Friday, October 16, 2015

Tomb Raider: Kajigaya Citizen Forest 鍛冶ヶ谷市民の森

Continuing the theme of ancient towns and shallow topsoil of the forests of Sakae Ward, we have another Forest, Kajigaya Citizen Forest. Kajigaya Forest itself is one of the toddler Citizen Forests that joined the family in April 2014, with 2.9 ha. However, it contains the oldest memory of people in Yokohama. It has more than 20 prehistoric tombs dated at least 1AD. Some say this is the most spectacular remains of prehistoric tombs in Yokohama.

To go to Kajigaya Forest, the easiest route would be from JR Hongodai Station 本郷台駅 of Keihin Tohoku Line. Leave the station, and turn left. There is a very peculiar building next to the Station. It is the Earth Plaza Kanagawa 地球市民かながわプラザ that is a public facility run by Kanagawa Prefecture for fostering international cultural communication among residents of Kanagawa. (It has a substantial library of Asian films, which we can watch, free of charge.) Just get across the campus of the Plaza to reach to the other side. Then, take the road running in front of Kajigaya CatholicChurch カトリック鍛冶ヶ谷教会 with kindergarten. Eventually we meet Kamakura Street 鎌倉街道, aka Prefectural Road #21. Turn left, and soon we find in front several so-called “Love Hotels” (; If you are interested in such facilities, just google with key words “Sakae Ward,” “Yokohama” and “Hotel”… yeah, love and death in Yokohama, really) on the other side of the Kamakura Street. Keep on going to the direction of these hotels, and pass Kajigaya Traffic Light 鍛冶ヶ谷交差点信号. Next to one of these “Hotels” is Gust Steak House. If you come along the left side of Kamakura Street so far, you are now in front of the entrance to Kajigaya Forest. It is about 10 minutes’ walk from the JR station.

Take this way along the Plaza
Kajigaya Catholic Church
A monument in front of the Church
commemorating war dead.
… She’s completely relaxed! 

Around Kajigaya Traffic Lights
Gust Steak House
At the opposite of Gust across Kamakura Street,
which is an entrance to Kajigaya Forest

As this is a quite new Citizen Forest, there is no official web-site for Kazigaya Forest. This is the map I can provide you at this moment. The entrance in front of Gust is at the southern tip of the Forest area. (Update Oct 21, 2015: wow! the City uploaded a new map for the Forest. The link, here.)

Map of Kajjigaya Forest

Entering from this point is like attacking the peak of Mount Yari 槍ヶ岳 or Oku-Hodaka 奥穂高岳 (though just for few minutes, ha ha). It is not a slope, but a precipice with carefully constructed long steps to climb. At the “top” there are a small bench to take a short break and a corridor of wooden decks pasted along the side of the cliff. This is the moment we recall the geological formation of this area … crush of tectonic plates, getting higher and steeper, shallow topsoil … Actually, around and within Kajigaya Forest, there are several notification of the City saying that they are pruning the trees because, unlike Iijima Forest 飯島市民の森, 2014 Typhoon #18 caused a devastating landslide from Kajigaya Forest which destroyed homes. Oh my … Soon we find a narrow trek runs on the surface of the steep slope where large trees are getting pruned here and there. Beyond, several caves are lining on the wall of the rock surface. They are called Miyanomae Cave Tombs 宮ノ前横穴墓群.

Welcome to Kajigaya Forest!
Take a break a bit here,
and enter the Air Corridor.

According to the Yokohama Buried Cultural Property Investigation Center 横浜市ふるさと歴史財団埋蔵文化財センター, the place is thought to be a graveyard for local powerful families who governed the area before the Emperor family expanded their territory from Nara Prefecture 奈良県 in the 7th Century. Until recently, the area had 5 more recognizable groups of cave tombs 4 of which were lost due to residential developments. Meanwhile the Japanese bubble burst, and the would-be developer of Kajigaya Forest bankrupted. The Forest and Miyanomae Cave Tombs were trusted to the City, and Kajigaya Citizen Forest was born. Miyanomae Tombs were studied at least partially in 1958 and 1959 by girls of Kugenuma Girls’ High School 鵠沼高校 (; the school was for girls only then), but no thorough excavation has been done yet. The blog of Investigation Center reports their preliminary professional sighting in 2010, with photos for the inside of the sarcophagus chambers (link, here). If you are interested in the 1958/59 report by Japanese Lara Crofts, it is now open for the public in the Library of Sakae Ward 栄区図書館.

At the moment, all the open tombs are protected by a wall of wire mesh with small windows for us to have a peek. As no professional study was completed for them, it is possible to find another chambers beneath the topsoil, the blog of the Investigation Center says. Fragile topsoil and substantial hardpan must have provided an ideal condition for prehistoric grave yards. Due to landslides, the trekking road surrounding the Tombs is only partially accessible now, but the road above the caves which is a ridge of the hill is open. The place is a naturalist version of Westminster Cathedral where visitors walk over the head of the dead buried beneath centuries ago …

Beneath my foot aresarcophagus chambers.

The ridge way of Kajigaya Forest goes with very gentle ups-and-downs to the north. The Forest this side ends with the North Open Space (Kita-Hiroba 北ひろば) where we have picnic tables and benches. The right next to the North Entrance of the Forest is new houses and condos. It was a close call to protect the prehistoric remains from the huge wave of development, I guess.

Kita Hiroba

The ridge way to the west is almost continuously going down. Several benches are provided along the road, until we reach to an extremely steep concrete steps falling down into a residential area that is the West Entrance of the Forest. It seems to me, Tombs have been well-known by the locals for generations and it was a talk of the town how the developers would deal with them. The 2000 years of Tombs are somehow preserved against a flash of the real-estate bubble. Anyway, cheers to the teenage Tomb Raiders of 55 years ago!

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 …)

No comments:

Post a Comment