(From the Japan News/Asia News Network)
By Natsuko Tamaki
Exploring a Japanese mangrove forest by canoe
A keen canoeist for years, I was delighted to discover on a recent trip to Amami-Oshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture, that it was possible to explore a mangrove forest in Amami’s Sumiyocho district by canoe.
“This is a good tide,” said my guide Kazuhisa Saijo, 53, pointing upstream as I boarded a canoe from a dock at the river mouth. “We are going to a waterway that’s passable only at full tide.
My fellow participants on the 90-minute tour started paddling their one-person canoes. We moved ahead while looking at a mangrove forest on the banks of the river. One of the attractions of canoeing is that the paddler’s eye level is closer to the surface of the water than on a ship, making you feel like a part of nature.
Every tree in the mangrove forest grows in marshes, so these trees take firm root in the soil, with their roots spreading like an octopus’ legs. Even during stormy seas, it’s quiet in the forest, according to Saijo.
“There is no tree named mangrove,” Saijo explained. Mangrove actually refers to trees growing in brackish-water regions, where fresh and salt water are mixed. Around the mouths of the Sumiyogawa and Yakugachigawa rivers, trees grow in clusters on about 71 hectares of land.
This is Japan’s second largest mangrove forest, following that on Iriomote Island in Okinawa Prefecture. Read more