Friday, February 9, 2018

I knew You Were Trouble: a brief history of Doshi River, Part 3

Although especially for the people of Doshi Village 道志村 it was sneaky the way Yokohama got the ownership of the Doshi Forests, it was true at that time the pace of deforestation was alarming even without consideration for environmental damage. In 1911, Kunio Yanagita 柳田國男, the founding father of Japanese modern ethnology / anthropology, visited Doshi Village, and left a record. At that time, Yanagita was not yet a scholar, but a mandarin for the National Cabinet Office so that his report was more emphasis on practical economic development of Doshi Village, damned-well knowing Yokohama was eyeing for their real estate. He wrote population growth of the community was above the national average which made a huge demand for clearing forests to rice production which Yanagita described “… is religious, not practical, endeavor in such a cold and high-altitude mountainous village.” Doshi villagers in the early 20th century also cut trees vigorously for charcoal production, for expanding mulberry orchard for sericulture, and for creating pasture land of workhorses popular in the area. Yanagita pointed out the total acreage of the village was too small to sustain these industries for more than a decade even if they had deforested the entire mountains. So, he recommended the community the only remaining option, forestry, to survive.

Well, it would have been true. Rapid deforestation in former forests of Shogun was rampant during the late 19th century to the early 20th century. It was the reason why now the places of Tokyo, like Hachioji City 八王子市 or even Nakano 中野区 and Suginami Wards 杉並区 (i.e. the present day downtown Tokyo) are Tokyo now. Till the 1950s Tokyo was dependent solely on Tama River 多摩川 for water. According to Izumi (2004), the forests that were covering the area west of Shinjuku Station 新宿駅, called Tama Region 多摩地域, were disappearing rapidly by the people eager to join in the Japanese industrial revolution. And now, we remember the scenery witnessed from the top of Mt. Takao 高尾山 … an ocean of houses … The trees cleared were once the property of Shogun and functioned as the water source forests for the capital city. They were gone. With a sense of urgency in 1903, a bit earlier than Yokohama, Tokyo started to buy the remaining water source forests in Tama Region from the Imperial Household. Now many of these trees are dominating Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park 秩父多摩甲斐国立公園 and Meiji Forest Takao Quasi-national Park 明治の森高尾国定公園 with Mt. Takao. Just as in Doshi Village, the villagers in those places were bitter to the Tokyo folks. In Tama regions and Doshi Village having been shut out from industrial development, the former guardians of Shogun’s Treasure Trees became labor force for hard works in the mountainous forests without any privileges once they enjoyed. After purchasing Emperor’s forests in Doshi, in 1917 the City of Yokohama established Administration Office for Doshi Water Source Forests 水源林管理所. Since 1919, the city has had the 10-year plans for the management of Doshi Water Source Forests, and now it’s the 11th, effective for 2016-2025.  In Doshi River, even fishing was hampered by the construction of Doshi Dam 道志ダム that was to control water flow for Sagami Dam. In 1953 Yokohama made the mouths of Doshi fishermen shut by paying compensation. … You see? The world became less-complicated thanks to the capitalist-labor relation compared to the homage to the feudal lords ... A kind of consolation for Doshi people would be, their forests have kept on being a backbone for superb water supply to the entire Kanagawa Prefecture. The forests for Tama River are now only the secondary water source to Tokyo ...

Anai River 案内川 flowing from near the peak of Mt. Takao.
It was once the water source for Tokyo’s drinking water.
Now this water is used only for industrial usage
including “endangered” rice paddies in the metropolis.
Since 1970, Tokyo’s waterworks stopped using Tama River’s water
down from Kosaku Water Intake Facility
some 15 km upstream from the confluence of Anai and Tama Rivers.
Back then, the economic “growth” contaminated the River horribly …
I’m not sure if such incidents
during the 1960s and 1970s
made people a sort of relaxed
to the underground water system in the Takao Region.
But it is becoming a common knowledge
water flow from Mt. Takao is
apparently decreased after the construction of
 Takao-san Tunnel
高尾山トンネル for Kenoh-do Highway 圏央道.

After World War II, Japan raced up the economic development. Mega cities vacuumed talented young kids to factory and office jobs from rural area. Doshi Village was no exception. Although Yokohama’s public works sustained the village, disappearing young faces did not give much confidence to the people of Doshi. Then, it came economic bubble during the late 1980s. Lots of former rural places became golf courses that required membership of millions of yen to play. In 1982, for nearby Sagami Lake area there opened Sagamiko Country Club. And National Route 413, aka Doshi Road 道志みち, is a popular among motor tourists going to Mt. Fuji. Doshi people watched lots of rich people passed by their community through the route. Why not open another golf course in a privately owned area? Conveniently in 1988, moneyed developers from Tokyo brought a nice master plan to the landlords. Doshi Village was completely divided about the golf course. Those who fished in the river and engaged in aquaculture were strongly against the plan, fearing contamination by the chemicals heavily applied to keep the course impeccably green. (In Japan where the natural vegetation is temperate rain forest, heavy usage of chemicals for golf courses is MUST.) Hearing the news, mothers of Yokohama were also outraged. “Oh, NO, that place must be immaculately clean for water of our kids in Yokohama! In the first place, those country bumpkins lacking modern education for environmental consciousness should not have a say for such an important matter!” Needless to say, the city of Yokohama was on the side of fishermen and Yokohama moms. The dispute went to the court, and became national news. Meanwhile, Japanese economic bubble burst. Developers in Tokyo quickly became reluctant to be entangled in pricy legal dispute. The election chose new governor of Yamanashi and the new village chief who were skeptical about economic benefit from showy golf courses. In 1993, the plan for a golf course in Doshi Village was abandoned. People in Doshi Village was reminded again the large existence of Yokohama, which is in a different prefecture, 55km away from their village.

Doshi Road

The problem in all of these stories is, for Doshi villagers Yokohama was always there to influence heavily the direction of their life, but people of Yokohama did not care as much. Yokohama says whatever they want when it is convenient for Yokohama, but otherwise forget about the water they owe to Doshi Village. The lopsided perception became damned apparent when the wave of municipal merger hit Doshi at the beginning of the 21st century. Since 1995, following a national policy to reorganize municipal governments, many villages in Japan chose to merge with the others to be upgraded for a “city.” In 2003, villagers of Doshi collected 653 signs out of 1730 registered voters and submitted the village chief a petition to establish a council discussing a merger with Yokohama. According to 1999 Special Mergers Law for local governments 合併特例法, the merger negotiation would be started when in all the involved local governments 2% of registered voters signed a petition to create a merger council. Doshi Village easily cleared the hurdle with 38% of voters. The reaction of Yokohama was, dumbfounded, really. Astonished mayor of Yokohama did an internet survey and could not collect 2% to start discussion. Yokohama “politely” declined the “offer” from Doshi. … You know? These days my friends know I am enthusiastic about forests, and the topic of our chat could be sometimes about Doshi Water Source Forest. Not many of them have information about Doshi, even when they talk lovingly about Yosemite they visited for the last vacation. Their way of saying about this episode would be something like “Oh, yeah, that poor remote village wanted to have our city money,” or “It’s outrageous that they thought it was possible to suggest such nonsense.” Oh how sad human perception could become …

At the T junction between Route 413 and
Yamanashi’s prefectural road #24 leading us to Tsuru City
Doshi Village is next to Tsuru City.
At that time, the Village also discussed a merger with Tsuru City,
which looks quite a natural choice.
For the mind of Doshi villagers
Yokohama easily beat Tsuru to be a potential fiancé for Doshi.
Oh, by the way, to come to Doshi by public transportation,
 the commuterbus service from Tsurushi Station 
都留市駅f Fujikyu Line 富士急行 passes here.

Yet, everything has at least a silver lining. 635 signature of Doshi villagers made Yokohama think over our way of communicating with Doshi Village. I tell you next week how the forests in Doshi Village are now. In some way, currently they have a relationship with Yokohama similar to the one the Niiharu Citizen Forest has with Niiharu Lovers. I really hope that would amend historical pileups around Yokohama’s water source forest, if not immediately, but eventually.

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

Kenkichi Itoh 伊藤堅吉, and Kunio Yanagita 柳田國男. Doshi 22km (Reprint) 道志七里(復刻版). Doshi Village Office, 2009.

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.

Local Research Club at Eiko Gakuen Highschool 栄光学園郷土研究部. The problem in Doshi Village Golf Course 道志村ゴルフ場問題の死角. 1994.

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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