Friday, June 23, 2017

An animal kingdom: trekking roads in Yadoriki Water Conservation Forest やどりき水源林

Route B for Yadoriki Forest starts immediately after the management cottage. Although the slope is steep, it’s a relatively gentle area for a short circular route in one hour. The trekking road is well-organized with clear signposts so that it’s difficult to get lost in the Route. The basic design of the forest along Route B is coniferous trees planted by Morimura Bros. Inc. some 100 – 80 years ago. The prefecture plans to make the area either a forest of gigantic conifers, conifers of different ages, or of conifers and broad-leaved trees. Along the trekking road, we can find typical shrubs for Tanzawa mountains here, with a twist. Those relatively old thickets, probably 30-40 years old, stand OK with vigorous leaves and berries in 1.5-2m high. Below, they look like being trimmed by power mower at 70-80cm. Baby seedlings are rare … That’s because they are eaten by deer whose population is exploding all over Japan … You may say, “Well, what if the limited vegetation is the natural ecosystem in Tanzawa sans heavy commercial forestry?” OK. Let’s go to see Forests of Growing which are dotted along Route A in Yadoriki Forest.

Along the Route B,
there are several exhibition boards explaining forest transition.
The management of many areas on this side of the stream
is funded by the donations of TOPIX 100 companies.
An established tree of Orixa japonica,
one of the common plants in Tanzawa, in Route B.
It reaches more than 3m high so that
deer cannot reach to the upper branches,
which allows the plant bear lots of berries in fall.
They are still visible in March.
Boehmeria spicata (Thunb.) Thunb. is not so lucky.
By nature they are short bushes, and have soft vigorous leaves.
They are loved by deer.
The animal holds the softer tips of the plant and bites them off.
After their lunch the place looks like being mechanically clipped.
Skimmia japonica is short bushes as well,
but they survive the attack of deer.
Because they are poisonous
(I warn you who grow them in your garden …),
and deer know it very well.
These days, Pteris cretia thrives in Tanzawa,
including Yadoriki Forest.
Do you remember we’ve met tons of them in Mt. Oyama?
They are hated by deer.
Daphne pseudomezereum is also a survivor.
For one thing, they are poisonous.
Moreover, its leaves are extremely difficult
to cut off by the tooth of deer.
The consequence.
The variety of the plants is fairly limited for
the undergrowth of established conifers
even the Prefecture thinned the place to let the sunshine in.
Edgeworthia chrysantha struggles in the sea of Pteris Cretia

Route A can be entered from the other side of Yadoriki Oh-hashi Bridge. From there, we walk for about 1.5 hours to reach to the west riverbed of Yadoriki Stream near the first Forests of Growing (2007-2010). The trekking road runs over the surface of steep slopes of Mt. Hinokidakka (檜岳 1167m ASL), and we have to cross six gorges by small aluminum bridges which are permanent structures. There are several points to use chains and ropes provided along the road so that bringing your gloves for Route A is wise. As the Forest Instructors do regular activities here, lots of small forest roads branch off from Route A. In order to avoid accident, following the direction of signposts is the must for the visitors. If you take Route A by yourself without Forest Instructors, you have to return to the foot of Yadoriki Oh-hashi Bridge from the end of the route, tracing the same journey. Having said that, I bet Route A is a good introductory course for the beginners of Tanzawa mountains. Its steepness, often crumbling surface, gorges and mini-rock climbing … within deep rush green … all are of Tanzawa. The route has many educational mini-panels explaining the vegetation at each point. In addition, unlike Mt. Oyama or other popular destinations, the place is often quiet which is ideal for walking meditation …

We cross the Bridge …
Viewing Yadoriki Stream from the Bridge.
It’s tempting to pitch a tent there, but it is not at all advisable.
For one thing, this is the place where wild animals,
including bears, come to drink very frequently.
Another is the high risk of flush flood and debris avalanche.
My senior Forest Instructor told us until 10 or so years ago,
the place where a handful of trees standing
in the riverbed now was a part of more solid mountain.
(Could you figure them out in the southeast part of this photo?)
Due to the debris from upstream, it is as such now.
The area has frequent and sudden downpours
which cause rapid increase in water level,
and thundering landslides.
Probably deer can be one of the culprits of this
… I tell you about it next week.
Over there is the gate for another permit-holder-only route
(for cars) of Hadano-toge Forest Road
Never mind for us pedestrians.
In April, just after passing the gate,
there was a small puddle with lots of tadpoles.
I was amazed … in such a small place?
About 100m ahead from the gate,
there is an entrance to Route A.
Immediately after entering the Route,
we are greeted by the first gorge crossing.
Can you see this tree has a hand tag?
And at the foot of this is an exhibition:
it is Callicarpa mollis.
Following the explanation,
I examined their young leaves.
Sure enough, they are very suave like velvet. 😍
One of the signposts with a map of the area.
If you don’t read Japanese, just follow “A.”
The trekking road of Route A
Along Route A, at the third gorge, Takigoh-sawa Stream 滝郷沢,
we have to use ladders to cross the gorge.
Mind you, the experience’s like
going down from a roof of a house with a carpenters’ ladder.
The place is above the Takigoh Fall 
滝郷ノ瀧 for ghosts I told you last week.
Viewing upstream of Takigoh-sawa from the bridge.
The place was once popular for gorge scrambling,
but now it is strongly discouraged to try
after several deaths along the way
due to very fragile rock surface.
Thanks to this human-less condition,
the place is good for wild animals.
I found a large fish swimming below the bridge in Takigoh-sawa.
After Takigoh-sawa Stream,
Route A crosses a truck rail for forestry.
Basically the west side of Yadoriki Stream is
also an afforested area by Morimura Bros. Inc.
There are lots of benches along the Route
… I think they are bones of deer … aren’t they?
A junction of Route A and forestry road(s) has
always a signpost like this.
Just go to the direction of “A,”
unless you are with Forest Instructors.
In the middle, about an hour from Yadoriki Oh-hashi,
there is a point near 2007 Forest of Growing
where we can have a very nice view of
Mt. Nabewari
(鍋割山 1272m ASL)
is the highest peak in this photo.
After the view of Mt. Nabewari,
we descend …
oh, hello, …
to the riverbed of Yadoriki Stream.
You see?
Passing Yadoriki Stream without a help is not at all advisable.

The Forest of Growing is planted by kids for wishing their happy life, remember? So, the Prefecture fights hard in defense against the onslaught by deer. What they’re doing is “building the wall.” Each Forest of Growing in Yadoriki Forest is surrounded by wire-mesh whose bottoms are secured under the ground in order for preventing deer from finding a gap to sneak in. Several other trees which are not in the Forest of Growing, but the Prefecture wants to protect, are also covered by plastic meshes to fend off the biting of deer. In front of these cages there stands a panel listing the name of kids who donated the funds for the seedlings planted within. The effect is obvious. Within the secluded area, there are lots of undergrowth constructing a bush that was once famous for the mountains of Tanzawa … Before, it was a routine for hikers of Tanzawa to wade in the chest-high bushes to progress along the trekking road.  It made very common, especially on the fragile grounds or ridges, sliding down to death by missing the footing ... Outside the enclosure, the surviving vegetation is only with what deer hates. Actually, this way of guarding forests is now getting momentum within the community of environmental protection in Japan (more to it, next week). OK, kids are to be nurtured for our future, so are the trees planted by them. And we have to shield off the space for baby trees’ survival … it’s so symbolic for the environment the kids of the 21st century live, isn’t it?

The class of 2007 is getting this big!
… within the cage.
Within you without you …
could you see the difference in vegetation?
The names of kids who
helped create the 8th block for 2007 Forest of Growing
It’s another afforested area by kids
other than for the Forest of Growing.
They are protected.
Outside the crate for 2007 Forest of Growing,
we can find vigorous Rubus palmatus var. coptophyllusand Zanthoxylum piperitum both of which are
very popular for gourmands of Japanese cuisine.
The plants have thorns so sharp that deer don’t take,
but eat up the rest in the area.
Losing the competitors, the thornies thrive in the Forest.
It might be one of a few benefits of having deer problem.

Unlike very popular Mt. Oyama, Yadoriki Forest is a quiet place. It makes the place loved by many wild animals. The identified animals by zoologists in the Forest include Japanese wild boar, Asian black bears, Japanese squirrel, Japanese giant flying squirrel, Japanese marten, Japanese deer, and the nation’s special natural treasure, Japanese serow. When you are in the Forest attentively, it’s possible to find their droppings and other things very frequently … or sometimes they are inspecting us. One spring day this year, when I walked Yadoriki Oh-hashi Bridge, I felt somebody is watching me from the Yadoriki Stream … I turned my eye, and found a four-legged creature over there too roly-poly to be deer … I think I was examined by a Japanese serow. That was my first time to encounter with a wild national treasure ... I was smitten. Hello, do you mind me having a walk in your garden? Among those fellows in the forest, especially Japanese deer run amok in Yadoriki. Next week, I tell you what I’ve learned about them during the Instructor Training ...

The list of wild things I’ve encountered in Yadoriki Forest,
#1. Droppings of Japanese wild boar
The list #2.
Leftovers of a dinner by Japanese squirrel
or Japanese giant flying squirrel
The list #3.
Droppings of Japanese deer
The list #4.
Actually, it was still VERY fresh
(I mean, very wet)
droppings of Japanese marten.
The list #5.
A footprint of Japanese serow
After this photo,
the animal entered into the Forest
whose figure was definitely not a bear …
I think it’s one of the Japanese serow
live in Yadoriki Forest.
People said Japanese serow is curious bunch
who can come to observe homo sapience
when they like.
I was their measuring object, then.

If you find environmental problems in Yadoriki Forest, please make a contact to
Kanagawa Nature Conservation Center 神奈川県自然環境保全センター
657 Nanasawa, Atsugi City, 243-0121 2430121 厚木市七沢657
Phone: 046-248-0323

You can send an enquiry to them by clicking the bottom line of their homepage at

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