The vast majority of rivers and streams in Japan have had their banks concreted as a flood control measure, rendering many of them little more than glorified drains in large urban areas.
The beautiful Kamo River, which flows through Kyoto and inspired Japanese haiku poets and painters in times gone past, still has an illegal yakuza-run incinerator in its upper reaches despite a decades-long citizens' protest to shut it down.
Despite this, and the amount of household garbage that is routinely thrown into them, Japanese rivers and streams provide viable eco-systems for a remarkable number of fish, birds, frogs, turtles and insects to survive and indeed thrive in adversity in some areas.
The Shinano River in Nagano and Niigata Prefectures is Japan's longest river at 367km. The Go River in Shimane is one of the few that has not been overly-concreted along its banks.
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