Friday, October 9, 2015

Don’t underestimate the Seniors: 飯島市民の森

Very roughly speaking, the current city of Yokohama is made of 3 geographical areas. One is Tama Hills 多摩丘陵 with Gike Forest 寺家ふるさとの森 in the middle. Another is Sagamihara Plain 相模原台地 where Seya Forest 瀬谷市民の森 locates. Both of two areas are on Eurasian plate, so the structures deep down of these areas are similar somewhat. The third one is a part of Miura Peninsula 三浦半島. Miura Peninsula and Bosoh Peninsula 房総半島 (i.e. Chiba Prefecture) are pushed up from the bottom of the ocean by gigantic crushes of North American / Okhotsk Plate and Pacific Ocean Plate, and annexed to the edge of Eurasian Plate like Indian subcontinent pressed into Himalayas. Consequently, both of these peninsulas are currently getting taller and steeper. As such, the environment of Miura Peninsula area is a bit different from both Tama Hills and Sagamihara Plain.

Citizen Forests in Sakae 栄区 and Kanazawa Wards 金沢区 are located in this particular area. For the case of Citizen Forests in Sakae Ward, they are very precipitous hills where about 50 cm of topsoil covers a hardpan. Trees cannot establish their root deeper than the shallow topsoil. When humans neglected forests, the trees could grow too large to stand safely in a shallow soil of sheer hills. Moreover, the topsoil covered by large trees could not have vegetation beneath, and be compacted (like roads in Shishigaya Forest 獅子ヶ谷市民の森), i.e. not retain water.     

Last year in 2014, when Typhoon #18 (aka Typhoon Vonghong) hit Yokohama, there occurred many landslides in the city. Compacted grounds of hilly forests could not hold water as before. For the case of Sakae Ward, very large trees grew on the very very steep hills of shallow ground collapsed with washed-over top-soil with the typhoon. Luckily, honestly, no one was hurt in Sakae Ward, but some homes were damaged due to their proximity to the cliff.

“Under construction: please watch out above your head.”

IijimaCitizen Forest 飯島市民の森 in the west of Sakae Ward is the oldest Citizen Forest of Yokohama, with 5.7 ha and 1.7k trekking road opened in April 1972. (Map here.) As it is a Citizen Forest, it has escaped the calamity of neglect. The undergrowth of the Forest has been kept that helped retain the soil even with the record-breaking torrential rain. Still, its very steep treks and large trees gave us a sort of apprehension. It is a well-groomed Oldest Gentleman, but could be more menacing than the Hollywood-wild Miho Forest 三保市民の森. Hence, currently City of Yokohama is intensively pruning the Forest in order to prevent the landslides.

The access to Iijima Forest is either from JR Totsuka Station 戸塚駅 of Tokaido/Yokosuka Line, or from JR Hongodai Station 本郷台駅 of Keihin-Tohoku Line. From Totsuka Station, take the bus from #3 stop of Enoden Bus 江ノ電バス (timetable, here) to either Iijima Kami-cho Stop 飯島上町 or Shimin-no-Mori Stop 市民の森. From both stops, find a way to Iijima Seseragi-Ryokudoh Promenade 飯島せせらぎ緑道 that runs around Iijima Forest. The promenade has several entrances to the Forest. It takes less than 5 minutes of walk from the bus stops to the entrances. From Hongodai Station, the Forest is in the distance of 15 minutes’ walk. Leave the station, and turn right to the direction of Hongodai-Ekimae Post Office 本郷台駅前郵便局. Reach to the crossing at Hongodai-Eki-Iriguchi Traffic Light 本郷台駅入口交差点信号. Turn right again, and climb up Suzukake-Dori Street すずかけ通り passing in front of the City Water Recycling Center 栄第一水再生センター  and Hongodai Central Park 本郷台中央公園. Suzukake-Dori Street runs  through a quiet residential area. When you find a gas station of ENEOS over there, the bus stop just before the gas station is Shimin-no-Mori (= Citizen Forest) Stop. It is a testament for Iijima Forest as the granddaddy of the Yokohama Citizen Forest. The bus stop does not have the name “Iijima.” Phew.

Hongohdai Station
Hongodai-Eki-Iriguchi Traffic Light
Shimin-no-Mori Bus Stop
Entrance to Iijima Seseragi-Ryokudoh Promenade.
We can find it beyond the Gas Station on the left.

Iijima Seseragi-Ryokudoh Promenade surrounds Iijima Forest, and it is a really well-kept pedestrian (and occasional bikers’) road. Access to inside of the Forest is numerous, and often with tiny “bridges” of stepping stones in a small stream along the Promenade. The Forest is a steep hill climbing up from the flow. When we walk along the Promenade, we can know the work is in progress for pruning of the Forest. Even though, in the Forest the undergrowth is rich and roads are not compacted so that we know this old man is well-respected.

One of the entrances to the Forest
Under construction
Fujimaki Open Space ふじまき広場 of the Forest, next to the Promenade

The Forest gives us a very “deep” atmosphere with steep roads. It has 5 resting points for picnic and one toilet all of which are in the abundant rain forest. At the end of summer and early autumn, many kinds of mushrooms are sprouting here and there … It is the world of Brothers Grimm. 

“Hansel and Gretel” Road

At the top of the hill, there is an open space, called Sakuragaoka Open Space さくらがおか広場, with picnic benches and huge cherry trees. The place also has a tiny ancient-looking shrine. I guess this Forest has been loved for generations, and for cherry-blossom parties. Actually, Miura Peninsula area of Yokohama is next to the ancient Kamakura City. Before World War II, it was not a part of the City of Yokohama, but belonged to Kamakura. People lived here for a very long period … Iijima Forest is an old guy.

Sakuragaoka Open Space

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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