Here is the link for the map of Hitorizawa Citizen Forest. It is the same map we are looking these days. You may have noticed long ago it has the name “Enkaizan Area Map.” Now, we have finally arrived Enkaizan Mountain 円海山. Hitorizawa Forest is spreading on the southern slope of Enkaizan Mountain. … Enkaizan has only 153.3 m above sea level: to call it as a mountain, or a hill, depends on your taste. Though smaller than the Everest, it is an important pile of dirt for the people in the eastern part of Kanagawa Prefecture, including Yokohama. Seeing from Tokyo Bay to the west, it is the first hill with meaningful height that can relay wireless communications of any kind from the center of Tokyo / Yokohama to beyond. Hence, we meet many radio transmitting stations along the northern edge of Hitorizawa Forest which runs on the ridge of Enkaizan. Do you remember the radio tower we met when we entered Isshindo Plaza when we went to Segami Forest? It is one of them. That particular tower serves for cell phone communications, with the easiest to access among the towers in Enkaizan; it can approach even by car. The place good for communication towers for Tokyo Bay is good for enjoying a night view of the mega city. So, the vista from the cell phone tower is a secretly popular spot for couples to enjoy romantic conversation ;)
|The Tower at the entrance to Segami/Hitorizawa Forests|
|This is NHK’s.|
Hitorizawa Forest is the second largest Citizen Forest in the family, after Niiharu Forest. It became Citizen Forest in 1977 with 62.7 ha, 4.7 km of trekking road, and 5 resting areas. Aside from the entrance via Segami Forest, the access to Hitorizawa Forest is either on foot from Keikyu Nokendai Station 能見台駅 (2k walk), or by bus to Hitorizawa Stop 氷取沢 for the southern entrance to the Forest, or Hitorizawa Shimin-no-mori Iriguchi Stop 氷取沢市民の森入口 to the northern entrance. Hitorizawa Stop is 2 stops before Hitorizawa Shimin-no-mori Iriguchi Stop for the same services. When you walk from Nokendai Station, leave the Station from its west exit and first go to Hitorizawa High School, and then to Hitorizawa Shrine along Ooka River 大岡川, where Hitorizawa Bus Stop is nearby. Along the way, there is a popular bakery, Yokohama Pan-no-ie 横浜パンの家 (“Yokohama Bread House,” phone: 045-771-9008, closed Wednesday), which is open from 6:30. They provide us substantial choices for savory pastries for picnic. J By bus there are 5 choices. Choice 1: from Keikyu Kamiooka Station 上大岡駅 by Enoden Bus 江ノ電バス from #3 stop for Isogdai-Dan’chi Junkan service 磯子台団地循環 coming back to Kamiooka Station (; time table, here). Choice 2: from JR IsogoStation 磯子駅 by Enoden Bus from #1 stop for JR Yokodai Station 洋光台駅 via Isogodai-Dan’chi Junkan (; time table, here). Choice 3: from JR Isogo Station by Yokohama City Bus 横浜市営バス #293 service coming back to Isogo Station via Isogodai Dan’chi Junkan (; time table, here). Choice 4: from JR Yokodai Station, in addition to Enoden Bus to Isogo Station, by Keikyu Bus 京急バス # 107 service , to Keikyu Kanazawabunko Station 金沢文庫駅 via Isogodai Dan’chi Junkan (; time table, here). Choice 5: from Keikyu Nokendai Station by Keikyu Bus No-3 能-3 service via Isogodai Dan’chi Junkan coming back to Nokendai Station (; time table, here). i.e. Plenty of access, and the Forest is a popular place. Aside from those public transportation, the southern entrance to the Forest is at the end of the allotment area where tenants park their car on the road for doing their vegetable garden. Although there are signs saying “No parking other than allotment holders,” I don’t believe all the cars there are for gardeners.
|Nokendai Station West Exit|
|Hitorizawa High School|
Traffic Light seen from Hitorizawa Stop|
where Hitorizawa Shrine resides
|Hitorizawa Shrine that is for a mountain god of Hitorizawa|
|Do you believe this row of cars are all for gardeners?|
|Hitorizawa Shimin-no-mori Entrance Stop|
The most inconvenient thing of Hitorizawa Forest is the location of its toilet. Other than the toilet on the corner where Segami and Hitorizawa Forests meet, there is only one facility situated in the allotment area within the vegetable patches. So I strongly recommend you to enter the forest after finishing necessary things. (I don’t think it is environmentally commendable to resort to an open-air method …) Having said that, finding a toilet before entering into the Forest is DIFFICULT in this part of Yokohama. The Forest is surrounded by the ocean of private houses and condos with almost no convenience stores. So my recommendation is (1) complete the things when you leave the train station, and / or (2) use the toilet in the vegetable patches when you enter from the southern entrance, and / or (3) - this is a kind of uber-technique - get off the bus at the stop next to Hitorizawa Shimin-no-mori Iriguchi Stop, and visit the Building of Residents’ Association for Isogo-dai Park Heights that stands next to Isogo-dai Condo #1. Normally there is somebody, so say hello and ask him / her if it is OK to use their toilet. The locals are very friendly and if you ask politely (with certain desperation) they won’t say no. The facility is definitely clean, at the level of Japanese household standard with Washlet and the like.
only toilet for Hitorizawa Forest,|
in the vegetable patches
of Residents’ Association|
for Isogo-dai Park Heights
To enter Hitorizawa Forest from the northern entrance, walk south for about 20 m from Hitorizawa Shimin-no-mori Entrance Bus Stop, and turn right. The paved road is steeply climbing up. Soon we’ll be welcomed by one of the towers of Enkaisan on the right, which is the tower owned by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation. I guess it has a mission when a disaster strikes to our city. The road ends with steps that lead us to Fujizuka Rest Area ふじづか休憩所. From here to the tower of Tokyo Gas on the right is a row of beautiful camellia trees. They are acting as a hedge between Hitorizawa Forest and the private forest of Gonenji Temple of Enkaizan 護念寺. Gonenji Temple is traditionally famous for its knowledge about moxibustion. Have you ever listened Japanese traditional comedy, Rakugo 落語? One of the popular programs of Rakugo, called Gohjoh Kyu「強情灸（ごうじょうきゅう）」, is about moxibustion at Gonenji Temple. Unfortunately, we cannot enter Gonenji Temple area from Hitorizawa Forest, but we certainly enjoy gorgeous welcomes of large camellia flowers. Eventually on the left we meet the tower of Tokyo Gas, next a large FM tower by NHK, and Isshindo Plaza いっしんどう広場 that is on the border between Segami and Hitorizawa Forests. From Isshindo Plaza, we go south for about 5 minutes along a still wide trekking road. (I return to this road when we go to Kanazawa Citizen Forest.) There is A4 point that is a T crossing bringing us into the heart of northern Hitorizawa Forest.
|A sign post soon after turning right from the bus stop|
|Steep climb …|
|The communication tower of the Ministry|
|Steps to the Forest|
|Fujizuka Rest Area|
|The tower of Tokyo Gas|
The undergrowth near A4 is well taken care of by Girl Scouts of Kanagawa 53 (and, it seems to me, receiving generous grants from several corporations counted in TOPIX). When we take the road along this area of Girl Scouts, the way soon descends down, and we started to see places here and there where water seeps out. Hitorizawa Forest is the origin of Ooka River … yes, that river pouring into the Port of Yokohama at Yokohama Customs Office (Queen’s Tower) in downtown. The source first looks like dry, then becomes a small stream joining each other, and starts to flow in a determined gargling, just like the first cry of newborn babies. In some part, it even hijacks the trekking road: so, make it sure your shoes are water-proof. One of my friends told me in summer the temperature of this route in Hitorizawa Forest is definitely 1 or 2 degrees less than sweltering urban heat in the downtown. If you go there in summer, apply generous amount of insect repellent (of organic peppermint is the best!), and enjoy the pure breathing free of air-conditioning … “Hitorizawa” means “the valley to harvest ice.” Indeed.
|This is the forest of Girl Scouts.|
|The place is well taken care of.|
|The origin of Ooka River|
japonica that is ubiquitous (!) in Hitorizawa Forest.|
Here is the link listing the vegetation of Hitorizawa Forest.
|The stream is forming …|
|and now it is definitely a small river.|
|It’s getting larger.|
The road starting from A4 reaches to a bottom of a valley where warning signs about vipers welcome us. The road becomes wooden decks that run along the now-definite Ooka River. Comparing with the slope we’ve just descended, this part of the trekking is flat, and thus, more people are coming in. Along the way, you’ll visit several congregation of birdwatchers / photographers who position armory of photo equipment to capture the competition-level moment of Hitorizawa Forest. Eventually, in front of us we see the flyover of Yokohama-Yokosuka Road.
|Beware of vipers|
|If you don’t mind the wet condition, picnic is possible here.|
|It is a river.|
|Oyato Plaza おおやと広場 in the middle of the wetland road.|
|People and birds flock each other.|
|Yoko-Yoko Road ahead|
After finding Yoko-Yoko Bridge over there, there is B6 point. From B6 a road on the left goes up to the NHK tower on the ridge way. The climb is steep but within 5 minutes or so it brings us to Ubano-futokoro Plaza うばのふところ広場. It is a dry, sun-lit picnic space surrounded by scented narcissus with several wild cherry trees. On the other hand, if you keep going along Ooka River beyond B6, you find Oyato Rest Area おおやと休憩所 where a promenade of plum trees starts. To enjoy these flowers, February to March would be the best months. Proceeding ahead to go under the bridge of Yokohamna-Yokosuka Road, we come across the end of allotment area that is the southern entrance of Hitorizawa Forest.
|The way is steep.|
|Descending from Ubano-futokoro Plaza on the left is,|
|Oyato Rest Area.|
|The promenade of plum trees|
|There are allotments over there.|
The southern entrance of the Forest is at the end of private farm land and city allotments. We can approach the area directly from Hitorizawa Shrine. Walk about 50m south from the Shrine, turn right and proceed along the Ooka River. Soon in front of you is an elongated field nestled in Hitorizawa Forest. In the middle, there is a small ranch, Hitorizawa Family Ranch 氷取沢ファミリー牧場, with alpacas and rabbits for kids and for mentally handicapped people. They also lend places for picnic and BBQ, serve coffee and cookies, and sell the crafts made by the clients for the facility. (Oh, yes, if you purchase something there, I think you can ask to use their toilet.) There is a small road going to Ooka River from the backside of the Ranch. The way eventually becomes a narrow road with 2 bridges of stepping stones along the River. Everywhere the route is very wet and slippery, but it is a fun to go this way to the Forest!
Hitorizawa Shrine, you’ll be welcomed|
by the sign post (B1) for the Forest,
next to garbage collection area.
|Beginning of the farm fields|
|Hitorizawa Family Ranch|
|The road to Ooka River from the Ranch|
|It goes down to|
|the Ooka River.|
|To the entrance to Hitorizawa Forest on the right|
When we climb up from the road along Ooka River, there is a real bridge that brings us to the southern part of Hitorizawa Forest. After crossing the bridge, there are two ways: one is of stone pavement, and another is a trekking road going up. The paved one leads us to the end of the Valley of Ferns しだの谷 in Kanazawa Botanical Park next to Kamariya Forest. This time, let’s stick to Hitorizawa Forest and climb up the trekking road. For about 15 min, we climb within the forests of cryptomeria japonica first, and then of broadleaf trees. At the top is Nabana Rest Area なばな休憩所 with a spectacular view of … busy Kamariya JCT of Yokohama-Yokosuka Road and … Tokyo Bay Beyond. From here we can see more clearly the massive factory of Nissan in Oppama. From Nabana Rest Area, a ridge way goes down about 600 m to the point B2 that is a crossing of 3-forked road. To the right from here brings us to the Botanical Park. From B2 to the left we return only 50 m or so to B1.
|Bridge over the Ooka River|
|The way to Botanical Park|
|We go this way!|
|There is an open space along the way.|
|Nabana Rest Area|
you see a gigantic ship over there?|
A cruise ship from China?
Nabana Rest Area,|
there is a point of mini-Kiridoshi.
|Down, down, down|
The large Hitorizawa Forest really has many faces, in addition to her utilitarian service for wireless communication towers. Visiting the place will not disappoint us for sure. … But, have you noticed? There is always a humming noise when we are in the Forest … sometimes with thunderous exhausts of Harley Davidsons … Yokohama-Yokosuka Road is running in the middle …
If you find a problem in the Forest, or want to call Volunteers, 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 …)