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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Shinden of Arakawa River, Adachi ward, Tokyo, Japan

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Shinden of Arakawa River, Adachi ward, Tokyo, Japan
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Registered: December 2012
City/Town/Province: Tokyo
Posts: 1
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I clenched my fist, breathed out, extended my hand, stopped, clenched my fist once more and knocked on the door that read in Japanese: Adachi ward southern park administrative office.
In the hot summer of 2011, I came across a small man-made habitat that included a pond called the Children's Pond. It was shallow and had small fish, tadpoles and children swimming in it. It was a pond made with the concept of letting young children get in contact with nature. I felt instant love for this pond that was like an oasis in Japan's biggest business metropolitan of Tokyo and decided to come once more the following week.
However what I found was a complete inverse to what I had seen on the previous visit. Two weeks of sizzling sun and no rain had left the pond completely evaporated. The school of fish that had been plentiful before were gone and so were the kids except for two kindergartners who were picking up the bodies of the dead fish. Not knowing what to do, I started digging at the ponds gravel floor and that was when a silver body wiggled into my hand. I instantly closed my other hand over it, ran and released it into a bigger pond nearby. Under the gravel there was still some water and still some fish depending on that water.
For as long as I can remember I have loved animals and it has always been my dream to make the world a place that not only humans but also animals can live with equal well-being. Yet standing up to people can be terrifying and many resources such as money, political power and trust are things that don't come easily at a high school age. This however was the first time, of many more times, that I thought: If I couldn't save a 24 yard diameter pond of fish, how would I ever save the rest of the world? Once this decision was made I called many city and government offices only to be told the responsibility was someone else's. Eventually I was passed onto the Adachi ward southern park administrative office.
I decided not to call but to go. I clenched my fist and knocked and asked them to fill the pond with water. Their first reaction was, “We deeply regret our construction miscalculation but don't have the money to pump water into the pond so it can't be helped. Don't worry though, all the fish are safe.” This was ridiculous and a lie. I had just seen small children picking up the carcases of fishes. Their stance of neglect and turning a blind eye towards the situation defies the educational concept of the pond and teaches children the wrong principles.
However when I pointed this out they replied, “In nature there are natural habitats with ponds that dry up in the summer and fill in the winter. Some fish die and some adapt. That's nature.” I fully understood and accepted such habitats as another of natures wonders. Yet the Children's Pond is not natural, it's man-made. The city planned it inadequately, released common water-requiring fish into the pond and then when things went wrong, discarded it. This was irresponsible. In the end, they tried offering cake and said, “We're sorry but there's nothing we can do and they are only fish after all”. I left,
but on closing that door, decided I would do everything in my power to fill that pond with water.

I called friends, gathered buckets and we relayed water from a nearby river for 5 straight hours. By midnight we had only achieved a small puddle compared to the pond. I continued bucketing water on my own for the rest of the summer. At the same time I decided to put all that had happened and the remaining problem onto paper. I passed this out to anyone and everyone I could find. This included local schools, public facilities, water related NGOs, law schools, city officials and news papers. The Asahi News even took the time to interview my problem. I also made picture books and composed nature classes for toddlers and their parents to teach respect for nature and spread awareness.
Little by little, the public became concerned and got in contact with the city officials who in turn got in contact with me once more to work out a solution. I went on to present my activities at the 7th annual River's Day Workshop in the Kanto Region and ended up winning the Grand Prix. This helped to motivate the city officials to promise to protect the living creatures in the pond and they declared this publicly on television by discussing the situation at the Adachi ward assembly this September of 2012.
This experience has changed my stance of life. Everything that seemed impossible before, I now know is possible. It is important to continue stumbling, but running towards a goal. With a hundred concerned people and a hundred supportive buckets you can slowly but surely fill a pond with a million pails of water.
Date: December 28, 2012 Views: 5296 File size: 21.4kb, 212.4kb : 854 x 480
Hours Volunteered: 300
Volunteers: 4
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 19 & 16 to 22
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