Morphology of Puddles ver.1.2
水たまりの形態学 ver.1.2

1) Introduction to Queer Shape

Now, what are the three shadows in this picture? The title of the image is a spoiler. I later realised it might be better to change the orientation, i.e., the direction is still north. The answer is the outline of a pond in the author's hometown. The pond has been in the area for as long as I can remember, so I paid little attention to its shape. If I had to venture a guess, it had been shaped like that for a long time, or in some cases since prehistoric times - in other words, I thought it was a shape created by 'nature' (*1).

If you land by plane in Sanuki while the sun still shines, you will be surprised to see how many ponds there are. I had heard that there were many reservoirs because of my countryside, but only recently, when I started reading maps, I realised that these shapes were artefacts (in the narrow sense of the word, man-made). However, in several ways, they are not artefacts created quickly in the middle of nowhere - i.e. they are not colas or sneakers. One is that the original form of the water reservoir was a river, a puddle, or some kind of original cause for the water to be stored there. The other is that the system is established there. The system must have been established in some way, either as a natural puddle or as a reservoir used for some purpose, with water coming in and out actively. Even if a thing is completely contrived when it is made entirely man-made, the system of material and energy transfer is inseparable from its site. If the system is balanced, it will stay the same over time. If the system collapses, even on a large scale, it will soon dry up. (See, for example, the story of the Aral Sea in Russia, which is an exciting example). The three ponds mentioned above have remained virtually unchanged in shape for at least the last 30 years and over the previous 100 years or so on the map.

By the way, there is a trick to noticing how it came to be this way. Or rather, there is a way to do it.

1) Look closely at the outline lines and consider (geometrically)
2) Look at the height data (see which way the water flows)
3) Look at satellite photos (see the texture of the surroundings) 
*1; What is nature, btw?







Three types of identical artefact silhouettes, now what are these?/3つアーティファクトのシルエット、さてこれは何でしょうか?

2) Analyses Methods, and get started

2-1; See outlines, Straight, Wave, Zigzag

Let's try to classify the edge lines that shape this figure geometrically. Strictly speaking, there is also the question of scale, but I will shelve that for now (*2). I should mention that, at this stage, my subjective analogies and wishful thinking are still mixed in. (To establish a method, it might be better if there is an algorithm that can be used as objectively as possible, i.e. automatically classified by a machine, for example. This is just a theory, and 2-1 is only one of the methods, so more is needed). As a quick note, the three classifications and their interpretations are listed below.

[1]Straight lines → artificially created embankments
[2]Large wavy lines → direction of water flow
[3]Zigzags(with fractally) → Areas that later became waterlogged.

From the above geometry [1], areas that float unnaturally out of the terrain, where they float out of the surroundings and are followed by a straight line or the same curvature, are empirically often man-made (note_3). Suppose a weir of some kind is built. In that case, it is usually located in a low place, and the direction of flow, or gradient, of the original water source, is naturally analogous to the flow direction. Next, the smooth curve [2] is analogous to a line created by the flow of water or erosion caused by the flow of water. The reason is that curves created by water or river terraces are gentle, and rivers usually have a proper bank and a left bank, so they are often made up of two pairs. Finally, the zigzag lines in [3] are frequently in the shape of mountains, but unlike the above examples, they are not carved out but are analogous to the formation of a subsequent rise in the water table. (The generality of this rule may be somewhat less general since the lateral part of the river may also zigzag in the case of rocks, e.g. in canyons).

Now, and from this information, a higher-level concept emerges(note_4).

ⅰ) Whether the pond initially existed as a landform
ⅱ) whether it is a reservoir or a structure built based on a river
ⅲ) whether it is a structure that is artificially filled with water

As noted in the diagram, a closer look at the geometry of the contours, with the characteristics of water in mind, gives a dim picture of their origins to some extent and how much of the original topography the structure makes use of, or whether it makes use of it at all. This alone is interesting but still needs to include more ambiguities. In the next chapter, we will consider additional information to improve the accuracy of the analogy.

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////Note_2); In other words, at what scale do they look zigzaggy? For now, we will look at the shadow pictures used.Note_3); We will discuss why artefacts are straight lines or only modern elsewhere. I had some thoughts on this during the settlement survey.Note_4): Depending on the examples of puddles taken up, it may be challenging to strictly separate I and ii because it is a matter of degree. Also, as with any item, the current phenotype is an accumulation of changes over time. It may be different from at the time of creation, so it can be difficult to distinguish between the two.




 ①直線             →人工的に作られた?
 ②おおきな波線         →水の流れる(た)方向




※2-2; 方法として確立するには、なるべく客観的に、例えば機械で自動的に分類できるようなアルゴリズムがあればよいのかもしれない。今は試論である上に、2-1は方法のうちの一つであるので、十分ではないかもしれない。


2-2: View Height Information.

There are several ways to view height information, but recently (in the 2020s), GSI's elevation maps have been available online. If this height information is viewed in a heat map, for example, further information can be added to surfaces that have until now been in one colour on the map. Specifically, it is possible to match the analogous answers from the geometry of the contours in the previous chapters.

Firstly, the height of a potential man-made feature obscured by the outline becomes even more apparent. It is possible to judge whether a site is man-made by looking at areas floating above the general trend of the surrounding original terrain or areas created only in the necessary areas with thin lines. (*2-5)

Secondly, comparing an object's relative heights to its surroundings can provide an intuitive understanding of its context. This includes where the original terrain was used, where it was not used, where it was somehow overcome, where there are still risks, etc.

Third, in this example of a height map, the elevation of the river bottom (pond bottom) can be seen for some reason, probably due to the measurement method. This again provides supplementary information on the origins of the original river course, basin, etc. Posterior changes, such as sedimentation, must, of course, be considered.

If I try my best to verbalise the impression I get when I look at a height map, it is the pleasure of solving a puzzle built up in the direction of time and the feeling of the fruits of human wisdom and effort. The difficulty of doing things on a human scale, such as that no matter how big a structure you build, if you look at it on a topographical level, has stayed the same. For example, flood maps during a disaster show that the areas where water accumulates have mostly stayed the same. The reverse is also true, and it is surprising that if small people use their time, energy and social skills to the full, they may be able to remake the topography. The replacement of the Tone River, for example, is overwhelming.

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////(*2-5) The geometry of contours alone may need to be corrected. Straight lines and singular shapes are usually man-made, but some triangles and hexagons may also appear in nature-made forms due to entropy and plane filling. However, most of the examples I know are on a smaller scale, such as columnar joints and patterns of dried cracks in mud.








2-3: Satellite Images, Utilise Image Processing

Aerial and satellite photographs are eloquent, but they are also something of a fraud (*2-6). This time, I will focus on lines, surfaces, and colours. Suppose we observe the object as it is. In that case, it will have too much meaning, so to eliminate these preconceptions and emphasise the features, we tried two image processing methods: one to extract blurred colours and the other to extract the surface contours.

The first thing you see may be rivers, bridges and road lines. These are, of course, also essential indicators. Water only flows from high to low; in principle, it always intersects contour lines perpendicularly. Also, roads are better when there is no difference in height, so they often follow contour lines in steep areas, especially highways and roads for high speeds, such as railways. As a result, man-made lines and water lines, such as rivers, will intersect perpendicularly.

What I am focusing on is the colour of the soil. Living in a city like London or Tokyo, it is rare to see the colour of the soil directly, and I did not think that the colour of the ground was still showing in the 21st century. Still, when I look at the globe on Google Earth, I see that cities are in the minority. Most of the earth's surface is soil or vegetation, but you can see that the soil condition is quite varied. And, for example, in this countryside, even in parts of the countryside that used to be rivers and are gradually being urbanised, you can read the colour of the soil because it is different from the rest of the countryside.

The next thing to look at is land division. The concept of land division itself is a product of the human brain, but it is also based on the characteristics of nature. Remnants of the past remain, of course, in building sites. Still, more often, they are the result of human logic, and it has become clear that the way rice paddies and fields are divided directly expresses the original characteristics of the land and human involvement. The logic in this region is agricultural water, which requires a system that separates the water equally, allowing it to flow smoothly into the fields and, in some cases, out to the land below. For this system to work without power, the land is divided so that the slope of the watercourse is not unreasonable. In this example, land divisions with long sides in the direction of water flow, or even short sides if they are square, often correspond to the direction of water flow on one of the sides (see diagram).

Note_2-6: Satellites and drones are commonplace nowadays, but when the author went abroad for research in the 2000s, he could fly a kite and take aerial photographs, which allowed him to see buildings from above, which was a great discovery in its own right. Still, now it seems like a long time ago.







3) Conclude for Paddles

3-1; Checking Answers

Three drawings were randomly selected from the map but selected each with a different type and shape. Several sources have confirmed, after the fact, that all three of the ponds mentioned in this article are artefacts, i.e. reservoirs that humans have developed. (GSI, 2024) (Kagawa Prefecture, 2024) All three were confirmed to have been in this form in the Meiji era, so they have retained their shape for a relatively long time.

Now, I'd like to know the depth of the story told so far when I first saw the silhouettes.


3-1; 答え合わせのたぐい



3-2; Sentiments

The first is that, although man-made in origin, they have become an entity in the system: related to what was mentioned in chapter 3 of chapter 2, they have not changed much in external form since the period before the Meiji era, but these pictures seem to have stopped, but in fact, they have not. I remember them well because they were in my neighborhood, but when drought occurs, such as in summer, the water dries up quite spectacularly and the external shape of the water changes. However, when the seasons change and the year changes, it returns to normal to some extent, and the system can continue its boundaries for a long time, i.e. the system continues to exist in some form. The obvious one would be the coming and going of water, and there must be many others, such as sediment deposition and ecosystems. In other words, while we say that something is man-made, it is not, and cannot be, independent of its surrounding environment. No matter how it is made, the moment it exists, it is dynamically incorporated into the system. In other words, the so-called 'artificial or natural' classification is meaningless. Everything is a natural thing, not a thing but a system. This may sound obvious when I write it down, but I have realised it again with a real sense of reality.



Referring from "Make your own colour-coded elevation map"/『自分で作る色別標高図』より引用
Numerical map 25000 (land conditions)/数値地図25000(土地条件)
Flood control terrain classification map/ 治水地形分類図

4)Plus Alpha

4-1: Humans are not the only creatures that alter the world

Using the reservoir example discussed so far, humans retain the potential to remake the surface world and have the power to alter that world. In addition, some people operate the opening and closing of the weir, an organisation that manages the reservoir, including the weir, and a department in the administration that is in charge. I feel proud of this, as I, too, have a strong desire to praise human beings.

Now, readers may think that humans are higher organisms and that no other higher organisms can act on the surrounding environment in which they exist. Surprisingly, many animals and insects create external structures such as corals, insects and birds (Turner, 2000). As I have also written about in my paper, the next level is an example of socialising. Examples are weaverbirds, slime moulds and termites (Hotta, 2013). Finally, fewer examples of structures can survive beyond their lifespan, but these do exist. Examples include earthworms, beavers and humans, and termites could also be included.

A close examination of biology counts termites and slime moulds as ‘social’ organisms, but it is also essential to ask what ‘social’ means. It could be working in cooperation with neighbouring individuals or being able to perform a role despite no difference in size. And what about beavers? I was going to mention intention, organisation and society. Still, a quick check shows that beavers are said to be parents who teach their young how to build nests, and there have been cases of beavers using nests constructed by other individuals without taking up residence. Although there are significant differences in degree, nests are built with intention. Although there are definitions, organisations and societies can be recovered in families. However, these examples seem a little different from human acts of construction, e.g. the structure of professional groups, including leaders; economic activities such as money, companies and contracts; and the discrepancy between builders and users (*7).

Once they are in place, these should be placed on the shelves. As a related article, I have discussed the evolution of artefacts and will provide a link to it.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////(*7) For example, it is now known that when termites build structures, they do not have an organiser but are driven by individual senses such as hot and cold (Turner, 2000). In addition, whether there is or is not a blueprint (the whole picture) when organisms build structures is still under debate. (Hansel, 1984)


4-1: 世界を改変する生物は人間だけではない


さて、読者の皆さんは人間が高等生物で、自分が存在する周辺環境に対して働きかけできるような高等生物は、他にはいないと考えているかもしれない。しかし驚くべきことに、動物や昆虫でも体外構造をつくる生物は結構多く存在している、例えば、サンゴや昆虫、鳥などである。次に高次の営みとしては、その構造物を社会性をもってこしらえる例である。この例はウィーバーバード、粘菌、シロアリなどとなる。最後にまた少し高いレベルの例となる。例としては数がさらに減少するが、その構造物を個体寿命を超えて存続していくことができるケースがミミズ、ビーバーなどがあげられる、定義次第ではシロアリも入るかもしれない。このあたりのことは、以前に自分の論文でも書いた(Turner, 2000),(Hansel,1984)(Hotta, 2013)。



//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////(※7)例えばシロアリが構造物を作る際には、全体でオーガナイズしている者がいるのではなく、個体の暑い寒いなどの感覚で動いているらしいことが分かってきている(Turner, 2000)。また、生物が構造体を作る場合にブループリント(全体像)があるのかないのか、については未だに議論の途上である。(Hansel,1984)

4-2: On Gene and Memes

The blueprints of living organisms, such as the human body's genes, have primarily been revealed by Darwin and today's molecular biology. There is still much we still need to learn about organisms' structures. At least, there is no blueprint or DNA for bird nests. However, close species can build similar nests, adding to the mystery. Examples of insects and birds and disproving experiments show that many build nests and other structures with their innate wisdom without learning. In other words, there have been cases of bees and other children making the same tikki-shaped nests as their parents without being taught how to do so by their parents. Why do they resemble each other? A few scholars have tackled this question, including Dawkins, Hansel and Turner.

Even more surprisingly, I hear that the structure's memes (*8) can affect the species' genome. This is the case, for example, when the nest is well-designed, which influences survival rates. In the case of humans, if a species (genome) with very dexterous hands, living on the edge of a floodplain with access to a considerable amount of clay, can use the clay to build a wonderfully solid dwelling, and if that species is the only one to prosper, then the genes of that dexterous species will be present in the whole human species. The genes of the other species will be present in the genome of the different species. The genes of the more elegant species may then be transmitted genomically to other species in distant villages.

As a postgraduate student, I first encountered these issues in this area when I surveyed residential settlements worldwide. There were many examples of (seemingly) different types of buildings - houses and villages, sometimes with similar design essences, sometimes geographically close but with little similarity. My Professors gently rejected the environmental determinism glimpsed in Watsuji Tetsuro's Climate. In other words, if the climate and materials available are the same, the people's characteristics and culture will be similar, and if the buildings are indigenous, they will follow suit.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////(*8)Nowadays, the term 'meme' has become more prosaic and generalised in the context of the internet and other social networking services and secondary works. Although the social context has changed somewhat since it was defined, the broad framework of the term is an attempt to explain the transmission of information about culture and external structures using the analogy of the evolution of organisms (of genes using organisms) using genes. Here, it means that the design (diagram) of an external structure is imitated and partially modified, leading to secondary creation and propagation. The level of intelligence differs between humans and birds/insects, so naturally there will be differences in what the meme refers to.






Google Mapを使用


1)Used Map and Data

❶Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, (2024), The map of Chiriinon JP, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism,
❷Google, 2024, Google Map,

2) References

➍Geographical Survey Institute, Department of Applied Geography, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, (2022), Guide to the use of flood control topographic classification maps❺Kagawa Prefecture (2024) National Comprehensive Agricultural Land Disaster Prevention Project, Kagawa District Project Journal,❻Dawkins,R. (1982).The Extended Phenotype. Oxford University Press, U.K.❼Turner.J.S(2000), THE EXTENDED ORGANISM, Harvard University Press, USA❽Hansel, M (1984), Animal architecture and building behaviour, Longman, London, UK



❷Google,(2024), Google Map,

国土交通省国土地理院応用地理部,(2022), 治水地形分類図利用の手引
❺香川県(2024),国営総合農地防災事業 香川地区事業誌,
❻Dawkins,R. (1982).The Extended Phenotype. Oxford University Press, U.K.(日本語版;ドーキンス,R.(1987日本語版)延長された表現型, 紀伊国屋,東京,日本)❼ターナー.J.S, (2000), エクステンデッド・オーガニズム, ハーバード大出版, ケンブリッジ, USA❽ハンセル.M, (1984), Animal architecture and building behaviour, Longman, London, UK