This is Shiwa

Imagine a valley between two mountain ranges that don’t rise above the alpine line. They don’t even aspire towards it. Instead they are covered from head to toe with forests of many kinds of trees.

Now imagine generations pass like seconds and the valley, equally lush with vegetation, is remade by the industry of farmers. The trees disappear except for those around shrines and those used by farm houses to hold back the wind and snow. The earth is flattened and partitioned into square rice fields. The valley is now wide open.

Beneath a big sky, the rice fields change. In winter they’re rolling plains of snow. In spring they are pools that reflect the sky and mountains. In summer they are all the same shade of green. In autumn they turn gold, and then suddenly the soil reappears.

Imagine a river flows through the valley. Farm roads lead towards it, and a highway runs alongside it. On some banks trees remain, and in spaces tight compared to the openness of the fields, buildings spring up and a commercial district develops.

This is Shiwa.