Natsu-kusa ya / tsuwamono-domo ga / yume no ato
The summer grass-
It is all that's left
of ancient warriors dreams
It is all that's left
of ancient warriors dreams
Matsuo Bajoh 松尾芭蕉
When we leave the station, we find a large notice board for Nissan Stadium. Opposite to this board, take a small road to the west along the railway. After observing a railroad crossing on the left, go ahead a way to a half-residential / half-agricultural area. Soon, you will find a familiar map board for the Citizen Forest system, for Kozukue Forest, in a residential area, not in the forest. It means the place is loved by the locals. Actually, every April, they have a festival to celebrate the history of the Forest. (The photos of Festival Parade 2015 are here.) After finding the Map, keep going to the flyover of Daisan-keihin Toll Road 第三京浜 that in1965 divided the original Kozukue Forest in half. Turn right before the under-flyover. Eventually, we are welcomed by the Forest. (Map here and here.) Right after entering into the forest, there is a toilet and a potable water faucet for Kozukue Forest.
|Near the railroad crossing|
I’ve been there, |
on the right from the station was a field for green onions.
map of the Forest, |
already shown in the residential area,
|and a sign post for the Forest.|
|The Forest over there|
Once upon a time, Japan was divided by numerous warlords. Sometime in early 15th century, a chieftain (we do not know exactly who) found the area near current Nissan Stadium strategically important, and built a fortress that later became a castle called Kozukue. Then in 1478, there was a battle for the domination of the area among warlords one of whom was the first unifying conqueror of Edo (i.e. Tokyo) area, Ohta Dohkan 太田道灌. His soldiers massacred the samurais who were besieged in Kozukue Caslte, and made the nearby rice paddy a blood bath. (The place is now called Akata Yato 赤田谷戸, i.e. Red Rice Paddy.) Later in the middle of the 16th century, another warlord rebuilt the castle to strengthen the line of defense for their master (Gohohjoh clan 後北条 ) in Odawara Castle 小田原城. When in 1590 Odawara Castle was taken by Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉, and Tokugawa Ieyasu 徳川家康 made Edo and surrounding area (Yokohama inclusive) his home, Kozukue Castle was demolished for good. (The history of the area, in Japanese, is explained in this Wiki.) So this Citizen Forest is the remains of a medieval castle for war.
More flashy sort of Japanese castles preserved now (e.g., Odawara Castle) are the architecture constructed after the 17th century. Ieyasu was the champion of warlords so that he and his descendants never allowed the other families to build anything suitable for a battle of medieval kind. The castles permitted to exist after 1600 still keeps mort and other functions for war, but they are more appropriate for offices where samurais commuted daily to govern their territory. Kozukue Castle was different. The entire Forest is one of the best kept remains for the structure of medieval war castle in Japan.
|To the Inner Citadel|
remains of lookout.|
The base is stone with holes for wooden pillars.
Inner Citadel entrance.|
All the roads within the Forest repeat steep up and down.
way connecting the Inner Citadel|
and Ninomaru (the Outer Citadel 二の丸).
I don’t know if the vegetation of the Forest was strategically chosen for war. The outer layer of the forest is broad leaf trees, and inside especially along the road linking the facilities is beautiful bamboos. The bamboo part is tended by Japan Bamboo Fun Club ( 日本竹ファンクラブ for volunteering information with them, click here) who, I think, do a wonderful job to keep the atmosphere of ancient war castle. The mort is mainly with broad leaf trees. Both Inner and Outer Citadel Open spaces have picnic benches.
To go to the divided part of the remains, we first have to return to the residential area, cross the Daisan Keihin under the flyover, then turn right immediately. Ahead is another side of the Forest. This part has only one road along the Daisan Keihin (; a road in the map to the other way was impassable as of June 2015). This is the road which permits us to go to the river (i.e. enemy) side of the Forest. It would have been like this for 500 years …
|The another sign for the Forest|
leading to the remaining part of the Forest
|Beyond the fence is the Freeway.|
If you like, from the river side exit, we can go to the pedestrian bank of Tsurumi River where cherry blossoms are heavenly in early spring. The nearest bridge to cross Tsurumi River from here is the bridge leading us to IKEA. Before IKEA, there is a dim-sum factory of Kiyoken 崎陽軒 on the right. They are making pork dumplings for Train Station Lunches (“Ekiben” 駅弁 ) of Yokohama Station. Their daily output of lunches is more than 20,000 units which makes them the most popular Station Lunch in Japan. The plant tour of this factory is always fully-booked for 3 months (for reservation, click here for phone number). This factory has a small kiosk where we can enjoy freshly made pork dumplings between 10:00-16:00.
|Petit Pork buns (100 yen)|
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 …)