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Stillness as Water

The noon had passed, and my trek up the mountain was nearing its closure. At long last, I see houses on the side of hills and more importantly, vending machines. My throat had already dried up halfway through all the zigzag roads. A large gust swept by, almost throwing me off my balance. “Immovable as a mountain.” A quote from a legendary warlord known in Yamanashi flew into my head. Known as Takeda Shingen, he fought in Japan’s civil war period called the “Sengoku Jidai”which lasted from 1467 to 1615. The image of this stout warrior gave me the strength to steady myself. To be as immovable as a mountain means I can’t let some wind knock me off my balance. I have to stand to face my adversary and be absolutely steadfast. With my newfound strength, I marched over to the nearby town and located a vending machine. I popped a 100 yen in the slot, chose a can, and immediately cracked it open as my eye caught a glimpse of a bright blue reflection of the sun. It was in that instance that I realized I had reached my destination; Chiyoda-ko Lake.


This quaint lake is a small touring spot for mostly one kind of person: people who fish or perhaps fishermen. The lake is said to contain a good amount of Japanese crucian carp and black basses. Japanese fishermen engage in a kind of fishing they call Herabuna Fishing or Hera Fishing for short. It has grown in popularity due to the fact that carps are one of the most aggressive fishes when it comes to bait, so it’s a lot easier to expect a bite from one of them. Lakes that contain these fish have several fishermen around, trying to perfect their craft or to have a chilled out time. Chiyoda-ko Lake is no exception.

An overwhelming gust challenged my mind to do a lap. The accompanying echo serenaded my ears. I always loved the cold wind. My body had always felt particularly warm most of the time so hot weather was always a pain for me. Perhaps, that was because I was born in a hot country like Thailand. I would rather just get away from this heat. For a moment of walking through a row of trees blocking the scorching sun, I could feel my worries subside for a bit.


A few ducks liven up the lake quite a bit as well. You could tell how strong the wind is by watching the ducks bounce up and down the waves, trying to group together. Like a raging fire, the ducks continue to brave these waves. “As fierce as the fire”, I choose to start with fire. I imagine the ducks as soldiers fighting against the waves as fierce as they can. To be like a raging fire, one that can engulf the woods and their enemies. Unrelenting destruction, although with some moderation. Takeda Shingen was a military extraordinaire, known for his improvement in cavalry that sent the men running in fear. “Fierce as the fire,” indeed.

As I continued along the pathway, relics of a bygone era of buildings revealed themselves. Some were overrun by the surrounding plantation, while others seemed well kept but remained shut. As I walked past them, I tried to imagine a time where Chiyoda-ko Lake would be booming with lively sightseers, fishermen gathering, and bustling shops for the summer season. It would have been a merry time to see, perhaps the ducks would be there too. Suddenly, I came upon the entrance to a path known as Takeda no Mori forest. It can be described as a long string of forest that Takeda Shingen himself once walked through. Mostly as a place of defense in order to prepare for an enemy attack. The thought of this didn’t make me feel at ease as I meandered through these woods. “To be as gentle as the forest,” mostly for ambushes. I thought you can’t have the enemy know your location. These forests and the soldiers that traveled through must have been gentle with their feet so that they could catch their enemy off guard.


As I rushed past the residential hill houses, I came upon the sight of a dam, the reason this lake exists. Chiyoda Lake is a man-made lake built for agricultural purposes of irrigation. It is why there are no myths surrounding the lake itself. An artificial lake in the middle of surrounding nature, and yet it is integrated seamlessly like it has always been there. It looked quite smaller than I had imagined. Most of my experiences with dams came mostly from Chao Phraya Dam in central Thailand, a long dam that also acts as a large sprawling bridge. The dam in Chiyoda-ko Lake seems quite modest in comparison but it’s kind of fitting. A modest dam for a modest lake, and it doesn’t need to be anything more. As I walked on top of the dam itself, I came upon a large stone.


Found at the end of the small dam-bridge, the writing carved in stone was incomprehensible to me due to my Japanese illiteracy. I could guess that the stone details the commemoration of the dam, celebrating their creator and the workers who worked their hardest for the irrigation project. It’s quite impressive that it was all carved from some kind of marble rock whereas most plaques would have simply been a billboard of sorts. Chiyoda-ko Lake was created 84 years ago and with this rock, it was almost as if the time stood still. A large gust of wind shook me up once again, and the last quote finished the saying from last to first.

“As swift as the wind,” for one to be as fast as the wind itself when moving to strike the enemy. The four elements that make up the phrase, Fuurinkazan (風林火山), are complete. Although I have been saying it backwards. Each of them compliment each other as Takeda Shingen’s signature war banner. The quote is mostly derived from the Art of War, but Takeda Shingen was the warlord who made the best use of it by utilizing this phrase as part of his military strategy. The Fuu(風) stands for the wind, Rin (林) stands for forest, Ka (火)stands for fire, and Zan (山)stands for mountain. These four elements, when working in tandem, make for an invincible army. Takeda Shingen encompasses this lake and the forest surrounding it. I looked back at the water. It had remained still as the wind was beginning to subside. I imagined what times were like back during the Sengoku era, and calmly made my way down the mountain.

Chiyodako Lake (Japanese) :


Published on

  • June 15, 2022