Friday, November 20, 2015

Violetta, or The Marschallin: Shimonagaya Citizen Forest 下永谷市民の森

In the north of Maioka town, there is a smaller Citizen Forest. It is Shimonagaya Citizen Forest. Though it is smaller, the Forest too is a representation of the 21st century Satoyama. It surrounds small but productive agricultural fields, maintaining a traditional topology of Japanese agricultural village in the sea of residential houses.

If there is a parking, the access to the Forest would be the easiest by car. It situated few hundred meters from Kan-2 Han’nya-ji Traffic Light 環2般若寺信号 of 6-lane Circular Road #2 (Kanjoh 2-go-sen 環状2号線). As there are several large warehouse-stores and drive-ins (e.g. Yamada Electronics ヤマダ電機, Yoshinoya 吉野家, Tonkatsu-Matsuya とんかつ松屋, Sukiya すき屋, Tsutaya ツタヤ, Lawson ローソン…) around the traffic light, you can try your luck by parking your car there, and keep crossing your fingers the stores do not notice … Otherwise, the least physically taxing way to go there is by bus. Take Kanachu-bus #30 (time table here and here), #71 (time table here, here, here and here) or Kami-202 (202 time table here) from Keikyu Kamio’oka Station 京急上大岡駅, and get off at Han’nya-ji Bashi Stop 般若寺橋バス停. From the bus stop, walk few meters to the Circular Road, and find Kan-2 Han’nya-ji Traffic Light. Cross Kan-2, and take the road next to Lawson. Less than 300m from there, you’ll find steps with the sign “Shimonagaya Citizen Forest.” If you don’t mind navigating the residential sea on foot, the Forest is in 2k south of JR Higashi-TotsukaStation 東戸塚駅, or to 1.5k north of Shimonagaya Station 下永谷駅 of Yokohama City Subway.  

Kan-2 Han’nya-ji Traffic Light
Take the road behind the sign post of this Lawson to …
Shimonagaya Forest in front of you
South-east Entrance to Shinomagaya Forest

As we can see in this map, 6.1 ha Shimonagaya Forest looks like a comb same as Shishigaya Forest. Shishigaya is eaten from all directions by residential developments with houses right next to the trekking road of the Forest. Shimonagaya Forest is nestling productive farm lands and orchards, almost protecting them against the tsunami of housing developments from the north. When we look down small valleys from the 1.2 k trekking roads of the Forest, we can see well-established chestnuts orchards, vegetable farms and greenhouses where farmers are busy tending their products. I could not find remains of rice paddies or streams there, which would mean the area has traditionally been for vegetable cultivation. Actually, Shimonagaya Forest is the 3rd oldest Yokohama Citizen Forest, established in 1972, 5 days after Kamigo Forest. If the first 2 Citizen Forests (Iijima and Kamigo) are grandpas, Shimonagaya is a grandma. It has a very gentle atmosphere, and lots of camellias.

Off-limited chestnuts orchard

From the entrance from the Circular Road, the trekking way climbs up along the trees which separate the road of the Forest and the agricultural land. Few meters into the Forest, there is an open space, with picnic benches and a view of residential areas surrounding the Forest from the South. Keep on going and take the road to the left when we meet a T crossing. It leads us into the northern circumference of the Forest, separating the Forest and residential area of the North, almost along the fences of private houses. The route gives us a feeling the Forest is indeed protecting the agricultural field from the urban development. Almost in the middle of this road is Tsubaki-no-Hiroba (つばきの広場 Camellia Open Space) where camellias are surrounding the open space with toilet and potable water faucet. North of the Camellia Space has several private houses … I imagine they see this space as a kind of their garden … OK, with toilet.

The road climbing up
The farm field is demarcated
by the zoning ordinance of the City.

The first open space with picnic benches

… and its view

The road to the West to Camellia Space
ctd. …

Camellia Open Space
Toilet for Shimonagaya Forest

From the Camellia Space to the south, the road soon becomes a paved pedestrian promenade where, it seems to me, the locals use as a shortcut to the Circular Road. The huge bonus of this route: a spectacular view of Mt. Oyama, Tanzawa Mountains, and Mt. Fuji for a lucky day. Along the way, there is Gosanmi-tei Open Space 五山見亭 with benches. (Though, the view from the benches is covered by trees.) Further to the South, when we see the roofs of houses ahead, turn left into the woods, and there is Yamanokami-Inaridai-Hiroba (山ノ神稲荷台ひろば the Hill of Mountain God and Inari Shrine) where there is no shrine, but several benches. They might have had a shrine. i.e. The Forest around here has the remnants as Shasoh-rin 社叢林, or forest village shrine 鎮守の森. I could not feel here the existence of Taiwanese squirrels or “Wanted” posters of squirrels as in Maioka …There are another beautiful camellia trees in the open space … in a fine day of autumn, very good smell, wafting within the forest. No, it is not a fragrance of camellia …

A promenade
When I’ve been there,
Mt Fuji was under the clouds … sigh.
To Yamanokami-Inaridai Hiroba
Yamanokami-Inaridai Hiroba
A view from Yamanokami-Inaridai

From there, we can dive into the Forest more to Momi-no-ki Hiroba (もみのき広場 Fir Tree Open Space) which is just below the Camellia Hiroba. The fragrant, almost noble, air continues, and I could find the reason at Momi-no-ki Hiroba. Within the Forest, and around Momi-no-ki Hiroba, many white osmathus fragrans open their white flowers in a November morning. I didn’t know they had such a refined smell … not that showy as bright orange fragrant olives. In spite of the vicinity of such huge industrial road, Shimonagaya Forest keeps its elegance in a very decent way. Aging graciously, really … 

Momino-ki Hiroba
Beat my rudimentary skill of photo …

If you find a problem in the Forest, 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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