Friday, March 31, 2017

Le Totémisme aujourd'hui: Garden Necklace Yokohama 2017 全国都市緑化横浜フェア

… Our beloved and secret forest next to Yokohama Zoorasia has been closed for almost 2 years, to be a venue for the 2017 National Urban Greenery Fair 全国都市緑化フェア. Before, I’ve met grandpas who did allotments for more than 25 years deep within the forest. One of them said “Well, our landlord finally sold his land including our allotments to the City of Yokohama. We must say goodbye to this place … I just wonder what would happen to the pine tree I transplanted from my home village in Tochigi …” Not before long, their place became off-limit for the construction work. On my way to Niiharu Citizen Forest weekends, I watched the marsh where we harvested wild Japanese parsley every early spring was excavated with huge Caterpillars, and old familiar quercus acutissima were chainsawed.  I can never bake acorn cookies again from the same trees I collected the ingredients … They were replaced by horticultural cherry trees, surely more flowery than the previous residents. I saw our trekking roads over the wired fence. They were widened and paved … You know, I was apprehensive what’s going on there.

The place had lots of wild
Cerasus jamasakura (Siebold ex Koidz.) H.Ohba
 whose flowers were surely smaller than horticultural Somei-Yoshino.
But they were far resilient to wind or cold weather,
and had tasteful pale-white flowers even though
no one came to have a party beneath them …
What’s happening over there?

The National Urban Greenery Fair is held annually with the money coming from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. This year, City of Yokohama hosts the 33rd melee, called “Garden Necklace: YOKOHAMA 2017.” The venue is composed of 2 areas. The access to the places can be checked here: they have English version as well. One site is around traditional tourism destination of Yokohama, i.e. China Town 中華街 and Yamashita Park 山下公園. The contents of the area are Japanese version of Chelsea Flower Show. Temporary show gardens are constructed in the parks and boulevards with lots of tulips, roses and the latest trend of gardening. Graphic designers are doing some “flower and light show” using iPhones in front of skyscrapers. Lots of horticultural companies sponsored “gardening activities of local school kids in downtown.” I hope you get the idea. Another location is our cherished forest that had hosted Art Exhibition in the Forest of Yokohama 横浜の森美術展 for roughly 10 years. About 2 years ago, the place became off-limit for the construction of the Fair. It’s reopened last Saturday, on March 25, as “Satoyama Garden 里山ガーデン.” To us locals’ surprise, the opening ceremony was held in Satoyama Garden, not in downtown, and the Mayor did the tape-cut in our neighborhood. OK, they thought this place is important, didn’t they …? My father who’s walking in the community daily after his retirement used the forest of art exhibition as a pleasant shortcut to Zoorasia toilets. He’s visited the “Satoyama Garden” this weekend for the first time in almost 2 years. His assessment: “Gosh, the forest became very similar to the garden of Chinzanso Hotel 椿山荘! It’s for lavish wedding parties, not for Satoyama.”

Municipal request for
not doing Pokemon Go! Inside.
Of course,
special souvenir is available in Satoyama Garden.

I’ve been there too and concluded at least during the carnival it’s not the place to be in nature, but more of very artificial Disney Land … surely for some the place can transport their mind and body to forget a daily life of city, with lots of pansies, roses, and (needless to say) cherry blossoms … But Satoyama was not a dream world. It was the place our ancestors built the tradition of ordinary Japanese life … What’s the purpose of this destruction? So I wondered for a while in my stroll of the venue …

Before, “Spirit of Tree”
by Kestutis Benedikas (Lithuania)
quietly lied on the grass field.
Her statement for her installation:
In my work it is like seeing in the mirror.
We can see inside of tree.
We can find tree face and tree's spirit.
I want to say,
trees are some like the human, they have soul.
The former place of “Spirit of Tree” is
now the main gate for the Fair
where shuttle buses and “Park Train” are coming.
Park Train is an electric car pulling wagons for passengers.
“200 yen, one way.”
You don’t have to walk at all within the forest, then.
Spirit of … what?
At the end of Yato 谷戸 swamp,
there were totem poles.
This one,
This one,
And this one.
One of my fellow trainees of Kanagawa Forest Instructor
was in a team of elementary school kids
who made these spirits of forest.
The place is now for
a “Suggestion of sophisticated modern room with
comfortable sofas and wide-opened windows to the nature.
Please limit your usage of the sofa for max 30min.
Thank you.”

The place where local grandpas had allotments is now for “Grand Flowerbed of Yokohama 横浜の花で彩る大花壇.” There was no trace of a pine tree at all, even a stump. Knowledgeable elderly people were discussing the differences in types of tulips planted neatly in the former leek field. Girls in mini-skirts were taking selfies with their friends and colorful daisies. Professionally mowed lawns are strategically placed within the flowerbed as “Picnic Fields.” A guy surrounded by young parents explained, “When you let your baby learn to walk barefoot on lawns, it will stimulate the development of brain very well. So it is highly advisable to bring your kid regularly to the environment like this …” Next to the group for a lecturer, a smiling mom and a toddler kid had a lunch of savory pastries picking from a bag of famous downtown bakery while their dad lay beside and completely fell into a deep sleep … he must have been very tired … The 4/5 of roads within the venue are paved. Er, OK, barrier-free zones, are they? I’ve met several families in the remaining 1/5 of former trekking road in dirt. They were at loss for the way to go through with their baby strollers or polished but slippery leather shoes. “Shit, why haven’t they paved this road!?” A curse of a dad.

Surely, they are beautiful.
And good for child development.
Before there were allotments …

One of the “unpaved” part
… hmmm, yeah, it’s not so suitable for strollers.
But then,
why did they think they could proceed in their attire?

The former ridge way where there were art installations for bagworm (endangered species in Yokohama) is now the main street of Satoyama Garden where Park Train operates. From the main entrance of shuttle bus terminal, the first attraction on this street is “Forest Adventure” imported from France. There was a long line to make a reservation. A group of 3 small girls, maybe 8 or 9 years old, eagerly joined the line, giggling excited. The next fun was named “Glamping Site” in a former meeting place for GROUP the Creation and Voice of the Woods 創造と森の声. The space is now equipped with a large and clean wood deck for “experiencing camp fires,” slack lines (“The world #3 athlete for slack line competition will perform his exhibition on April 1st and 2nd!”), hammocks, glamping tents, and inevitable MORI café serving meals made of ingredients from Yokohama. I was astonished to hear the announcement over speakers: “For you having numbered ticket for 11:30 experience session of boiling water over the camp fire, the gate is now open.” The tickets for log cutting were fetched rapidly. Kids were laughing in glamping tents …

Surely, it looks exciting.
Before the site was like this …
For you to boil water …
“You can cut logs!”
Er, well, please come and join us Niiharu Lovers.
We’re doing it every weekend.
Glamping tents
MORI café.
Their menu includes latte,
herb teas, artisan beers, organic salads,
ham and cheese steaks …
Afogatos are available as dessert.
But it was a quiet place before …

The marsh where we collected Japanese parsley is now for professionally placed irises and rape blossoms. I found they thinned aggressively wild Cerasus jamasakura, and planted cloned horticultural cherries from “famous trees” in Gifu and the other prefectures … I don’t say we should have built the wall, but … why did they have to cut our local trees? Because they were ordinary? But Satoyama is for ordinary, nothing special, peaceful life, isn’t it? Then, something occurred to me. The majority of people in Metropolitan Tokyo genuinely do not know what is Satoyama, or even how to walk in a natural forest. They honestly need to experience boiling water over log fire, or stand near to a tree even if their ground is not a real organic soil. If they find it’s a fun to be in a “forest,” they may try one without Park Train later. Our forest was chosen to be an entrance for them to experience nature. They need some famous attraction to begin, and our ordinary Satoyama trees were martyred for that. Oh my …

Surely, it’s catchy and beautiful …
Two years ago this time,
over there looked like in the pale-pink mist of flowers
of wild Cerasus jamasakura, blossoming quietly
A clone of some famous cherry tree
coming from elsewhere.

I asked one of the ushers of the event if they know the whereabouts of totem poles and sculptures resided in the forest before the construction. After roughly 15 minutes’ enquiry, he said they may be stored in a warehouse in the off-limit area of Satoyama Garden. The Fair is for March 25 – June 4, 2017. He explained after the fête equipment will be removed and the roads are to be reorganized for permanent botanical park of Zoorasia. At that time, those previous installations could be returned, or might be … I found several stumps along a dirt road within the scene. They have already started to regenerate with lots of young sprouts, typical for after coppicing. The forest in Yokohama may not be so “gorgeous,” but strong. They could be embarrassed by my sentimental mourning. I felt like being encouraged. The forest is saying “So What?”

Friday, March 24, 2017

Civil Engineering with Jimi Hendrix: Hinata Yakushi 日向薬師 and Sekiunji Temples 石雲寺 at the foot of Mt. Oyama 大山

This week, I tell you my visit to the 2 old temples at the foot of Mt. Oyama. First, the access. These days, Tokyonites normally visit Mt. Oyama not walking from Tokyo, but by Odakyu Odawara Line 小田急小田原線 from Shinjuku 新宿.  Especially, if you plan to visit 3 old temples, Hinata Yakushi Temple 日向薬師, Sekiunji Temple 石雲寺, and Oyama Temple 大山寺, that have been a part of Mt. Oyama Pilgrimage for ages, the nearest station to get off is Isehara 伊勢原駅. We take Kanachu Bus 神奈中バス from there to terminal stops, and then walk for a while to the destination. Of course, you can drive by leaving Tomei Expressway either at Atsugi IC or Hatano-Nakai IC, and join Route 246 for Oyama Route. The problem of this approach comes from the fact that the choice of trekking roads is limited for Mt. Oyama. When you plan a day-hike in addition to visiting temples, you have to return to the temple’s parking lot using the same road for coming and going in your itinerary. On the other hand, if your intention is not hiking but only visiting these temples, the parking is relatively easy. So, at the end of the posts, I write the addresses of the temples for your driving. Your car navigation system would do the conductor with this info.

Hinatayakushi and Sekiunji are neighbors sharing the same bus stop, Hinata Yakushi Terminal Stop 日向薬師(終点). To go there, take Kanachu Bus I-20 20, I-22 22 or I-24 24 from the Terminal #3 in the North Exit of Isehara Station. (Time Table, here.) It’s a less than 25 minutes bus ride, first through the town of Isehara around Route 246, passing the athletic fieldsof Senshu University 専修大学, and entering a rural community of Hinata日向. Before reaching to the Senshu U’s baseball ground, we encounter a huge construction site for the Daini Tomei Expressway (the Second Tomei) 第二東名 which is coming from Toyota City 豊田市 (Toyota-Higashi 豊田東 JCT) and currently reaching to Gotemba City 御殿場市 (Gotemba 御殿場 JCT) at the foot of Mt Fuji. The plan is, the route threads through the surface of deep Tanzawa Mountains and joins with the “First” Tomei Expressway around this structure we can see from the bus to Hinata Yakushi … Among the trainees for Kanagawa Forest Instructor, the project conjures up a mixed feeling. We know a gigantic flyover near Tanzawa Lake 丹沢湖, just before Tsuburano Tunnel 都夫良野トンネル of Tomei Expressway, where it is always congested. In weekends, the menacing exhausts of Harley-Davidsons echo within the otherwise quiet West Tanzawa … Daini Tomei would do the same for the East Tanzawa around Mt. Oyama. “Well, at least drivers can enjoy the scenery of Tanzawa, can’t they?” “Yeah ...”

The #3 bus stop
for North Exit of Isehara Station
Building an expressway … I tell you, they are HUGE.

The bus route between Senshu U Field and Hinata Yakushi has a unique system 降車自由バス. Although they have bus stops with name, if you ask the driver in a reasonable way, you can stop the bus wherever you want to along the route. When we enter the Hinata area, we could guess the reason of the special service … the community of Hinata looks very rural AND elderly. Japan is an aging country where giving up driving licenses is encouraged by the police and the government. But, if the grandpas or grandmas in Hinata community give up their license, while the public transportation forces them to walk a long way from a bus stop, it would be THE problem ... Soon, the bus arrives at Hinata Yakushi terminal stop. No Kombini, or supermarket. A tiny concession store selling sweets and bottled waters greets us. Welcome to one of the spiritual spaces of Mt. Oyama!

Hinatayakushi terminal stop
You can buy drinks for your hike
at a tiny concession store next to the stop.
The toilet here is superb!
With the fully equipped washlets, with soft toilet papers,
and clean washstands with soaps.

From the bus terminal let’s walk back a bit along the bus route to find stone gateposts on the left, which is the sign of the road leading us to Hinata Yakushi Temple. It’s about 15-20 minutes’ walk from here to the main hall of the Temple, climbing up an ancient mountain road. The institution’s official name is Hojohboh 宝城坊 established by abbot Gyoki 行基 in AD716. This priest was an avant-garde by spreading the temple knowledge for civil engineering among the ordinary villagers. First, the government was skeptical of his way of religious activity, but later realized he was the guy for implementing their development policies. Finally, in 740 Emperor Shomu 聖武天皇 made him the officer in charge of the construction of Todaiji Temple 東大寺 that was the central institution of Japanese Buddhism. So, the rich and powerful in later period regarded Hinata Yakushi very highly. Among them was the couple of Minamoto no Yoritomo 源頼朝 and Masako 政子 who started Kamakura Shogunate Government 鎌倉幕府 in 1192. They patronized Hojohboh before they occupied the office of Shogun 将軍, which made the “power” of Hinata Yakushi all the more “apparent.” The Temple completed the third repair of their Main Hall last November using the same methodology employed during the previous two reparations in 1380 and 1660. Since traditional technique to build Japanese shrines and temples does not use nails, but employs Lego’s way, it is possible to recycle original timbers many times as long as they are robust enough. (More to this, when we visit Sekiunji Temple.)

20m from the bus stop,
there is the sign post showing us …
these gateposts.
Just go ahead ...
to climb the steps and …
reach to the main gate of the Hinata Yakushi.
The main gate has
the early 19th century images of A-hūm.
From there, we climb up wide but mountainous trekking road
which has a legend of Minamoto no Yoritomo
who passed this road in shining outfit
on superb horse with handsome samurai acolytes
… movie, movie.
Nearly there …
Recently repaired Main Hall for Hinata Yakushi.
I love their thatched roof in modest but elegant line,
surrounded by beautiful vegetation.
That’s the sanctuary in the forest.

The Temple is dedicated to Bhaisajyaguru 薬師如来 in the image by hatchet curving of the 10-11th century. The statue is registered as a National Important Cultural Property 国重要文化財, and stored in a special cabinet whose door is opened to the public only for 1-3 January, 8 January (the first day of Bhaisajyaguru 初薬師), and April 15. The Treasure Warehouse 宝物殿 of the Temple keeps the cabinet and the other 12th-18th centuries’ icons also registered as National Important Cultural Properties. If you want to see them (except the Bhaisajyaguru) in the Treasure Warehouse, you ask the temple people to open the key of the Warehouse and pay 300 yen for adult admission. And here is THE manner to admire old wooden sculptures in Japan: no photos please as they are very fragile. They are intentionally kept in dark and cool places for preservation. Strong flash light should damage our national heritages. The Temple also has a 14th century bell whose copper was originally donated by Emperor Murakami 村上天皇 in 952. It is also in the list of National Important Cultural Properties.

The belfry for the bell.
Could you see that magnificent cedar tree
next to the graceful structure?
The notice in front of the tree says
botanists estimate it is at least 800 years old.
Next to the belfry,
there is a small shrine for Ākāśagarbha
This tree is alive!

On April 15th you can see a millennium old image of Bhaisajyaguru together with the other treasures of the Temple. Moreover, on that day, the institution has a unique festival that allows us to peek into the Japanese mountain religion. Many Yamabushi 山伏, the priests of mountain worship, annually gather at Hinata Yakushi on April 15 and perform in public their full-day ritual such as fire-walking and acrobatic tree climbing called Shiki-nobori 神木のぼり. The Temple has a parking space at the back of the Treasure Hall that can be accessed either from the bus-route, or from Nanasawa 七沢 of Atsugi City 厚木市 where the campus of Kanagawa Nature Conservation Center 神奈川県自然環境保全センター locates.

In the back of Treasure Warehouse,
they have small picnic space and toilet.
Within the Temple forest, along the road from Nanasawa,
they have a beautiful plum orchard.
We can see the peak of Oyama from there.
Oh, by the way, in front of the orchard,
local farmers do mini-market and sell
almost all of their produce in decent amount for 100 yen.

For the next temple, you can either go back to the bus stop, or follow a paved forest road running at the back of the Treasure Hall down to the road continuing from the Hinata Yakushi stop ... there is a trekking road beyond the plum orchard going to the same direction, but the latest map published by Shobunsha 昭文社 says the route is rarely used so that it won’t be safe. Never underestimate the danger of Tanzawa; it’s easy to lose the way. Anyway, the road we came by bus continues as a forest road along a mountain stream named Hinata River 日向川, and ends at a summer camping site of Hinata managed by Isehara City. Beyond the camping space, cars without permit cannot enter. Actually, from the bus terminal to the west, including Hinata Yakushi, is in Tanzawa Quasi-National Park 丹沢国定公園Japanese national parks were established in 1931 after 2 professors of Tokyo University, Dr. Kuroita Katsumi 黒板勝美 and Dr.Miyoshi Manabu 三好学introduced Japanese public European system of commemorating cultural and natural heritages. Its original idea emphasized more on the “recreational use of heritages to improve the health of general public,” which differs from the primary stress on “conservation” for the US national park. Thus, we meet several private tourism business such as BBQ gardens and secluded area for mountain stream fishing. Cation: although Hinata River is rich in freshwater fishes such as trout and sweetfish, you must have license to catch them. Otherwise, you’ll be charged with theft. We are greeted by the signs of tourism facilities in the forest for half an hour, and then, there comes the gate for Sekiunji Temple 石雲寺.

The forest road goes down from Hinata Yakushi Temple
to another forest road coming from the bus terminal.
Along the way we first meet Johatsuganji Temple 浄発願寺 which was moved in 1938 from the upstream of Hinata River
after debris-avalanche caused by a typhoon.
Here is another evidence of fragile soil in Tanzawa …
The temple was established in 1608
as a branch temple of Kan’eiji Temple
寛永寺 in Ueno 上野, Tokyo.
It was famous as a sanctuary for male criminals
who did not commit murder or arson.
They worked in road construction in Tanzawa for atonement,
but were not confined in jail.
Anyway, go ahead.
To the left is a dead end with another summer camping site
+  “reportedly, the tomb of Prince Otomo.”
??? More to it, below.
The banner says,
“A temporary license for fishing is sold here.”
“To use this BBQ site,
please call Hinata Mountain Villa
The gate for Sekiunji Temple.
The parking is next to this gate.

It is said that Sekiunji Temple was established in 718, but a remaining written record shows a monk Tenkei Souon 天渓宗恩 started the current temple for Zen Buddhism (Soto Zen 曹洞禅) in 1489. According to the original legend, in 718 a monk Kegon Myotan 華厳妙瑞 traveled deep in the mountain around here, and meditated on a rock near the stream. Suddenly over there a mist of noble mauve appeared. He went to the riverbed, and saw lilac vapor hovering above a 10m wide rock. He was awe-struck and chanted intensely the name of Buddha and Maitreya. Suddenly, the saints and Buddha appeared within the cloud. The monk wondered the meaning of this, and asked locals if they had any idea. They said Prince Otomo 大友皇子 who was the Crown Prince of Emperor Tenchi 天智天皇 and defeated by his uncle, Emperor Ten’mu 天武天皇, during the Civil War 壬申の乱, escaped from Nara 奈良 with his followers to Hinata near Mt. Oyama. The Prince suffered the trauma from the battle and died, and his acolytes killed themselves after the death of their master. Kegon Myotan sympathized with the royal tragedy, and planted a seedling of a pine tree at the place where Prince Otomo and his followers buried. About 500 years later, a family who was said to be the descendants of one of the devotees of the Prince built a quintuple tower with stone, and in 1489 Tenkei Souon made the place as a full-fledged temple ... I doubt the Prince thing. The battle ground was in Nara Prefecture, a bit far away from here. But the whole story is very Tanzawa. Well, if you are a self-respecting follower of spirituality, you should meditate on the rock near Mt. Oyama. If it yields a purple haze, being Jimi Hendrix or not, you may have been doped, or really reached to the world of Buddha … Oh, my Buddha, what am I saying???

Reportedly, the tomb of Prince Otomo

So we can expect some sort of mystical experience by entering the gate of Sekiunji Temple … unfortunately, at the moment, the institution is engaging in their turn for the repair of ancient structure. Their Main Hall is surrounded by scaffolding. The meditation rock and the quintuple tower appeared in the legend, both of which are supposed to be in front of the Main Hall, are within the piles of construction materials. … Quiet meditation would be difficult now … Rather, I had an excitement. For a 21st century repair of Japanese traditional wooden buildings, the experts jack up the entire edifice to replace weakened joists and other foundations with new timbers. When I’ve been Sekiunji Temple, they were doing just that! The operation was done by a machine. A team of engineers called each other to move the massive Hall, and the structure was squeaking with impressively low and dry noise of motor and woods. “Pilar #1, Ready!” “Pilar #2, Ready!” “Pilar # …!” Clunk, Clunk, Creeeeeak, Biff! Woooooooow. The color of the haze was … inevitably dusty brown. Er, well, we’ve returned to a gigantic construction site of the 21st century, haven’t we?

Up, up, up …
It’s the place
supposed to be for meditation with purple haze.

Next week, I plan to report about Yokohama 2017 Garden Necklace, which occurs in my neighborhood. Then, my adventure around Oyama Temple will follow in 2 weeks' time. That’s proudly a tourist town in the forest of Kanagawa!

Hinata Yakushi Temple 日向薬師宝城坊
1644 Hinata, Isehara City, 259-1101 伊勢原市日向1644
(phone) 0463-95-1416

Sekiunji Temple 石雲寺
1767 Hinata, Isehara City, 259-1101 伊勢原市日向1767
(phone) 0463-95-4582