For over 300 years, the village of Harie (針江) in Japan has thrived on its interconnected system of mountains, canals, streams, rice fields, spring water, and kabata, small separate rooms that are used as a kitchen spaces for each household. There, residents wash their dishes in pools of crystal-clear spring water. As the foods wash off the plates, large koi and other fish eat the scraps, keeping the cold flowing water clean. This Japan Video Topics video from Web Japan provides a tour of the water-centered community.
Via Mainichi, there are multiple pools in the kabata including a motoike for drinking and cooking, a tsuboike for washing and cooling tofu and vegetables, and a koi-filled hataike for washing dishes and pots. Everyone in the community is mindful of how they use the water so that the ancient, balanced system isn’t polluted, including using eco-friendly soaps and cleansers. And even in Japan, the ‘village of living water’ is unique:
this Koi Pond Skyscraper as fish flock get a better view, how this Japanese town is working to produce no trash, and more animals in Japan.
Harie became famous after NHK aired a TV program featuring kabata in 2004. People from across the country and overseas started flocking to the village to see this unique water culture. To protect the livelihood of the residents, a volunteer committee was established. The group conducts paid tours of the area, and the money is used to maintain and clean the canals.
Maeda [Masako, a volunteer,] said that among 170 households, only about 60 regularly use kabata now. This is because most homes in the area are equipped with modern kitchens.