Playing with Rocks at Lake Ikeda



My brain’s drained…I need a break.

When I was living in Tokyo, I usually took a moment to unwind at a nearby coffee shop whenever I felt this way. But there are no coffee shops within easy reach in this town. Since I moved back to Miyoshi City in April last year, I’ve been frequenting Lake Ikeda—a dam reservoir formed on the clear waters of the Yoshino River—just about as often as I used to go to coffee shops.

Watching the slow-moving passage of clouds and the seasonal changes of the mountains reflected in the mirror-like surface of the water, walking our dog in the midst of fluttering birds, and going on picnics with my daughter became regular parts of our lives.

It’s so refreshing just to savor the atmosphere of Lake Ikeda. For us, an additional pleasure is playing with rocks along the lakeshore. My daughter and I each find a rock that interests us and let our imaginations run wild as we examine each rock and its shape: Doesn’t this rock look like it came from another planet!? This one’s heart-shaped—I want to give it to my friend! What’s this color called? You can’t make this color with paints or colored pencils… We become completely immersed in rock collecting.

This is a picture of some of the rocks we found at Lake Ikeda that we have on display at home.


We also amuse ourselves with an activity called rock balancing. Stacking one rock on top of another requires us to focus all our attention on finding the precise point at which the rocks stabilize. When we succeed, we let out a cheer and high-five each other in excitement. You may think, “why get so excited about just rocks?” But we, parent and child, can have plenty of fun with just rocks. Best of all, when I spend moments like these with my daughter, my mind and my heart feel lighter. Before I know it, my unwelcome fatigue has dissipated, and I can breathe deeply again.


There’s something about the simple activity of touching and playing with the rocks at Lake Ikeda, which may have been a part of this landscape for tens of thousands of years, that fills me up. Living in a time when our lives are inundated with so many things, I think that spending simple moments like these interacting with rocks, products of nature created by natural processes over tens of thousands of years, will become treasured memories for my daughter that will remain a deep part of her.


For me, having these experiences in my daily life, which I couldn’t have had at a coffee shop in the city, feels fresh, as though I’m reclaiming the time that I’d always had in abundance.


(Interview&article: Juri Fujisaka)