I recently visited Hayazaki Naiko Biotope 早崎内湖ビオトープ in Nagahama and talked with a local NPO taking care of it. Hayazaki (Hayasaki) Naiko was a small lake or lagoon north of Oku-Biwa Sports no Mori. In 1970, it was reclaimed (filled in) and turned into rice paddies. About half of Biwako’s naiko (attached lakes) were reclaimed right after the war to increase rice production.
However, we now have enough rice, and the rice paddies at Hayasaki Naiko are very hard to farm due to the water level being lower than Biwako. The farmers have problems finding a successor and the old water drainage pump is too expensive to replace. Shiga Prefecture then proposed to restore the paddy land into a naiko again. As an experiment, Shiga Prefecture flooded about one-fourth of the land to create a wetland or small lake. This was in 2001. Today, the flooded area is full of nature, with fish, reeds, and birds. It’s a very successful ecological experiment.
So they want to buy all the land and flood all of it to restore Hayasaki naiko. But Shiga does not have much money and the land prices are high. So it is still an ongoing ecological experiment. A local NPO conducts tours for kids and adults. Winter would be a good time to visit, when the swans, etc., are there. But spring-summer is good too since it’s warm enough to go into the water.
This nature restoration project 自然再生 is actually quite famous among environmental researchers and groups in Japan and overseas. It’s also about environmental sociology 環境社会学, about how people co-exist and live in the natural environment. Biwako is unique to have so many naiko attached lakes. It’s too bad that many of them were buried. They were actually essential for Biwako’s ecology. The naiko’s reeds, etc., kept the water clean and allowed fish and birds to breed. Google Map