Friday, September 1, 2017

How Green Is Our Valley in Downtown: Jingashita Valley Park of Yokohama 陣ヶ下渓谷公園

In Yokohama, we have only one place with name containing “Valley.” It is Jingashita Valley 陣ヶ下渓谷, next to Nishiya Water Treatment Plant 西谷浄水場 in Hodogaya Ward 保土ヶ谷区. The place is one of the sources of Katabira River 帷子川. I personally think Jingashita Valley is not that large for a valley, but more of a ravine. The stream in Hitorizawa Citizen Forest 氷取沢市民の森  that is the water source for Ohoka River 大岡川 has a similar, or even larger, size, surrounded by 700ha of the South Forest of Yokohama. And Hitorizawa is not awarded a name of valley. It’s unfair! Even though, Yokohama people in the know sometimes incant “Jingashita Valley” with a sort of pride … “Look, our mega-city can keep a “valley” as such!” Maybe, it’s like Todoroki Valley 等々力渓谷 in Setagaya Ward 世田谷区 of Tokyo: in the ocean of congested houses and buildings with not-much greenery, a narrow forest running along a short stream is miraculously allowed to preserve trees. Neighbors love the place perhaps because of such preciousness ... OK, Jingashita Valley Park is definitely larger than Todoroki Valley with more vegetation. It certainly has its own charm. This week is about my short strolling in the only “Valley” in Yokohama.

Trash-floating Todoroki Valley in Tokyo.
Even though it was a cloudy day, the scenery was too dark.
They could thin the vegetation
for more healthy forest, if they choose.
I know Tokyokko don’t want to
because if they let the sunshine in to the ravine,
the rows of houses and buildings become so obvious
behind a very narrow green curtain.
Jingashita Valley.
Granted, it was a fine day
unlike that’s for Todoroki Valley above.
But our forest is definitely more substantial
than for Tokyo.

The fact that Jingashita Valley Park is surrounded by tightly packed housings makes finding a way to go there a bit tricky, despite of its location next to the downtown of Yokohama. If you go there by car, first find your way to Nishiya Water Treatment Plant of the City of Yokohama. This place is the brain of Yokohama’s water supply structure so that any navigation system will reply your search with the easiest route for you. Then, locate Nishihara Danchi Condo Complex 西原団地 next to the Plant. The community has a public parking in east, which works as a parking for Jingashita Valley Park as well. If you use public transportation, the nearest bus stop to the Park is at Johsuijo-ura 浄水場裏 stop in front of the Nishiya Water Treatment Plant. The services to the stop are Sotetsu Hama-16 (between Sotetsu Wadamachi 和田町駅and Tsurugamine Stations 鶴ヶ峰駅, time tables are here and here) and Hama 19 (between Sotetsu Wadamachi Station and Shin-Sakuragaoka Danchi Condo Complex 新桜ヶ丘団地, time table from Wadamachi Station is here). From the bus stop, walk to the west along the Plant, turn right at the first corner, and walk straight for about 100m along the training facility for Yokohama FC. On the left you find a city garden with paved steps. Please go down there and walk past the rows of detached houses for about 200m. You’ll meet with a busy flyover of Loop Road 2 (Kan-ni 2) of the city, and find a small tunnel below it. Go through the tunnel and there is a small road going to the forest in front of you. That’s  the south entrance of Jingashita Valley Park.

Nishiya Water Treatment Plant.
Actually this place is deeply connected
with the largest forest owned by the city of Yokohama.
More to it in my later posts.
Public Parking next to Nishihara Danchi Condo Complex
A public toilet in the parking is the only toilet for Jingashita Park.
Please do not miss your chance!
The main gate for Yokohama FC training center
Please go down these steps of the garden …
The other side of the tunnel
The south gate of Jingashita Valley Park

The third access to the Jingashita Park is from Sotetsu Kamihoshikawa Station 上星川駅. Leave the station from its South Exit, and find the way to the pedestrian road along the north riverside of Katabira River. Keep on walking along the river, and you’ll find a small sign saying “Jingashita Valley Park, this way.” The road eventually goes around a large condo next to a small temple, Zuiryuin Temple 随流院, and you’ll find huge flyover of Loop Road 2 ahead of you. Just try to reach under the Loop Road that has a children’s playground. Go pass the playground and turn left immediately to a community road running along (and below) the Loop Road. Ahead of you is a forest along the Loop Road with an entrance to the Jingashita Park. If you take this route to the Park, you’ll meet immediately Jingashita Valley on your right, and the Loop Road on the left. The Loop Road flyover above you is designed to maintain forest’s soil. Here, inbound and outbound of the Loop Road are separated for the trees to poke out. Japan Society of Civil Engineers awarded the design of Jingashita Viaduct 2001 Tanaka Prize and 2003 Civil Engineering Design Grand Prize. In August, the trekking road below the Viaduct is decorated with flowering wild grasses that can thrive with limited sun light. The route and the stream eventually turn right to say goodbye to the Loop Road and start to climb.

South exit of Kamihoshikawa Station
Please take this road along Katabira River, and
There is this notice “This way to Jingashita Valley Park.”
We can find roofs of Zuiryuin Temple over there.
The playground. Just cross it to the other side.
Turn left, and go ahead.
Here it is. Another entrance to Jingashita Valley Park.
Award winning structure and the route in Jingashita Park
Flowers below the Viaduct 1:
Pollia japonica
Flowers below the Viaduct 2: Astilbe odontophylla

Unless you dare go off-road (hey, off-road is a huge no-no for the micro eco-system protection), the route in Jingashita Valley Park is simple. Please refer to the photo of the map below. If you enter the Park from Kamihoshikawa Station under the Viaduct, when you reach to the inside of the forest, you’ll soon meet with a small gate that leads us to the ravine itself. Weather permitting and applying suitable insect repellent, the place becomes a family-fun place to enjoy nature of water front. Warning: do not try walking the ravine. Around the gate is normally well-taken care of by the Park Office. But once you leave from the spot, there could be sudden falls of boughs and trees from above. In addition, the riverbed is slippery and sometimes very steep (; people call the place “valley”) where an uninitiated can easily suffer serious injury or death. The Park Office situates the notice boards of “Do Not Enter from Here” around the gate. You’d better follow their direction.

The map of Jingashita Valley Park.
Walking along the Viaduct is along the road
from the north east of this drawing.
The signpost on the route coming from the Viaduct
A bit of climbing from the Viaduct leads us these picnic benches.
Inside the park,
there are lots of chairs and picnic benches like these.
The gate for the ravine
Could you see the sign “Do Not Enter from Here”
on the right of this photo?
Please follow their advice.
If the water is not so high,
we can just cross the ravine, keeping our foot dry.

The forest along the ravine is a combo of afforested Cryptomeria japonica and fire woods, dotted by wild broad leaved trees typical in Yokohama. Styrax japonicas, Acuba japonica, Cornus controversa, Neolitsea sericea … The trekking road goes down to the ravine keeps the charm of standard mountain road, with steep ups and downs. In contrast, the route in thick line of the map is a paved road where volunteers put name plates of trees and other signs for the visitors. Coniferous trees have a blue emblem, and broad leaves are with an orange badge. They are to explain kids the difference between these 2 kinds. Some plates have a poetic suggestion like “Where is sun here?” We look above and enjoy the twinkle of sun light coming from the canopy. Some says “Please open this gently” and we find small creatures living underneath. Though some of these signs are wore-off, many of them are still helpful for urbanites to learn the way to enjoy natural forest. If you train yourself in the Jingashita Valley Park for running you can complete the route in less than 20 minutes, and I’ve met several runners when I’ve been there in one weekend. The place deserves the pride of Yokohama. “Our mega-city has a beautiful Valley next to the downtown!”

The way from the ravine is like this.
But we soon reach to the paved route.
Such chairs are dotted in the forest.
Near the Parking
This exhibition in the parking explains
the meaning of signs within the forest.

If you find a problem in the Jingashita Valley Park, 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 …)

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