I was reading a feature on the Japan Times website recently. This article was entitled Silent Spring in Tokyo and bemoaned the lack of any sign of wildlife in the Tokyo suburb where the author lives (he states that it is about an hour’s train ride from midtown). All that I can say to the writer of that article is “come to Kansai”, and especially to Nishinomiya 西宮市 (my home town) and its surrounds.
When I moved to Japan early in 2008 I feared that I would miss the abundant nature that had surrounded my former home in the countryside of the English south coast. But after more than a year in my new home on the man-made island of Nishinomiyahama 西宮浜 I can only say that I miss nature and wildlife not at all. The waters around the island are home to many species of birds, including several migratory varieties. I especially love to watch the little terns diving into the water during spring and summer, and there are many ducks that winter there. There are cormorants, black headed gulls, herons and egrets to be seen at any time. Recently, a dolphin was spotted in these waters. The outside wall of my mansion block has been the nesting site for a nest of baby swallows that I have really enjoyed watching and photographing. One evening recently I went with my wife, Megumi, to Ashiyagawa 芦屋川 to watch the annual show of fireflies 蛍 among the reeds;unbelievably beautiful.
Near Nishinomiya there are also the beautiful mountain areas of Mount Rokko 六甲山 with its beautiful walks full of wild flowers and butterflies. Wild boar live on the slopes, and frequently follow the rivers down into Ashiya 芦屋 and other towns in the area.
The wild life around my new home has really inspired me to take many photographs, and I am frequently out walking or cycling when not teaching. I am also lucky with my work, because my school, Smith’s School of English, Kawanishi スミス英会話川西校, is in a delightful city, and close to more beautiful countryside. I really can’t ask for much more.