Imagine a realm where the season’s rhythms rule, where centuries of agriculture and fishing have reshaped the land, yet where people and nature remain in harmony. Sangoro Tanaka lives in just such a paradise. At 83, he’s the guardian of one of Japan’s secret water gardens.
Over a thousand years, towns and villages have developed a unique system to make springs and water part of their homes. From inside their houses, the stream pours into Japan’s largest fresh water lake, near the ancient capital of Kyoto. This is a habitat so precious, the Japanese have a special word for it, satoyama, villages where mountains give way to plains. They are exceptional environments essential to both the people who maintain them and to the wildlife that now share them.