“…that woman should donate the land and the houses soon and should move to an apartment!” The guide burbled on. Then someone said to him, “Excuse me, but could you please tell us about things outside the windows, too? Where are we now?” The guide replied, “Uh…okay…well…we are now……………………I don’t know!”
That happened in a boat. I took part in an interesting tour named “The Horikawa Cruse”. Horikawa is a man-made river in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. It was made for carrying building materials of Nagoya Castle to the site in 1610. It used to be clear, but it began being contaminated by human sewage in 1950’s and came to become a murky river. However, it has become clearer because Nagoya City has dredged periodically since 1994. This tour was held by AGGN (Aichi Goodwill Guides Network) on April 22 for studying the Horikawa River and the town nearby to conserve them as historic things.
The participants boarded at Miya-no-watashi near Atsuta Jingu Shrine. The place used to face the sea, which is far way from there now. The place was very important for travelers and merchants, and material flow more than 400 years, but now it is all gone to pot. The Horikawa River is about 16 km. We spent an hour and a half going from Miya-no-watashi to Asahi-bashi, and then disembarked at Naya-bashi.
Actually, we hardly could see almost anything during the cruise. We could not open the roof and windows because it was raining and very cold that day. The boat was very short and its windows are small. So we saw mainly just the river banks and bridges’ columns. We shouted the joy when we saw even some water birds automatically.
We saw a man crouching and smoking behind a building by the river on the way. We stared at him because he was the only living creature except birds and we did not have anything else to see. He looked very surprised. He must not have expected to see a boat or a human there. Besides, we were a group of about 40 people. Both of us didn’t say anything, but we just stared at each other…
I wrote “it has become clearer” above, but it means that it is clearer than the worst condition. That is, it smelt like the garbage collection site in summer. We could not have a nice view, but it was nice we could not open the roof and windows. If the tour had been held on a nice and hot day, we could not have stood the stink.
Oh, I have not written anything good on the tour yet! You can learn many historical things through the tour. For example, there are more than 40 bridges in the Horikawa River, and seven of them are called “Horikawa Seven Bridges” and very important: Gojo-bashi, Naka-bashi, Temma-bashi, Naya-bashi, Hioki-bashi, Furuwatari-bashi, and Oto-bashi. I am not going to explain about each bridge here this time, but each one has its own history, architectural style, and taste. We listened to the guide looking up the bridges through misty windows.
The Horikawa River is still murky and stinky, but it tells us about its history. Nagoya City and its citizens are now trying to revive the river. I would like to take part in a Horikawa Cruise again someday when the weather is nicer (after the river got much clearer…) . Actually, some of the participants went on a walking tour with the same guide after we got off the boat at Naya-bashi, and it was more interesting than the cruise…I’m going to write about it next time.