Friday, November 6, 2015

Nature, Art, and Sunshine: Sekigaya Citizen Forest 関ヶ谷市民の森

Kanazawa Bunko 金沢文庫 is an old town. It first appeared in Japan history in the middle of 13th century. Why? Since then, the town has a library, and learning places of higher education. (More for this, when we visit Shomyoji Temple Citizen Forest 称名寺市民の森.) Today, the area has Kanazawa Hakkei Campus of Yokohama City University 横浜市立大学金沢八景キャンパス and Kanazawa Bunko Campus of Kanto Gaguin University 関東学院大学金沢文庫キャンパス. Sekigaya Citizen Forest is right next to the forest of Kanto Gakuin. It spreads over east-facing slope of 2ha with 600m trekking road. Well, yes, it is small, but the difference in height between its valley way and the ridge is 40m. It is a typical Citizen Forest of Yokohama, of small but with very steep hills.

The Forest became the 25th member of Yokohama Citizen Forest family in October 2004. (Map, here.) It can also serve as a southern entrance to the Enkaisan Mountain Nature Sanctuary of Yokohama 円海山. If you plan to do a full-day hike reaching to Kamigo Forest from Sekigaya Forest, the easiest approach to Sekigaya Forest is first going to Kanazawa Bunko Campus of Kanto Gakuin Univ. by Keikyu bus 京急バス. We leave Kanazawa Bunko Station of Keikyu Line 京急from the West Exit. The bus terminal, Kanazawa Bunko Station West Exit Terminal 金沢文庫駅西口, is in front of us when we go down the steps of the West Exit. Take Bun-7 -7 Line to Kanazawa Bunko Campus of Kanto Gakuin Univ., and ride to the final stop which is Kanto Gakuin Univ. (Time table, here) About 100m or so to the west from the stop is the main entrance of Kanto Gakuin Univ. At the opposite to the gate of the University, there is a steep step going down in the forest. At the mouth of the forest, a sign board says “Sekigaya Forest, this way.” The step goes through the forest slope of the University, and brings us to Ikoi-no-Hiroba (いこいの広場 Relaxation Open Space) of Sekigaya Forest. Between Univ. forest and Sekigaya Forest, there is a parking lot for bikes where students leave their bikes. If you come to Sekigaya Forest by bike, I think you are able to park yours here as well. Otherwise, there is no parking facility for Sekigaya Forest. Let’s minimize our carbon foot print!

Kanazawa Bunko Station
Kanto Gakuin Univ. bus stop
Left is the entrance to the campus.
Could you figure out the entrance
to the steps on the right?
Steps to Sekigaya Forest

As Enkaisan is the southern limit of Tama Hills, Kanazawa Bunko town is almost the northern limit of Miura Peninsula that is a child of a tectonic crash between continental and oceanic plates. So, the town and the surrounding area host two small independent rivers, Miyagawa River 宮川 and Jijuhgawa River 侍従川, that do not belong to any larger water system, probably as signs of earth-faults slicing the Peninsula. Miyagawa starts from Kamariya Citizen Forest 釜利谷市民の森 which is a part of Enkaizan Area, and from Sekigaya Citizen Forest. Between the bike racks and Ikoi-no-Hiroba, there is a small stream where the volunteers of theSekigaya Forest treasure for the habitat of fireflies. This is a source of Miyagawa at Sekigaya Forest side. We cross a tiny bridge to enter Ikoi-no-Hiroba. This place is snuggled in a tiny farm land and the Forest. The atmosphere is almost secluded, with lots of sunshine and well-kept undergrowth and flowers. I had a very good lunch on the bench in calm, relaxing air. We can feel that the volunteers are nurturing the place, really.

The declaration of love
by the volunteers for fireflies

From the Ikoi-no-Hiroba, two routes are going up to conquer the 40m height. The one goes to the left is climbing almost straight up to the peak. Large Japanese cedars are planted along the way, and hence this road is called Cedar Way すぎこだちの道. (Cedars do not belong to biota of Yokohama.) There are several logs rested along the road. Volunteers are doing heavy thinning activities. We can find geological structure of the Forest here: beneath the thin layers of soil, there is a hardpan. I also found several impressive artworks by earth and nature … ferns and moss decorate boulders and hard faces of the hill. With the smell of cedars, the steep ascent gives us an occasion of meditation …

Cedar Way

Co-habitation of human activity
and tectonic crash

Another road from Ikoi-no-Hiroba goes into the forest of evergreen broad-leaved trees. This way is called “Komorebi-no-michi” (こもれびの道 the Way where sunshine filters through foliage). It climbs up the hill very slowly with lots of zig-zags. The atmosphere is definitely lighter than Cedar Way with sunshine coming from the canopy. Good naming! There are acorns and chestnuts lying over the road. Come to think of it, I could not even sense the existence of Taiwanese squirrels there … Why?


Reaching to the end of Komorebi-no-michi …

Cedar Way and Komorebi-no-michi meet around Oikoshi Hiroba おいこし広場. Oikoshi Hiroba has a picnic bench, and we can see Enkaisan Nature Complex beyond Kamariya-nishi residential area 釜利谷西町 from there. The road from Oikoshi Hiroba is gently going down along a dry valley to the northwest. When we meet a small bamboo forest, it is almost at the end of the Forest.  Descending the steps, we enter the residential area, and soon to the signpost “Yamanote Entrance to Sekigaya Forest 山の手入口.” If we take a road going to the other side of the house next to the signpost, we meet a small stream for fireflies on the right along the way and return to Ikoi-no-Hiroba with the bike-parking space. Go straight to the north from Yamanote Exit for about 500m, we arrive Kanazawa Zoo 金沢動物園, and Kamariya Citizen Forest. To the east from the signpost, we soon meet a pedestrian promenade along a small stream, which is a part of Miyagawa River. The way goes leisurely in the residential area of detached houses, and the stream eventually becomes Miyagawa River. If you take a promenade along the river, you’ll return to Kanazawa Bunko Station. From Yamanote Entrance of Sekigaya Forest to the Station via this route, it takes 30 minutes or so in a stroll. It’s not bad either. J   

Oikoshi Hiroba
Over there must be Kamariya Forest.
Going down
The valley
The bamboo forest
Almost autumn
Sign post at Yamanote Entrance
The zoo is there.
If you plan to join the volunteer group for Sekigaya Forest, or 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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