Raging River of Fear!

Oh, okay! Pardon me for being slightly hyperbolic. The title of this post was inspired by an old song by Captain Beyond. Nevertheless, a raging river it was.

I’m talking about Arakawa River (kawa actually means river so there’s not much point in stating the term “river” twice but it does sound better than “Ara River”).

After Typhoon Hagibis, or #19 as it was simply known in Japan, rivers across the country were swollen to the max and some burst their embankments or stormed out of their beds to wreck muddy, silty, soggy, soaking havoc on towns and rural villages. A friend of mine in Kawagoe, Saitama – one of the disaster zones – saw the water reach his parking space in front of his house before the rain most fortunately stopped and the waters receded. People on lower land across the street had indoor pools of brown water.

My neighborhood in Kumagaya City was not adversely affected. Water drained away properly and the tall trees by the shrine near my house remained upright with all major limbs intact. The following morning, the wind continued to blow but the sky was clear and fresh. I drove out to Aketo in the neighboring city of Fukaya, to a place where I have sometimes photographed Arakawa from a shelf of hard clay that spreads out along the river shore. Above this is a concrete slope with a walking path at the top and a concrete path lined with a railing following the river just a few meters above the waters’ surface.

The scene was vastly altered by the typhoon. Instead of the calm waters of the river gliding by, I saw a torrent of wild chocolate milk water throwing fits of foaming rage. The concrete path was under water in places and the railing was damaged in several places by trees and large branches that the river had cast violently into the railing. The river was bank to bank and swiftly thundering down its course. Sticks, branches, and lots of plastic refuse was piling up a few meters higher up the slope from the river, telling me that earlier the river had been up higher than where I was standing. All in all, an impressive sight that had me clicking away with my camera.

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2 responses to “Raging River of Fear!

  1. Many thanks for this on-the-spot report. The typhoon got press coverage all over the world, of course, but most of the images showed the damage after the event. Your Arakawa photos capture the continuing force of all that rain – calls to mind the scientist who said that, by loading up the atmosphere with CO2, we’re treating the climate as if it we were prodding a wild and unpredictable beast with sticks…

    • That’s a very clever comment by that scientist.
      I was just discussing with my coworker on Friday how Japan’s climate has changed and the summers are closer to tropical now than they were in the recent past. I personally feel that the flooding and mudslide disasters are occurring somewhere in the country every year now. I don’t recall that severity in the weather during my early years here. But it could also be that I either didn’t pay close attention to the news way back then or all the stories have just blurred together.

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