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Text and photos by Yoshimitsu Yagi

The Kansagawa's Narusawa-no-taki (rumbling waterfall) is a well-known waterfall that is representative of the Toyogawa river system. The sound of nature's gentle rhythm is pleasing to the ear.

Three representative rivers, the Kisogawa in the west, Yahagigawa in the center, and Toyogawa in the east, run through Aichi Prefecture. Aichi's agriculture and industry have been able to prosper so greatly, it can be said without exaggeration, only because of the benefits brought by these waterways. Of the three, it is the clean waters of the Toyogawa that stand out the most in terms of the still-existing richness of the natural setting through which they course and the many spots of hidden charm only rivers can produce.

The Toyogawa's headwaters lie in the mountains of northeastern Aichi Prefecture. Upstream, it is called the Kansagawa before its waters, joined by those of a tributary, the Uregawa, flow into Mikawa Bay. The Toyogawa stretches fewer than 80 kilometers. Although Japan has scores of comparable rivers, the many faces and cleanliness of this waterway make this river special.

Its upper reaches course through trees and waterfalls. The area lends itself to the seasonal delights of jaunts to admire blossoms or autumn foliage. Downstream, rapids appear here and there, making the Toyogawa a popular site for canoeing. And, if you put on goggles and peer beneath the surface, you can observe an array of small fish enjoying life in the clear stream. Many families visit this area on weekend nature outings.

The Uregawa is distinguished by its bed, which is formed of rock. Gigantic slabs of rock emerge at random in this tributary, producing the distinctive beauty of a mountain stream. During the fishing season for ayu (sweetfish), this area is an optimal location for catching these fish, which eat the moss growing on the river's rocks. Each fish has its own territory and will fight to keep it if another ayu encroaches upon it. The ayu fishing technique called tomozuri (decoy fishing) capitalizes on this behavior by using live decoys.
A freshwater aquarium offers a glimpse of the fish found in the Toyogawa river system.
"Hey, mister, how do the ayu look this year?"

"Hmm. Looks like they've got plenty to eat this year. I reckon we'll catch some plump, fat ones." Fishing for information on the working of nature while conversing with fishers is a pleasant pastime.

Records show that until about 100 years ago, the lower reaches of this river overflowed and changed course each time there was a heavy rain. Nowadays, though, levees are in place, giving local residents a sense of security. Water is also drawn off from midstream into the Toyogawa Channel. It then travels as far as the Atsumi Peninsula, serving as a source of water for farming, industry, and households along the way. The Toyogawa is a reservoir of nature's treasures and enriches people's lives.