors in Takano Park

Takano Park in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野公園)

Fall colors at Takano Park

Takano Park in Ritto City

November 27

Fall colors in Omifujikaryoku Park (近江富士花緑公園)

Fall colors in Omifujikaryoku Park (近江富士花緑公園), Mikamiyama in the background

Fall colors in Omifujikaryoku Park (近江富士花緑公園)

Fall colors in Omifujikaryoku Park (近江富士花緑公園)

Fall colors in Omifujikaryoku Park (近江富士花緑公園)

Trail above the Botanical Gardens in in Omifujikaryoku Park (近江富士花緑公園)

Fall colors in Omifujikaryoku Park (近江富士花緑公園)

Along the trail above the Botanical Gardens in Omifujikaryoku Park (近江富士花緑公園)

Wildflowers and Insects

Here in Shiga Prefecture some wildflowers continue to bloom well into November. They attract a variety of flying insects, including butterflies, moths, bees, hoverflies, and wasps.

On November 3, 2018, quite a few insects were feeding along an irrigation canal near rice and soybean fields near my home.

Common grass yellow butterfly (Eurema hecabe hecabe, キチョウ) on Allium pseudojaponicum (タマムラサキ)
Small white butterfly (Pieris rapae, モンシロチョウ) on a dandelion flower
Beet webworm moth (Spoladea recurvalis, シロオビノメイガ
Giant hoverfly (Phytomia zonata, オオハナアブ
Small branded swift butterfly (Pelopidas mathias, チャバネセセリ

Few insects visit tiny flowers such as henbit dead-nettle (ホトケノザ).

Henbit dead-nettle (Lamium amplexicaule, ホトケノザ) flower

Tall goldenrod (セイタカアワダチソウ) grows beside fields and along rivers and ponds. Many species of insects can be seen on goldenrod flowers.

Goldenrod flowers (セイタカアワダチソウ) in Tsuji, Ritto City
Goldenrod and other weeds along Yasugawa near the tennis courts in Deba, Ritto City

On November 5th, 6th, and 8th, I saw insects on tall goldenrod near the irrigation canal in Tsuji, the riverbank near the tennis courts in Yasugawa Athletic Park (野洲川運動公園), and along Oyamakawa (大山川) in Yasu City.

Harmonia axyridis (ナミテントウ, Asian lady beetle) in Tsuji, Ritto City. This ladybird has many color patterns and many English names.
Harmonia axyridis (ナミテントウ, Asian lady beetle) in Tsuji, Ritto City. This ladybird has many color patterns and many English names.
Japanese honeybee (Apis cerana japonica, ニホンミツバチ)
Female Indian Fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン)
Female Indian Fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) on goldenrod along Oyamakawa in Kitazakura, Yasu City
Male Indian Fritillary butterfly (Argyreus hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン) along Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City
Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) along Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City

On November 16th a potter wasp was on tall goldenrod at the reservior near Ono Ramp in Ritto City.

Potter wasp on goldenrod flowers at the reservoir near Ono Ramp (小野ランプ) in Ritto City

Other flowering weeds compete with tall goldenrod. Bidens pilosa (beggar’s tick, コセンダングサ) yellow disc florets continue to attract bees and other small butterflies after the white ray florets fall off.

Japanese honeybee (Apis cerana japonica, ニホンミツバチ)
Long-tailed blue butterfly (Lampides boeticus, ウラナミシジミ

Bidens pilosa fruits come off easily and attach themselves to clothing.

Bidens pilosa (beggar’s tick, コセンダングサ) weed along Yasugawa in Deba, Ritto City

Other flowers have continued to bloom and attract insects in November.

Painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui, ヒメアカタテハ) along the road behind Sakura Ryokuchi in Minamizakura, Yasu City
Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum, キタテハ) in Kitazakura, Yasu City
Asian comma butterfly (Polygonia c-aureum, キタテハ) in Kitazakura, Yasu City

After mid-November larger insects such as butterflies are becoming rare.

Small branded swift butterfly (Pelopidas mathias, チャバネセセリ) on a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, セイヨウタンポポ) in Hayashi, Ritto City


End of Summer

The last days of summer 2018 in Shiga Prefecture have been mostly cloudy, with quite a bit of rain and very little sunshine. Whenever it was not raining too hard, I went out with a camera most days September 11-19, 2018.

September 11 – insects in a garden, Yasugawa, nearby fields

Physostegia virginiana flowers (obedience, ハナトラノオ) in a neighbor’s garden attract many butterflies, moths, bees, and other insects.

Yasugawa has been running high but not at flood levels.

Late in the afternoon local farmers were hurrying to harvest their rice before rain the following day.

September 14 – Takano

As soon as the rain stopped in mid afternoon, I walked to Takano Park, just a few minutes from my house. Along the way neighbors’ flowers caught my attention.

In Takano Park a few small creatures appeared after the rain.

September 15 – Yasugawa riverbank, fields in Deba

Scilla scilloides flowers(Barnardia japonica, ツルボ) have begun to bloom along the Yasugawa riverbank. Other flowers grow nearby.

Great egrets and grey herons hunt for fish nearby in the river. Most days a few of these large birds can be seen in nearby fields.

September 16 – Yasugawa riverbank

In late afternoon I was able to take only a few photos along the river before I got rained out.

September 17 – Mizunomori Aquatic Botanical Garden

Kusatsu City Mizunomori Aquatic Botanical Garden (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森) is one of my favorite places. It’s a short drive from my home and usually not too crowded.

On September 17th a large display of Canna flowers stood near the entrance in front of the fountain.

A large number of water lilies are in ponds,

an outdoor tank,

and the Atrium.

Quite a few flowers were blooming in various outdoor locations.

Giant Hibiscus ‘titanbicus’ were blooming near the entrance.

September 18 – Yasu City

The sun appeared now and then as I rode my mountain bike across the river to Yasu City and up Oyamakawa to Sakura Ryokuchi Park. Along the way I stopped to photograph red spider lilies along rice paddies.

September 19 – Rokujizo and Misono

Sunshine! I rode my mountain bike south from my home in Ritto City, first nearby to Rokujizo, where we can see several varieties of flowers in the neighborhood and along Hayamagawa.

Up the valley in Misono red spider lilies bloom along the terraced fields.

In Kamitoyama I saw some globe amaranth flowers in a small garden. As I was admiring the flowers, a painted lady butterfly appeared.

I often see a grey heron at Konzegawa in Misono on my way home. The bird ignores me when I pass along the bike path. If I stop nearby, it flies.

In late summer and early fall rural Japan changes dramatically. Various flowers bloom, colorful butterflies and moths become very active when the weather permits, and fields become empty as farmers harvest their rice. Sometimes it seems gloomy, but even when the sky is dark, there is always something to see if we take time to look closely.

Rain Lilies

In our garden several varieties of rain lilies (Zephyranthes, ゼフィランサス) bloom from early June through September. I enjoy looking at them each morning, but I had not fully appreciated their beauty until I watched them in the rain.

In addition to the sound of rain hitting my umbrella, I used the most appropriate rain music I could find, “Rains Will Fall” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com).

White rain lily (Zephyranthes candida, タマスダレ)

Rosy rain lily (Zephyranthes rosea, ゼフィランサス・ロゼア)

Yellow rain lily (Zephyranthes flavissima,
ゼフィランサス・フラビッシマ)

Pink rain lily (Zephyranthes carinata, サフランモドキ)

Notes

The video clip and most photos were shot with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera and two Olympus M. Zuiko lenses: 60mm f/2.8 macro and 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO. The video includes music from “Rains Will Fall” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com (license: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-By) 3.0).

All postprocessing was done on a Fedora GNU/Linux workstation. I edited the video clips and added titles with with Kdenlive, but I did not modify the colors or add any enhancements. Photos were organized and edited with digiKam.