Category Archives: Ritto

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)

Butterflies

Shiga Prefecture in Japan is blessed with quite a few species of butterflies. A few species are shown here in photographs taken between April and September 5, 2018, when I also made a short video clip (music from “Redwood Highway” by Jason Shaw at AudionautiX.com.)

Asian swallowtails (Papilio xuthus, アゲハチョウ)

Old World swallowtail (Papilio machaon, キアゲハ)

Common copper (Lycaena phlaeas, ベニシジミ)

Eastern pale clouded yellow (Colias erate poliographys, モンキチョウ

Common sailor (Neptis hylas, リュウキュウミスジ)

Common bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon nipponum, アオスジアゲハ)

Common straight swift (Parnara guttata guttata, イチモンジセセリ)

Indian fritillary (Argyreus hyperbius, ツマグロヒョウモン)

Great Mormon (Papilio memnon thunbergii, ナガサキアゲハ)

Notes

The video clip and most photos were shot with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera and an Olympus M. Zuiko 40-150mm 2/2.8 PRO lens. A few photos were taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX9 camera (Japanese monolingual version of LX10/LX15).

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 other than slow motion (1/4 speed) from the middle of the clip. Photos were organized and edited with digiKam.

Snow scenes

Ritto City in southern Shiga Prefecture, Japan, was covered with snow for a few days in January, 2017.

January 15th

On January 15th heavy snow covered Takano Park near my home.

Snow at Takano Shrine in Ritto City on January 15, 2017

Snow at Takano Shrine in Ritto City on January 15, 2017

Snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

As usual on Sunday, local children were playing at Takano Park. They seemed delighted by the rare chance to play in a snowstorm.

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

Children playing in snow in Takano Park, Ritto City

January 16th

On January 16th more snow was followed by patches of blue sky.

Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus, スズメ) in a snow-covered field in Hayashi, Ritto City

Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus, スズメ) in a snow-covered field in Hayashi, Ritto City

Tree at the end of the ground golf course in Deba, RItto City, during a snow storm

Tree at the end of the ground golf course in Deba, RItto City, during a snow storm

Two spring riders near the tennis courts in Deba, Ritto City, with Yasugawa Ohashi (野洲川大橋) and Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background

Two spring riders near the tennis courts in Deba, Ritto City, with Yasugawa Ohashi (野洲川大橋) and Mikamiyama (三上山) in the background

Snow-covered field in Tsuji, Ritto City, with Mikamiyama in the background

Snow-covered field in Tsuji, Ritto City, with Mikamiyama in the background

Snow-covered field in Tsuji, Ritto City

Snow-covered field in Tsuji, Ritto City

Pink rose in Tsuji, Ritto City

Pink rose in Tsuji, Ritto City

January 24th

We had a bit more snow on January 24th. By noon it was melting.

Snow-covered fields in Hayashi, Ritto City

Snow-covered fields in Hayashi, Ritto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) and the upper ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) and the upper ground golf course in Deba, RItto City

Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) and the upper ground golf course in Deba, Ritto City

Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) and the upper ground golf course in Deba, RItto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) and Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) seen from Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, Ritto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) and Bodaijisan (菩提寺山) seen from Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, RItto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) seen from the woods at Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, Ritto City

Mikamiyama (三上山) seen from the woods at Yasugawa Sports Park in Deba, RItto City

Yasugawa Sports Park on a winter afternoon

Yasugawa Sports Park on a winter afternoon

Appreciating wider angles

This January a few days of snow reminded me to appreciate a wider view of the environment. Most of my photographs have been portraits of birds or closeups of bugs or flowers. I enjoy watching living creatures up close through a telephoto lens, but I don’t want to become too absorbed in such a narrow view of life. I think it’s wise to also see and photograph the world from a broader and more natural perspective.

Late Autumn in Rural Shiga

In November and December we can see gradual but dramatic changes in rural Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Brilliant autumn colors appear and then fade, and deciduous trees and shrubs begin to appear barren as they reveal their branches. Bird populations change; most cormorants, egrets, and herons leave for warmer places, and winter migratory birds begin to appear.

Shinkansen crossing Yasugawa

Giant dahlia [tree dahlia] (皇帝ダリア)

Giant dahlia [tree dahlia] (Dahlia imperialis, 皇帝ダリア)

Fall colors at Yasugawa (野洲川)

Trees in Fall with Mikamiyama

Fields in Fall

Soybean field with Takano Park in background

Autumn colors in Takano

Autumn colors in Takano Park

Autumn colors in Takano Park

Fall colors in Takano Park

With very mild weather this year, I saw a few butterflies until late November.

Common copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas, ベニシジミ)

Black kites and other birds of prey often soar over rivers and fields. Sometimes crows steal their food.

Japanese black kite (トビ)

Japanese black kite (トビ) trying to protect its fish from a crow.

Daurian restarts (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) appear in the fall and stay until early spring.

Daurian restart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ)

Daurian redstart male (ジョウビタキ)

Daurian restart female (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ)

Japanese tits (シジュウカラ) and other small birds become more visible as trees begin to lose their leaves.

Japanese tit (シジュウカラ)

Japanese tit (シジュウカラ)

In early December I saw a Japanese weasel (Mustela itatsi, イタチ) in mowed grass along an irrigation canal.

Japanese weasel (Mustela itatsi, イタチ)

Japanese weasel (Mustela itatsi, イタチ)

Autumn wind often blows from the northwest. Sometimes the sky is beautiful.

Tree and Mikamiyama (三上山)

Mikamiyama and Koyamakawa

A large persimmon tree near my house attracts several species of birds, especially as the fruit ripens in late autumn.

Crows in a persimmon tree

Quite a few species of birds are very common throughout rural Shiga in late fall and winter.

Japanese wagtail (セグロセキレイ)

White Wagtail (ハクセキレイ)

Grey wagtail (キセキレイ)

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ)

Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea, キセキレイ)

Varied tit (ヤマガラ)

Oriental Greenfinch (カワラヒワ)

Japanese white-eye (メジロ)

Japanese white-eye (メジロ)

Bull-headed shrike (モズ)

Eurasian tree sparrow (スズメ)

Brown-eared bulbul (ヒヨドリ)

Japanese grosbeak (イカル)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Mallard duck female (マガモ)

Mallard duck (マガモ)

Some egrets and herons stay into late autumn, and a few may stay all winter.

Great egret (ダイサギ)

Grey heron (アオサギ)

This year (2016) the autumn colors were brilliant, and I was able to spend quite a few days outdoors with a camera. All of the photos shown here were taken within a few kilometers of my home in Ritto City. Wild birds appeared in many places that I visited in Moriyama, Yasu, and Ritto by bicycle on on foot. I did not see any rare species that many bird photographers seek, but I am grateful that I can experience so much diversity so close to home.