Friday, September 25, 2015

On the matters of final resting place: Shinbashi Citizen Forest 新橋市民の森

In contrast to the South Exit, the North Exit of Yayoidai Station of Sotetsu Line is very quiet. The first impression I had there was, it was a middle of ordinary residential area with detached houses. Coming to this direction, we notice the Station is on the top of small hill, and the roads from there are descending. To go to Shinbashi Citizen Forest 新橋市民の森, we have to take the road goes down directly to the north. Passing the Hatono-Mori-Aino-Uta-Nursery 鳩の森愛の詩保育園 on the right, at the corner of the vehicle road curving right, there are a small pedestrian route with a notice board, and next to it with steps going down further. The notice board says “Stop the development of cemetery to leave water and greenery in the North of Yayoidai Station,” with signature of Neighborhood Associations of the area, the Nursery we’ve just passed, and the Lovers of Waterfront and Stream of Kame-yato 亀谷戸. Hmmmm …

Going down the steps from the Station
The road in front of the Station goes down.

If we go down the steps, we find a small stream with a promenade. Turning left along the promenade, there are several signs explaining the names of vegetation, and asks strollers not to trash the stream as the community is striving to restore the environment for fireflies. Just before the pedestrian promenade meets another vehicle road, there is a large sign for the Lovers of Waterfront and Stream which notifies they meet every 3rd Sunday at 10:00 for the maintenance work, along with a poster presentation for the natural environment of the area by kids of Shinbashi Elementary School 新橋小学校. On the right of the notice boards, there is a sign we are now at one of the entrance of Shinbashi Citizen Forest. It takes less than 10 minutes’ walk from the station.

Notice Board of the Lovers
Poster presentation
The right of the boards is a trekking road into the forest.
At the mouth of this road is,
The entrance sign of the Forest.

Shinbashi Forest is another baby Citizen Forest, opened in January 2015. It has 3.3 ha with short trekking roads where lots of maintenance works are on-going. Intriguingly, the Forest is consisted of 2 separate areas divided by another “forest.” The Forest we meet first from the Station is larger. Another can be accessed by walking along the small, and very new, cemetery-forest. When we move between the two areas, it is obvious the division is done by the planned cemetery site by Sengenji Temple 浅間寺 in the downtown of Yokohama. Based on a quick google search, it seems to me they are mainly engaged in funeral service business, not proselytizing. The monks in the city have already built a slick office building, parking lots, and some well-manicured subdivisions which is, well, clearly different from the natural scenery (i.e. Shinbashi Forest) surrounding the graves.

Map of Shinbashi Forest
Seen from the notice board from the Lovers;
to another part of the Shibashi Forest
we have to go a narrow road on the first left
at the corner of the red house.
The building before is the office of the cemetery.
The construction works go on …
The road along the cemetery

It seems to me Volunteers who maintain Shinbashi Forest is another group called themselves the Lovers of Shinbashi Citizen Forest. The accessible part of the second part of the Forest is around a small Yato which is returning to a marsh, and where the Lovers of the Forest have their own notice board. The news in the board says they are a partner of Firefly Restoration Committee. I don’t know how these groups are connected to the signatory groups of the poster asking the stoppage of cemetery development. In any case lots of things must be going on in Shinbashi Forest now …

Entrance to smaller part of the Forest
Yato in Shibashi Forest. I guess this is Kame-Yato.
This part of the Forest has picnic benches.
The forest seen from Yato

Aside from humans surrounding the Forest, Shinbashi Forest is a typical of Yokohama Citizen Forest. It is made of a steep hill and a Yato valley at the bottom. The trees are mix of bamboos, coniferous trees, and broadleaves. When we enter from the first entrance we meet from the Station, two trekking roads are climbing steeply to the ridge which is the outer edge of the Forest. I found this edge goes along the railway of Sotetsu Izumino Line to Shonandai of the City of Fujisawa. It is really a baby Citizen Forest. We find several log piles along the trekking road, made by volunteers doing maintenance works. The difference between a clean 21st century cemetery construction site and here is, the logs in the forest become the home for so many living creatures ... fungi, insects, bushes … 

Into the forest
Those mushrooms looked very like cloud ears
… are they?
Here is another mushroom.

… In the end we are all consumed by bacteria like those logs, become a part of soil. Maybe, the first procedure to be incorporated into the earth is the point of contention. Even Buddhism monks could not reach to a peaceful solution for the matter … we are so … pre-enlightenment.

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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