Psst! Wanna buy a swamp?

Tokyo Electric Power Company is looking to sell off some assets to help pay for the array of expensive problems it has faced since its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant went haywire after being hit by the March 11 tsunami. Those assets include a beautiful tract of alpine marshland in Oze National Park.

I visited that park last year. In the photo above, I am standing next to a sign at one of the entrances. The kanji characters for “Tokyo Electric Power” are carved into the wood next to my hip.

According to an article in The Daily Yomiuri (which you can read here), TEPCO owns about 16,000 hectares, or about 40 percent of the park. For the nonmetrically inclined, that’s 40,000 acres or 62 square miles.

If you wonder why a power company would own land in a national park in the first place, read the article.

If you wonder what an alpine marsh looks like, scroll down for more photos.

The park’s infrastructure, to the extent that I saw it, was admirably minimal. Its main feature was a two-lane wooden boardwalk that was just big enough for people to walk single-file in each direction. This made wide areas accessible to visitors who are willing and able to hike a good distance while also minimizing the impact of those visitors on what seemed to be a delicate environment.

But the very factors that make Oze an attractive place to visit also make it an unattractive place to buy. As a practical matter, to “develop” this kind of land would be to destroy it. As a legal matter, its status as part of a national park means that many types of development would be prohibited – and rightly so.

Still, if you happen to have a few billion yen to spare, it really is a beautiful piece of property…

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One Response to “Psst! Wanna buy a swamp?”

  1. Jeffrey Says:

    Bizarre. The national government ought to buy it or hope that no one else does. One of those “Only in Japan . . .” situation, though there are probably other countries whose national parks and such aren’t entirely protected public property.

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