Nagare no Shimajima, Restless Times – click any image for full size
In October 2013, I visited Nagare, the home of the Blue Lotus Clan, offering both a place to visit and the opportunity for those who enjoy the art of traditional Japanese katana, nagi and short blades traditional fighting to join the clan’s C:SI (Combat Samurai Islands system) dojo. At that time, Nagare occupied a quarter region parcel on Southern Cross. A lot has changed since then, and thanks to a nudge by Loverdag, I realised it was high time I revisited.
Today, Nagare – now called Nagare no Shimajima (Nagare Islands, or Flow Islands) – occupies a homestead region of its own: Restless Times. One of the original designers of Nagare, Lila Aquacade is still responsible for much of the design the region, sharing the work with Ratatosken Karu, and Roll (Pradalia) and Be Ino (Inorelin Ragowski), while the region is home to both the Blue Lotus clan and the Eternal Blades clan.
Given Lila’s involvement, there are many echoes of the original Nagare to be found here – the rugged landscape mixed with water channels, the large house boat occupying one of the latter and so on – but the increased space of an entire region means, obviously, that there is far more to explore.
As Nagare no Shimajima is a combination of public spaces and residential areas, the creators have defined a clever way of differentiating the two: public spaces are all connected via bridges; the more private residential island can only be reach via the little boats at the wooden quays. These can be rowed, sampan-style, by clicking on the boat to obtain a pole before boarding. Obviously, if you do take one, please respect the privacy of people’s domiciles, and do return any boat you use to its originating quay when done.
The landing point is located alongside the walled sparring area, occupying a broad sweep of rocky ledge between a wall of cliffs forming the west side of the region and a sharp drop down to the channels and bays which break up the eastward lay of the land. A path, marked by an aged torii gate, winds down to the lower levels of the region, where the bridges span the water. However, before leaving the landing point pagoda, I strongly recommend you collect the Nagare no Shimajima information card: it provides a wealth of information on where to go, the history of Nagare and the Blue Lotus and Eternal Blades clans, as well as information on Japanese religions and spirits in a highly conversational and engaging manner. In short, it is an excellent read.
Through this card, one can also about some of the little touches which have been added. Take heed of the warning about attempting to leave one of the cliff-top shrines before you have completed offering up prayers! That said, it does appear to be in need of a slight revision: while it refers to the teleporter being within the watchtower overlooking the sparring area, the only system I could find is located alongside the landing point pagoda (with another at ground level sitting on a snowy slope), while the sky dojo appears to be undergoing (re)construction.
In 2013, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Nagare-as-was, my natural bias towards oriental regions notwithstanding. Visiting Nagare no Shimajima brought back several of those memories and was equally enjoyable. Right now the region is caught in the depths of winter. I believe its appearance changes with the seasons, going on some photos I’ve seen. I’ll certainly be returning to find out!
- Nagare no Shimajima (Restless Times, rated: Moderate)