Sunday, April 26, 2015

Forest needs people: Niiharu CITIZEN Forest

Niiharu Forest is one of the biggests among the Yokohama Citizen Forest scheme. It has 5 suggested routes to hike in the forest as this map shows. If we plan to enjoy typical Satoyama scenary, Route B (called Asahi-Yato Route旭谷戸, with the orange numbering in the map) would be the best. There are 4 more Routes. Route A is with the pale blue numbering for Ikebuchi Route池ぶち, Route C with the pink numbering for Mukaiyama Route向山, Route D with the dark blue numbering for Ridgeway -Onemichi- Route尾根道, and Route E is with the green numbering for Kamadachi-Yato Route鎌立谷戸. As you can see in the map, each numbering goes like “A-1.”

It is a general numbering system in Yokohama Citizen Forest, although it varies slightly from the forest to the forest. (For smaller Forests, they do not have numbering.) For example, in Niiharu, we find a sign post at C-4 point like

Have you noticed the display “C-4,” though it is not in pink? All the points with numbering in the map of Citizen Forest actually have a sign post showing that number. So, if you think you’ve lost in the forest, you can just check the map, and confirm your location easily.

Now for Niiharu. The preservation of Satoyama Forest of Niiharu is the labor of love by landlords and citizen volunteers. Niiharu Forest has a volunteer organization, The Lovers of Niiharu Citizen Forest新治市民の森愛護会. They meet every first and third Saturdays, and every second and fourth Sundays to clean and tend 67.2ha of Niiharu Forest.

The volunteers wear a protective helmet during activities.
So, look!

They have Niiharu Charter:

“We, the people in Yokohama, love the Niiharu Forest of beautiful nature, and appreciate the blessings the Forest provides us.
Niiharu Citizen Forest would be one of the wonders in a big city. It has been maintained by ordinary life of people in Niiharu for generations.
Now, we open the Forest as the place for every citizen to protect, nurture, and carry the memory of traditional scenery of Yato.
We define our motto for Niiharu such that we revive and re-energize the Niiharu Forest through the cohabitation between the nature and human life, in order to pass this treasure to our children and beyond.

We declare Niiharu Charter such as
  1.      Passing the cultural climate of the nature of Niiharu, and its Satoyama that has been nurtured by Niiharu people , to our next generations,
  2.      Fostering the nature of Niiharu and the next generations of ours to develop more powerful co-habitation between the nature and the humans, through activities to take care of the Forest, and,
  3.      Co-owning all the images of ideal forest for any forest lovers, and cooperating each other in order to create the Forest for every citizen.

At the opening of Niiharu Citizen Forest, by all the Lovers of Niiharu Citizen Forest

March 2000"

A member of the club does not have to attend every meeting of the month, but contributes to the activity according to his/her schedule. In the morning (9:00- for April – November, 9:30- for December – April), they engage in the activities for taking care of the Forest. For those who can devote an entire day, in the afternoon there could be a continuing session for cleaning-up, or thematic fun meetings for, e.g., charcoal making, wood curving, grow-your-own-veggies, scientific nature observation, etc.

… and, I guess, it is a result of their activity.
Actually, if you are interested in it, on any activity day you can just go to Ikebuchi Hiroba 池ぶち広場(Map A-4) and try whatever they are doing as a “trial.” Please make a contact with Mr/Ms Ohkawa (as this is Japan, we do not put any gender differentiating salutation) at 045-934-9898. … I don’t know if English is OK here … so sorry.

Ikebuchi Hiroba, which means “Open space next to a pond,”
and so this is the pond next to Ikebuchi Hiroba.
Some of those products created by the volunteer of the Lovers are on sale to support the maintenance of Niiharu Forest. They have an atelier-cum-small shop in Miharashi Hiroba みはらし広場(Map A-8).

Miharashi Hiroba, which means “Open space with a view,”
and so this is the view. Could you recognize the high-rise apartments of Mushashi-kosugui over there?

On sale stands made of precious cherry and Zelkova trees
Cute Taketombos, a traditional Japanese toy. Do you know how to play with it?

Next to Miharashi Hiroba, there is a parking lot open for weekends and public holidays (9:00-17:00). If you come to Niiharu Park via Tomei Express Way weekends, exit from Yokohama/Machida Exit, and find Yokohama Suiryoh High School翆陵高校. This parking is next to their campus. (Oh, yes, this parking is not that far from Indian International School of Yokohama.)

Coming May 10, 2015, the Lovers have an event for kids at Ikebuchi Hiroba for 10:00-14:30. The program consists of

  1. Plant your own Shiitake Mushrooms to a log (cost of the log = 200 yen),
  2. Try traditional hand-processing for the first flash of green tea,
  3. Let’s make whatever you like with bamboo logs, and
  4. Play Honchi-sumo (a traditional kids play with spiders).

No reservation necessary. The cost of attending the event is 100 yen for elementary school kids, 300 yen for adults. (Babies, free.) Bring your own lunch and drinks, and a cup and utensil (; they serve miso-soup during lunch). Also, towels and gloves for outdoor activities would be handy. Pls do not forget the attire of Citizen Forest; this time, long sleeves and long pants would protect you from mosquitos and other nasties in the forest ;)

If you find a problem in the Park, please make a contact with
Office for the Park Greeneries in the North北部公園緑地事務所
Yokohama Municipal Government Creative Environment Policy Bureau横浜市環境創造局
Phone: 045-311-2016 (I guess in Japanese only)
FAX: 045-316-8420 (I hope there is somebody who can read English …)

Niiharu Administrative Office / Satoyama Exchange Center新治管理事務所・里山交流センター
Phone: 045-931-4947
Fax: 045-937-0898

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