Friday, July 29, 2016

The Disrupted Highway: Asahina-Kita Citizen Forest 朝比奈北市民の森

On April 1, this year a new member joined the family of Yokohama Citizen Forests. It is Asahina-Kita Citizen Forest. The above photo is currently only map available in the internet for the Forest. Actually, the City has not yet prepared the hard-copy version of it either. So, this info might be handy for some time if you plan to go there. The trekking routes within the Forest are the brown lines. It’s simple and every point has clearly shown signs with a number corresponding to the index in the map. (For example, this map is at point 26.) If you walk vigorously, or do a trail-run, the time you spend in the Forest could be less than 1 hour. But I think breezing past Asahina-kita Forest is a waste of occasion to experience remnants of Japanese history. The Forest is located at an interesting site for Japanese traditional civil engineering.

It’s point #17.

The Forest is in the north of Asahina Bus Stop at the left edge in this map of Enkaisan Hiking Course. It is in the south of Kanto-Gakuin University Kanazawa Bunko Campus, practically separated from Yokohama Nature Sanctuary by (often very busy) Asahina IC of Yoko-Yoko Toll Road. Asahiha town is one of the oldest towns in Yokohama that is a gateway for more than 1000 years to Kamakura from the direction of Tokyo. Before the era of mechanized transportation, people of the town joined the festivals in Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine 鶴岡八幡宮 which is in less than 4 km from the town. They walked the ridge ways in Asahina-kita Forest joining to the Beetles Trail at the forest of Nature Sanctuary. According to one of the local elders, those ancient routes on the ridges were completely disrupted by Asahina IC. He didn’t say “there is no access,” but it seems to me the remaining hiking routes to Beetles Trail from the Forest must go into the private properties where landlords are not happy to have trespassers. So, let’s stick to the brown lines of the map.

The Forest has lots of signs like this:
“Beyond this line is not Citizen Forest.
Visitors are asked to keep out.
Office for the Park Greeneries in the South.”

The Forest has 3 entrances. One is from the north, via the campus of Kanto-Gakuin University. We take Keikyu Bus Route Bun-2 -2 from the West Exit of Keikyu Kanazawa Bunko Station 京急金沢文庫, and go to the terminal stop, Nomura-jutaku Minamiguchi 野村住宅南口. (Time table, here.) It is a bus ride of about 20 minutes. From the bus stop walk south along the campus, and on the left you’ll see steps going down. It is the entrance to Asahina-kita Forest with site number 1 in the map. From here to number 4 is a kind of park road within the campus, passing 2 college buildings. If you prefer more trekking style access, the other two points from the south of the Forest are yours. Both are from busy Prefectural Road 23, aka Kanjoh 4-go 環状4 (Circular Road 4). One is to enter the Forest from #28 near Daido Chugakkoh Mae (Daido Middle School) Bus Stop 大同中学校前. You can also choose another, #24 from Asahina Bus Stop 朝比奈 next to Daido Chugakkoh Mae. From these 2 entrances we have to climb a steep slope to the point #11 that meets with the route from Kanto-Gakuin. There is no direct pedestrian road between #24 and #28 other than the Circular Road 4 with lots of cars. These two bus stops are reachable from Keikyu Kanazawa Hakkei Station 京急金沢八景 by Route Kama-24 -24 to JR Kamakura Station. It’s the bus to go to the Nature Sanctuary from the Kanazawa Hakkei Stop in front of the Mitsui-Sumitomo Bank. (Time Table, here.) Next week, I report you a pedestrian short-cut to Kamakura from Asahina-kita Forest. I think entering from Daido Chugakkoh Mae would be wiser for our plan. So in this post I report my experience from the entrance #28.

Daido Chugakkoh Mae
(Daido Middle School)
Bus Stop
If you choose Asahina Stop,
you first walk back a bit to 7/11 convenience store, and
cross the road to enter a small way to the residential area.
By the way, 7/11 has a public toilet.

When we get off the bus at Daido Chugakkoh Mae, you’ll see at the other side a white cliff which looks like a left-over from a road construction. The place has a sign explaining Hana-kake Jizo (Lack Nose Jizo 鼻欠け地蔵 … somebody’s using this place for geocathing!). The white cliff is a remnant of a Buddha figure curved there ages ago. The road goes up next to Lack Nose Jizo is #28 entrance to Asahina-Kita Forest. From here to #26 where the photo of the top of this post is taken, the road is very wide. A horse can pass easily. This is a comparatively well-kept ancient arterial road connecting Kamakura and the northern cities around Tokyo Bay, including Edo (Tokyo). The degree of weathering of Lack Nose Jizo tells us the oldness of this place, and the width of the road indicates the road was important. From #26, the route becomes more of a trekking road. Within 5 minutes we’ll be welcomed by a new resting place. The map does not tell us the name of the place, and there is no sign other than “The rest place.” Anyway, there are 3 picnic tables facing the mountains of Kamakura-Zushi area. You can take a breath here, if you like. (Though, no toilet or water, here or anywhere in the Forest.) 

Lack Nose Jizo.
The end of the rock surface was about the border
between ancient Musashi Prefecture and Sagami Prefecture.
Could you see a road on the right?
It is the entrance to the Forest.
Point #28
Go straight!
After #26, the road is in a trekking spec.
Soon we’ll meet a new steps on the left,
A view from the top of the steps.
This open space is really new.

Returning to the road from the rest place, we soon realize this is a curved route ages ago by people. The typical hardpan of the area is constructed here and there, though narrow. We also find lots of notice saying “Beyond this line is not Citizen Forest.” Peeping through the notice boards and trees, there are vegetable fields. I felt a kind of agony of landlords … “Well, we want to keep this land, but … OK make it open along the ancient road, but the rest is …” Between #13 and #11 is a road clinging to a cliff looking down the northeast which is a newly developed residential area, The other side of the cliff road is probably (as we cannot see) farm fields of landlords with ancestral land. The wave of urbanization towards the ancient forest is barely stopped thanks to the geography. From #11 point to Kanto-Gakuin Campus, it’s only 300 m or so with little ups and downs. We’ll be greeted by a long blue wire-mesh that was the same materials used for the entrance of Sekigaya Citizen Forest. Sekigaya Forest is located at the opposite side of the campus from Asahina-kita Forest. “Beyond the mesh is the property of the University.” OK, OK.

It is definitely man-made.
An artificial mini-valley
“Please keep out.”
Beyond the cliff would be farmland.
“The other side”
The campus begins.

From #11 point to the south, the trekking road first climbs up steeply, and then goes down rapidly to Circular Road 4. This part is similar to the standard roads in the other Citizen Forests. I guess, the road to Kanto-Gakuin University would be a part of old highway connecting to Beetles Trail, aka the Road of Iron-mongers, and to Ten’en of Rokkoku Toge. In contrast, the road from #11 to #24 was local utility route. Soon we find ourselves in a small clearing with lots of high grasses. Down there on the right is a bamboo forest which, with my eyes after bamboo-shoots harvesting in Niiharu, would need more human interventions … Soon we will be welcomed by another map for Asahina-kita Forest with number 12. The road goes down further, and when we see the roof of a temple on the right beyond the bamboos, the road becomes steps directly carved on the hardpan. The temple is an abandoned structure, next to a cemetery for locals. Its precinct has a magnificent cephalotaxus harringtonia with the sign saying “registered tree at Kanagawa Prefecture.” Please admire it from the direction of the cemetery. I loved it! Leaving the temple, we cross a small bridge whose handrail has the sign “#24 Asahina-kita Citizen Forest.” Well, it’s just one hour or so small walk up to here. We can proceed to the other side of Circular Road 4, actually as the people of 800 years ago did. I report you my adventure there next week. J

A brief steep climb,
then tumbling down.
Yeah, this scenery is more familiar.
Small open space
I think they can make the bamboos fatten
if they thin the space.
#12 point
An abandoned temple
The precinct was too small to capture
the entire form of this huge tree
with my simple camera … sorry.
From #24, walk to the direction of Asahina IC.
You’ll find Asahina Bus Stop
(on the side going to Kanazawa Hakkei Station.)

If you find a problem in Asahina-Kita Citizen 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 …)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Caution! Dangers in Forests of Yokohama: Wasps, or selfish humans

Wasps. The Lovers volunteers thinned the chamaecyparis obtusa and pisifera last March, near Zone C of Niiharu. In the process, we lopped off branches and simply piled them aside in the field in order to make logs easy to be trundled. The cut branches became a huge hedge that looked like a newly built wall from afar. Removing the logs and sweeping the field after the operation were not supposed to take 5 months. It did, in the end. (Er, volunteer work is once in a week, you know …) We completed the task this month, July, which means there was enough time for weeds to spread over the pile of branches. It became an ideal nesting ground for wasps. Woops. First, the neighboring landlord who’s doing farm work next to the pile complained that the spreading weeds started blocking the road he commuted every day. So one activity day in early July, aside from works to load the logs on a truck, the volunteers mowed the weeds invading the road a bit. Then, the menacing buzz came out. Wooooooow. “Get away!” A large tiger-stripe with wings appeared from a hole facing the road, and flying to sentinel around the pile. “Gee, we should have completed this job earlier …” “Anyway, stopgap measures! Return to the office hut to collect a spray insecticide.” July is in the early stage of nest building for wasps. Precaution could work. So, since then during the final phase of the operation, we treaded carefully around the pile of branches. Every time my seniors brought huge spray cans of insecticide whose label said “The range of emission: 10 m.” “10 m, really?” “Let’s do a trial.” “Ready, aim, spray!” “… 5 m, I guess.” “Is it effective?” “Well, better than nothing, I hope.”

An anti-wasp spray and a first-aid box are ready in the field.
Hm, this ad in a drug store says the spray will reach 11 m.
Anyway, we’ve moved all the logs, at last. Yayyyyy!

Basically, getting rid of wasps and other dangerous animals in private land is the job landlord must pay. The thinning operation was done in a private land next to the Citizen Forest, so that the City won’t pay for it. In addition, there is this huge pile of branches and boughs. The farmer who’s commuting every day to the field next to the pile thinks the “hedge” annoyance. The large pile must be disposed promptly as a trash produced in a private property, which could cost something. The amount is too large to be sneaked in household garbage for the City to collect. Disposing branches and other remnants after the forestry in metropolitan Tokyo area is becoming a huge problem. This Niiharu episode is not unique. The economizing landlord told the Lovers, “Please burn the pile.” “Hey, it’s very dangerous to set fire now. Did he ask it to our Chairman?” “Yeah.” “Wooooow.” Humid summer in Yokohama makes it difficult to watch if the fire is controlled. Besides, we are entering the months when the activity of wasps reaches to the max. Setting a fire could trigger “a wasp war.” The idea to deal with this problem became, (1) the Lovers will deal with the pile during winter when the activity of wasps are dormant, and the weeds can be controlled, and (2) the landlord of the thinned area must negotiate with his neighbor to wait until then; any possible cost during the waiting should be the responsibility of the landlord. A first-year newbie of me for Niiharu Lovers is holding my breath how the issue would be settled. The executive office of Lovers must mobilize intricate ability of diplomacy in the Niiharu community … civil-society based forestry has its own peculiar difficulty …

The weeds are approaching to the utility road …
An entrance to wasp nest

So, meanwhile, in this post I list the dangers you may encounter during summer in the forests of Yokohama. The first hazard I have to call your attention is, of course, wasps; in Japanese, Suzumebachi. They can kill you if you are bitten and have an anaphylaxis shock. On average 20 people died every year in Japan due to a wasp attack. Although we can find many “country hedges” made in situ in public and private forests these days, Niiharu Lovers seniors are now critical of this practice. The hedge made in this way is an ideal nesting place for wasps in Japan. “Now, how does the City think of this problem, huh?” The take-away in our episode is, please be careful when you find country hedges in the Forest of Yokohama. When unfortunately you meet one of them, never try to brush them off. Your movement shall be interpreted as a declaration of war for them. You stay calmly still while they are buzzing around you. Eventually, they conclude you are just passing by, and move on. When the coast becomes clear, you can start moving again. For precaution, we can purchase poison remover for about 1000 yen via internet, or in home centers, large drug stores, Tokyu Hands, and other places. This site explains how to use a kit available in Japan (in Japanese). When bitten, according to the advice of Wakayama Prefecture, (1) wash the affected area with running water. (2) Apply the remover to suck out the poison. (3) Apply anti-histamine. (4) See the doctor ASAP. If you are bitten once before, twice bitten could mean death within 15 minutes. Please be careful.

Poison Removers.
I found them in one of the special stores for mountaineering.

The next one which is easy to encounter is rhus javanica var. chinensis, Nurude in Japanese. It was used as poor peoples’ lacquer for wooden dishes. The similarity does not end here. Although it’s not as strong as sumac tree, many people can still react to them. If your toddler innocently touches them, you’d better wash their hand immediately with cold running water, and watch carefully for allergic reaction. If the situation worsens, go to see a doctor. Nurude is a pioneer plant so that harsh conditions of urban forest are a kind of their field. We can find them along a paved road in Yokohama Nature Sanctuary. Please be careful.

Rhus javanica var. chinensis.
The point to identify them is,
watch for the arrangement of leaves and the stems.
They have this orderly leaf-formation
with a kind of leafed stems.
They are very common in Yokohama Citizen Forests.

And of course, poison ivy. Japanese version has its own Latin name, toxicodendron orientale. They are also regulars in the forests of Yokohama. When they are climbing up trees, it is easy to recognize, but the distance can fool our eye. They often hide within the thick undergrowth. We are a sort of surprised to know how big their leaves are when we look at them close-by. It would be easy to touch them without recognizing. Better keeping the trekking road where the undergrowth is clear.

Young poison ivy in Niiharu
And they can hide within the vegetation under the tree.

I also have to mention artaxa subflava and euproctis pseudoconspersa. Actually, they are more common in urban small gardens and tree-lined streets in downtown Yokohama, especially when there are camellias. Their body, both caterpillars and adults, have small but numerous venomous hairs which can trigger allergic reaction for almost anybody. According to the advice from Health and Welfare Bureau of Yokohama, if you are stung by them, (1) wash the affected area with fresh running water, then (2) with the duct tape, try to remove the hairs from the body; never try to sweep them by anything other than strongly sticky tape. When you use your hand to remove them your hand will have reaction. Moreover, their hairs are tiny and light. They are easy to be blown away and inhaled, which could cause internal  allergic response.  (3) Wash the part again with running water. (4) Repeat (1)-(3), until the itches and swelling recede. (5) When the reaction continues or serious, visit the clinic.

Camellias are really common in all over Yokohama.
So, we must be careful for venomous euproctis,
especially during spring and summer.

And for anybody’s fear, there are poisonous snakes. In Japan there are 3 kinds of natives in this category: Japanese pit viper, rhabdophis tigrinus, and protobothrops flavoviridis. In Kanagawa Prefecture, we have the first 2 of them, but rhabdophis tigrinus are living in Tanzawa and Hakone. (Oh, by the way, Tanzawa and Hakone are called Okuyama, which means the mountains beyond Satoyama.) So, when you hike the area in Yokohama, Kamakura, or Miura Peninsula, the only snake business we have to be attentive is for Japanese pit viper. The first thing we must do is NEVER venture into the off–road. Yokohama’s forests have many damp grounds that can be covered by thick vegetation. Those are the places where Mamushi call home. Unless you know the ground really well, it is difficult to identify such sites just by looking. The locals who know the forest inside-out never dare to go inside the spots during spring and summer. Second, the vipers can also come out of their places to the trekking road. Our line of defense is noise. When we walk and make enough human noise in advance, such as sweeping noise by canes as we walk, timid vipers notice we are approaching and leave to avoid encounter. In case you are bitten, try to see the doctor ASAP. This newspaper article last year reported a research that found people running to the clinic for 18 minutes (average) after a viper encounter had a better result in treatment than those waited ambulance to see a doctor. Although running would hasten your heart beat and make the poison to circulate your body faster, laying in a mountain road waiting for emergency rescue makes the matter worse. It’s a matter of life and death, really.

Caution! Vipers are here!
In Niiharu, the left, viper, is dangerous.
But the right, Japanese rat snake, is harmless.
I’ve met rat snakes many times in Niiharu this July.

… But, really, no one knows if we encounter cobras or rattle snakes in the forests of Yokohama. It is an international port town. Currently, 40% of Yokohama’s vegetation is alien species. The poisonous foreign species could easily escape from the Container Terminals. In addition, this is the city more than 3 million urbanites live. Many commuting to overseas and could bring diseases such as Dengue or Zika. So mosquito and other insect repellent should be very useful in the forests of Yokohama. The traditional Japanese mosquito coil is the most popular. They are also effective to fend off common orthorrhapha whose bite can again cause allergic reaction.

An ignited mosquito coil can be portable within this container.
These are high tech version for mosquito coils.
With batteries, some can last 480 hours.
Lots of insect repellent in drug stores
But I think this organic peppermint oil is
the most effective among those repellents.
Caution, based on my experience:
NEVER apply it near your eyes.
I learned firsthand the reason
why it can ward off the insects …
its very minty vapor rapidly evaporates …
I cried, really. +.+
The peppermint oil spray is available
in sports gadget stores.
My peppermint spray. Inside the box is this tiny bottle.

Hmmmmmm … come to think of it, all of these cautions are for humans. Those “pests” must have their reason to cause problem on us … Do you know some temples in Kamakura do not equip mosquito coils or other equipment to kill pests. The monks think killing creatures is anti-Buddha. They use only organic repellents such as strong hot pepper water to be situated in a bottle at the corners. It is our responsibility for that huge pile of branches in Niiharu … In the end humans can be the most tricky to control in the forests in Yokohama, perhaps …

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, July 15, 2016

Dance, Dance, Dance! Koajiro Forest 小網代の森

Miura Peninsula 三浦半島 that pokes out from Honshu Island from around Segami 瀬上 Hitorizawa 氷取沢Citizen Forest of Yokohama into the Pacific Ocean has its own characters. Thanks to frequent visits to Enkaisan Hiking Area 円海山 during this blog, I became acquainted with its hard-pan with very shallow top soil created by tectonic crashes between Eurasian, North American and Philippine Plates. From the tops of Omaruyama 大丸山 and Ohirayama 大平山 Mountains, I also saw lots of huge ships pass very near to the coast of Yokohama in Tokyo Bay. There is a geographical reason for this. The natural structure of the eastern side of the Bay along Boso Peninsula 房総半島 is shoals so that without massive human engineering it is difficult for large ships to sail along that side. In contrast, the western bottom of Tokyo Bay is far deeper. During the Ice Age, the Tokyo Bay was a land. In those days, Tone 利根川, Watarase 渡良瀬川, and Tama 多摩川 Rivers came from the north and became one somewhere around Tokyo Disneyland. They went south-west further to pour into the old sea near Miura Beach 三浦海岸. The former river bed makes the sea-lane narrow, but deep enough for the 21st century huge cruise ships from China and the US aircraft carriers coming in Tokyo Bay.

Ships, ships, over there …

For somebody who chose Edo / Tokyo as the capital city of Japan, controlling the traffic of natural sea highway in Tokyo Bay is the matter of national security. When Tokugawa Ieyasu 徳川家康, the founder of Edo Shogunate that governed Japan from 1600 until1867, built Edo, he brought a family of fishermen-cum-ninjas from Osaka to let them watch the sea-lane 24/7 at the innermost part of the Bay. In return the ninjas received the superior right to catch fishes and established in the early 17th century the Edo fish market to sell their catch. It is the origin of Tsukiji Fish Market 築地市場, the largest fish market in the world (; and it will be closed this NovemberThis book by Kyoko Fukuchi 福地享子 tells the story of ninjas with mouth-watering recipes. J) Tokugawa Government also established at Uraga town 浦賀 facing the entry way to the Bay a large checkpoint for inspecting ships. That’s one of the reasons why Commodore Mathew Perry stopped at Uraga in 1853. After 1867, Japanese government installed military facilities in Miura Peninsula where Yokosuka served as the HDQ of Japanese Imperial Navy till 1945. Inevitably, the entrance to Miura Peninsula, south of Yokohama and Kamakura, was strictly controlled for these 350 years. Even villagers who fished and cultivated in and around the peninsula for millennia had to carry ID to bring out their catches and vegetables outside for commerce. (This book tells us how they managed their daily life during pre-World War II.) Though, the story has another side. Because of the sustained governmental traffic and development control until recently, the Peninsula has several points where its original ecology is preserved comparatively well. One of them is a hidden gem, Koajiro Forest 小網代の森, opened in July 2014. (Map, here.)

A long-legged fellow near Miyanomae Toge, Koajiro Forest

Koajiro Forest is one of the National Trust Forests in Japan, managed jointly by Kanagawa Green Trust かながわトラストみどり財団 and Kanagawa Prefecture. The rough structure of the management for the National Trust greenery in Kanagawa Prefecture is similar to Yokohama’s Citizen Forest. Kanagawa Prefecture collects the donation which is partially local tax deductible, and pools it at Kanagawa Green Trust. With the money the Green Trust manages the greenery owned by the Prefecture, or makes the contract with the private landlords who agree with the environmental conservation in their property managed by the Trust. Unlike the City of Yokohama there is no Green Tax, but the way to fund the greenery management is National Trust system. Unlike Lovers organizations for Yokohama Citizen Forest, the Green Trust manages both the public fund and the forestry works. The field forestry jobs in Koajiro Forest are a kind of subcontracted to volunteers of local communities and NPO Koajiro Field Activity Coordination Conference 小網代野外活動調整会議, just like the structure of Niiharu Council for Niiharu Citizen Forest. The Koajiro people are studying the Forest since 2007, thinned far-too-large trees on the steep cliff slopes that could trigger landslides, and controlled water and invasive plants to stop aridification of wetlands along the small streams running from near the hill-side entrance to the sea. The Forest preserves the delicate environment of freshwater and seawater evolved along this water system. And, the Forest is a home for very very very cute cheerleading troops, some of which constantly welcome the visitors with happy dance. They are crabs.


The only place we can safely park our car near Koajiro Forest is in Seabornia Riviera Yacht Harbor シーボニア, 1 km west from the seaside entrance to the Forest. You have to spend at least 2000 yen there to leave the car free for 2 hours. The nearest train station for the Forest is Misakiguchi Station 三崎口, the terminal station of Keikyu. From the station, it is about 20 min. walk to the hill side entrance of the Forest (which is on busy National Route 134, and hence parking is illegal). We can use bus to go to Hikihashi Stop 引橋 for the hill-side entrance, or to Seabornia Iriguchi Stop シーボニア入口 for the sea-side entrance. To Hikihashi Stop, go to Misakiguchi Bus Stop #1 for San-4 -4 service (to Aburatsubo Marine Park 油壺マリンパーク; time service, here) or Stop #2 for San-5, 10, 11 ,24, 26-5, 10, 11, 24, 26 (to Misaki-Higashioka 三崎東岡 / Misaki Port 三崎港; time table, here) and Su-6, 7 (to Misaki-Higashioka / Misaki Port; time table, here) services. It’s a 5 min. bus ride, and further 5 min. walk brings us to the entrance of the Forest. If you prefer climbing up, Seabornia Iriguchi Stop is yours, which is in a 15 min. bus ride with San-4 service. Between Seabornia Iriguchi Stop and the sea-side entrance of the Forest, it is a 15 minutes’ walk mainly through alley ways through the fishermen’s village (and hence, no parking space).

Keikyu Misakiguchi Station.
In front to the station is the bus terminal.
A noodle café in the Station has a peculiar menu.
“Tuna Sashimi Buckwheat Noodle,” “Tuna croquet,” etc.
A kiosk in the Station also provides us
to see what’s in offer in this town.
In addition to fresh turbo cornutus and other fishes,
this shelf is for various dried seaweeds and
the variety of instant miso-soup
with several seafood stocks.
Hikihashi Stop.
From here the route is the same as we walk from the station.
Please see below.
En route on foot from the Station,
sign posts like in this photo on the left lead us to the Forest.
It’s easy to follow.
Seabornia Iriguchi Stop
Walk to this direction from the bus stop.
The blue billboard over they says “Turn right here to Seabornia.”
Turning right, it’s a slope.
We will eventually see those holiday condos ahead of us.
They are Seabornia Condos.
At the bottom, in front of the entrance to Seabornia,
there is this public toilet.
This one, though not in western style,
is more permanent structure than the other in the Forest.
We can identify the forest over there in front of the toilet.
It’s Koajiro Forest. Just go straight.
Koajiro is a fishing town.
There are several parking spaces along the road,
but they are for fishing business only.
At the end of the road is here,
and we take an alley over there to the Forest.
It’s just one road …
… and ends at Shirohige Shrine 白髭神社.
This shrine worhips Shirohige Myojin
aka Nakatsutsuno’o Mikoto
Generally, Shirohige Myojin is alias for Sarutahikono Mikoto
who is very large-nosed Caucasian lookalike god in Japanese mythology.
Nakatsutsuno’o Mikoto appears in one of the early episodes of Japanese founding myth.
He is a bit cursing deity of sea who demands proper respect,
otherwise becomes very happy to sink ships and destroy fishermen’s community.
Why do Nakatsutsuno’o and Sarutahiko share the same name here?
Anybody for mythological analysis?
Anyway, he stands here at the bottom of Koajiro fishermen village.
The precinct of the shrine has a strange stone, called Can-can Stone かんかん石.
When we hit it with a stone, it emits very metallic can-can sound.
Legend says it was a weight for an anchor donated centuries ago by a fisherman in Osaka
as Shirohige Myojin of Koajiro asked him to do so in his dream.
Koajiro was a port for ships coming from all over Japan
before entering in the restricted area of Edo Bay,
and later it became the port of refuge for Misaki Port.
The port has been known for centuries.
Just before the shrine, there is a graveled road on the right.
It is to
Miyanomae Toge Entrance 宮の前峠入口,
the sea-side entrance to Koajiro Forest.

Though, walking to the Forest is far easier, in the end. To reach to Hikibashi Entrance at the hill-side, it’s simply along Route 134 to the south from the Station. At the Misakiguchi Terminal, we can see Tokyo Bay on the left, and proceeding for few minutes on the right is Sagami Bay. The sea breeze from whichever the side is very comfortable (though it might be a bit too much of sunshine if we visit there during high summer). Along the road there are several farmer’s stores where they sell fresh veggies of the season at reasonable price. There also is at least one wholeseller of tuna on the left where we can buy tuna. Among Japanese ports Misaki Port boasts the 2nd largest catch of tuna from pelagic fishery. (Stats for 2006 here. The biggest for tuna is Yaizu Port of Shizuoka.) I’ve met a cheerful grandma at one of the vegetable stalls who told me her proud teenage grandson is going to sit for an exam this summer to be a crew for deep-sea fishing vessels. Counting the traffic lights from the Misaki-guchi Ekimae Koban (Misagi-guchi Station Police Box 三崎口駅前交番), the second light is at the corner of Family Mart Convenience Store which offers probably the best toilet opportunity for this hiking unless you have your meal at the French restaurant in Seabornia, or choose Alfonsinor Special at Higejii-no-Sumika Café ひげ爺の of the hill-side entrance. The road turning to the right at this traffic light with Family Mart could bring us to Kita-o’ne Entrance (North-ridge way Entrance 北尾根口) of the Forest at which we will use later to return to the Station. To Hikibashi Entrance, we proceed further to find Hikibashi Bus Stop. With a bit of walk from the bus stop, we reach to the third traffic light (without name) from the Station. Turn right here, and within 20 m or so we are greeted by a 3-forked crossing. Take the left road which goes down. Approx. 100 m from the forked crossing, there comes Higejii-no-Sumika Café on the right. In front of the Café is the hill-side entrance of the Forest. The café has a fulfilling menu with the morning catches from local fishermen and farmers. Yammy, yammy.

A veggie stall whose matron told me her 2 teenage grandsons built this structure.
Wow. Could you see Sagami Bay beyond?
Family Mart Convenience Store
“Head of a tuna, large, 600 yen, small, 400 yen”
Turn right at this traffic light.
this parking space is only for the employees of nearby business.
The 3-forked crossing.
The sign post for Koajiro Forest is in the middle.
The entrance to Higejii-no-Sumika Café.
On the left of this photo is the hill-side entrance to Koajiro Forest.

Roughly speaking, a walk in Koajiro Forest is mainly on superb wooden decks from the hill-side entrance to Enoki Terrace (えのきテラス Celtis Sinensis Terrace, as the place has a huge tree). The facility was provided by Keikyu as a part of their CSR that makes the way from the Hikibashi Entrance to the edge of the tideland a cake walk. You could even pass by a boy in drees of dating spec with a high-heeled girl in makeup. Er, Japan is free country, so people can clothe themselves in whatever way wherever … Koajiro Forest is not a shopping center, so (at least for now) I can guarantee the road can often be silent enough where the only sound you can hear is the sound of your steps, chirping of birds, and silent bubbling of a tiny stream along which the wood deck runs. As the protected area for nature conservation, we should not leave the decks during our walk.

From Higejii-no-Sumika Café,
the road goes down and turns to the left, and
we will be greeted with this map and notice board of the Forest.
The decked road goes like this.

The decks from the hill-side entrance are called Central Valley. It was once a Satoyama where locals harvested fire woods and cultivated rice in small rice paddies next to the stream. They were all gone by 1970 when Keikyu planned to bulldoze the place for a resort park and a residential area. The rest of the story is similar to the Citizen Forests in Yokohama, like Maioka or Niiharu. We could find several huge, but fallen quercus acutissima and others that may tell us the place was once neglected. Now, in July the place is for many insects including dragonflies, butterflies, moths, fireflies … The both sides of the wooden deck is full of rush undergrowth for humidity loving plants. And … we can find lots of holes on the slopes along the road. With high probability, they are the houses for chiromantes haematocheir.

The fallen trees.
They have their own beauty in the Forest, I think.
Controlling the stream to stop aridification
Some parts of the road are more like a park road.
One of large colonies of pollia japonica
which we can find along the upper part of the road
till around Yanagi Terrace (Willow Terrace
Hm, … I saw a lot of them in Oiwake Forest
That Forest is supposed to be a marsh, then …
Probably, here was for rice paddies decades ago …
A magnificent lilium auratum,
the prefectural flower for Kanagawa
A condos for chiromantes haematocheir
Very viable salix eriocarpa
From around Yanagi Terrace, colonies pollia japonica changes
to the colonies of saururus chinensis.
Beautiful variegated leaves …
Hi, there!
Yanagi Terrace.
It stands over the top of confluence
from several streams flowing down to the point.
The water below the terrace has thin film of iron oxide
that is created by bacteria in the iron-heavy soil of Koajiro.
The minerals seep down to the tideland
and provide rich nutrients for sea creatures.

From Yanagi Terrace to Enoki Terrace, the decked road goes almost flat, where both sides are high typha latifolia and phragmites australis. Enoki Terrace has a kind of wooden stage with steps. A good lunch spot. From Enoki Terrace, two routes are originating. One is to the left leading us to Miyanomae Toge Iriguchi, the sea-side entrance of the Forest from Seabornia. This direction is a continuation of decked route with a viewing point (Choboh Terrace 眺望テラス) in the middle so that the dating couples with high heels and makeup normally take this way. From Choboh Terrace, we can see both the mountain and the sea parts of the Forest. After the Terrace, we climb steps to reach to Miyanomae Toge (Miyanomae Pass). This place is not decked but under a canopy of woods surrounded by small cliffs where water is seeping out continuously. There are lots of holes “on the wall,” i.e. there would be chiromantes haematocheir somewhere here. Soon, the road becomes graveled, and on the right there are portarloos, that are the only toilet within the Forest. The route is on single road so that we arrive at the mouth of Shirohige Shrine easily.

Flat road to Enoki Terrace from Yanagi Terrace
L'homme est un glosbe pensant …non, non, un roseau pensant.
It’s typha latifolia that became baby powder
for a rabbit in another mythical story in Kojiki
古事記. J
Celtis Sinensis in Enoki Terrace
To the left from the Terrace, the road continues to …
A view from Choboh (Viewing) Terrace
Before Choboh Terrace, there is this spot where volunteers
are nurturing hemerocallis fulva var. littorea,
once ubiquitous in the area, but now seldom seen.
They should have beautiful orange flower in high summer.
From Miyanomae Toge Entrance,
looking down to the tideland
Miyanomae Toge over there from Seabornia direction
To Shirohige Shrine
Portaloo on the right
We have arrived at the foot of Shirohige Shrine.

From Enoki Terrace to the right, the decked road soon ends and steps lead us to a single sand bank running the northwest edge of the Koajiro tideland. The bank ends at a bush: to the right brings us to Kita-o’ne Entrance. If the tide is high, this point and a bit to the left along the bush on rocky shore is the limit for us to go near the sea. A careless invasion into the tideland is huge NO-NO. The reason? This tideland is one of a few remaining places around Tokyo Bay that provide home for numerous sea creatures, such as crabs. Some say the spot hosts at least 60 kinds of crabs including endangered uca lactea lacteal (; of course, I have never seen them). During spring tides the sea recedes almost to the north shore of Hirohige Shrine, and we can see many crabs coming out from their burrows for meal. And, from April to September, of course, they dance! (We can check the date and time of tide in Aburatsubo, a southern next bay of Koajiro, here.) With a spring tide, we can walk a bit more on the rocky shore, and observe the border of the rock which is sand with numerous holes, i.e. the crabs have opened their door to come out of the underground house. I noticed they are a sort of multitasking when they are on the tideland. They stay alert for the moves of us intruders, search for food, communicate with their fellow crabs, eat their lunch, and dance, all at once. Their back is generally sandy grey that would protect themselves from the birdy eyes above. But their belly side is colorful, and it is shown when they dance. Scopimera globose has lovely reddish legs. Ilyoplax pusillas wear baby blue shirts. Macrophtalminae boast their macho white claws … I did a bit of google search to know why they dance, but it seems to me no human knows for sure what the crabs are thinking. For mating? For territory? For communication? My sister said they look like inviting tsunamis … my thought is more in line with Hello Kitty. Cute! I uploaded my video of crab dance here. Actually, this tideland is one of the reasons why Koajiro Forest is home for many chiromantes haematocheir in the valley. From July to September evening, they go down from the Forest to the sea to release their zoea, i.e. baby crabs, to let them grow in sea for a while. Kanagawa Green Trust has guided nature observation sessions for general public (3rd graders and up) to celebrate the departure party of chiromantes haematocheir babies アカテガ二放仔観察会. The event is for 50 seats of reservation only, with fee. So sorry this year’s reservation was over on July 10, 2016 ... People of Koajiro Field Activity Coordination Conference told me before July 10, there were already more than 50 applications for each day, and the Trust shall hold a lottery. No multiple date entry is allowed. No change of application be admitted after the entry. If you plan to reserve seats, good luck!

An hour after ebbed spring tide at the mouth of Koajiro Bay.
This much tidal difference creates …
This tideland.
The decked road to the shore is ended around the point
where people are congregating.
The sandy bank.
On the left beyond the reeds is Koajiro Bay.
On the right is I guess a marsh of brackish water.
We can find crabs on the right hand side too.
Rocky shore under the ebbed spring tide.
From the sand bank to this shore,
there is a bit large difference in height where
many senior citizens have problems.
Unfortunately, there is no warning sign there, so be careful.
The house of crabs
Come to think of it, ebbed tide is a perfect lunch time for birds.

Turning to the right at the end of sandy bank, the first thing we see is a cordoned space 5 m ahead whose notice says “This is a biotope for chiromantes haematocheir. No entry allowed without permission.” Many people are taken aback with this and return to the sand bank. Don’t. Hidden behind the bush, there is a trekking road turning to the right at the entrance for biotope. The road runs around the circumference of the restricted space, and soon starts climbing steeply. It goes to Kita-o’ne Entrance of the Forest. The first 100 m or from the sandy bank has lots of holes on the slope that must be homes for chiromantes haematocheir. The continuing steep climbing is surrounded by thick bamboo grasses where, it seems to me, lots of nightingales make it home. Not before long, the bamboo grass way becomes a standard forest road, and in less than 200 m, we come to a rudimental blacktop road for open veggie fields which is Kita-o’ne Entrance for Koajiro Forest. To Misakiguchi Station, simply follow this single road ahead until we meet a T-crossing to turn to the left. The road is purely for utility for local farmers, so that the paving is patchy here and there, but we can surely identify this is the road their small trucks run. The T-crossing is with a somewhat larger, and better-paved, road. The construction noise beyond the pumpkin fields on the right is obvious here. Keikyu is developing probably residential properties. Geographically, their site is just next to the area of Koajiro Forest … the conservation effort was a kind of close call, phew. On the left, in contrast, is very open space for vegetables. We can see Sabami Bay and Pacific Ocean without obstacle or interruption from here until we bump with a bus route to Hassemachi Town 初声町 / Mitohama Beach 三戸浜. The view is superb. I guess when it is a fine day, huge Mount Fuji could be seen from there in front. When we arrive at another T-crossing with a bus route, turn to the right, and about 5 minute walk, we return to the traffic light where Family Mart Convenience Store stands. To the left is Misakiguchi Station in less than 3 minutes.

The cordoned off biotope
The biotope is surrounded by this road.
A peek into biotope from the trekking road
A steep steps to Kita-o’ne.
The both sides of the route are dominated by tall bamboo grass for a while.
This route is also rich in living creatures.
Hello, thank you for welcoming me!
The end of bamboo grass ushers us to a standard trekking route.
Akebia quinata over there!
Before reaching to the paved road,
the route becomes somewhat intimidating like this.
Don’t be discouraged, and proceed …
and proceed … well,
it means this route is not known for uber popular Koajiro Forest.
Hurrah! Sagami Bay on the left!
This is how Kita-o’ne Entrance looks like.
One way going through vegetable field
The T-crossing
We turn to the left for the Station.
Open space … I love it!
Very well-tended fields.
Miura City is Ag City.
Over there is Hassemachi Town.
Another T-crossing viewed from the bus route
We go to the east from the crossing to
Family Mart Convenience Store.

If you find a problem in around Asahina Kiridoshi Forest, please make a contact with

Kanagawa Green Trust かながわトラストみどり財団
Phone: 045-412-2255

<Update, December 19, 2016>
Hi there. One of my friends went to Koajiro Forest about 10 days ago, and could not meet any crabs. We have concluded they are currently hibernating. To admire their dance, you’d better visit there in spring and summer, I guess.