Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

October 15, 2011

Kamo River Park (Kyoto Guide)

The Kamo River is the spirit of Kyoto. It is at its most beautiful at the Y-shape where the Kamo (written with another Chinese character) and Takano rivers flow together - on the wedge between both rivers stands the Shimogamo Shrine with the Tadasu forest. The tip of the wedge has been turned into a small park called Kamogawa (Kamo River) Park.

[Kamogawa Park. Here the Kamo River (left) and Takano River (right) merge into the Kamo River (written with a different character from the first Kamo River!)]

The park can also be reached via the stepping stones that have been laid out in the rivers, provided the water level is low enough which is usually the case. The in the past often unruly waters have after all been rigorously tamed.

Already in the Edo period the Tadasu forest was a spot favorite for taking in some cool air on summer evenings. Now you see children playing with fireworks in the park and people sit picknicking here in the daytime. If I could live here in the neighborhood, I would on summer evenings sit with a beer on one of the benches along the river - a nice dream.

[The stepping stones in the river - note the turtles]

The Kamo River originates in Kumogahata, in the mountains northwest of Kyoto. In spring, the river is shaded by pink cherry blossoms, in summer it is alive with sweetfish. In this season, wagtails and herons also make their appearance. In late autumn and winter, blackheaded gulls from Siberia fly in via Lake Biwa - sometimes dancing around in large groups as if it were snowing gulls.

The Kamo River also used to be famous for its plovers - they even form the symbol of the Pontocho geisha quarters and the Kamogawa Dances performed annually by these artists. In the park stands a haiku stone with a poem by (if I am correct) the chairman of the Kamo River preservation society:
in the past
this spot was famous
for plovers

sono mukashi | kokora chidori no | meisho kana
[Stepping stones in the form of plovers are now all that reminds one of these birds]