Tokyobling's Blog

A Trip Down Arakawa River

Posted in Places by tokyobling on August 3, 2009

As I mentioned earlier in a couple of posts about the western parts of Saitama prefecture I spent a little time on or near Arakawa River (I know kawa means river but it seems easier to be specific with geographical names in English). The river’s name means “Wild River” but after being used to seeing much further downstream in Tokyo I always thought the name was a little bit over the top. Luckily, it is a tad bit wilder up in Saitama where it also originates. From the pictures you wouldn’t believe it when I tell you that it eventually becomes the biggest river in Japan: 2537 meters at its widest point.

If you go to Chichibu and then a few stations up the line to really get into deep Saitama you can catch one of the river cruises. The cruise is a good way to see a different part of Japan than the concrete of Tokyo, but it is a little bit short: it is announced as lasting about 30 minutes but with the rapid flow of the river at any other point in time than in near drought season, the tour is much shorter than that. Still, it was worth every yen to see the scenery around the river.

Now, it should be known by now that I am not a good nature photographer. I have no idea how to make cliffs and whirling water look interesting so forgive my rather bland photos. I did manage to get some wildlife and two ridiculously handsome Saitama Prefecture River Police officers. It that the best job in the world? Considering that they spend a lot of the day watching over water-inexperienced tokyoites in mini-bikinis at the other side of the river. Great job, if you can get it.

Oh, and please, if you can identify the species of bird in the last picture I would be very happy indeed!


19 Responses

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  1. pk1154 said, on August 3, 2009 at 10:39 am

    The bird is definitely some species of wagtail (genus Motacilla). I’d hazard a guess that out of some likely candidates (white, gray, yellow, black-backed and Japanese) that this is a white wagtail.


    • tokyobling said, on August 4, 2009 at 1:03 am

      pk1154, thank you for the great comment. I agree that it does look a lot like a wagtail, perhaps a Black-backed Wagtail? It does look a lot paler than any other Wagtails I could find online, and in my (perhaps faulty) memory I seem to recall that it was rather large for such a slender bird. Perhaps Wagtails in Japan have a very good and very steady diet? In fact, the reason I got out my 300mm lens for such a common looking bird was the unusual size (which of course is totally not obvious in the picture). I also got a good shot at the rear end (ehm…) so it should be possible to get the gender of the bird as well. If anyone is that interested in Wagtails, that is!


  2. Lisa E. said, on August 3, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Beautiful photos!


    • tokyobling said, on August 4, 2009 at 1:13 am

      Thank you Lisa, I saw your cool collection of Blythe! Hoshiko is my fave!


  3. Gregoire Bolduc said, on August 3, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    I think your pictures turned out quite well actually!

    And the bird looks somewhat like what we call a “Killdeer” here in Michigan… While it isn’t I’d bet it’s a plover or sandpiper of some kind.


  4. Gregoire Bolduc said, on August 3, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    I sent a link of the picture to the folks at Cornell’s Ornithology Project.. maybe they will identify it!


    • tokyobling said, on August 4, 2009 at 12:57 am

      Thank you Gregoire! You are very kind, as usual! (^-^)


      • Gregoire Bolduc said, on August 4, 2009 at 11:15 pm

        The response I got was that the bird is part of the mockingbird family….


        • tokyobling said, on August 5, 2009 at 12:49 am

          Interesting twist on the Wagtail theory then! A Mockingbird you say…? Have to look into that. It would fit the size and markings better but I am still partial to the Wagtail theory. The plot thickens…


          • pk1154 said, on August 5, 2009 at 1:44 pm

            I should think it not likely to be a mockingbird (of the family Mimidae, a group of New World birds), unless they have escaped captivity in Japan (which is not impossible).

            My ID wasn’t based on scale (hard to do from a photo) but on general shape and plumage, location (Japan) and behavior (wagtails are often found foraging on rocks at the edge of ponds and rivers).


          • tokyobling said, on August 6, 2009 at 12:29 am

            Thank you pk1154. I agree with you, but then my knowledge of birds is very limited. Must, study, more!


  5. michaelpanda said, on August 4, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Those are unusually good-looking police officers! Quite a change from the leathery-skinned chain-smoking useless oyajis that populate the koban nearest my house anyway 😛

    And I dunno about making water or cliffs look interesting, but you did a fantastic job with those clouds! 🙂


    • tokyobling said, on August 5, 2009 at 12:30 am

      I hear ye! The best police officer I met so far was a bloke patrolling the huge open area in front of the imperial palace. I was fresh of the boat and on a walk between Ginza and Yotsuya. Not being exactly sure as to which direction to head in to reach Ginza as opposed to ending up in Hibiya I asked the officer for directions (as you do in Japan).

      「分からないですね、僕は埼玉出身ですから」 ”Beats me, I’m from Saitama myself”

      The dead pan way in which he said it and his total honesty was quite hilarious.


  6. an9ie said, on August 4, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Great capture of that dragonfly!


    • tokyobling said, on August 5, 2009 at 12:48 am

      Thank you an9ie! I tried to hypnotize it so that I could get even closer (you know that thing you do with your hand that drives them mad) but he was having none of it. To me Dragonflies are like the sunset beaches of the animal kingdom, easy to shoot and colorful!


  7. Julie said, on March 14, 2010 at 6:13 am

    The second policeman looks like Inocchi of V6! XD


    • tokyobling said, on March 14, 2010 at 6:23 am

      Hmm… I don’t think Inocchi is as handsome though… haha…


  8. Julie said, on March 14, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Tokyobling, I’m glad to find that we have the same urging… I photographed so many handsome policemen in London! lol, I’ve never posted them anywhere b/c I didn’t think anyone else cared about that but me! 😀 I am super excited about your future posts…


    • tokyobling said, on March 14, 2010 at 11:45 pm

      Thanks Julie! I am sure there are many people out there with a weak spot for handsome officers of all kinds! They deserve a little bit of feel-good admiration too, I am sure theirs is not the most pleasant job there is…


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