Friday, January 26, 2018

War and Peace: a brief history of Doshi River, part 1 道志川

The blessing from Doshi River 道志川 to Yokohama comes from Water Source Forests in Doshi Village 道志村. 21.7km Doshi River is a tributary for Sagami River 相模川. It starts from the east of Yamabushi Pass 山伏峠 whose western side is Lake Yamanakako 山中湖, and joins with Sagami River at the point west of Lake Tsukui 津久井湖. Approx. 10km of the river from Sagami River runs through Sagamihara City of Kanagawa, and further upstream is in Doshi Village of Yamanashi Prefecture. Kanagawa side was called Lower Doshi 下道志, and the area along the river in Yamanashi was named Upper Doshi 上道志. Going Upper Doshi by public transportation is tricky. The nearest train station would be Tsurushi Station 都留市駅 of Fujikyu Line 富士急行 on the foot of Mt. Fuji 富士山. From there, an hour bus ride could bring us there twice daily (time table, here). From JR Shinjuku Station of Tokyo, it’s about 4 hour journey of 3200-4500 yen (Approx. USD40) for one-way. If we go there fromYokohama, we first go to JR Gotemba Station 御殿場駅 by whatever way, and from there take a 1.5 hour bus by Fujikyu Bus 富士急バス, changing the service once at Asahigaoka Bus Stop 旭が丘バス停 on the shore of Lake Yamanaka. The expected duration of your journey is about 4.5 to 5 hours with 3800-4200 yen (USD ditto!) for one way. So, normally, we go there by car which is cheaper and quicker. When we drive to Doshi River from wherever, we have to enter National Route 413, aka Doshi Road. It’s a venerable road existing since Japanese Neolithic age, connecting Mt. Fuji with Kanto Plane 関東平野. There is no other road linking up Upper Doshi with the outer world. When we proceed in Route 413 from Lake Tsukui to Upper Doshi, we are always surrounded by mountain forests that get deeper as we approach to Doshi Village of Yamanashi Prefecture. As a rule of thumb, rich forest can withhold rain as underground water, while they simultaneously play as soil retainers. If forests are gone, the underground water system would disappear sooner or later. The scenery of Doshi Road is a very good testimony that abundant water of Doshi River is sustained by the mass of trees. Why then could Doshi Village preserve rich forests for more than a century? Actually, they are keeping the forests for at least 400 years thanks early to Japanese civil war + geopolitics, and later to international relation. Let me start first from the civil war.

Aone Community 青根 of Lower Doshi.
The road below is the Route 413,
and the blue roofs further down on the foot of
right mountains (Doshi Mountains) are
for camping lodges near the riverbank of Doshi River.
Looking south on our way to Upper Doshi.
It’s actually the northern slopes of Tanzawa Mountains.

During the 15th to 16th centuries of the civil war, Japanese cut trees a lot. Slowly growing forests were useless for rapid destruction in wars. Moreover, deforestation did not stop at the end of the civil war. After the establishment of Tokugawa Shogunate 徳川幕府 in 1603, increasing population of peace time promoted slash-and-burn agriculture for food, which put enormous pressure on the forests. Obliteration of virgin forest that was started during the 7th century in Kyoto and Nara, as Totman (1989) said, expanded all over Japan. Saving grace was, it was before the industrial revolution so that the speed of demolition did not create a collapse of environment. Rather, according to Suga, Okamoto and Ushimaru (2012), they were converting the archipelago from forests-dominating to grassland-covering with rich but different biodiversity. When a British diplomat, Sir Ernest Mason Satow, hiked around Japanese mountains in the late 19th century, he encountered here and there lots of vast flower beds in grassland. Japanese farmers cut trees, converted some into farmlands, the others to grasslands for their livestock and materials for construction and daily tools (e.g. thatched roofs and tatami mats). But, villagers in Doshi Village did not have such ordinary rural life of Japan.

This is Niiharu’s farmland nested in the Niiharu Citizen Forest of Yokohama.
The senior forest volunteers for Niiharu told me
this part of the area has been cultivated for centuries,
and the background forests are new additions in the late 20th century.
Before World War II, the majority of the scenery here was for agricultural field.
A traditional house gate remaining in
Toriya community
鳥屋 near Lake Miyagase 宮ケ瀬湖.
For having this size of thatched roof,
we need rather substantial acreage of grassland.
The architecture also requires rethatching once in every 15-20 years
so that maintaining the place for construction material
(i.e. grass) for long-term was very important.
It means once deforested,
villagers had to maintain diligently the grassland
through regular mowing every fall to avoid reforestation.

Do you remember Tsukui Lake and Shiroyama Park 津久井城山公園 we’ve visited last fall? A booklet provided by the Park Office (in Japanese, downloadable from here) said Shiroyama Hill was a bald mountain when it was a fortress. The place was a battle ground, where trees were simply obstruction for the business. Samurais must have cut vegetation vigorously. From Shiroyama Park to Aoyama Settling Basin 青山沈殿池 on Doshi River, it’s only 6K. From Mt. Fuji and Kofu City 甲府市, the routes along Sagami River and Doshi River were important passage to Kanto Plane for millennia. Not for nothing National Route 20, aka Koshu-kaido Route 甲州街道 and Chuo Express Way 中央高速 run through the area. Lots of warlords from Central Japan wanted to control the territory of Doshi Village and the northern Kanagawa Prefecture. Deforestation was inevitable. However, after conquering Tsukui Castle on Shiroyama Hill in 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu 徳川家康, the founder of Edo Shogunate, grabbed the land and ordered to afforest the entire area massively in order to create a buffer zone, in case another enemy approached to Edo (Tokyo) from the west. Later, this defense policy was transformed to industrial policy of timber and fuel (i.e., charcoal) production whose main customer was his city, Edo. Almost entire forests of Tama Region of Tokyo, and Tanzawa / Hakone of Kanagawa were the property of Shogunate Government from 1590 till 1868. There, cutting trees without governmental permission was considered as high treason with death penalty.

Afforested cypresses in Shiroyama Hill.
They were planted in the middle of the 19th century
by a local mandarin, Egawa Tarozaemon Hidetatsu
The Shogunate Government must have planned
to harvest them in hundreds years later as construction materials.
Now they are registered historical monuments for Kanagawa Prefecture.
Kobotoke Pass 小仏峠 on the former Koshu-kaido Route.
There are only ruins in the 21st century,
but until about 150 years ago
there was a checkpoint of Shogunate Government,
stopping invaders to Edo (Tokyo) from the west.

Early this month, we’ve been to Lake Tanzawa 丹沢湖 to meet with a Treasure Tree 箒杉, haven’t we? The people lived in the region of Lake Tanzawa was the assigned guardian of the forests of Treasure Trees for Shogun. Villagers of Doshi also protected the afforested mountain for Edo. They could not cut trees for rice paddies or farmlands as ordinary farmers did elsewhere in Japan. Instead, they engaged in forestry for Edo government. They were also given several permissions, such as holding arms to fish in the river, or to hunt deer and the other wild animals. That was a real privilege where disarmament among non-worriers was the foundation of the Shogunate politics. The life would have been not bad in Doshi Village. There is a book, “Oral Record of Traditional Meal in Kanagawa Prefecture 聞き書 神奈川の食事 日本の食生活全集(14 published in 1992. There, the grannies lived near present-day Lake Tanzawa said even in the late 19th century their community had “traditional” regular meal with deer steak and freshly BBQed fishes. That’s something if we consider the rest of the nation of that time had mainly vegetarian diet, not by choice but due to subsistence farming. I imagine villagers of Doshi enjoyed similar life back then. Doshi Village, 14km long and narrow human settlement along the river in deep mountains, has several temples holding elaborate Buddha statues dating back to Shogunate Period, or Shintoism shrines that preside over lively traditional seasonal festivals, including amateur Kabuki theatre (Maekawa 2007). Starving people could not have such things, couldn’t they? When Ernest M. Satow visited Doshi Village in January 1872, the rush forests around Doshi River were frozen-green with nice houses dotted here and there with open-air private spa to enjoy relaxation under moonlight. Though, the life style in Doshi changed dramatically with the Port of Yokohama.

The present-day forests near Lake Tanzawa,
which was once owned by Shogun.
“Treasure Tree” in Lake Tanzawa Area.
Water source forests in Doshi Village last fall.
The greenery is thanks to
the traditional guardian of the trees in the Village.

According to Izumi (2004), when Shogunate Government collapsed and Meiji Restoration Government 明治維新政府 took over, the entire forests owned by the previous government became the property of the Emperor 御領林. Shogunate had lots of forests all over Japan, and the Government of Emperor cashed in quite many of them during the 19th century, by selling them to their supporters (with preferential price, of course). Meanwhile, at the time of societal chaos during 1868-1890, people of Doshi who lost the Shogun as the main client of their forestry tried to do the same as the rest of Japan: cutting trees to expand their field for food production to avoid starvation. On the other hand, when the Meiji Government was mulling over the treatment of their newly inherited “Treasure Trees,” Yokohama’s water problem became large. The new government took over not only the land of Shogun, but also one-sided treaties with Europeans and Americans. The deal was rapidly vacuuming Japanese silver to the coffers of imperialists in London or else, which caused hyperinflation in Japan. In addition, Japanese knew rather well similar agreements for Qing Dynasty after the Opium War were devastating the glory of China. The new government had to deal with this international issue ASAP. Sitting at the negotiation table with the imperialists as “equal” was the first thing to do. But, Yokohama where the foreigners stayed had horrible water often with viruses of epidemics. “Oh, how barbarous!” was the last evaluation Meiji Government wanted to receive during the complicated diplomacy. They hired British Engineer Colonel Palmer and built for Yokohama one of the most technically advanced waterworks of the world, earlier than for Hamburg in Germany. Furthermore, the government needed the forest guaranteeing high quality water for the international city and port. It happened to be one of the water intake facilities Palmer suggested was located in the middle of Emperor’s forests that traditionally engaged in governmental forestry. No land negotiation was necessary to secure the water source forests. Doshi was an easy place for the mandarins in Tokyo. The people in Doshi were chosen again to serve, this time, for Yokohama. They were imposed new restrictions over their life by Tokyo, and Yokohama.

The international port of Yokohama was not built in one day,
or alone, …
but with the help of these plants.

* Here is the list of books that gave me the info for this post.

Conrad D. Totman. The Green Archipelago: Forestry in Preindustrial Japan. University of California Press, 1989. ISBN-10: 0520063120, ISBN-13: 978-0520063129.

Takeshi Suka 須賀 ; Atsushi Ushimaru丑丸 敦史; Toru Okamoto 岡本 . Grassland and Japanese: ten thousand years’ journey through the grassland of Japanese Archipelago 草地と日本人―日本列島草原1万年の旅. Tsukij-Shokan 築地書館, 2012. ISBN-10: 4806714348, ISBN-13: 978-4806714347.

Ernest Mason Satow. A Handbook for Travellers in Central and Northern Japan: Being a Guide to Tokio, Kioto, Ozaka, and Other Cities; The Most Interesting Parts of the Main Island Between Kobe and Awomori, with Ascents of the Principal Mountains, and Descriptions of Temples. Forgotten Books, 2017. ISBN-10: 0282568409, ISBN-13: 978-0282568405.

The Editorial Committee for Recording Japanese Regional Diets, Kanagawa Chapter 日本の食生活全集神奈川編集委員会. Oral Record of Traditional Meal in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japanese Regional Diets volume 14 聞き書 神奈川の食事 日本の食生活全集. Rural Culture Association Japan 農山漁村文化協会, 1992. ISBN-10: 4540920022, ISBN-13: 978-4540920028.

Seiji Maekawa 前川 清治. The Story of Doshi 22km: a village of greenery, clear stream, and history 道志七里物語―緑と清流と歴史の郷. Yamanashi Nichinichi Shimbun 山梨日日新聞社, 2006. ISBN-10: 4897106141, ISBN-13: 978-4897106144.

Keiko Izumi 桂子. The Origin of Modern Water Resource Conservation Forests: an ecological history of forests and cities 近代水源林の誕生とその軌跡―森林(もり)と都市の環境史. University of Tokyo Press 東京大学出版会, 2004. ISBN-10: 4130760262, ISBN-13: 978-4130760263.

In case you need a contact in Doshi Village, the address of their village office is

Doshi Village Office 道志村役場

6181-1 Doshi Village, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi, 402-0209
402-0209 山梨県南都留郡道志村6181-1

Phone: 0554-52-2111
FAX: 0554-52-2572

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