Harie District – Urban ecology model aligned with canals at Shiga Prefecture (Japan)

Located at the Western of Shiga Prefecture (Japan), Harie district has been known for its urban ecology model aligned with freshwater canals. Indeed, thanks to intersection between Adogawa River and Biwa Lake, which is the biggest freshwater lake in Japan, in Harie, houses are connected to water supply system pump water from underground water abundance. With the “kabata”, which function is likely a water room or a kitchen used to store and prepare foods, being linked to outdoor freshwater canals, households have used the “kabata” to keep water pumped directly from the underground, and have utilized it for cooking and drinking. Unlike ordinary water faucets, which are opened to use and locked when not being used, faucets at “kabata” have flown constantly, no need to be locked, constant water flow to wash away residue from foods and utensils. As water has temperature around 13 degree Celsius, residents have used “kabata” for cooling fruits, veggies, and beverages. Freshwater springs flow around houses all years that created an unique feature of Harie district’s urban scenery and culture.

Harie district in a distance of 1.5 km from Biwa in the Northwest of Shiga Prefecture (Japan). Photo source: https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160221/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

Feature of Haried district (Shiga Prefecture, Japan) attached with canals. Photo source: https://www.pref.shiga.lg.jp/file/attachment/5125732.pdf

Through generations, residents at Harie district have lived in harmony with the aforementioned ecosystem. In the “kabata”, the residents released carp to cleanse the water. Indeed, when leaving veggies, fruits in the “kabata”, constant water wipes away dirt, and residues are food for carp residents. Those carps have been considered as families’ pets playing a crucial role, which is to help families cleanse up residues from foods and purify water run into the “kabata” in particular and in the canals system of Harie district in general.

The “Kabata” has been attached with water culture of Harie district. In New Year, annually, residents take water from the “kabata” for their ancestor worship and foods preparation for New Year celebration. With a consciousness and care on importance of the “kabata” to their life, residents at Harie have been careful in water conservation. Plus, care and trust of local people at Harie have been contributing to water protection and ecology system of the region.

A “kabata” at a household at Harie district (Shiga Prefecture, Japan). Photo source: https://www.wildercities.com/post/harie-the-dish-cleaning-fish

Veggies and roots are slowly washed in a “kabata” at a household in Harie district (Shiga Prefecture, Japan). Photo source: https://www.wildercities.com/post/harie-the-dish-cleaning-fish

Thanks to the aforementioned water culture, the urban ecology of Harie district has become unique. To maintain that uniqueness as well as the water culture of Harie district’s residential community, certain activities have been implemented under cooperation between local administration and residents; among them there has had combination of paid group tourism activities to help raise fund for maintenance and cleansing canals at Harie district.

With those features, Harie district has been known as a small-sized circular ecological urban, carrying mutualist relationship between human and species living in aquatic environment. That unique ecosystem has not made contribution to protect health and life quality of residents, but helped develop community tourism, increasing income for local people. The water culture of Harie district at Takashima City of Shiga Prefecture (Japan) has contributed to strengthen strong points of Shiga Prefecture, in which it has been capacity in protecting and enhancing water potentials towards human life, a sustainable living environment, a pure sustainable ecosystem.

Biwa Lake has been in reserve accompanied with ecological tourist activities at Shiga Prefecture of Japan: https://www.japatabi.com/en/lake-biwa/

Currently, Shiga Prefecture (Japan) has been one of foreign counterparts of Hai Phong (Vietnam) in implementing environment projects in Hai Phong. Thanks to its strength and experience in water sources reserve and protection, Shiga Prefecture has been working with Hai Phong to help the city operate resilient measures in attempt of environment protection. For instance, Shiga Prefecture (Japan) cooperated with Hai Phong City (Vietnam) in implementation of Support project to build a cooperation system to improve water environment in Cat Ba island with an implementation period of 02 years (from February of 2015 to March of 2017). The aforementioned project made contribution to strengthen capacity of local administrative agencies, enterprises, and local people in cooperative operation of environment protection measures on Cat Ba archipelago. Based on the aforementioned project’s outcome, Shiga Prefecture has been working with Hai Phong City in Japan’s technical cooperation at grassroot under framework of Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Development Partnership Program on implementation of a cooperation and support project for application of the Lake Biwa model to waters management enhancement of Cat Ba archipelago and surrounding areas, with funding from the JICA. The project has been implemented in an aim of supporting volunteering activities through triparty cooperation: State – enterprises – inhabitants on Cat Ba archipelago; encouraging cooperation in attempts to reserve Cat Ba archipelago and surrounding areas, with application of key ideas and tips of Biwa Lake model on the ground of Shiga Prefecture’s experience on Biwa Lake’s water improvement. The project has consisted of: i) develop systems and plans for waste water treatment units on Cat Ba island; ii) develop operation procedure and management of waste water units on Cat Ba island; iii) implement monitoring coastal water sources around Cat Ba archipelago; iv) implement green activities; v) environment protection activities through cooperation enhancement between Hai Phong city and Quang Ninh province./.

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