It isn’t every day that you get to see the birth of a river. Yet that is exactly what visitors see in Kakita River Park in Mishima, Shizuoka Prefecture.
Every day a million tons of water burbles its way to the surface through the sandy soil in this park to form the Kakita River, already 5-10 meters wide at its source. The water has been underground for more than 25 years, having fallen as rain or snow onto the flanks of Mt. Fuji and then made its way through Mt. Fuji’s porous lava and ash while gravity pulls it toward sea level until it finds the soil of this place allows it to emerge.
At first glance, the park looks like any city park cum nature preserve: tall shade trees, lawns and strolling paths, water feature–including a man-made waterfall, a carp pond, separate wading pools for children–, and, of course, flowers of the season.
A quick look at the map board just inside the park reveals trails into the trees that emerge onto viewing platforms by the river below. And what a view!
The river water is so clear that the bottom is visible, and appears to be moving, not with the flow of the river but with water emerging from below the river’s bed. Everywhere one looks, the sandy bottom is in motion as water comes through. It’s particularly fascinating to watch where the emerging water is concentrated into “pots” that move as if on a slow boil.
Visitors climb up and down along the trails through the trees and greenery from viewing platform to viewing platform, moving deeper into the park and getting different views of the springs as they contribute to the waters of the Kakita River. In some places, the “pots” have been aided by concrete barriers, usually more than a meter across, that help define the outlet and keep the water clean.
In one small glen in the middle of the park, the water flows through a man-made channel designed to encourage wading and child play. Who doesn’t love splashing in clean, cool water on a hot summer’s day?
The Kakita River is one of Japan’s shortest, flowing for just 1.2 kilometers before merging into the Kano River, which meanders for just 7 kilometers more to reach the waters of Suruga Bay. The Kakita River’s waters are also rated as among the clearest of Japan’s many rivers.
Mishima is a popular staging area for visitors to the Izu Peninsula and visitors often skip the sights of this historic town in their rush. The birth of a river is one sight not to miss!
Getting there: From the south exit of JR Mishima Station, take the “Orange Shuttle” bus bound for Numasho (沼商行き). Get off after about 10 minutes, at “Kakitagawa Yosui Koen-mae”.
© 2018 Jigsaw-japan.com and Vicki L. Beyer
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