Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Where the wild things are: Miho Citizen Forest 三保市民の森

Miho Citizen Forest 三保市民の森 is located to the west of Niiharu Citizen Forest 新治市民の森The map is here (in Japanese). Roughly speaking the two forests are separated by 6 campuses of educational institutions and JSAT, a satellite operator. So, the area itself is more of one continuous forest rather than 2 forests divided by housing complex or metropolitan businesses.

If you come to Miho Forest by public transportation, take Kanachu-Buses from Tsurugamine Station 鶴ヶ峰 of Sotetsu Line, or from Nakayama Station 中山 of JR Yokohama Line. There are 2 bus routes to choose. One is Route Naka-53, between Nakayama Station and Tsurugamine Station via Imajuku 今宿. (Mind you, there is another bus service between Nakayama and Turugamine operated by Sotetsu-bus withouht going to Imajuku. This route does not come to Miho Forest Park.) Another is Route Yoko-52, between Nakayama Station and Yokohama Station via Kawaijuku 川井宿 and Tsurugamine. (Come to think of it, if you come from Yokohama Station anyway, this Yoko-52 would be the cheapest option as we don’t have to pay for the fare for the trains ...) When you take those buses to Miho Park from Nakayama Station, find Bus Stop Number 1 in the South Square of the station. In Tsurugamine, find Tsuragmine bus terminal from the North Exit of the station. If you come from Tsurugamine Station, here is the time table. From Nakayama Station, the timetable is this one.

Get off the bus at the bus stop for Miho Citizen Forest 三保市民の森 (Miho Shimin-no-Mori) with a bus-stop shelter. I love its simple and rustic design.

Miho Shimin-no-Mori Stop

Next to the bus stop is a small car park, open only for weekends and holidays, for you coming to the park by car.  To find an entrance of the Forest from here is a bit tricky. From the bus stop, go south a bit, just 10 m or so, then turn right for the first small road.

At the end of the way,

there are 2 tiny roads, One-michi 尾根道 (Ridge Way) and Tani Michi 谷道 (Valley Way), both leading you into the Miho Forest.

We can also come to the Forest from Tokaichiba 十日市場 JR station. Go to Bus Stop #1 in the South Square of Tokaichiba Station. The service runs between Aobadai-chuoh Station 青葉台中央 of Den’entoshi Line and Wakabadai-chuoh 若葉台中央, with Yokohama City Bus Service 23 or Tokyu Bus Route Blue 23Here are the timetables for the Buses to Wakabadai-chuoh from Tokaichiba Station (as of April 2015). The bus stop for the Forest is Kirigaoka Kohkoh (High School) 霧が丘高校. Find a traffic light named “Kirigaoka Kohkoh.” At the crossing, facing Wakabadai Junior High 若葉台中学 take the road on the left. Keep going to meet a T-crossing. Choose the way on the right which eventually becomes Ridge Way of Miho Citizen Forest.

You can see Wakabadai Junior High from O-14 like this.
The 40.5 ha Park was opened in 1972, spreading over a hillside as one of the biggest remaining forests in the City of Yokohama. The tallest trees of the Park are human planted Cryptomeria japonica, Chamaecyparis obtuse, Chamaecyparis pisifera, and natural Quercus myrsinifolia, Magnolias, and others. Under the canopy are rich colonies of various ferns and Sasa palmatas, etc. In Japan, at this moment, there are about 600 kinds of known ferns. We can find 100 of them here in Miho Forest. This is the Forest of ferns.

Mind you, the network of treks within the park is complicated. There is no circular route of the park, Ridge Way (with numbering O-1 to 15) on the east, and Valley Way (T-1 to T-9) in the west both of which connect to the standard paved roads for the surrounding residential areas.  Ridge Way has 15 exit points colored Pink, some of which give us a clear view of Tanzawa 丹沢 and Mt. Fuji in a fine day.

Er, well, Red, yeah
The points for the Valley Way are 9 colored in blue.

Both Ridge and Valley Ways are popular among local joggers, especially for training to trek-run. These 2 Ways are connected by “Promenades” crisscrossing in the Forest. The point numbering is in orange from P-1 to P25, sometimes with a map of the Forest and benches.

If we choose the trek to the right from the Miho Citizen Forest bus stop, we go into the Valley Way that runs (almost) along the graveled road for cars used by locals.

In the middle of the route there is a source of Umeda River 梅田川, a tributary of Onda River 恩田川 which in turn is a tributary of Tsurumi River 鶴見川. The spring now has a name, Kotori-no-Oasis 小鳥のオアシス (“Oasis for small birds”).

You will find a Way climbing upwards which brings us to the northern tip of the Park.

When you go the way to the left from the Miho Citizen Forest bus stop entrance, it brings you to Ridge Way and the treks within the Park.

Just next to the sign to Ridge Way, there is an ancient road sign indicating the Ridge Way of Miho Forest was once a main road for pilgrims to Aburi Shrine 阿夫利神社 in Oyama Mountain 大山 in Tanzawa. 

Soon on the right, there is Miho-daira 三保平, an open space equipped with picnic benches and toilet.

… and drinking water
This is the only toilet in the Forest. From here, you can either proceed to the Ridge Way, or turn right to deep inside. If you choose the direction to Ridge Way and check Yellow Point 5, you may find a small farm land cultivating vegetables. The system of Citizen Forest of Yokohama is a kind of public-private enterprise between the municipality and the landlord. The majority of such small farms within the Citizen Forests are by the landlord to preserve their way of farming. Further to the direction of Wakabadai Jr. High, on the left, there is a structure looked like a covered canal. It is a part of 37 km aqueduct from Lake Sagami 相模湖 to Nishiya Water Purification Plant 西谷浄水場 which distributes drinking water to the downtown of the City.

Inside the forest, there are several treks connecting the Ridge and Valley Ways. They are not straight, but winding, crisscrossing and often with steep ups and downs. + Sometimes, especially after rain, several points can suffer land-slides that make the routes impassable. The risk with nests of vespinae and gloydius blomhoffii applies here. Having said that, it is just a small park, surrounded by residential areas of Yokohama. The total length of the trekking network is only 9 k. If you get lost inside, you can either climb up to the Ridge Way leading to Wakabadai Housing Complex 若葉台団地, or down to the Valley Way which brings you to Miho Forest Park bus stop we found before. Grab your map and compass, and examine where you are when you find a check point along the way. No need to panic. 

Some of you may get excited with my description of the forest for its “wilderness.” You are not alone. It seems to me the Forest had problems with Survival Gamers so that you will find many notices saying “Survival Game is prohibited in the Forest.”

I do agree with the Forest administrator for this ban. This is a part of the final front to preserve original nature in the metropolitan Tokyo area. Stomping the ground with survival game surely damages the fauna and flora of the Forest. Miho Forest surely has a charm of many kinds of ferns colonizing the space here and there.

If you manage Japanese, you’ll notice each check point has species name of birds, which are frequent flyers around the point.

Choosing the right time of the day, we can enjoy bird watching there.

Please take your trashes with you when you say good-bye to the forest. There is no trash-bin, of course.

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 …)

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