Tag Archives: Japan

Flowering Weeds in Early Spring

In March and April the Japanese countryside comes to life as weeds appear along fields and streams, anywhere with soil. Some of these plants are known for medicinal properties, and some are gathered as food. Most are ignored or cut down.

This year I’m trying to learn the names of flowering weeds as they appear in nearby fields and along the Yasugawa riverbank in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. This photo gallery includes some of the flowers I’ve seen from the beginning of March until mid-April, 2018.

Many of the flowers are tiny! Most of these photos were taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk. II camera and a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens, which I showed on Twitter.

Crows along Yasugawa

On Sunday, March 18, 2018, I was cycling down the north bank of Yasugawa when I heard some noisy crows perched in nearby trees.

When I ride my touring bike, I carry a small audio recorder and microphones. For this recording I used a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and Clippy Stereo EM172 mics by FEL Communications Ltd. To mimic human hearing, a quasi-binaural sound image was made by placing the mics on either side of my bicycle handlebar bag. I prefer to use trees about the diameter of an adult human head, but I use the handlebar bag when I cannot find a tree.

Trek 520 touring bike with audio recorder and mics on handlebar bag in Yasu City

The Compass app on my iPhone shows the location, direction, and time.

Compass and geolocation app on bicycle handlebar bag in Yasu City

As we can see on the map, this location is between a river and near the edge of a suburban area. With aircraft overhead, vehicles on nearby roads, and rural and suburban human activities, this place is quite noisy, even on Sunday.

In everyday life we filter out much of the noise. When the crows are not so noisy, I suppose most people experience this environment as a peaceful and quiet little park, just as it appears in photographs.

Trek 520 touring bike in Yasu City

Trek 520 touring bike in Yasu City

Chinese Pond Turtles (クサガメ)

Migration in November

On November 19, 2017, I was surprised to see three Chinese pond turtles (Mauremys reevesii, Reeve’s turtle, クサガメ) crawling up a nearly empty irrigation canal. The was my first time to see turtles like these with three ridges along their backs. I later learned that this small turtle is an endangered species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Japan Ministry of the Environment: 環境省レッドリスト).

The turtles were making their way upstream, probably migrating to a small pond along the canal.

Chinese pond turtles (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ) walking up the the canal in Tsuji, Ritto City.

The closest one withdrew into its shell as soon as it noticed me.

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

I backed away, but turtle was surprised by a white wagtail (Motacilla alba, ハクセキレイ).

White wagtail (ハクセキレイ)

White wagtail (ハクセキレイ) and Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

White wagtail (ハクセキレイ)

White wagtail (ハクセキレイ) and Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Eventually the turtle posed before returning its journey.

Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Sighting in January

On January 2, 2018, I spotted a Chinese pond turtle upstream in the canal near the pond, which had dried out. It was basking in the sun under a little waterfall where food was plentiful.

The turtle was covered with mud and some vegetation.

Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

This small turtle is not very photogenic, but the survival of Mauremys reevesii as a threatened species makes this Chinese pond turtle a beautiful creature.

Chinese pond turtle (クサガメ)

Chinese pond turtle (Mauremys reevesii, クサガメ)

Takano Shrine on a Windy December Day

On December 12, 2017, I made a field recording at Takano Shrine in Ritto City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社). See the location on radio aporee ::: maps.

Noisy aircraft, traffic, and other human sounds nearly drown out the voices of all the birds except a nearby crow.

Inner gate and worship hall (haiden, 拝殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (ema, 絵馬)

Wooden prayer tablets (ema, 絵馬) that hang near the main sanctuary clatter in the strong westerly wind.

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Winter birds

As the days become cooler, more and more birds appear in trees and bushes around the shrine.

Black-faced Bunting (Emberiza spodocephala, アオジ) in Takano, Rito City

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ) at Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Dusky thrush (Turdus eunomus, ツグミ) at Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ) at Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Late autumn colors

A few maple trees are still showing their autumn colors.

Fall colors at Takano Park in Ritto City

Maple leaves along the entrance to Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Technical notes

Audio was captured with an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone with a Rycote Windjammer and recorded with a Tascam DR-70D recorder. Post-processing was done with Audacity on an old Lenovo ThinkStation 20 running Fedora GNU/Linux Workstation version 27.

November photos

In November, 2017, I took several thousand photographs in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. I uploaded several hundred of them to my Flickr Photostream. A few of the better ones are among my photos on 500px.

This selection of November photos is in reverse chronological order without any attempt to group them by subject.

To see my photos more often, please follow me on Twitter or see my Flickr Photostream.