Biotope in Central Tokyo Offers Close Encounters of the Wildlife Kind
The biotope in Shinjuku's Chuo Park recently marked 20 years since its opening. Still today, it offers 'great nature' experiences in the heart of the city.
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In April 2023, the biotope situated in a corner of Shinjuku Chuo Park in Tokyo marked its 20th anniversary. Yoshie Itamoto, 80, heads up the Shinjuku Chuo Park Biotope Association, which has overseen the biotope since its establishment.
Itamoto extols the appeal of the biotope as a small piece of 'great nature' in the city. "We hope many children will visit the biotope," she says.
Surprisingly Diverse Urban Nature
I visited on a sunny afternoon in late March. The pond's surface glistened in the spring sunlight. Upon a closer look, I saw flurries of little black creatures moving about.
It was a multitude of tadpoles. According to the association, they are green frog larvae, and there are over 10,000 of them. "They come to this pond from nearby residential areas and other fenced-off areas of the park to lay their eggs," Itamoto explained. I also saw the gelatinous remains of eggs floating nearby, telling me the tadpoles were just newly born.
A school of Japanese rice fish (medaka) rested above a flat stone in the water. Butterbur and other plants and flowers were growing around the pond, and butterflies fluttered in the air.
It was surprising to see such a tranquil scene, which could easily be mistaken for the countryside, in the middle of Shinjuku. Looking up, the twin towers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building provided a reminder of the urban locale.
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(Read the article in Japanese.)
Author: Akihiko Tozaki
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