Friday, February 24, 2017

Air pollution … yes, but … Complicated situation in Satoyama of Yokohama

People say the problem of Japanese forests these days often comes from the fact people do not use them as before. Tools of ordinary daily lives are made of plastic, not woods or bamboos harvested from forests. Fertilizers are chemically provided from big plants, not from the open-air composts of leaves situated at the corner of forests. Above all, people do not use trees for fuels, but gas and electricity generated by hydro-carbons or nuclear plants. It seems to me the last one could be the biggest reason why we city-rats often consider forests a derivative of Disney Land for escaping from rat race, not something closely connected to our ordinary day. Though, come to think of it, oil and coal were once plants. A community of hydro-carbon poor but in deep forests, like Japan, would naturally have turned to the original form of oil for energy. That was charcoal.

I personally feel charcoals in Bizen ware are elegant. 

I have learned that until 70 years or so ago there was a saying that “Operating a charcoal kiln won’t make your family hungry.” It was lucrative business. Some had enough forests to make it a stand-alone operation. The others moved around the forests nation-wide and asked landlords a permission to operate kilns with the logs harvested from nearby. My mom, who was born in a house within a deep forest of Shikoku, remembers every winter there were visitors to the family mountains. “They were Sumiyaki-san (炭焼きさん: Messieurs Charcoal Cookers).”

Present day charcoal for BBQ sold in a Home Center
in Yokohama

When in 1923 the Great Kanto Earthquake 関東大震災 hit Kanagawa Prefecture which was the epicenter, literally millions of trees in Tanzawa 丹沢 and Hakone 箱根 mountains fell with massive landslides that completely destroyed the communities in valleys. According to Mr. Isao Ozawa 小沢操 retired from (now defunct) Kanagawa Public Cooperation of Forestry かながわ森林づくり公社, to clean up the post-quake mess, people made charcoal from whatever the logs carried by the landslides, and sold the product widely. The kinds of trees included species that were not suitable for good charcoal, like firs. Even though, Mr. Ozawa said, “Look, before, people knew the usage of charcoal quite well. Of course, they were important source of heat for daily lives, for cooking and hibachi 火鉢, you know. Moreover, they can be deodorizer in house. If you place a piece of charcoal in a pan at the top of rice, and cook them, the cooked rice tastes great. They act as soil conditioner to make and preserve farm lands neutral or slightly alkaline. Finally they are very good filters to purify water. When the Great Earthquake hit, the rivers in Kanagawa became extremely muddy. So, people submerged tons of charcoals at the strategic locations of rivers to restore water source. The charcoal made of coniferous trees cannot retain fire long enough for BBQ, but they were good enough to sieve the water.” Wow, giant Britas in rivers. People 100 years ago really knew the value of the charcoal, and the forest.

Kin’me River 金目川 in Tanzawa.
By Great Kanto Earthquake,
this river turned into a flash flood
that annihilated a village of 15 household
around the point of this photo.

These days, people certainly understand the savory BBQ with the best quality charcoal, like Bincho charcoal 備長炭. But to purify water, we visit shopping centers to purchase mechanical tools for faucet … Oh, by the way, in Yokohama, we don’t need such things for tap water. Ours is one of the bests in Japan, with historical reason. I’ll tell you our story when we visit the forest of Doshi Village 道志村 in Yamanashi Prefecture 山梨県. ;-) Anyway, we now have hard times to find the way for charcoal usage in our ordinary lives. True, nowadays people become more conscious for organic gardening and allotment so that it is easy to find charcoal-based product in garden centers … e.g. Charcoal itself is for soil conditioner. Wood vinegar, the by-product of charcoal making, is now sold as 100% organic pesticides, although Japanese Pesticide Act 農薬取締法 prohibits the sales of wood vinegar as scientifically proven pesticides. The usage as deodorizer is well-known. It’s now easy to find in drug stores commercial deodorizer made of charcoal. I guess they are made from some industrial process, which would be different from traditional charcoal making in Japanese forests. Some say they are made of tropical mangrove intended to use for fuel, not for the other usage … Global deforestation … So, for people in Yokohama, charcoal is not something produced nearby, but should be found in Home Centers. That has posed a problem to maintain Satoyama tradition in Megalopolis Tokyo area. 

For present-day usage of charcoal in Japan.
It’s for flower pots.
Wood vinegars found in a Home Center.
It’s for room deodorant cum dehumidifying agent.
Room deodorants for dog-lovers
also have a layer of charcoal.

About 30 or so years ago, when the City Offices or the Prefectural Governments found large enough greenery to be public parks in the middle of residential area, they often designed the place to “preserve traditional way of life where people and nature live harmoniously,” i.e. to recreate Satoyama. Charcoal making was one of the important parts of the concept. Consequently, in Metropolitan Tokyo area we can find charcoal kilns in large parks with an affix “Satoyama.” (One example in the City of Kawasaki is here.) In Yokohama’s Citizen Forests, I have met kilns in Maioka Forest 舞岡, Araizawa Forest 荒井沢, Yokohama Nature Sanctuary 横浜自然観察の森, and Niiharu. Although they are not in the Citizen Forest family, Hongo Fujiyama Park 本郷ふじやま公園 near Segami Forest 瀬上 and Shikinomori Park 県立四季の森公園 have kilns. Out of these, I guess, currently operational kilns are just two: in the Nature Sanctuary and Niiharu. The rest are broken? Definite NO. They cannot operate because the neighborhood complained.

Charcoal kiln in Koyato-no-Sato of Maioka
Charcoal kiln in Araizawa
Charcoal kiln in Nature Sanctuary …
hmmmmm looking back, every kiln is different.

Unlike microwaving, charcoal cooking takes time. For the best quality Binchotan Charcoal, for about two weeks the pros burn the firewood under their kiln containing logs of Quercus phillyraeoides. Even for the high-tech kiln in Araizawa Citizen Forest where the amateurs operate, the process takes 8 hours. During the process, the system spews smokes. Unless your facility locates in the middle of the forest removed far far far from a nearby condo, with an ideal air flow that makes difficult for the emission to waft over the gardens of neatly lined houses, residents shall complain. So it happened in Shikinomori Park. Although their homepage boasts a charcoal kiln as one of the facilities to transfer the traditional Satoyama knowledge, the volunteer group to operate the kiln was dismantled several years ago. Against their activities, fierce complaints came from the neighborhood associations of huge Hikarigaoka Housing Complex spreading in the north of the Park. Before, the admin office of Shikinomori Park proudly showed the charcoal cooked in the kiln within the park. Now, there is nothing to display … I don’t know I can describe it “sad.” I now know how smoky it is to make charcoal. I have joined Charcoal Making Club of Niiharu Lovers. The activity itself was quite a fun. I loved it. But, if you live nearby without any prospect to receive positive utility from our activity, the all-day-long smoke would let you call the police. Probably, it is one of the examples to nurture culture of the forest within our 21st century society where it is difficult for us to have first-hand experience of the joy with the nature. … Next week, I tell you the excitement I am having with 2 rickety charcoal kilns in Niiharu. You doubt if cold forests in front of smoky kilns from 6:00 in the morning is really enjoyable. I tell you, it was. I think if kids can have an opportunity to do this, they may find a pleasure of engineering with a help of forests ...

Charcoal made of Niiharu is available at the Visitor Center!

If you find a problem in Yokohama’s Forest, please make a contact with

Office for the administration of Park Greeneries 公園緑地管理課
Yokohama Municipal Government Creative Environment Policy Bureau 横浜市環境創造局
Phone: 045-671-2648 (I guess in Japanese only)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Secret Garden: Winter buds in the forests of Yokohama

Winter is quiet in the forests of Yokohama … er, unless the Lovers and the others are busy maintenance and restoration works with chainsaws or mowers. Anyway! Provided there are no commotion like these, winter forests in our home city are calm and quiet visibly and audibly. The colors on the ground incline monotonically, and no chorus of cicadas. Thanks to the surrounding mountains, Kanto Region in winter is often dry with lots of winter sunshine or occasional heavy snow. The contrast between pure blue sky and very-dark green of forests, or dramatically snow-grey clouds over the Zen-like vegetation is really something for the megalopolis. I love this season. The air is meditative. Everything seems to be dead silent … so I thought. Wrong. I have learned there are jolly chatters of plants in the forests during winter. Winter buds are secretly cute and very talkative.

A winter bud and cicatrix of
Pueraria montana var. lobata from

In Niiharu, Dr. Toshiko Kitagawa 北川淑子 of Flora Kanagawa Association recently held seminars for beginners to enjoy winter buds in the forests. She said we can appreciate the extremely rich variety of winter buds by looking (1) the way they attach to the twigs (2) the shape, color, and numbers of them, (3) the shape and color of cicatrix next to or surrounding the buds, and (4) the scars of vascular bundles left by fallen leaves. With magnifying glasses and microscopes, we inspected how bud scales covered the contents. I was impressed clever ways of folding leaves by naked buds. We learned shapes of cicatrix were unique for each family. None had the same expression with the others even if they were from the same twigs. They are tiny, but inside neatly organize all the new leaves, flowers, growth points, and nothing useless … the ultimate KonMari method of tiny universe. With vascular bundle scars, they looked like faces of mischievous fairies. They are secrets in winter forests of Yokohama!

Carpinus tschonoskii in Niiharu
Zanthoxylum ailanthoides in Niiharu
Clerodendrum trichotomum in Niiharu
Euscaphis japonica in Niiharu
Rhus javanica var. chinensis in Niiharu
It’s a baby!
 Magnolia obovate in Niiharu
Rubus palmatus var. coptophyllus in Niiharu
Staphylea bumalda DC. in Niiharu

Dr. Kitagawa gave us a reference sheet to identify winter buds in the forests of Yokohama. I translated and show it to you. The method is based on a chart made by Mr. Teruo Katsuyama 勝山輝夫, and arranged by Dr. Kitagawa for Satoyama 里山 in Yokohama. I hope it is useful for your quiet strolling in the winter forests of Yokohama. :-)

The search chart for winter buds of 42 trees in the forests of Yokohama, by Dr. Toshiko Kitagawa.

If you find a problem in Yokohama’s Forest, please make a contact with

Office for the administration of Park Greeneries 公園緑地管理課
Yokohama Municipal Government Creative Environment Policy Bureau 横浜市環境創造局

Phone: 045-671-2648 (I guess in Japanese only)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Chainsaws, or gender

Telling you the truth, until I joined the Lovers of Niiharu Citizen Forest, I was not sure how to use saw, sickle, hatchet, etc. Last month, I have passed the first anniversary as a member of Lovers organization. I can now say something about the usage of them with a swelling chest with pride … er, as a first-year student, actually. There are several senior Lovers members who are carpenters or have business in landscaping. Pros. The environment in Niiharu Lovers is ideal to learn how to use the tools with instructions from professionals, free of charge ;-) So, I tell you for sure Japanese hand-saw can cut the object when we pull. Also, I learned Japanese believe Euro-American tool does the job when they push … Oh, what a wonderful contrast to ponder cultural differences … By the way, I don’t know if this Japanese understanding for westerners is true. (Are they?) The other day, the chairman of Niiharu Lovers, Mr. Ohkawa, taught us why Japanese hand saw operates like this, together with the mechanics of blades. I was impressed. Behind the tool, there is a robust idea of designers whose knowledge has been transmitted for hundreds of years. Gosh.

To cut a tree in a safe manner,
the first strike for a socket should be horizontal.
The other day, an instructor used a level
to show us forest instructor trainees
the ideal angle for horizontal position.
This is how I thinned a forest.
(“I did it, I did it, I did it!”)

Here is what I have learned from the lesson. First, a blade of a saw is not a single row of blades, but practically 2 parallel rows. Two blades face each other and make one set for operation. Second, 2 rows are made of one steel. The edge of steel is cut jugged, then each ridge is ever-so slightly bent outwards in alternate directions. It creates a tiny valley between 2 ridges whose function is to scrape out crumbs when the saw cut material. Third, a ridge of a saw has 3 blades, 2 for each side, and one at the tip. The blades of the tips are sloped in a uniform angle, which determines the timing when the saw cut. Japanese saw has tips facing to the top of a saw. This direction is for the tool to cut when we pull, and I guess western saws have the blades of tips facing to the handle. (… Do they?) Fourth, when we saw wood, the tips first hold the material, then the blades of two rows cut into the object simultaneously. It means an opening is in fact made of two parallel slits. As we saw deeper, some crumbs of two slits fall between the two rows of blades and the valley structure pushes them out. Clever! Fifth, for Japanese saw, the slits are made when we pull. During the pushing, the tip blades are practically sharpened. So do the blades of the side ridges. When we use only a part of the saw, the used parts are sharpened and their steel wears down, but the rest will be left untouched. Eventually, the blades of a saw lose straight line and it becomes difficult to maneuver. That’s why it is important to use the entire blades always. A-ha.

The blades of my saw
The 2 blades have a structure like this.
The mechanics of sawing
When we sharpen a saw, we have to have 7 steps for one ridge. Sharpen 2 slopes of a ridge; deepen the valleys of both sides to recover the wear-down; adjust the distance of 2 ridges when they open too wide; sharpen the tip; and finally keep even the height of all the ridges. … Sounds difficult. Hence, normally we use disposable hand saw blades. Mr. Ohkawa said, “The same thing cannot be said for chainsaws as their blades are not cheap. Though, the design of chainsaw blades is same as hand saws. We just use special measure for improving blades of chainsaw thoroughly after every use.” My mainly-male seniors told us the job is not so popular. “You know, when we know there are beers after this sharpening things, we unconsciously cut corners of the tedious stuff … look, this part of blades has a strange angle. Ha, ha, ha.” Mr. Ohkawa was not so happy. “Blades cost money, and our organization is not so rich. Damaged blades call us sooner for replacement. We have to be careful about this.” The students of Mr. Ohkawa’s lesson this time happened to be 2 ladies, Ms. F and I. We practiced the filing of chainsaw blades, one by one, in silence.  We found it a fun! Ms. F rejoiced to see the result of her labor. “Naomi, look! They are shining! I’m sure they can operate very well.”

7 stages of blade sharpening for a saw. We push a file always against the blades.
Both have parallel blades structure.
Attaching a measure to improve blades of a chainsaw
All the blades of a chainsaw
should be sharpened in 45 degree.

We have also learned the basic procedure for operating chainsaws. A machine has 2 tanks: one for gas (or actually a blend of 25 parts of gas and 1 part of engine oil), another is for chain oil. When chain oil does not come out smoothly, the saw easily heats up and the machine stops. It’s important to check the injection of chain oil before cutting. After starting the engine, open the choke valve completely and let the engine to turn fully AND continuously. “Don’t rev it up discontinuously as you do for motorbikes. The power of chainsaw engine is not so big, and stop-go roars could stall it. Besides, it wastes gas more.” Hmmmmm. “Then, listen, it’s important. Chainsaw is to cut woods easily. You don’t have to push the blades on woods, but simply touch it by situating the safety cover of the machine along the curvature of a wood.”

The proper positioning for chainsaw

We gingerly proceeded to the practice. Squeezing the handle, we opened the choke valve to rev up the engine.


A wood was cut just like tofu … To sum-up our experience, a word from Ms. F would be the most exact.



… It’s a common saying that operating chainsaw can change a person’s character … One of my new year’s resolutions for 2017 is preparation for chainsaw license. In Japan, unless you hold the license, no accident with chainsaw will be covered by insurance. In a worst case scenario, it can lead to a criminal investigation. Naomi is a good girl.

By the way, do you know Jason had never used a chainsaw even when it was Friday the 13th?

If you find a problem in Niiharu Forest, please make a contact with

Office for the Park Greeneries in the North 北部公園緑地事務所
Yokohama Municipal Government Creative Environment Policy Bureau 横浜市環境創造局
Phone: 045-311-2016 (I guess in Japanese only)
FAX: 045-316-8420 (I hope there is somebody who can read English …)

Niiharu Administrative Office / Satoyama Exchange Center 新治管理事務所・里山交流センター
Phone: 045-931-4947
Fax: 045-937-0898

Friday, February 3, 2017

It’s not Christmas, but New Year, Tree: New Year Decoration, Japanese style

Yeah. We Japanese do not have much attachment to Christmas trees. In the end, Christmas is a foreign festival imported from somewhere. Though, it does not mean our traditional home decoration is removed from forest during the New Year Festival. Far from it. So, in this post, I report how we danced with forests during 2017 New Year. In Niinaru, our preparation for New Year’s decoration began one early December weekend. A senior member of Lovers Organization negotiated with rice-paddy owners in the town to procure rice straws from this year’s harvest. Meanwhile, we went out in several parties to the forest. One group harvested thick enough old bamboos. Another entered a hill which has lots of 10 or so years old Quercus mysrinifolia. Our leader told us, “Today, we harvest the oaks for Dontoyaki どんと焼き. We need at least 120 well-formed trees for the festival. Let’s cut, (inspecting the field) …, OK, the trees planted along 50m of this side the road.” Well-formed? “Yes. Leave too large trees, and harvest ones that can make a good stick, of … well, about 3m long with bushy branches near the top. We are going to trim them later.” On that day, we harvested about 50 old bamboos and 150 young Quercus mysrinifolia. Then, next week, we again went into the forest to harvest plum tree branches with buds. A senior member talked with one of the landlords in Niiharu Town to collect from his garden branches of Pinus thunbergii and Sarcandra Glabra with red and yellow berries … It’s sad Pinus thunbergii is still hard to come by in the forest … They were all cut during the World War II for pine oils … Niiharu has several bushes of wild Sarcandra Glabra, but they were kept uncut for 2017. Now, Niiharu Lovers were ready for making New Year’s decorations.

“We need this size of oaks.”
Oaks will be trimmed …
Harvesting plum branches
Buds, buds …

We Japanese prepare for a New Year first by cleaning our house, inside-out. In Shinto shrines, the day of shrine cleaning is December 13th, and often on the same day the pines are procured from the forests. Then, we decorate home by “strategically” locating particular ornaments made of materials from the forest (and sea for some communities). Simply put, the whole operation is an amalgam of Shintoism ritual and folk belief. It states that on every January 1st the god of New Year visits every household in Japan to inspect the situation. If the house is clean with proper New Year ornaments, the god brings good luck to the family for the entire year. (Hey, it’s serious business!) Some say the New Year god presides over the harvest of the year, or s/he is the spirit of ancestors who know our family and community rather well. Good manner is a key. If you decorate an ornament on the 31st of December, the New Year god can find it easily and thinks it’s a rush job without sufficient respect to him/her. In the old Japanese lunar calendar, December had only 30 days so that preparing the decoration on the 30th is no-no for the same reason. The 29th is also no good since 9 in Japanese is pronounced “ku” that is phonetically same as “suffering .” In conclusion, we have to complete the cleaning and decoration by midnight 28th of December for the New Year God. So, in the weekend of 2016 Christmas, Niiharu Lovers came into the forest to make New Year’s decorations: the 24th was for visitors (paying the actual cost of 500 yen for each decoration; we’ll do the same in December 2017. Please make a reservation via our web-site in order for us to provide enough materials), and the 25th was for houses of the members.  Our to-do-list stated (1) Kadomatsu 門松 making, and (2) Shimenawa 注連縄 weaving.

Lots of department stores sell New Year ornaments.
The best selection appears on 25th,
after the Christmas shopping.
This street stall is for a more traditional vender.
In front of Koganji Temple
this year, Sugamo
巣鴨, Tokyo.
Lovers in action for New Year decoration-making!

Kadomatsu is an ornament to be situated at the gate of a house. Its function is to tell the visiting god of New Year the household is ready to welcome him/her. For a proper Kadomatsu, the decoration must guard 2 pillars of the gate so that we are supposed to make 2 ornaments for one gate. Each community has their own design for Kadomatsu. Normally, we can add bamboos, plum branches, and other decorations to Kadomatsu. Niiharu Lovers’ Kadomatsu was made of pine branches, bamboos, plum branches, and Sarcandra Glabra. The trio of pine, bamboo and plum is a traditional symbol for good luck imported from China long ago. Since the 17th century Sarcandra Glabra has been uber-popular horticultural plant that symbolizes the wealth, which makes it appropriate for Kadomatsu. In Niiharu, we made small vases with thick enough old bamboo trunks. Inside of a bamboo-base, we put 3 thinner young bamboos, with the head sliced, neatly, and then the pines, plums and Sarcandra Glabra were arranged in Ikebana-style. There is a legend that cutting the head of young bamboos was started by Tokugawa Ieyasu 徳川家康 after his defeat by Takeda Shingen 武田信玄 in 1572. On the other hand, my seniors told me the ends looked like smiley faces that were appropriate for the New Year. I love their explanation rather than the savage war episode …

The top of a young bamboo is cut.
Start of the arrangement for Kadomatsu.
Please look the cut ends of young bamboos,
and compare them with …
One of my Kadomatsu became like this.
The yellow Sarcandra Glabra makes sense
in terms of Feng Shui
(“Money, money, money!!!!”).
My mom’s verdict:
“Hum, it’s rather eccentric.
You need to learn Samadhi in 2017.”
This was how Kadomatsu decorated
the entrance of shops in Ginza, Tokyo, this year.
The head of the bamboos were not sliced.
Some say this style is older.
They are huge!
At the entrance of Mitsubishi Kaitohkaku
Shinagawa, Tokyo.
They are also Kadomatsu,
with taller bamboos and shorter pines.
In Nihonbashi, Tokyo.
These days,
it’s common to have an abbreviated version.

In Shintoism, Shimenawa of rice straws is to create a secluded sacred space for the gods. So, for the New Year, we decorate the entrance door of our houses with Shimenawa, which means inside is at least temporarily clean and sacred enough for the god of New Year to visit. As Shimenawa is more of a part of Shinto ritual, there are lots of ways to weave according to a particular symbolism. I have learned just one way of doing it, and it was a kind of team work with one of my seniors. He held the one end, and we collaborated to plait rice straws. It was a fun!

My Shimenawa
This Shimenawa is really for making a sanctuary.
At Samukawa Shrine
寒川神社, this New Year.
It’s a fusion of Shimenawa and Kadomatsu.
The ball below a small whitewood roof is
also for New Year, made of cedar leaves.
The cedar ball is common among communities
within Okuyama
奥山, like
丹沢 or Hakone 箱根 Mountains.
I found the scenery in the middle of
owntown Tokyo, this New Year.
Oh, by the way,
if you want to make a cedar ball
for New Year by yourself,
Kanagawa 21st Century Forest has
a workshop every December
(; this year, the cost was 3000 yen).
Their email address is
Lots of lots of Shimenawa in a department store.
They can be used like a Christmas wreath.

Now, all the decorations were made from the bounty of the forests, and we had a peaceful 2017 New Year. I hope the god visited our home this year found the place at least at “Pass” level. (“Oh, I know, that part needs more cleaning up … so sorry …”) It is said that the New Year god is enjoying the New Year celebration for the first 7 days of January with us humans. We have to keep the decoration until January 7th. Then, what? We do not have a special garbage collection like in the post-Christmas US or elsewhere. Many Japanese city-folks dispose the decoration as household trash. Because of this, quite many even skip the New Year’s decoration all together these days … It’s a pity, because actually the Japanese tradition takes care of this part of relationship between the forest and the humans, in a sort of sustainable way. It’s Dontoyaki on January 14th, a festival to return New Year decorations to the gods of the land, rice paddies and forests. People from a neighborhood collect the Kadomatsu, Shimenawa, and any other New Year decorations, such as Dharma dolls (after accomplishing the wishes), brushes for Japanese calligraphy, and the New Year calligraphies. In Niiharu, the members of the Organization for Promoting Niiharu Satoyama Community 新治里山「わ」を広げる会 set up a bonfire fire around 14:00 with 2 long bamboos and burned the things brought by the neighbors. You should stand around the fire to steep your body with the smoke from the fire made of these sacred objects, in order to purify yourself for the entire year. The smoke is also believed to ward off sick spirits, like flu. When your calligraphies make a good fire, it is said that your penmanship improves.

The start of the Dontoyaki fire this year in Niiharu
On January 14th in Niiharu,
the kids from Tokaichiba Junior-high volunteered
to sort out the donations into “flammables” and “the others.”
They are to Dontoyaki.
The plastics are collected and disposed
according to the City ordinance.
Wishing for good health …
the ashes from Dontoyaki is believed to
guarantee a good harvest of the year.
Well, there would be a scientific reason for this.

People also roast round rice cakes with the fire and eat them, which would guarantee a good health for the year. To roast the cake, a young tree is cut and trimmed to make a long 3 teeth fork. A round ball of cake was attached to each tooth, and people gathered around the fire to roast the cakes. Those families who lived in Niiharu for generations came to Dontoyaki with their long forks with rice cakes made by themselves. For the rest, our work with Quercus mysrinifolia in December came in. With our harvest, the Organization members prepared 120 forks with rice balls: about 40 of them went to the kids of Tokaichiba Junior-high and the others who helped the preparation. The rest, more than 80, was available for 200 yen, on first-come-first-served bases from 15:00. I was amazed that already at 14:00 there were more than 200 people gathered around Dontoyaki, and they spontaneously made a long line to get a hold of a rice ball fork. The people from the Admin Office told the people they did not have enough for all of them … nonetheless people waited and kids were laughing and running around with bamboo helicopter toys made by Niiharu Lovers seniors. I realized it does not matter to have a rice cake. We have been there to enjoy a traditional forest winter around the fire. Warm, warm, end of the New Year festival in Niiharu.

Waiting for rice cakes …
The forks are ready.
Quercus mysrinifolia were trimmed for the rice cakes.
He brought his fork from home.
We are roasting!
This couple brought a sweet potato wrapped with
aluminum foil to Dontoyaki.
The Organization people were very kind
to take care of the roasting of their potato …
so, we can bring marshmallows on a stick, next year,
I guess

If you find a problem in Niiharu Forest, please make a contact with

Office for the Park Greeneries in the North 北部公園緑地事務所
Yokohama Municipal Government Creative Environment Policy Bureau 横浜市環境創造局
Phone: 045-311-2016 (I guess in Japanese only)
FAX: 045-316-8420 (I hope there is somebody who can read English …)

Niiharu Administrative Office / Satoyama Exchange Center
Phone: 045-931-4947
Fax: 045-937-0898