Friday, August 10, 2018

Magical forest of ferns: Kamikawai Citizen Forest 上川井市民の森

Probably with a very bureaucratic reason these days, the City of Yokohama opens one Citizen Forest 市民の森 per year. 2018 is the turn for Kamikawai Citizen Forest 上川井市民の森, opened on 1 April 2018. As of July 2018, no official internet description is available for this forest. But, it’s not a forest freshly designated within a sea of houses. Actually, it’s a sort of a gap area of 10.1 ha between Seya Citizen Forest (19.1 ha) 瀬谷市民の森 and Oiwake Citizen Forest (32.9 ha) 追分市民の森. For some time, the forest was left as a closed “grey area” within the North Forest of Yokohama’s Citizen Forests. I guess there were long negotiations between the landlords and the city for what to do with this place surrounded by 2 large citizen forests, the venerable Hodogaya Country Club 程ヶ谷カントリークラブ, and Seya Prefectural High School 神奈川県立瀬谷高校 … Anyway, now the place is opened as a Citizen Forest of Yokohama, and so, the continuation of the North Forests of Yokohama is complete, from Seya Citizen Forest to Niiharu Citizen Forest 新治市民の森 via Yokohama Zoorasia. That’s something we should celebrate for environmental improvement, I think. Moreover, the Forest itself is, I tell you, magical!

Kamikawai Citizen Forest
 is there at the tip of a larger yellow arrow,
 next to the Hospital.

The access to Kamikawai Citizen Forest is the same for Seya, Oiwake, and Yasashi Citizen Forests 矢指市民の森. The nearest public transportation facility is Seibu Byoin-mae Bus Stop 西部病院前 for Sotetsu Bus #116 or Kanachu Bus #Sakai-21 (time table, here), from Sotetsu Mitsukyo Station 相鉄三ツ境駅. From the Stop to the entrance of the Forest, it’s about 100m: you’ve got the idea, haven’t you? You can spend ¥210 for one-way of the bus, or actually it’s just 1.3km from Mitsukyo Station. Although the route is slightly going up, walking is not that hard. When you walk from Mitsukyo Station, the road is lined with large cherry blossom trees; i.e. in spring it must be gorgeous. On your left we can see Tanzawa Mountains 丹沢山系 over there. In any case, first go to Yokohama City Seibu Hospital of St. Mariana Univ. School of Medicine 聖マリアンナ医科大学横浜西部病院, and the entrance to the Kamikawai Forest is (almost) on the other side of the road in front of the parking for the Hospital. Easy. Oh by the way, there is no toilet or potable water in Kamikawai or Seya Forests. Please complete whatever you need before you enter the Forests. 😉

The ticket gate of Mitsukyo Station.
 After exiting the gate, please immediately turn left.
we cross an overpass above the bus terminal including
 for the service to the Hospital and beyond.
 Adelante, por favor,
 and go down the steps of the flyover.
In front of you at the foot of the stairs is this map
 showing us the route to the North Forests of Yokohama.
We can just follow the direction of the above map.
 On our way,
 there is this sign vouching for us the right direction.
The tree-lined route goes through a residential area ...
And brings us to the crossing with
 the 4-laned Nakahara Street
 Just keep going straight.
The road from the crossing to the north is
 somehow loved by local drivers.
 If we drive there,
 we can enjoy a ride within “calm forests.”
 Bonus: it is a shortcut to Route 246 and
 Yokohama-Machida IC of Tomei Express Way
And we soon meet Yokohama Seibu Hospital on our right.
 The photo was taken from the bus stop for services from Mitsukyo Station.
 It’s the core hospital for people living in the north-west of Yokohama.
 Corollary: when you have to come here, it’s serious.
In front of the Hospital Parking is this three-forked road
 with the traffic light named “Entrance to Seya High School”
 The entrance to Kamikawai Citizen Forest is
 at the tip of the arrow in this photo.
Here it is. 😄

Now the Kamikawai Forest is officially a member of Citizen Forests family, the combined area of Seya, Oiwake, Yasashi, and Kamikawai Forests is 67.2ha, same as the Niiharu Citizen Forest (; an info from a member for the Lovers of Niiharu, i.e., me; Niiharu would become larger this fiscal year). The newly-added forest is about 15% of the area, not so big. In addition, as it’s next to the Seya Forest, the differences in elevation between the points of 5 trekking roads for Kamikawai Forest are definitely smaller than in the other Citizen Forests. Walking here is not hard. Having said that, the Forest is a part of the sources for Izumi River 和泉川, a tributary of Sakai River 境川 pouring to Sagami Bay 相模湾 in Katase Beach 片瀬海岸 (which is the beach in front of Enoshima Island 江の島, and the place of a legendary Battle of Sexes between the goddesses and a dragon) of the City of Fujisawa 藤沢市. The Forest certainly has slopes that can be slippery. Comparing with the Seya Forest, the place is definitely wetter and so more insects’ bites could be common for visitors during the season. Wearing the standard hiking gear is the MUST. And that’s the reason why Kamikawai Forest is enchanted. It has a magnificent undergrowth of ferns.

4 adjacent forests for Yokohama’s North Forests
A map of Kamikawai Citizen Forest.
 The Forests is the area with “KA” points.
 You see? It has only 5 roads:
 KA1-KA2, KA2-KA3-KA4, KA1-KA4, KA1-KA5, and KA4-KA5.
 When we enter the forest from the entrance
 I’ve shown above, which is KA5,
 we can choose either KA1-KA5 or KA4-KA5 routes.
 This map can be found at KA1 and KA4.
KA2 point. KA1-KA2 is the road
 long-used for Seya Citizen Forest.
 On the right of this photo is Seya Forest.
 On the left is Kamikawai Forest.
So, KA1-KA2,
 or Nosakai-michi
野境みち for Seya Forest,
 has a feel more for the Seya Forest,
 i.e. relatively dry.
Around KA3,
 we cross a small wooden deck over a stream
 that is the source for Izumi River.
See? This part of the forest is wet.
When I’ve been there,
 I met lots of ground prowling insects,
 like Necrophila japonica (Motschulsky),
 or one with a shiny green back.
 (I could not take a photo of it!)
 This is a Carabus insulicola kantoensis Ishikawa et Ujiie,
 commonly found in Kanto area.
 It means the Forest can give them enough animal food to thrive.

Thanks to a long gestation period for opening, the roads within the Forest are still relatively soft. No gnarling roots of trees due to treading are exposed yet. The forest is mainly consisted of afforested cedars with occasional Quercus myrsinifolia, Cornus controversa, etc. all of which are at least 20m high. The next level of trees is familiar Acuba japonica, Trachycarpus fortune, and the other shade trees of so-so height. And the floor. I’ve been there just after a visit of a typhoon and the roads were still wet and the leaves were in fresh greens after showers. The fiesta of ferns and the creepers covered the forest floor with vivid hues of emerald. Polystichum polyblepharum, Stegnogramma pozoi ssp. Mollissima, Arachniodes Standishii … The atmosphere kept the moisture of tropical typhoon. The Forest practically looked like a tropical rainforest with rising mist at the height of my eyes. That was miraculous.

A scene along the route KA4-KA5
Beautiful Polystichum polyblepharum
I was welcomed by lots of mole hills.
 The ground was soft.
From KA4 to KA3, the road goes down.
The road KA2-KA3-KA4 was the most mysterious for me.
At least 4 kinds of ferns here …
KA1-KA5 runs along the motor road.
 Yet it preserves this charm.

I’m not sure how long the Forest could keep such wild freshness once it was opened as Yokohama’s Citizen Forest. The rangers of Yokohama Nature Observation Forest 横浜自然観察の森 in the South Forests of Yokohama are so strict for ways to stroll in the place. (“Don’t touch,” “don’t scratch,” etc.) Yet, after so many school excursions and popularity as a part of the hiking course for Yokohama-Kamakura Alps, the place sometimes has a feel as a “well-organized park.” Niiharu Lovers are worrying the effects of regular treading, since Niiharu becomes so popular these days not only for 3 million citizens of Yokohama, but even among Tokyonites ... The current charm of Kamikawai Forest might be due to its debutant status for the Citizen Forest system of Yokohama. But if it is so, it’s a pity. How can we preserve the softness of trekking routes surrounded by magnificent ferns in Kamikawai Citizen Forest?

If you find a problem in the North Forests of Yokohama, 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

FAX: 045-316-8420

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