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Friday, March 17, 2006

Japanese Stream Toad


Kanda RiverI live in a ward of Tokyo called Nakano, through which runs the Kanda River. At Asakusa it joins the Sumida River out into the Pacific. I say a river, but don’t start daydreaming of grassy banks and willows.

It is, to put it crudely, a glorified ditch: a totally tamed and concreted-in stream, lined with foot/cyclepaths graced by regularly spaced cherry trees. However, whenever it rains, the 20cm (8 inch)-deep bubbling brook turns nasty. At its fiercest I have seen it reach a full 5 or 6 meters (16-19 feet) of raging flood, leaping with vandalistic desperation at its banks. Scary. Plop, and you’re sucked into the tumult - gone – forever.

Today started off with blue blue skies, easing me into such assurance that I left the futon airing on the balcony this morning and, perhaps for only the second time ever, decided to leave it out there all day. By 6pm it was raining. When I got home at about 8 my poor futon was pastry. As I type it’s laid over the kitchen table under the hot blast of the air conditioner, the fan (not commissioned since last summer) put to work blowing from beneath.

Japanese stream toad: Bufo torrenticora.Anyway, coming home, and who should be waiting under my letterbox but a toad. Here he is, warty and ugly as any fairy tale could paint him.

Five minutes walk from Tokyo’s biggest skyscraper district: a toad! I can only attribute it to the river. But 6m-high banks? How does it work? I'm stumped. Anyway, I checked on the web and, judging from the pictures, determined that he was a:

JAPANESE NAME: Nagare-Hiki-Gaeru
COMMON NAME: Japanese Stream Toad
SIENTIFIC [sic] NAME: Bufo torrenticora

You can check out the pictures I compared him against here:


Japanese stream toad: Bufo torrenticora.There was something about him, though, something brave and patient. He waited while I went upstairs to get my camera. He didn’t bat a craggy eyelid as I flashed three or four times to take his portrait. (My camera, that is.)

I’ve just been down to see if he’s still there (and just took a shot of the river - above). He was gone of course, but the river had a little rage left in it, and no doubt a frog who has something to tell of all-too-easily amused humans.

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