Friday, August 14, 2015

Home Sweet Home: Wuethrich Citizen Forest ウィトリッヒの森


After Commodore Matthew Perry of the US prized open a Japanese door in 1853, Yokohama became the first port of call for expats coming to Japan. Some of them decided to stay in the area and they gave the color of the City as an international place. One of those people who established a family of him/herself was Arnold Wuethrich. Wuethrich was born in Bern, Switzerland, became an engineer (wow, studied in the place where Einstein presented Theory of Relativity?), came to Japan, and married to a local girl, Hide Tsuda 津田ひ亭. In 1933, he built a house near JR Totsuka Station 戸塚駅, and died in 1983 in Yokohama. During the interwar years of the 1920s and the 30s, the southern area of the present-day Yokohama and the City of Kamakura were a fashionable area where upper-middle to upper class people built “western-style” houses. Their way of life, e.g., the design of houses, daily meals they ate, wives’ fashion, etc. became the foundation of the current Japanese styles. The Wuethrichs would have been one of those families contributed to the establishment of modern Japanese family life. Many of remaining houses including Wuethrich House around the area are now designated as “important cultural heritage” by local or national governments. During his long life in Japan, Arnold bought 3.2 ha land within a 10 minutes car-ride from his home. According to his widow Hide, he thought the place looked similar to the forest of his hometown in Switzerland. (Anything is relative …) Before passing away, Hide donated the forest to the City in 1985. The place joined Yokohama Citizen Forest family, and opened as Wuethrich Citizen Forest in 1987.

To go to Wuethrich Forest, the nearest railway station is Totsuka Station of JR Tokaido/Yokosuka Line. Leave the Station from the West Exit connected to Totsuka Bus Center. From there, take Kanachu Bus Route TO-55 or 56 (-55, -56), and get off at Yokohama Medical Center 横浜医療センター. At the corner of the Medical Center, there is Taisho Fire Station 大正消防署 and a traffic light. We start to walk the pedestrian lane opposite to the Center and Fire Station, and turn right at the next corner from the traffic light. This road is straight; first on the right is Taisho Junior-high 大正中学校, and then on the left there is a care-house for elderly run by Franciscan Missionaries of Mary 聖母の園修道会. Keep proceeding, and we see the care-house eventually becomes a convent, and beyond is the forest. This is Wuethrich Forest. (Map here.) Unfortunately, there is no parking for Wuethrich Forest.

The straight road to the Forest
The sign post at the entrance of Wuethrich Forest

Mr. and Mrs. Wuethrich loved to tend this place. The trees and bamboos they cared in the 1940s and the 1950s now become a well-established forest. The undergrowth of the Forest preserves native orchids and ferns. They are vigorous. The couple planted several fruit trees around their arbor. The place once the structure stood is now called Arinko Hiroba (アリンコ広場 Ants Space), where the trees are still producing the bounty. The Forest is home for my insects … ants, cicadas, butterflies, beetles (of several kinds), fireflies, dragonflies, and, of course, mosquitos.

A very large persimmon tree
with lots of fruits.
They’ll be sweet coming fall.
Arinko Hiroba with picnic tables
I found a cast-off shell of a cicada in Arinko Hiroba.

The 900 m trekking road of the Forest is well-cared by the volunteers and without compaction. Following the standard of Yokohama Citizen Forest, Wuethrich Forest is hilly. When we enter the forest from the direction of the Medical Center, the entrance, Chirorin Open Space チロリン広場, is almost at the top of the Forest. The open space has a toilet, and the trekking roads go down from here with 25 m difference of elevation. I don’t think the place is Alpine. Arnold must have found something in the Forest. Home is where you think it is ... 


The western entrance

If you find a problem in the Park, please make a contact with

Office for the Park Greeneries in the South 南部公園緑地事務所
Yokohama Municipal Government Creative Environment Policy Bureau 横浜市環境創造局
Phone: 045-831-8484 (I guess in Japanese only)
FAX: 045-831-9389 (I hope there is somebody who can read English …)

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