Each event dedicated to schoolchildren held at Hotoria went successfully. Catching bullfrogs and crayfish, observing red dragonflies… the secret to people enjoying these events was that they brought excitement to not only children, but also parents and teachers. These activities remind adult participants of their nostalgic childhood. Or they could be experiences that younger participants have never seen or attended before. “This year, we caught 1,300 crayfish in a very short time. They were from the water canal where we worked together with schoolchildren in exterminating them. What a number it was! We are very happy and thankful that locals enjoy these activities. At the same time, through these events, we learn that nature can be preserved with manpower, and these actions tend to allow passing organism diversity on to future generations,” said Mr. Sato.
By the way, where did all of those caught bullfrogs or crayfish go? “Even though alien species, we don’t disregard living beings. So we have local restaurants serve them as one of their seasonal menu items.” The restaurants are Bardet and Good Luck Café, which opened in 2016, located in the city of Tsuruoka. Sautéed bullfrogs taste like chicken or whitefish, but crayfish, known as a luxury ingredient in French cuisine, is less famous in Japan. According to a person who actually ate the crayfish, he said it tasted slightly like grass and mud… in other words… “the flavor of wetlands.” Sowing the seeds that man has cultivated for centuries brought us our harvests. Nature can easily be disturbed, but its restoration may require incalculable time. Even if the way is uncertain, we have to keep working at it in order to get back our “primary nature.”
“This area is wetland, but it can easily be dried up without maintenance, and the vegetation can change. In maintaining this site with a small number of people, our contribution is limited, so Hotoria associates, along with local supporters and volunteers, must find practical and efficient measures.” While there is a natural balance that had collapsed because of human factors, there is also a natural balance that can’t be kept without human intervention. Behind the tranquil countryside, some people are confronting what we did to nature for our future.