Friday, June 24, 2016

The Birth of Niiharu Citizen Forest

These days, Niiharu Citizen Forest is a forestry model case for partnership between volunteers and the municipal government, welcoming lots of “official” visitors to learn the system. But, according to Mr. Yoshikazu Asaba浅羽良和in The Story of Making Satoyama Park and CitizenForest: Yokohama Maioka Park and Niiharu Citizen Forest「里山公園と『市民の森』づくりの物語」 (Tokyo: Haru-shoboh はる書房, September 2003, ISBN 4-89984-042-X), it was not so at the beginning. Before Niiharu, Citizen Forests of Yokohama were managed by Lovers of each forest that was organized by landlords who were active managers of the place with a help of neighbors. Niiharu was different. When the city started in 1996 the negotiation for Niiharu as a Citizen Forest, the landlords were OK to make a contract with the city, but clarified they could not participate in forestry. They told the city they had not entered their property for years, and the landlords did not think they were young enough to engage in physically demanding works in the field. In addition, the north of Yokohama is a typical bed town of Tokyo where housing development along Tokyu Den’entoshi Line from Shibuya has been ferocious. The landlords of Niiharu felt a kind of neglect when in the 1970s the municipal government designated their property a development-controlled area. OK, the city decided to preserve the nature of our ancestral land. That’s good, but we also have to eat. If the city restricts the business we can do with our land, you should present more comprehensive development plan to help our community. What’s going on with the city’ idea for tourism promotion and agricultural development in Niiharu? 20 years has passed already, haven’t they? Although the city managed to secure the enough acreage by the end of 1996, the discussion between the city and the landlords was difficult. The issue was who were going to take care of the citizen forest really. Mr. Asaba and Ms. Shizuka Tanami 田並静, both of whom were in charge of actual construction of Niiharu Citizen Forest at the city’s Green Policy Division, could not attend the meetings with the landlords to talk about the detail of the contract for some time.  Helplessly, they used their connections from the 1998 Congress for the Coppice of Japan to discuss the future of Niiharu with Mr. Makoto Okutsu (Yeah, that previous owner of Okutsu House, and the largest landlords in Niiharu then). They gradually formulated the idea of volunteers’ initiative with helps of landlords for Niiharu, i.e. the other way round of the other citizen forests.

It was May 1999, 9 months before the planned opening of the Niiharu Citizen Forest, when Mr. Asaba and Ms. Tanami for the first time attended a meeting with the landlords. Probably without preparation for the regulars of the negotiation, Ms. Tanami declared that before the opening of the Citizen Forest the city organized a forestry training course for 50 citizen volunteers who were expected to be the core member of Lovers organization together with the landlords. The lecturers and trainers of the course would be professional educators of forestry and the landlords themselves. The landlords, led by the leader of residents’ association, Mr. Heihachi Nakamaru 仲丸平八, were taken aback, and expressed openly the concern of this idea of volunteer forestry. Did the bureaucrats consider busy calendar of professional agriculture for training schedule of amateurs? It takes decades for result of good forestry. Those strangers will soon be bored, and gone to leave undone jobs on us. Could the city slickers thin the forest and mow the undergrowth? The 50 downtown guys may attend the lectures and disappear without becoming the Lovers member. We cannot trust them … The discussion turned into an exchange of harsh words, and Mr. Asaba left his words to momentum by guaranteeing the success of the course in front of his boss without permission (ha ha). He also assured the construction design within the forest, such as the course of trekking roads and waterworks, should be determined based on the requests from landlords. After the meeting, Ms. Tanami and Mr. Asaba held a two-day meeting with the expected lecturers of the course, and made it sure the intention of the landlords were respected at most. They also programmed the course where the landlords became the leading instructors, with several sessions for communication between the landlords and the volunteers. The city thought building the trust between the landlords and the forest volunteers was the most important.

In order to prepare for the opening of the citizen forest, a twice monthly 10-day course was scheduled from July to December 1999. Ms. Tanami and Mr. Asaba had less than one month for public subscription for the course, and rain or shine run around the neighborhood of Niiharu for town hall meetings and flyers. The concern was proved unfounded for the seriousness of attendees to the course. The originally planned 50 volunteers became 60, whose applications stated, without fail, their eagerness to join conservation efforts of neighborhood forests. The curriculum included the methodology of assessing forests, the ways and practice to care each kind of trees, ecology of Niiharu, and networking events for volunteers and landlords. Reading the curriculum of the course, I noticed the Niiharu training course 20 years ago became the prototype of forestry training courses the city organizes now. Ms. Toshiko Kitagawa who last April gave us the instruction about spring wild flowers was one of the lecturers. One training day consisted of morning lectures and afternoon field-practices of hard labor with huge logs. It is exactly what we had last fall during Citizen Forestry 101. The course was concluded with networking with veterans, the same as ours last year. For the first Forestry 101 course in 1999, almost all the attendees completed twice a month full-day training of 5 months.

In the process the eager students dispelled the concern of landlords about the fickleness of downtown guys. After the course, preparation to establish the Lovers of Niiharu Citizen Forest began in earnest, and Mr. Nakamaru became the first representative of the Lovers of Niiharu. Early 2000, the newly born Lovers of Niiharu constructed roads in Mukaiyama area which is the area of C-1 to C-5. It was the idea of Mr. Nakamaru. He strongly recommended Mikaiyama for urban novices to learn the land, and Mr. Asaba decided to leave the area for graduation project of volunteers of Niiharu forestry course. In the Niiharu Conservation and Management Plan 新治保全管理計画, the area is defined as an introductory place for urbanites to experience Satoyama ecology. Now the route is one of the most frequented roads by the visitors. Moreover, Mr. Nakamaru researched old names and history of the places within Niiharu that are now shown in the Niiharu map. Mr. Asaba wrote Mr. Nakamaru was one of the reliable community leaders he met during his long tenure for the city office. He understood the 21st century concept of partnership between a community and a municipal government, with the strong trust from his community. Above all, Mr. Asaba concluded, all the community leaders who successfully concluded a citizen forestry project really loved the place they called home, as Mr. Nakamaru did.

Mr. Okutsu, Mr. Asaba, Ms. Tanami, and all the people who contributed to the opening of Niiharu discussed about the projects of Forest Café and educational activities for kids, using Okutsu House as a base. Mr. Okutsu was hospitalized few days before the opening of Niiharu Citizen Forest in March 2000, and passed away 6 months later. In one Sunday afternoon of May this year, there was a yearly general meeting for Lovers of Niiharu. At the occasion, the present representative for Lovers, Mr. Ohkawa, told us Mr. Nakamaru had retired this March from the honorary representative for Lovers, since “he thinks he is old enough.” We will carry the torch of them further. Yeah, “In the long run, we are all dead.” But forests are another long run thing. J

The City Office who’s in charge of execution of Green-up Plan is

Yokohama Municipal Government Creative Environment Policy Bureau 横浜市環境創造局
Phone: 045-671-2891
FAX: 045-641-3490

Friday, June 17, 2016

Maioka Redoux: Mr. Asaba and Citizen Volunteers for Maioka Park 舞岡公園

Let me continue with “The Story of Making Satoyama Park and Citizen Forest: YokohamaMaioka Park and Niiharu Citizen Forest” written by Yoshikazu Asaba浅羽良和(あさばよしかず)「里山公園と『市民の森』づくりの物語」. (Tokyo: Haru-shoboh はる書房, September 2003, ISBN 4-89984-042-X) There is a reason why the relation between Maioka Citizen Forest and Maioka Park is a kind of role reversal. Maioka Citizen Forest has wide semi-paved roads for vehicles, but Maioka Park is with more of trekking roads. Actually, Maioka Park that is next to the Citizen Forest has the history with forest volunteers similar to the other Citizen Forests in Yokohama. According to Mr. Asaba, the planning for Maioka Park began in 1973 with an aim to preserve the scenery and tradition of Japanese countryside amid an extensive urban development. In the early 1970s, although housing development was everywhere in Yokohama and the pressure to bulldoze forests was enormous, the city established a policy to avoid becoming Tokyo, i.e. a megalopolis sans-green but as an ocean of buildings. Then as now, the forests of Yokohama are private property of farmers so that to preserve the greenery the city had to promote local business of farmers. From the beginning, the idea was unique. Mr. Asaba said when he became in charge of the Maioka Park in 1986, he tried to find a urban park with a similar concept and couldn’t discover any. For Maioka of 360ha the city planners demarcated the area with agriculture zone, nature conservation zone, and urban park zone, which was spelled out in 1975 Maioka and Nobo Area Green Plan 舞岡・野庭グリーンプラン. When in 1977 Ministry of Construction notified all the municipal governments to draft Master Plan for Greenery Conservation 緑のマスタープラン, Yokohama responded with Maioka-way where agriculture policy and urban park construction stood side-by-side to preserve and create greenery. Maioka, in effect, became the pilot for green urban planning in Yokohama. The policy implementation started with agriculture promotion in Nobo town (in 1975) and Maioka town (in 1979). At the same time, Maioka-Nobo and Jike areas in Yokohama received grants from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery to define their agri-business in a very urban setting. Jike community decided to make their enterprise as agri-tourism, with ample visitor parking spaces around rice paddies. Maioka chose to supply agricultural products, such as veggies, ham and sausages that are on demand of urbanites in Yokohama. Later these two areas became Our Country Home Forests. So, Maioka Citizen Forests have lots of veggie fields and orchards whose access is made of paved roads funded by the national grant.

Well-paved road leading us to
ag fields within Maioka Citizen Forest
A work of professionals
A vehicle-capable road along an orchard
within Maioka Citizen Forest

“The ownership of the land is private in Yokohama” means it takes time to enclose enough acreage for a park. The south of the current Maioka Park is a sea of houses developed by Keikyu who was in the 1970s eager to advance their territory as quickly as possible. The process of securing land was in competition among the always-poor municipality, large developers including Keikyu, and any other private sectors. In 1979, Meijigakuin University announced they would open Yokohama campus in the planned area for Maioka Park. The urbanites in Maioka were outraged to hear the news. They submitted the city the petition to fund Maioka-Nobo Area Green Plan before permitting the college campus. Though in the end Meijigakuin University took 20ha of the area, the push by the local communities succeeded in budgeting the Maioka-Nobo area plan that made possible 1981 planning for Maioka Park. A housewife who lived nearby housing area, Mrs. Tetsuko Koyanagui 小柳徹子, was one of the community leaders for the Petition. She just wanted to preserve the nature of Maioka for healthy childhood memory of her kids. Mr. Osamu Jumonji 十文字修 who was born and grew up in a town next to Maioka engaged in volunteering to clean Kashio River 柏尾川 that is the end of Maioka River running through the planned Park area. In the summer of 1983, Mrs. Koyanagi, her husband, Mr. Katsuhiko Murahashi 村橋克彦 who lived near the Koyanagi family and also volunteered to clean Kashio/Maioka River, and Mr. Jumonji organized 2 months exhibition for the nature of Maioka Yato in a community center near JR Totsuka Station. The public reaction was enthusiastic: at the end of the exhibition in September, 80 like-minded people founded a group, the Organization for Maioka Water and Green まいおか水と緑の会. Next month, the Organization submitted a request to the mayor about the planned park in Maioka that should preserve traditional country-side scenery and biodiversity, and provide hands-on experience of farming for Yokohama people. Within months, the group started to engage in actual field works such as vegetation surveys, cleaning up, and reconstruction of abandoned rice paddies within the planned park area, but no PR shouting of “save the green.” Their activity soon attracted funding from the Fujifilm Green Fund that was a part of CSR of the company, and in October 1984 the city allowed the group to work in a larger area of planned construction site. Until the official opening of the Maioka Park, the group kept on going with forestry and reconstruction of rice paddies with new members from nearby kindergartens and elementary schools.

One of the Organization’s activities that
has become a tradition of the community
is scarecrow contest every fall.

In 1986 when the city was still struggling to obtain agreement with the landlords, Mr. Asaba became in charge of securing enough acreage for the Maioka Park. Although people from the Maioka Organization loved to preserve the land as traditional Satoyama, the farmers who actually own the land had another idea. For one thing, Japanese stopped increasing the demand for rice long ago and the farmers were in effect forced to stop planting rice in their ancestral land by governmental decrees. (Until 1995, Japanese market for rice was strictly controlled by the national government.) That’s why Maioka Organization found the “abandoned” yato paddies and forests. It was certainly not fair. Mr. Asaba run around for the negotiations with landlords day and night and could not find time to meet Maioka Organization. When in 1988 he succeeded in piling up the acreage to 30ha for the park, the Organization became impatient to hear the detail of the design of the park. By then, they submitted several times the idea for the design of the Park based on their research and activities, and the city was already constructing an “artificial urban park” in the south of the planned area. The Organization visited the city office to demand explanation of the design. It became the first meeting for Mr. Asaba to meet the forest volunteers in Yokohama. They pointed out fancy names in the plan, such as “Valley of Fireflies” for a place without actual fireflies, were nonsense since they were not based on the real ecology of Maioka. According to Mr. Asaba, the city realized they were too busy for the negotiation with landlords, and left the detail of the park design to consultants lacking town hall meetings or scientific field surveys. The partnership between volunteers and Mr. Asaba began. In any case, the construction of urban park by bulldozing coppice continued for some time, which in the end created the scenery of Zelkova Plaza けやき広場 with the municipal administration office for the Park, and Maple Rest Area もみじ休憩所 where wide paved roads go through artificially created lawn field with neat hedges of azaleas and boxes.

Maple Rest Area
Zelkova Plaza

The Organization defended their activity fields in the yato valley and the remaining coppice next to Maple Rest Area. Mr. Asaba was moved by their passion and raised his hand in 1992 to be in charge of yato area construction. He discussed with the Organization countless times about the design of the park around yato. The Organization submitted a detailed plan not only for architectural park design but also for yearly event proposals, facilities for community activities, and an organizational chart for park management. Using the plan Mr. Asaba boldly re-designed the original plan of the city in order to reflect the Organization’s request for nature conservation in traditional scenery. The city and the Organization decided to adopt the detailed zoning in Maioka Park. The area where the Organization was planting rice was designated for educational area to learn traditional agriculture. The places such as Zelkova Plaza and Maple Rest Area are for standard urban park. The remaining coppices are for nature conservation with limited access. I guess this approach to Maioka Park became the masterplan for Conservation and Management Plan of each Citizen Forest.

Urban park area
The nature conservation area of the coppice
next to Maple Rest Area.
The place was called Ninja Forest.
Educational area to learn traditional nature husbandry

To my surprise, the traditional style old farm house, Koyato-no-sato 小谷戸の里, and surrounded ponds and rice paddies are artificially created prototype of “Japanese traditional country house.” Before the construction, this place was a swamp and a small stream. The city reclaimed the large portion of the bog, and moved an old farm house from Higashi Totsuka to make the place a base for the Organization. So, the house with a small museum was not there before 1992. The roads running around Koyato-no-sato and educational rice paddies were also intentionally designed. Mr. Asaba wrote in the book that the city originally wanted to pave all the routes in the Park with fluorescent street lights. Mr. Asaba negotiated with his bosses to keep the roads unpaved with good-ol wooden power poles equipped with ancient-looking naked light bulbs, as we can see in My Neighbor Totoro. Of course the offices in charge of safety in parks were against the idea. Mr. Asaba let energize the light bulbs with underground cable, and made the yato area closed during nights. The electric cables in the Maioka Park are decoration without real electricity running.

The house was rescued
when Higashi Totsuka area was developed for housing.
These ponds, hedges of tea tress and charcoal huts
are re-creation at the end of the 20th century.
It’s really a designed road for
idyllic country life in Yokohama.
One of the gates to yato area opening only with day light.

2 weeks before the opening of the Maioka Park in June 1992, the volunteers and the city dissolved the Organization into a new organization called the Organization to Nurture Maioka Park 舞岡公園をはぐくむ会. The original idea was to mobilize further citizen volunteers for the management of the park with the city maintaining the upper hand. At the beginning coordination between the city and the new Organization did not go smoothly, but volunteers persevered in challenges and kept organizing fieldworks such as rice cultivation, forestry and educational activities for Satoyama knowledge. In 2000 the city transferred the entire control to the volunteers whose organization is now called Yato-Human-Future やとひと未来. Mr. Asaba wrote Maioka Park turned out to be the first Satoyama park in Japan where the partnership between local communities and the government is essential for development of a urban park, and preserves original scenery of pre-industrial life where the urbanites can learn and experience the tradition directly. I think Maioka is an evidence for the evolution of urban planning in Yokohama. The place contains traditional scenery of agricultural life in Japan, productive modern agriculture for veggies and processed meat, and neatly manicured urban parks next to orderly aligned detached modern houses. Maioka Forest keeps the memories of post-war Japanese development.

After the full-opening of Maioka Park in 1996, Mr. Asaba moved to Green Policy Division where he coordinated Citizen Forest volunteers in Yokohama. His final job as a city architect was an opening of Niiharu Forest. Next week, I’ll write what I have found in his book for Niiharu.

Statue of Kappa monsters in Urikubo 瓜久保 of Maioka Park

The City Office who’s in charge of execution of Green-up Plan is

Yokohama Municipal Government Creative Environment Policy Bureau 横浜市環境創造局
Phone: 045-671-2891
FAX: 045-641-3490

Friday, June 10, 2016

Oh, was it so? From a story one former city official wrote about Citizen Forests

Many seniors of Lovers of Niiharu told me there is a book written by a retired city official who was actually in charge of the establishment of Niiharu Citizen Forest. But, as usual, not many people remembered the title. It took about 6 months for me to figure out which book it is. One weekend in May, I finally met it in one of the city libraries. Its title is “The Story of Making SatoyamaPark and Citizen Forest: Yokohama Maioka Park and Niiharu Citizen Forest,” written by Yoshikazu Asaba浅羽良和(あさばよしかず)「里山公園と『市民の森』づくりの物語」. (Tokyo: Haru-shoboh はる書房, September 2003, ISBN 4-89984-042-X) To know how the frontline of the City approached for Citizen Forest scheme, the book is very informative. Mr. Asaba started his working life as a landscaping architect for the city of Yokohama in 1963 and retired in March 31, 2000, 5 days after Niiharu joined the Citizen Forest Family. He stayed in one job for his entire life, to create and conserve greenery in the city of Yokohama. He wrote in 1963 the city office building was a neighbor of many vacant spaces that were occupied by American Occupation Army until recently. Since then, Japan went through rapid economic growth, Yokohama had a population explosion, and the acreage of city park grew from 197 ha in 1963 to 1576 ha in 2000 (; these numbers do not include Citizen Forests or the other conserved greenery). One of Mr. Asaba’s retirement parties was organized by the citizen volunteers who worked with him to establish Maioka Park. The volunteers celebrated his “graduation” by tossing him into the air, i.e. Do-age 胴上げ (; an example is here) … er, it’s difficult to explain … it is the most affectionate way in Japan to applaud somebody’s achievement by a group of people.

Satoyama rice paddies next to Maioka Park in May.
They have completed rice planting already.

When in 1853 Commodore Mathew Perry visited Japan to prize open the closed Japanese door for the Western world, the current downtown area of Yokohama was in the middleof reclamation process of swamps dotted along the coast. Closed Japanese economy constantly required more land for rice cultivation. Nearby Edo (Tokyo)had already 1 million population in 1721. People intended to plant rice along the Yokohama coast. On the other hand, samurais in 1853 did not want to have much contact with foreigners anyway and tried to contain gaijin’s movement without provoking cannons of Commodore Perry. Yokohama’s now-downtown area was a loch surrounded tiny but steep hills, many swamps which were under construction for filling, a sandbank, and rivers. The geography was ideal to lock-up strangers who wanted to stay near Tokyo. Moreover, the land reclamation was completed in 1856 that provided the places for foreigners to build western style buildings, including gardens and parks. The new town for Westerners was born with the first western style gardens /parks in Japan, which is the downtown of Yokohama. Yamate Park was the first Japanese public park built in 1870. Mr. Asaba suggests the history provided a background for the municipal office to think greenery in the city, i.e. a variation of Western approach for Regent’s Park, Central Park, Champs-Elysees, or Unter den Linden. Large well-manicured parks are “in,” like Yamashita Park or Minato-no-Mieruoka Park, and trees lining boulevards are must-haves, such as Ohdori Park and roads in Minato-Mirai area. All of those parks and boulevards are public and maintained by the City. The downtown area of Yokohama is almost entirely reclaimed lands, and the work is still going on. (Do you know there is a plan to reconfigure the mouth of Katabira River and Aratama River next to Yokohama Station?) To see the evolution of Yokohama’s “coast,” I recommend you to go to the south underground corridor connecting JR East ticket gates and Tokyu Toyoko gates in Yokohama Station. The walls there is a mini-museum explaining the construction process of the vicinity of Yokohama Station from the 19th century to the present. When I first saw the photos there, I was frankly flabbergasted … no wonder some call the area around Yokohama Station is Japanese version of Sagrada Familia, i.e. a perpetual large construction process. I guess 150 years of modern city planning this way was good for tourism business. When you ask any (non-Yokohama-local) Japanese about Yokohama, they would say “Ah, that port city with lots of western style park and fashionable streets, isn’t it?”

This is how tourists perceive greenery
in Yokohama.
Woooooooo, it’s very Yokohama (for visitors), isn’t it?

Underground mini-museum

When Mr. Asaba became a city architect, Yokohama was in the middle of population explosion. The provision for public spaces could not keep up with the change. As of 1982, we Yokohama people had the least park acreage per capita, 2 m2, among the largest cities in Japan. In the same year, the top was occupied by the people in Kobe who had more than 7 m2 (… well, it’s still not much). So, Mr. Asaba was busy building municipal playparks for kids in the newly developed residential areas. I remember when I was in elementary school, our playfields was swamps and rice paddies that were surrounded by small forests. Due to untreated household effluent, contaminated stinky river ran nearby, and the rice paddies hosted strong (and definitely not indigenous) American crayfishes. The forests housed rhinoceros beetles and stag beetles that made our summer recess gorgeous. Soon the rice paddies became condos and supermarkets. The swamps were reclaimed to be community parks with swings and picnic benches under the newly planted cherry trees. Decades later the coverage ratio of sewer in Yokohama became 99.99%, which brought back sweetfish to rivers. Next to the former stinking river is our now decades old local parks with pretty cherry blossoms and pansies surrounded by houses and condos. … Where are the beetles?

Play garden near Komaoka Nakago Citizen Forest

Meanwhile, according to Mr. Asaba, his next cubicle colleagues for agricultural policy division were probably in a crisis mode because of the loss of traditional scenery in the inland area of Yokohama. Beyond the hills surrounding the downtown for foreigners, an ancient highway, Tokaido aka Route 1, runs between Tokyo and Kyoto. Many routes are spreading from Tokaido, including the road of ironmongers in the Enkaisan area to Kamakura. There were many agricultural villages connected by the road network where the traditional Satoyama life thrived for more than millennia, but was brutally destroyed by housing developments with bursting population. (… er, well, our family moved from Tokyo when I was a kid). When in 1969 new City Planning National Act 新都市計画法 became effective, the officers in agriculture policy division of Yokohama took an initiative to establish unique criterion for zoning and managed to set aside at least 25% of the city for greenery as urbanization control area. In 1971, the City merged agriculture bureau and park division in order to establish Green Policy Bureau 緑政局 as a one-stop-shop for greenery policy, which was the first governmental experiment in Japan. In the same year, zoning and industrial policy for agriculture in the City was codified 「農業専用地区」制度・要綱 and Outlines of Special Measures to Preserve Greenery in Yokohama 緑地保存特別対策要綱 was established. They were followed by the City Ordinance for Create and Nurture Greenery 緑の環境をつくり育てる条例 in 1973. These 3 policies became the administrative foundation for Citizen Forests. In those early days, the city office which was in charge of Citizen Forests was the agriculture division, not the park division, though they were in the same Green Policy Bureau. So, from the beginning the Citizen Forest program was based on the agreement between the city and the landlords whose ancestors are farmers of Satoyama villages, and the spirit of the policy was for preserving Japanese agricultural tradition, which was very collective. Idea for involving community and partnership between the local government and civil societies were “inevitable,” Mr. Asaba wrote. The borderline case was the forests of Enkaisan around Kanazawa Zoo. In 1969, Kamariya, Mine, Hitorizawa, Segami, Kanazawa, and Nature Sanctuary Forests were designated as a special green space by the Act on the Conservation of Suburban Green Zones in the National Capital Region 首都圏近郊緑地保全法. The city of Yokohama allocated the job to take care of them to the park division, not the ag division. I had a kind of a-ha moment. That’s why Rokkokutoge Hiking Route is surrounded by houses, and very little professional agricultural land nearby. It would be due to “difference in policy priority” between the ag and the park divisions in the city office.

A vista from Kamariya Citizen Forest
And this is a view from Miho Forest.
Between Niiharu and Miho Forests,
there are professional agricultural lands.

Mr. Asaba wrote for some time city officials were aware of such uncomfortableness in the green policy. So, the staff started a project to reorganize the Green Policy Bureau. (Oh yeah, it’s not some outside management consultants who did it.) In 1987, they completed the sorting of the Bureau’s job into ag policy, urban park issues, creation of greenery, and coordination of the above 3 within the Bureau. They decided to let the office in charge of greenery creation, greenery policy division, take care of all the Citizen Forests. At the same time, the city began to organize the system to connect forests that desperately needed maintenance jobs, and ordinary Yokohama people who wanted to be engaged in conservation of local greenery. The city officials defined their job as a coordinator between the forests and the volunteers, i.e. they decided not to monopolize forestry in the city. In 1994, the city began organizing formal support system for volunteers. The project included calls for volunteer participants, town hall meeting for local community to explain the idea of forest conservation by civic partnership, coordination between volunteers and ward offices, lectures of environmental science by college professors, lab sessions for thinning trees, how-to for democratic group formation (you know, planning for a fair organizational structure, deciding quorum system, making a rule of the group … that kind of things), and volunteer-wide networking conferences. The networking was culminated in 1998 when Yokohama hosted the 6th Congress for the Coppice of Japan. Mr. Asaba wrote he moved to Greenery Policy Division in 1996 and organized lots of those programs. He never experienced a shortage of citizen participants, and concluded people in Yokohama really wanted to have a direct and daily connection with green environment, not just pass through a tree-lined road. By then, Mr. Asaba has accumulated professional experience of partnership with civic organization in Maioka Forest. There is a story. I write it in the next post. J

The list of Yokohama Citizen Forests
As of May 2016
Date Opened
Acreage (ha)
Kozukue Castle
Shomyoji Temple
Kumano Shrine
Bugenji Temple
In development
In development
In development
In development
In development
In development
In development

The rose garden of Minato-no-Mieruoka Park
in the downtown of Yokohama.
It is a typical municipal garden for “visitors” in Yokohama.
They are capable of receiving thousands of people yearly.
A road in Araizawa Forest …
it might be better not advertising this place too much
… its atmosphere is magical,
but the ecology does not have the capacity
of the rose garden above …

The City Office who’s in charge of execution of Green-up Plan is

Yokohama Municipal Government Creative Environment Policy Bureau 横浜市環境創造局
Phone: 045-671-2891
FAX: 045-641-3490