Friday, February 16, 2018

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: the largest Citizen Forest of Yokohama, Doshi Forest 道志村水源林

So, about silver lining after the voting incident in 2003 for Doshi 道志村 and Yokohama. In 2004, Doshi Village and the City of Yokohama established an official “Agreement regarding Friendship and Exchange 友好・交流に関する協定書 between the two, and Doshi Village became “Our Home Village for the Citizens of Yokohama 横浜市民ふるさと村.” The municipal budget of Yokohama has beefed up its grant for the welfare improvement of Doshi villagers. In 2006, Doshi Water Source Forests Fund 水のふるさと道志の森基金 was inaugurated by the Yokohama Waterworks Bureau. The fund is to solicit donations from the citizens and corporations to sustain further the exchange of people of two communities. The Bureau also sells bottled water “Hamakko Doshi the Water はまっ子どうし the Water” from Doshi River 道志川 to augment the Doshi Forests Fund. In 2014, two municipalities created a system to help each other in case a mega-natural disaster hit and the offices could not function to support the residents of each community. In 2016 Doshi Village has opened a café named Mizu Café Doshi 水カフェどうし in Yokohama’s downtown. The place is to introduce the village and numerous products from Doshi including fresh watercress harvested daily. Now the two municipalities jointly hold PR events about Doshi Water Source Forests year round. Yokohama Board of Education makes special programs for grade schoolers to learn Yokohama’s waterworks and the role of Doshi Village. When the people of Yokohama can show an ID mentioning our residency in Yokohama, Doshi Village offers numerous “Home Village” discounts for tourism attractions, such as hotels, meals, spas, sports facilities, etc. etc. And, the scheme introduced forest volunteers to help forestry in Doshi Village.

After the Agreement was signed
the City of Yokohama is actively involved with
utilization of woods produced in Doshi Village.
This is the decorative wall for Asahi Ward Office of Yokohama,
using the cedars of Doshi forests.
Water Café Doshi.
They serve beverages using Hamakko Doshi Water,
and hot meals with veggies and meats from Doshi.
There we can also purchase veggies,
smoked trout, jam, wood crafts, etc. of Doshi.
The place also provides tourism information.
Or, if you plan to start business or move in Doshi Village,
the café connects you with the village office
that can help you for paper works.
Matsubara Shopping Street 興福寺松原商店街where the café operates.
It is really in downtown Yokohama.

The land owned by Yokohama in Doshi is surrounding privately owned forests nearer to human settlement. These two areas form the system of water source that creates the amazing Doshi River 道志川. If private forests become a sorry state, even if Yokohama’s forests are healthy (which is unlikely; you know, the land is continuous), Doshi River cannot provide good water. Many of the private forests are afforested area whose coniferous trees require constant human engagement. Though, landlords alone cannot handle the works anymore. As Doshi Village faces aging and decreasing population, man-power to sustain the forests is in short supply. So, the City of Yokohama invites citizen volunteers who can help such grandpas and grandmas of Doshi for thinning and weeding. The City of Yokohama gives generous grants to forest volunteer organizations in Yokohama who can go to Doshi Village at least twice a year to do forestry. Moreover, in 2008 the city helped to establish the Association of Forest Volunteers for Doshi Water Source Forests 道志水源林ボランティアの会. The group is now engaging in forestry works in Doshi Village about 10 times a year. All the funding for the volunteer forestry comes from the Water Source Forests Fund together with a heavy involvement of Administration Office for Doshi Water Source Forests 水源林管理所. The policy is an amalgam of welfare measures for Doshi pensioners and water management projects, all funded by the City of Yokohama.

A part of forests where volunteers operate
had a colony of baby Lindera umbellate.They produce very fragrant oil.
It’s rare to find it in forests near population centers.
This was a kind of testimony about the environment of Doshi forests.

Actually, the Association for Niiharu Lovers 新治市民の森愛護会 is receiving the funding yearly. So, last fall I joined Niiharru Lovers’ activities in Doshi Village, paid completely by the Water Bureau of Yokohama. That was a gorgeous late summer vacation! We’ve been there by cars drove by the members of Lovers, and entered one of those privately owned forests of Doshi. We did thinning for 2 days with chainsaws to cut roughly 100 cedars of about 30 years’ olds. We stayed in an old traditional inn which was a house of a village chief decades ago, enjoyed open-air spa in a forest, and had delicious meals … sukiyaki with Koshu beef 甲州牛, BBQed freshly caught trout from Doshi River, tempura of mountain vegetables, etc. etc. I was knocked out, and on a sort of “the spur of the moment,” became a member of Association of Forest Volunteers for Doshi Water Source Forests.

Niiharu Lovers are ready for action in Doshi forest.
Lunch. I was a particular partisan for omelet.
Niiharu volunteers are in action.
Hikari-so Inn 光荘 where we stayed.
The house is equipped with a traditional Japanese hearth,
called Irori
The forest floor is receiving sun light after our work!

The Association goes to Doshi Village from April to October by charter buses hired by the Water Bureau of Yokohama, and engages in forestry works mainly by non-powered tools, like handsaws and sickles. In case you consider joining volunteer works for Doshi Water Source Forests of Yokohama, you can send an email to the Association from here. The forestry activities are basically for members only, but the Association allows visitors to try it once. RSVP. Any activity with the Association is free, including transportation to the Village. (Remember? It costs about USD 100 for a return ticket.) On the activity day, you have to come to the north exit of Kan’nai Station 関内駅 by yourself to catch the chartered bus, don the attire for forestry, and bring your lunch + water + snacks. I could slip in myself for one of their last activities of 2017, sweated in thinning within a clean and calm autumn air of Doshi Village, and enjoyed shopping for mountain products at their main shopping venue. … After this fun in Doshi, I did a little study whose result was reported during the last several posts of this blog … So, here I confess. Though I told you the story like I have known the relationship with Doshi Village and Yokohama for years, I did not. I was one of those city rats skeptically hearing the requests from the people of Doshi to be a part of the city of Yokohama. … Now, when the new fiscal year begins in coming spring, I will visit Doshi Village regularly as a forest volunteer. I know I’m a minuscule in front the Doshi Water Source Forest, but I think my saw-works would be better than nothing for the people of Doshi and the water for our community. 2873ha Doshi Water Source Forest is the largest Citizen Forest of Yokohama.

Association of Forest Volunteers for Doshi Water Source Forests
can use the facilities Yokohama’s Water Bureau has
in Doshi Village.
Cut somewhere here.
Oh, by the way, Japanese way is conventional face notch.

Doshi Michino-eki Shopping Lodge 道の駅どうし.
Michino-eki is roadside stations providing
resting places and shopping opportunities for drivers.
It’s a part of rural development project funded by
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport.

… A postscript: last November, I have completed the course for becoming Kanagawa Forest Instructor, and received from the Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture a letter of appointment to a forest instructor. Now one of my missions is to let the people like me know Doshi Village has sacrificed so much for us in the city, really.

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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