Shiga Prefecture - The Water Story

I get my clay from Shiga Prefecture and this article explains the unique features concerning the water in Harie, near Lake Biwa.

Mainichi: Shiga: Land of Water

The Harie district in Takashima, Shiga Prefecture, reminds one of good old Japan, with traditional tiled-roof houses lining the streets. Located roughly 1.5 kilometers from Lake Biwa in the northwest part of the prefecture, it is a place full of natural beauty, with fish swimming in numerous canals and streams that transect the district. For some 300 years, residents have fostered a unique water culture that centers around "kabata" -- a water supply system that utilizes the region's abundant underground water.
The water originates in the Hira Mountains in western Shiga Prefecture. At each household in Harie, pipes are sunk about 10 to 20 meters into the ground to obtain the underground water. This spring water -- which the people of Harie refer to as "shozu," or living water -- flows into a basin called "motoike" and is used for drinking and cooking. One refreshing sip was enough to tell the difference from normal tap water. 
The water that overflows from motoike into a connected basin called "tsuboike" is used for washing and cooling vegetables.
"The water stays around 13 degrees Celsius year round, so it is perfect for cooling vegetables and beer," said Maeda Masako, a local volunteer guide. 
The water flowing out of tsuboike goes into a third basin called "hataike." This is where people clean dirty dishes and pots by allowing fish -- mostly carp -- to eat the food remnants.
"If you leave a pot here that you used to cook curry, it'll be completely clean in three hours," Maeda explained. "These fish even eat watermelon rinds." 
No wonder most of the carp are huge. Apparently, some weigh over 25 kilograms. These fish are free to go anywhere they please, since each hataike is connected to a canal or stream running outside. The water travels through canals until it reaches the Harie-Okawa River and eventually flows into Lake Biwa. People living upstream, therefore, have long been careful not to taint the water -- and this spirit of thoughtfulness lives on today.  (...)

There is more and lots of nice photos, hope Mainichi doesn't delete this article from their website (like they usually do) 


Pandabonium said…
Don't drink the fish poop.

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