Japan from the inside out

Bubbling waters run shallow

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, October 22, 2008

BIG RIVER WAS THE NAME of an early hit by American country and western singer Johnny Cash. The Man In Black also had a puckish sense of humor, so it’s no stretch of the imagination to think he could also have found the material for a hit song in Japan’s Butsubutsu River.

The Butsubutsu River

The Butsubutsu River

That’s the name of a body of water in Nachikatsu’ura-cho, Wakayama, which the prefecture designated a Class 2 River on the 21st. The Butusbutsu River is only 13.5 meters (14.7 yards) long, so it is now officially the shortest river in Japan. That distinction was previously held by the 30-meter long Honbetsu River in Shimamaki-mura, Hokkaido.

Short as it is, the Butsubutsu River is a tributary flowing into the Konoshiro River. It has an onomatopoeic name that is derived from the water bubbling to the surface from streams below ground. But it’s just as likely that the municipal officials filling out the application thought Butsubutsu was as good a name as any and stuck it on the form.

The local Wakayamanaians use it for washing fish or vegetables, and even for drinking water, according to reports. At least that’s what it’s used for by the folks who know how to find it. The municipal government asked Wakayama for the upgrade in July because the prefecture has jurisdiction over Class 2 rivers. (That’s part of a classification system used by the Japanese government to facilitate river management.) The prefecture agreed because they thought the Class 2 designation would help protect water quality and the surrounding scenery.

They also freely admitted they hoped it might bring some PR to the area. Well, here they are!

How much did he spend a year on hair tonic?

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