Friday, October 7, 2016

National Trust in Kanagawa and forest instructor training

Yokohama’s Citizen Forest was born of the idea to preserve urban greenery that was threatened by relentless urbanization in Metropolitan Tokyo. The large portion of Kanagawa is also facing the same developmental problem. From the city of Odawara (小田原 the entrance to Hakone National Park) to the district of Marunouchi (丸の内 the major Tokyo business area with lots of HDQs of multinationals), it takes only 1 hour or so nowadays. As such, Kanagawa Prefecture has always been the frontline of the battle between suburbanization and natural environment. Take the City of Kamakura. Do you remember Wuethrich Citizen Forest, near the border between Yokohama and Kamakura? The former landlord of the place, Arnold Wuethrich from Bern, had a successful trading business in Tokyo, got married with a local girl, and built a European style home near the Forest in 1933. At that time the area was already posh among yuppies in the downtown for having their modern houses. Although the speed of bulldozers became slow during the war years, by 1960 it returned full-swing in Kanagawa. According to the city of Kamakura, among the forests threatened there were several historical greeneries. Some were conquered by the real-estate business. The present day houses around Enkakuji Temple 円覚寺 were newly built after the World War II.  

The road leading to Wuerthrich Forest is
now a well-established alley.
The width of this way tells us
this community is at least not brand-new.
Now people normally visit Enkakuji Temple from
the North Exit of JR Kitakamakura Station
But the original main entrance is near the South Exit,
shown here.
To reach to the temple buildings in an old-fashioned way
we have to pass a railroad crossing with the JR Yokosuka Line.
The rail service was started in 1889
in order to connect Tokyo and Yokosuka
that had the HDQ of Japanese Imperial Navy.
i.e., Long ago the construction demolished
the inner sanctuary of the religious establishment
that was very close to the ancient national political power.
The developmental enthusiasm ignored cultural things …
corollary: “who cares the forest spreading outside the Temple?”

In early 1964, the desire for housing expansion reached to Oyatsu 御谷 area, the forests surrounding Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine 鶴岡八幡宮. Yeah, it’s the huge Shinto shrine in the middle of Kamakura. Some of the yuppies moved from Tokyo in the early 20th century, including Nobel Laureate Yasunari Kawabata 川端康成, had become by then grand-old daddies of Japanese culture and voiced strong objections to this commercial scheme. The leading figure of their movement was Jiro Osaragi 大佛次郎, a popular novelist who widely disseminated the English idea of National Trust for the occasion. The star-studded volunteers established the Kamakura Trust 鎌倉風致保存会 in English style and solicited donations from all over Japan to buy-up the land. They also persuaded the City to demand very strict building code for the construction. The developer gave up their plan, and the City of Kamakura contributed partially to the fund, which in December 1964 enabled the Kamakura Trust to secure the threatened entire 1.5 ha. People say this was the beginning of Japanese National Trust movement. The success of volunteering by the Kamakura Trust instigated the similar movements in Kyoto and Nara, and finally in 1966 persuaded National Diet to legislate Act on Special Measures concerning Preservation of Traditional Scenic Beauty in Ancient Capitals 古都における歴史的風土の保存に関する特別措置法(古都保存法).

It’s the photo taken few years back during the fall
 Yabusame Festival
流鏑馬 in Tsurugaoka Hachimangu.
Could you see the mountain over there?
That place could have been rows of houses and condos
if the Kamakura Trust had failed to obtain the land in 1964.
It’s … amazing.
Oh, by the way, this year’s Yabusame was held on October 2nd.
And this is the inside of that mountain.
Actually, it is a part of the Rokkokutoge Hiking Trail 
we visited from Yokohama the other day.
This spot might have been a parking lot for a supermarket,
if the developers had their way 50 years ago.

So, Kanagawa Prefecture is the birth place of Japanese National Trust. Since then, National Trust movement spread all over the country. In 1983 local organizations established a nation-wide coordination mechanism which is now the Association of National Trusts in Japan. Also in 1983, the Kanagawa Prefectural government convened a citizen council, かながわ都市緑化推進協議会, to discuss support system of the National Trust movement in the area. In 1985, the council evolved into a Prefectural Citizen Conference for Green Community Kanagawa みどりのまち・かながわ県民会議, and at the same time recommended the governor to provide seed money for supporting the Trust movement. Next year, in 1986, with 5 billion yen, Kanagawa Green Trust Fund was established. On the other hand, as a part of post-war reconstruction policy Japan has had afforestation program since 1950 that has evolved into fund-raising activities by National Land Afforestation Promotion Organization 国家緑化推進機構. In Kanagawa Prefecture, the money collected via the national scheme was arranged to feed into the Green Trust Fund. After several changes in the subsequent 20 years for tax laws and corporate legislations, in 2012 the Kanagawa Green Trust かながわみどり財団became to have the current form. Now, the Green Trust pools the money from the citizens, the Organization and the prefectural government. The Trust uses the fund to secure the threatened greenery in Kanagawa either by purchase or long-term lease agreement with landlords. During the very first day of the forest instructor course this year, the people from Kanagawa Green Trust explained they have about 200 million yen budget for FY 2016 (70% of it is from prefectural government). So far the Trust assured 28 forests of 84+ ha, half of them is in Kamakura and Miura Peninsula. Koajiro Forest is one of them.

Koajiro Forest. National Trust, Japanese style.
One of the ways the Kanagawa Green Trust raises money is
collection box system for public parking spaces throughout the prefecture.
It is to ask drivers 20 yen per car to offset
(at least partially) their carbon footprints.
It collects 20 million yen per year on average.
In Shikinomori Park
県立四季の森公園 near Niiharu,
20 yen is automatically added for the fee as this notice says.

The Trust also welcomes donations
from the corporations with CSR activity.
This is a billboard for Coca Cola
who donated the fund for the forest near
Kanagawa Natural Environment Conservation Center


The Kanagawa Green Trust also promotes environmental education for the public and facilitates volunteer activities that take care of the assured nature. Their to-do list includes training forest instructors. One of the main objectives of this public funded education program is to nurture future leaders for environmental awareness in Kanagawa. For example, National Land Afforestation Promotion Organization has boy/girl scout style youth program in which school age kids can participate for basic forestry, community festivals, fund-raising activities, etc., including tree-planting ceremony presided by the Emperor. People from the Trust told us upon successful completion of the course, we are expected to lead these kids. There also is a program of helping school “forest day” where the instructors will be dispatched to teach kids technicalities of the basic forest husbandry. (A-ha, this is what my seniors of Niiharu Lovers do regularly for the schools around the Niiharu Forest.) The Green Trust organizes regular citizen forestry throughout the year where anybody who has the will can join for planting, weeding, thinning, coppicing … in the Trust forests and the forests in Hakone National Park and Tanzawa Quasi-National Park. The volunteer instructors will help the professionals for these occasions to organize 100+ participants majority of whom are pure urbanites without previous experience. “So, for accepting the new trainees of our course, we have invited you who have some experience of community activity in this field.” The trust people said. Sure enough, among us there are teachers from kindergartens where they bring kids to forests regularly. Aside from businessmen introducing themselves as “our company engages in the sustainable construction,” my fellow students include a yoga instructor and an aroma therapist, both expressing their expectation for the training that shall help their business to go more eco-friendly direction. How will the training go? I will report you my experience from time to time. ;) 

During the recent training day,
we ventured into the forest of
Kanagawa Natural Environment Conservation Center
to learn the basic monitoring technique for ground ecology.
This is a demonstration for dynamics study of seedling.
Chief Scientist of the Center, Mr. Atsushi Tamura,
teaches us how to use fish-eye lens
to measure the degree of canopy openness whose
value is almost exactly proportional to illuminance at the ground level.
FYI, Mr. Tamura introduced us a freeware,
CanopON2, to derive data from photos.
It is created by Mr. Akio Takenaka of
Center for Environmental Biology and Ecosystem Studies.
Tree-hugging, aka,
the lab to measure the size of trees in the forest

The contact address for Kanagawa Green Trust かながわトラストみどり財団 is

Phone: 045-412-2255

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