Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sapporo's Hassamu River - The Innocence of Water

29th June, 2010 - Sapporo is known for many things - such as snow, and of course snow festivals, miso ramen, beautiful seafood, yosokoi dancing, and of course for being the front door to the wide open scenery of Hokkaido. Beaches are not one of those things which Sapporo is famous for. Not by a long way. That's not to say that it doesn't have beaches (my wife used to body-board around Sapporo... but even she wouldn't call them nice beaches).

But children being children, and hot summers being hot summers... children + summer = water. And L-kun loves water. Now it turns out that one of the particular enjoyments of children is playing in the rivers. Now - there are some rivers that you definitely wouldn't want to play in, but Hasamugawa (Hasamu River) is fresh and clean. Just the perfect spot for a bit of summer fun.

There was no doubt that L-kun loved the day...and enjoyed spending some good time out and about. Actually there were quite a few children playing in the river too, or fishing. Hassamu-gawa is one of the rivers that runs through the north-west of the city that cuts down from the surrounding mountains.

View Sapporo Map in a larger map

Actually Otousan helped plant a whole row of cherry trees that runs along the road along the other side of the river (in the picture below). So I guess this spot holds some additional sentimental value.

And whilst the water's cool and clear... the water is flowing strong, and the river bed is lined with slippery rocks and concrete. T-chan told me that they actually were all a bit worried that Otousan would slip over - it was apparently like walking on ice. However, perhaps a lifetime of playing rivers must have endowed Otousan with good sea (or river) legs.

Of course - L-kun was already thinking of how long it would be before he could back here again. It's always a great thing to see your children having so much fun. Arigatou!

But... times change. I've added just a snippet of our home video taken by T-chan (below). It's one of those moments that you love as a parent. It's also one of my favourite moments from that trip, even though I wasn't there - ok... perhaps it's not that exciting for everyone else to watch (apologies in advance).

However, less than three weeks ago the world watched as hell broke loose on the north east of Honshu... and I don't think we will ever forget the vision that resulted. Three weeks ago I could watch this video and feel nothing but joy. Now, that joy is still there in the smile it brings to my mouth... but so to is a certain unease as I see my son playing at being swept away by the river. A world can change in a day... and a moment, innocent happiness can be tinged with sadness and despair.

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