Friday, June 5, 2015

This is our playing ground: Komaoka-Nakagoh Citizen Forest 駒岡中郷市民の森

One of the projects City of Yokohama started in 2014 is to expand pubic greenery inthe downtown. Tsurumi Ward 鶴見区 is designated as “downtown” area. When we see from the windows of Keikyu Line 京急線 or JR East Keihin-Tohoku Line 京浜東北線 between Kawasaki and Yokohama stations, it is easy to think Tsurumi as a vast expansion of houses and buildings with occasional tiny dots of minuscule trees. Forest? Forest here? It is understandable, policy-wise, that Tsurumi Ward is a part of focal area for environmental treatment.

Komaoka-NakagohCitizen Forest 駒岡中郷市民の森 is in Tsurumi Ward … we would convince ourselves that this tiny hill (1 ha in total) is entitled to be a member of Citizen Forest System of Yokohama given the condition of Tsurumi Ward.  To some extent, it is a final front to stop ever-growing urban desert in Yokohama. It became a Citizen Forest in 2007. (Map here.)

Although Komaoka-Nakagoh Forest is in the downtown part of Yokohama, reaching there is a bit tricky. If you go there by car, the best option for parking would be a gigantic parking space of nearby shopping center, Tressa Yokohama. It’s a shopping mall created by none-other-than Toyota Motor Co. (I don’t know if GM or Daimler is managing a shopping center.) Before, the place was occupied exclusively by a dealership of Corolla. Probably they thought their land would earn more profit with a shopping mall. Anyway, thanks to this arrangement, the parking is free there. From Tressa, it takes about 10 or 15 minutes to the entrance of Komaoka-Nakagoh Forest. Hey, we go to the forest to walk, don’t we? Tressa stands on the both side of busy Kendoh Route 14 (Prefectural Rd. #14 県道14号線).

Tressa and Toyota

From Tressa go east along Route 14, and turn left at the 6th crossing. Keep going, passing Yokohama Komaoka Post Office 駒岡郵便局 on the left. We see on the right a cemetery of Chosho-ji Temple 長松寺  (which, Oh my Buddha!, is engaging in hotel business. The Lonely Planet site is here), and a hill covered by trees. It is Komaoka Nakagoh Forest.

Chosho-ji Temple

If you use public transportation, go to either Tsurumi Station 鶴見駅 of JR East, or Tsunashima Station 綱島駅 of Tokyu Tohyoko Line 東急東横線. From the West Exit of Tsurumi Station, take Rinkoh Bus 臨港バス service Tsuru-04 -04 to Shin-Kawasaki Station 新川崎駅入口 from #9 Bus Stop. (Time Table, here.) From Tsunashima Station, ride Tokyu Bus Hi-93 -93 serviced to Hiyoshi Station East Exit 日吉駅東口 from #5 Bus Stop. (Time Table, here.) With both services, we get off the bus at Asahi Hendensho Mae 旭変電所前 (“Asahi Transformer Substation Entrance”). If you walk from Tressa, the first destination to find is also this bus stop. Find this sign at the opposite side of the transformer substation.

Asahi Hendensho Mae Stop

Beyond the stop is an agricultural land with one small path towards the Forest. I expect this land will be kept as such, because there is an official sign on the right of the path saying this place is to serve as an emergency gathering point for the neighborhood if a large catastrophe, e.g. earthquake, hits. I was surprised to find a sign near Tressa indicating the area is just 4m above the sea level.

The way to the Forest
Only 4m above the sea level …

As Tsurumi River 鶴見川 runs about 1km north from Tressa, if a gigantic tsunami comes into the River, this place could be … The same thinking may go into the mind of the people around here. At the back of Chosho-ji there was a notice from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, 国土交通省 saying, the hill and the nearby area do not have a robust soil structure so that people must be ready for evacuation with a short notice. We are standing on the flood plain of Tsurumi River.

Hmm…, anyway
the warning for the catastrophe is done
 in manga by the national government.

As of today, the area is not yet hit by monster tsunami. So, at the bottom of the small way from the bus stop, on the right is a small playground for kids with swings, and on the left the road curves to the other side, which is actually going around the Forest. When we raise our sight a bit, there is a small Shintoh Shrine, Shinmeisha 神明社.

… going up the stairs,
there is this shrine.

It is easy to imagine the shrine is a typical forest village shrine 鎮守の森. Since the forest is to revere, changing its natural habitat was a sort of sacrilegious. As this theory goes, forest village shrine is an implicit sign that the original habitat has been preserved for generations with high probability.  Sure enough, in front of Shinmeisha Shrine, there are ancient looking small monuments some of which keeps the engravings. One of them says it was made in either Kan’en 寛延 or Kansei 寛政 period, which was in the 18th century. I could not figure it out exactly, though … On the left corner of the small square of the Shrine, there is a sign saying “Uguisu Hiroba うぐいす広場  (Nightingale Square), this way.” From there, a small path leads us into the Forest.

This monument, it seems to me,
tells us the name of the donor to the shrine
and the date it was done.
The sign to Uguisu Hiroba …
and the path from the sign.
Vegetation of the Forest

The entire length of the path in Komaoka-Nakagoh Forest is only 200m or so. In addition, from the shrine, there is a single road so that it is difficult to lose the way. Although the way first climbs steeply and then descends rapidly, even kids under 5 years old can come to Uguisu Hiroba which will soon appears ahead of you.

Uguisu Hiroba with picnic benches
Potable water
From Uguisu Hiroba, there are 2 ways of about 50m each reaching to residential areas … so near … Komaoka-Nakagoh Citizen Forest probably does not preserve the original habitat anymore. It is too small to fight against the encroaching urban desert of metropolis. But, hey, sometimes the intention matters to start something better. Uguisu Hiroba has a water faucet for potable water, and for kids to play with. Actually, the entire Forest serves as a playground for kids. The length and the steepness of the promenade in the Forest could be ideal for them to play tag. Butterflies fly. Stag beetles come out during summer holiday … After dusty industrial roads from Tressa, the Forest is really something of an oasis. No wonder kids come out suddenly in the Forest (as I encountered). Hey guys, you go home before the Forest becomes dark … won’t you? 

The paths are this wide from Uguisu Hiroba
The Forest actually stands
next to the residential area.

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 …)

No comments:

Post a Comment