Satoyama: Japan’s Secret Watergarden

Aug 29, 2023 | Environmental, Videos

Satoyama villages in Japan are a marvel of traditional living and community integration. Inhabitants of these villages have been using the riverside method to clean their cooking utensils for centuries. Not only does this method provide an efficient way of cleaning food scraps from cookware, but it also has the benefit of re-purifying water for the village’s use.

Essentially, each home has a built in pool or water tank that lies partly inside, partly outside its’ walls. This pool is fed by a continuous stream of spring water which is constantly replenished with new water from the channel. People rinse out pots and pans in this tank before washing them with carp that live within the tank itself. The carp used in this process are typically bottom feeders, meaning they eat whatever food scraps may be lingering at the bottom of the pool. This helps to keep the water both clean and healthy, as well as providing sustenance to these fishy little helpers!

The waters of Satoyama villages remain clean thanks to this unique system which has been passed down through generations. It’s remarkable how communities around Japan have sustained such a highly effective method for millennia and one wonders what other overlooked secrets still remain hidden among these tiny rural settlements?

To find out more about Satoyama villages and their ingenious riverside method, we recommend watching ‘Riverside: Life Along Japan’s Ancient Waterways’, an insightful documentary that explores life along Japan’s waterways both past and present. This film offers an intimate look at how people interact with nature on an everyday basis and highlights some truly remarkable stories about traditional Japanese culture.

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David B