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.

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