Friday, January 15, 2016

The Forest of Princess Mononoke, up-to-date: Kanazawa Citizen Forest 金沢市民の森

25.7 ha Kanazawa Citizen Forest was established in 2011, i.e. new, with 2.1 k road. In the map of Enkaisan Area, Kanazawa Citizen Forest is the area surrounded by a residential area of detached houses to the west, and 3 forests (Segami Citizen Forest, Kanazawa Natural Park, and the Nature Sanctuary) to the other directions. As such, the access to the Forest via mechanized transportation is limited. The nearest bus stop for the Forest is Shodo Stop 庄戸停留所 for Kanachu-bus Minato-35 -35 service from JR Konandai Station 港南台駅. (Time table, here.) But, frankly, not many people come to the Forest via this route. At the moment for hikers and trail-runners, the Forest is a corridor, not a destination, to Nature Sanctuary and to Kamakura. One of the reasons why it is so is obvious in the map: the way to venture into Kanazawa Forest is quite limited. The allowed roads in the Forest are from A7 point to A10 for north-south, and to H2 to the east. G13-G16 is also the road within the Forest, and a part of Rokkoku-toge Hiking Course 六国峠ハイキング・コース. (We try this route later.) All are running on the circumference of the Forest, and the rest is off-limit. Even so, there is a motivation for the people to walk / run these roads.

The houses in the west of Kanazawa Forest
The north-south road of the Forest runs
almost on the border between
the Forest and the residential area.

So, to visit Kanazawa Forest, we first go to Kamakura, Nature Sanctuary, or Issindo Plaza of Segami Forest. Here, I tell you “Beetles Trail,” the way from Issindo Plaza. When it is written in Japanese, it’s pronounced like “Beatles Trail” so that many people imagine this place might be loved by Fab 4. Though the local consensus is for Beetles Trail, probably during summer we may be able to meet lots of beetles there. Anyway, from Isshindo Plaza, a reasonably big road starts to the south, that has the heaviest traffic among the 3 roads going into the Forest from the point. We simply follow the crowd, which brings us to the ridgeway running on the western edge of Kanazawa Forest. This road ends with the Visitor Center at the Nature Sanctuary. Although it is prohibited for motorized vehicle to enter this road, the entire route is wide enough even for mountain bikers to pass each other. i.e. The promenade is easy to walk for kindergarteners and groups of abuelitas with Nordic poles. One fine winter weekend, I’ve met dozens (yes, plural) of trail runners who are preparing for Tokyo and/or Yokohama Marathons in the Forest.

Yayyyyy! This time I managed to meet Mt Fuji at A1!
Isshindo Plaza: Sunday is the activity day
for the volunteers of Segami Forest.
Preparing for 42.195K
This road goes like this to the end.
A part is even cobbled.

Actually, the road is the watershed between Katase River pouring to Sagami Bay at Enoshima and Ooka River going to Tokyo Bay. Historically, it acted as a border between Musashi 武蔵 and Sagami 相模, both of which are names of the old administrative districts in Japan till 1890. Musashi was for the present-day Tokyo Prefecture, a part of Saitama Prefecture, and a part of the City of Yokohama. Sagami is for the rest of the current Kanagawa Prefecture. The road has been used heavily for millennia and was popular for ironmongers: Enkaisan area has several remains for the workshops of ancient ironmongery, called Tatara たたら. Aside from iron ore, in order to forge a beautiful Japanese sword, people needed tons of fuel that was supplied from forests. Enkaisan area with several Tatara factories means, until the modern ironmongery started, Segami, Hitorizawa, and Kanazawa Forests could have experienced several times of deforestation for generations. The place is the forest of Princess Mononoke. The wide road in the forest frequented by humans is a remnant of the memory of the community.

The route has several points
suggesting ancient civil engineering.
The roots of the large trees are bare here and there
over the compacted soil,
 often with a polished feature even like furniture.
I think it is due to sustained heavy human traffic.
There also is a new bridge.

Coming from Isshindo Plaza, the road first meets with an entrance from Shodo Bus Stop at A7, which is Baitakusan Rest Area 梅沢山休憩所. This is the start of Kanazawa Forest. Just keep going to the south along the ridge way, and we find A9 point. When we turn left here, the road goes down to the point G12 where we can meet the hiking road from Kanazawa Bunko 金沢文庫 to Kamakura Ten’en 鎌倉天園. Although this road is a detour around the prohibited area, it is still wide comparing with the standard trekking roads in a mountain. So, we still meet trail-runners here often.

Baitakusan Rest Area
This is a new “monument” of Ksitigarbha. Cute. J

The road going down from A9
With provisional signs
The crossing to H2
To G12, there are long stairs.

Without going to the detour on the left at A9, we eventually reach to A10, the end of Kanazawa Forest, or the beginning of the Nature Sanctuary. On the left, there are another stairs going up steeply. This route leads us to the Peak of Oomaruyama Mountain 大丸山 of 156.8 m. (Well, you can call it a hill, if you like.) This is the highest “mountain” in the City of Yokohama!  The top of Oomaruyama has lots of picnic benches with a spectacular view of Tokyo Bay. In a fine day, we can see Chiba Prefecture over there. By the way, the highest point of the City is not Oomaruyama, but Ohirayama 大平山 (alt. 159.4m) that is on our way to Kamakura along Rokkoku-toge Hiking Course. Stay tuned!

Tatara Road
The west side of the wide road is
sharply tumbling down to the residential area.
It says, “Oomaruyama Mountain, this way.”
“Final Attack”
Why did you want to climb Mt. Oomaruyama?
"Because it's there."
Kites are eyeing for the lunch of hikers …
Could you figure out Boso Peninsula 房総半島over there?

So, why can’t we enter the center of Kanazawa Forest? Is it because the landlord, Keikyu Co., has a nefarious plan of world domination? Are they Spectre and do we need 007? (I hope) Not. Currently, there a road construction work of the national level is underway. It is the most delayed part for the building of Metropolitan Intercity Express Way (Ken-o-do 圏央道). Do you remember the protest banners we found near Araizawa Citizen Forest? That part of the City is planned to have an open-air interchange of Ken-o-do from Chigasaki City, and thus raises a strong objection of residents. From there, the high-powered road goes underground to Kamariya JCT we observed from Nabana Rest Area of Hitorizawa Forest, and joins to the Yokohama-Yokosuka Road. The underground of off-limit area of Kanazawa Forest is now dealt with the Japanese tunnel digging technology used for the Channel Tunnel and the Bosporus Subway System. For a wider populace of the metropolitan Tokyo, once the Ken-o-do is completely open, the congestion of Tomei Expressway, Road 246, Road 16 and Road 1 shall be relieved. But apparently the neighborhood of Araizawa Forest doesn’t like it, and Kamariya JCT is emitting exhausts to the largest forest complex of the City of Yokohama (whose possible effect is …, wait for our next destination, the Nature Sanctuary). Inevitably, the consortium of constructors has chosen to proceed with the matter slowly, with lots of town meetings, environmental impact reports, and photo exhibitions of their CSR activities. Is it all about NIMBY with urbanization, or something else calling for Princess Mononoke? … It is certain we cannot enter the center of Kanazawa Forest for a foreseeable future.

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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