Friday, October 2, 2015

Welcome, a City Baby Forest: Kashiwa-cho Citizen Forest 柏町市民の森

On September 1, 2015, one baby joined the Yokohama Citizen Forest Family. It is Kashiwa-cho Citizen Forest of 1.9 ha. The physical preparation was started late November 2014 for this forest to be a part of the Family … hmmmm it means the time of the groundwork is almost like a human baby to born. (ha, ha) To go to this Forest, we just simply get off the train at Minami-makigahara Station 南万騎が原駅 of Sotetsu Izumino Line. East side of the station is ordinary residential area where the numerous detached houses spread all over the hill. West side is Kashiwa-cho Forest. From the Station to the entrance of the Forest, it takes about 3 minutes. Easy.

Minami-makigahara Station
Turn left at the Station exit,
to find Minami-Makigahara Ekimae
南万騎が原駅前traffic light.
The entrance to the Forest is just over there.

The location of this Forest would be one reason why this place joined the Citizen Forest Family. Local newspapers reported that a dark forest surrounded by residential area without maintenance caused concern among locals. It could have been a damping ground of garbage, or worse, a crime scene. So residents’ associations around the Minami-makigahara Station were talking with the landlord and the City for solution, i.e. the conception of the baby Kashiwa-cho Forest. The volunteers to take care of the Forest come directly from the neighborhood associations. This Forest is a product of very urban concern of suburbanites.

The map of Kashiwa-cho Forest
(No web site or downloadable map
is available at the moment.)
The main gate

Kashiwa-cho Forest is just like Imajuku Forest, a ship floating in the middle of ocean of detached houses (and JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line in the north). Now the Forest has been treated by thinning, the bogs are controlled, the sturdy wire mesh surrounds the conservation area, and the cleaned up trekking road is covered by new wooden chips. The view over the forest becomes less obstructed, which would be good for the safety of the residents ...

A pond next to the Forest

A thinned forest

The Forest consists of two kinds of trees; one is the forest of planted coniferous trees (2/3), and another is a forest of broad-leaf trees (1/3). The accessible area of the Forest is 1/3 of 1.9 ha. It takes less than 10 minutes to conquer all the routes. Baby, baby … In the middle is an open space with a picnic bench and chairs where we can see a clear contrast between two kinds of forest. The route to the open space is barrier-free, i.e. accessible for the wheelchairs. The place will be a calm relaxing spot for locals, with lunch perhaps.

From the Gate to the open space

At the entrance, there are sign boards explaining the origin of the town’s and the Forest’s name: Kashiwa = oak. It says before the area was called the valley of oak leaves. So, the Forest would have been covered by large oak trees. The remnant of the valley is treated and dry now, covered by arrow root (aka kudzu). Granted kudzu is ferociously invasive plant that requires careful control in urban setting … do you know it has elegant flower with sweet scent? When it is allowed to flourish freely, the area could be filled with graceful smells ... One of the boards presents chronological satellite images of Yokohama. It shows relentless advancement of urbanization. It seems to me, in 1970 the 2/3 of the City was covered by greenery. In 2009, it is ¼ at most ... 

A remnant of valley at the gate

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 …)

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