Updated: Jul 9, 2022
Harie is a Japanese hamlet in the Takashima District of Shiga Prefecture. This tranquil village is a unique community where the running water does not need to be filtered because it comes from many local springs that feed into Lake Biwa via canals. This unique, sustainable way of living has been the practice for generations.
Most villagers have a kabata, a small space separate from their house where freshwater flows. Villagers wash their locally grown and freshly harvested fruit, vegetables and dishes here. They also wash their dishes in the overflowing spring water, which feeds some extraordinary kitchen helpers: huge koi carp.
All kitchen scraps thrown into the koi's water are safe to eat and comparable to their natural diet. It's purely plant-based, with no meat or dairy items. The family's koi and carp live peacefully in the waters and feast on the leftovers so the crumbs from yesterday's supper don't flow downstream and pollute other villagers living further down the town.
Because of its one-of-a-kind water supply system, Harie is known as the 'Village of Springs.' The sound of spring water flowing through the canals that run through the charming village is soothing. The inhabitants of Harie use the crystal-clear kabata springs, which are used in both the household well and the kitchen sink. Residents use the springs for drinking and washing food. The Kabata is a unique system that the villagers highly guard.
I have watched several documentaries on this beautiful way of life, and I can't help but be slightly envious of this simple living way of life. My sister-in-law, Mayu, a Japanese national, has taught me many beautiful things about this culture, and one of them is sustainability and zero waste.
How Kabata Works
Lake Biwa is the largest freshwater lake in Japan and is notable for its high fish population, migratory water birds, and wetland areas. And the land beneath Harie comprises numerous layers of clay and sedimentary rock that slope down to the lake. The river's water is passively purified by this multi-layered geological composition, producing a continuous underground conduit that feeds into Lake Biwa.
The hardworking people of Harie have tapped into this subsurface network by drilling boreholes through the clay to bring freshwater springs into their homes. These freshwater springs have become an essential element of the hamlet, and as a result, they have influenced the village's urban planning and architecture.
I genuinely hope this village never changes and catches up with technology; what a beautiful way to live. This natural, sustainable system indicates that the dream of living a tranquil life on our beautiful planet is possible.
I have never been to this village, so I encourage you to do some research and discover this amazing way of life for yourself.