Gordon: Despite its industrialization and massive cities, Japan still has a rich diversity of vegetation harbouring a lot of wildlife.
Some of the animals we regularly spot include carp, egrets, herons and cormorants. Some days I have also seen literally hundreds of turtles in ponds and slow moving rivers. They are mostly red sliders, some as large as dinner plates. Despite their slow-witted reputation they are actually quite elusive, diving upon sighting a curious henro with a camera.
Today was a particularly good day for wildlife sightings. As I was coming down from Temple 84 I encountered hundreds of small white butterflies fluttering around some shrubs. It was quite magical. Ruth and I have both noticed that there are much greater numbers of butterflies in Japan than we see in Victoria.
Walking along the tidal river in the valley between Temples 84 and 85, I passed the lowest of concrete weirs. This 15 cm barrier was still sufficient to halt the progress of some species of marine fish. Theses 40 cm fish looked like a cross between a carp and a shark, and there were literally hundreds of them in the pool below the weir. It was an amazing concentration of life.
Later, as we were leaving Temple 86, Ruth spotted a weasel behind a row of stone monuments. I stuck my head through a break in the stone palisade to watch the weasel devouring a lizard. The weasel then hopped along past me. He found another lizard just in front of me, which led to a brief but frantic chase before the blue-tailed skink became the second portion of the weasel’s lunch. This occurred a little more than a metre from me. The weasel then ambled further along the row of stones, entertaining a few other henro as he went. I have encountered a number of weasels in my life (not even including my brief legal career) but I have never had such a front row seat to one engaged in the bloody business of life.