Friday, November 17, 2017

Adventure in water source forests around Omote Tanzawa Citizen Forest, Part 2

From Yadoriki Japanese Allspice Garden 寄ロウバイ園 we climb up the trekking road within the afforested coniferous trees to about ASL 550m. Then, we eventually comes to a crossing with the paved Mikurube Forestry Road 三廻部林道. To the left, we can go to Miroku Camp Field ミロクキャンプ場 near Yadoriki Forests of Growing やどりき成長の森. Going straight into a narrow trekking route in front, we enter one of the hiking courses to the peak of Mt. Nabewari 鍋割山 (ASL 1272m), of some 3 hours steep and continuous climbing. Today, we take to the right paved road, which goes down to the picnic field of Omote Tanzawa Citizen Forest 表丹沢県民の森. This area is the water source for Shijuhasse River 四十八瀬川, i.e., we’ve crossed the water shed. The north side slope of the route is mainly consisted of broad-leaved natural forests, and the south-side is alternating afforested coniferous trees and natural broad-leaved trees. This route goes through very rich vegetation where my senior forest instructors found “almost all the plants listed in a popular reference for the nature of Tanzawa.” It’s fun to identify each entry of a book en situ! Buuuuut, it could become dark in a deep mountain if we allow our enthusiasm to run amok. We kept our head cool, and proceeded to the gate of Mikurube Forestry Road where a utility road from Mikurube Community meets with the forestry road. From near the gate during weekends, we can find a row of cars parked along the road. We are arriving at the “picnic field” of Omote Tanzawa Citizen Forest.

The crossing with Mikurube Forestry Road
It’s to the peak of Mt. Nabewari.
Along Mikurube Forestry Road to
Omote Tanzawa Citizen Forest in early October,
we can find lots of lots of berries of wild Japanese pepper.
I personally love their extremely picante taste.
Chrysanthemum japonicum
The route is like this.
Nice, isn’t it?
There are also trees of Actinidia arguta,
the ancestor of kiwi.
The Mikurube Forestry Road ends here.
Near the picnic field
The map of Omote Tanzawa Citizen Forest.
As we can see here,
Mikurube Forestry Road goes through a part of the Citizen Forest.

Omote Tanzawa Citizen Forest is popular destination for family hikers. The northern most area of the Forest has about ASL 700m, and the place we have arrived now is approx. ASL 500m. Hiking only within the Citizen Forest can be substantial enough for new comers to Tanzawa. As we have experienced along Mikurube Forestry Road, the nature of this place is very rich. This is the water source forest for Shijuhasse River, a tributary of Sakawa River 酒匂川. At the entrance for the picnic field, there is a large wild Japanese horse-chestnut tree on the right. On the left slope, during fall, we can find a colony of Gentiana scabra var.burgeri which opens their flower in a sunny autumn day. This flower was once ubiquitous in Japan even in backyards of houses in Tokyo. They became the motif for coat of arms 竜胆紋(龍胆紋) for the oldest Samurai family, Genji clan 源氏. Now we have to come this far into a water source forest to admire them … sad. Turning left here to enter the picnic field, we can see a log hut over there that is a famous toilet. Why famous? Er, it has a good exterior as a toilet, and the facility itself is … holes and a septic tank beneath. When I’ve been there twice, there was no paper. You can use it if you must …

Japanese horse-chestnut,
aka Japanese “marronnier,”
had already turned the color of
their leaves in early October.
Picnic field has a gazebo and
picnic benches dotted in the area ...
You can sit on the lawn,
but I suspect vampire leeches there can wait for us.
You can try.
Hi there!
Lovely Gentiana scabra var.burgeri.
Inside of the forest has lots of sign posts like this.
Trekking road within the Citizen Forest has
a name according to notable tree along a route,
like “the way of the forest of Lidera praecox.”

Passing the entrance to the picnic field, there is a gate in the paved road. Beyond this point is a graveled road only for hikers and permit-holding cars. It eventually meets with Nishiyama Forestry Road 西山林道 that is the main hiking route to the peak of Mt. Nabewari (and Mt. To 塔ノ岳, ASL 1491m). Today, we take a shortcut to Nishiyama Forestry Road from the picnic field. There is a trekking road from the Japanese horse-chestnut. It goes down zig-zag to Shijuhasse River, some 100m below. Over the river, or I would say a mountain stream, there is a small wooden bridge. We cross it one-by-one, and the road turns left to start climbing inevitably. But before going up, let’s go straight in a narrow way in front of us running along a small stream pouring to Shijuhasse River. We can see a waterfall over there. It’s 15m high Black Dragon Waterfall 黒竜ノ滝. Some 150 years ago, there was a hut beside this waterfall where a popular shaman, called Black Dragon, lived. He had lots of admiring customers, but there is nothing now. Legend says one typhoon and a landslide crushed his dwelling. Another rumor explains he allowed a woman to stay in his place although women were not allowed to enter the area. His transgression roused ire within Yamabushi community 山伏 who set fire to his place. I found the available place under the fall is too small to have a human dwelling to be torched even if it was tiny. The landslide theory would be closer to the fact … then, the womanizing scandal? It says something about the society a century ago … jealousy for a celebrity, difficulty in celibacy, the status of Japanese women …

Near the Japanese horse-chestnut,
there is this sign at the entrance
to the trekking road going down.
It descends steeply to …
Shijuhasse River.
We proceed a bit along the river and
Find a wooden bridge. Let’s cross it!
A view of upstream of Shijuhasse River from the bridge.
It should have 48 ravines.
Take a small way straight
along this stream to …
Black Dragon Waterfall.
Returning to the shortcut to Nishiyama Forestry Road

Sharply going up from the riverbank of Shijuhasse, we reach to Nishiyama Forestry Road. This route comes from populous Okura community 大倉 where Hadano City 秦野市 has several information centers for alpine activities in Tanzawa-Oyama Quasi-National Park 丹沢大山国定公園. The area continues to be water source forests for Shijuhasse River, but comparing with Mikurube Forestry Road the vegetation surrounding Nishiyama Forestry Road is more of afforested coniferous trees. For one thing, the slope where Nishiyama Road runs is less steep so that it would be easier for humans to do commercial forestry. It also means, the place is more accessible for deer. Sure enough, we witnessed rows of Boehmeria spicata whose tips were eaten by deer at about 70cm high. It seems to me the afforested area here received thinning some time ago … OK, we are in a national park where commercial harvesting of logs is not a simple job bureaucratically. Many logs must have been left there, neatly at least at that time, expected to act as bracing for the soil underneath. The light is coming in to some spots of the forests. Though, the forest floor of cedars sometimes has a limited variety of plants such as Oplismenus undulatifolius and Daphne pseudomezereum both of which are hated by deer. Otherwise, some collapsing logs started to be washed away by torrents running down the surface of the mountain when it rains … I a kind of understood the raison d’être for the Committee for Nature Restoration in Tanzawa-Oyama Area 丹沢大山再生委員会. We need more work here …

We’ve reached to Nishiyama Forestry Road!
Shijuhasse River seen from Nishiyama Forestry Road
In Nishiyama Road,
we often have to cross
a very shallow stream without bridge.
It’s a kind of clever road maintenance
as the area is famous for mini-flush floods
from numerous small streams when it rains.
Rather than digging water ways
and building a bridge (even small one),
letting the water flow naturally
can stabilize the mountain
more effectively and economically.
Yes, the forest floor receives light
… but Oplismenus undulatifoliusdominates the place …
I think we can do something here …
Even though,
we enjoy the variety of wild plants
along Nishiyama Road.
It’s a colony of Aconitum… aka flower for Hekate.
No wonder deer don’t eat them.

Nishiyama Forestry Road is an active road during weekends as many hikers take this route to the main mountain ranges of Tanzawa. The gate of the road is situated just outside of the boundary for the national park. From there, follow the direction saying “Okura Bus Terminal, this way.” Soon we enter an agricultural community of Okura 大倉. The farmers leave their freshly harvested produce in tiny shelves dotted along the way. “A head of (large) cabbage, 100 yen.” “A bag of potato, 100 yen.” “A bag of carrots, 100 yen.” … You’ve got the idea, haven’t you? Bring 100 yen coins and your shopping bag to utilize the opportunity! Okura Bus Terminal 大倉バス停 is a very busy place. Especially between 15:00 and 17:00, the hikers from popular peaks of Tanzawa congregate here to catch a bus to Odakyu Shibusawa Station 小田急渋沢駅. Be ready to wait for your turn for at least 30 minutes. Don’t’ worry. They have more than 30 services a day to the Station. If you think you can skip 1 or two more buses, you may stroll in the park to the east of the bus terminal. It’s the entrance to Hadano Tokawa Park 秦野戸川公園 with its famous Wind Suspension Bridge 風の吊り橋 over Mizunashi River 水無川 originating from Mt. To. It’s a tributary of Hanamizu River 花水川 that pours into Sagami Bay 相模湾 at the border between Hiratsuka City 平塚市 and Oiso Town 大磯町. Hadano City 秦野市 is unique in Kanagawa where lots of spring water can supply large amount of H2O to the people. “Mizunashi” in Japanese means “no water,” but actually this river runs subterranean in Hadano basin, which is the origin of the name. The spring water in Hadano City is supplied by rivers including Shijuhasse and Mizunashi. So, the scenery from Wind Suspension Bridge to the direction of Mt. To is another water source forests in Kanagawa! Oh, by the way, the toilet in Hadano Visitor Center 秦野ビジターセンター next to the bus terminal is top notch Japanese high-tech toilets with washlet and warm seat (papers, soaps, dryers, flowers …).  Your patience would be finally rewarded here.

The gate at the entrance of
Nishiyama Forestry Road
Just outside of the gate,
please do not miss this sign to the bus terminal!
For a while, the road is a trekking road
observing Tanzawa mountains on the left.
Then suddenly the scenery is opened for veggie fields.
Simply follow the road meandering in Okura community,
and over there is Okura Bus Terminal where
lots of hikers waiting for their turn to the bus.
Here at the terminal,
we can drop our hiking registration
when we start visiting
the main mountains of Tanzawa.
Hadano Visitor Center for our best toilet experience today
Wind Suspension Bridge
Mizunashi River and
the front mountains of
Tanzawa main mountain range

Tanzawa-Oyama Quasi-national Park

Hadano Visitor Center of Kanagawa Prefecture 神奈川県立 秦野ビジターセンター
1513 Horiyamashita, Hadano, Kanagawa, 259-1304  神奈川県秦野市堀山下1513
Phone: 0463-87-9300

Friday, November 10, 2017

Adventure in water source forests around Omote Tanzawa Citizen Forest, Part 1

This week, let’s start from Yadoriki again. We’ve been Yadoriki Forest of Growing 成長の森 in my posts last June. That place was one of the water source forests for Nakatsu River 中津川. Northwestern mountains of Kanagawa Prefecture are covered by water source forests. The place is the origin for Sagami 相模川 and Sakawa 酒匂川 Rivers. The cities in eastern Kanagawa, such as Yokohama, rely on the area for our H2O taken from these rivers. On the other hand, the water source places in northwestern Kanagawa draw water directly (and obviously) from the source. In Yadoriki, the forests surrounding the community are the source for Nakatsu River that is a tributary of Sakawa River. The northern watershed of the area is a ridge running east-west through the peak of Mt. Nabewari 鍋割山 (ASL 1272m). South of the ridge is where Nakatsu River originates, and the north is the water source for the streams pouring to Lake Tanzawa 丹沢湖. (We go there soon.) Another ridge to the peak of Mt. Nabewari goes from the south which is a kind of border between Yadoriki community and Mikurube community 三廻部. The west slope of the north-south ridge of Nabewari is for the water source forests of Nakatsu River. The east slope is the forests for Shijuhasse River 四十八瀬川 that is another tributary for Sakawa River. In Japanese “shijuhasse“ means “48 rapids.” We can expect the valley for Shijuhasse River is steep and narrow. Today’s and next week’s itinerary is to visit the water source forests for Nakatsu River and Shijuhasse River. The area is designated as Omote Tanzawa Citizen Forest of Kanagawa 表丹沢県民の森 where the ridge way from the south to Mt. Nabewari is actually a hiking course to the peak. Oh, by the way, in Kanagawa, there is another Nakatsu River 中津川 starting near Gomayashiki Spring 護摩屋敷の水 of Yabitsu Pass ヤビツ峠 we visited in my November’s post last year. That Nakatsu River is larger pouring into and out of Miyagase Dam 宮ケ瀬ダム. It then joins Sagami River at the north of Odakyu Honatsugi Station 本厚木, just before Sagami Water Intake Facility 相模取水施設 of Kanagawa Water Supply Authority 神奈川県内広域水道企業団.

The east slope of the valley for Nakatsu River in Yadoriki this spring;
it’s the west slope of the north-south ridge of Mt. Nabewari.
It has lots of broad-leaved trees
that could hold water with their deep roots and leaf-litters,
more than coniferous forests.

<Visiting Water Source Forests via Omote Tanzawa Citizen Forest>

     Odakyu Shin-matsuda Station / JR Matsuda Station è

     With Fujikyu-Shonan Bus to Yadoriki Terminal Stop (ASL 280m) è

     Japanese Allspice Garden in Yadoriki è

     Mikurube Forestry Road (via ASL 550m point) è

     The gate for Omote Tanzawa Citizen Forest (ASL 500m) è

     Black Dragon Water Fall (ASL 450m) è

     Nishiyama Forestry Road è

     Okura Bus Terminal (ASL 290m) è

     With Kanachu Bus to Odakyu Shibusawa Station

Total walking distance: 8km, Difference in Elevation: approx. 250m

First, we take bus to Yadoriki. We get off Odakyu Odawara Line 小田急小田原線 at Shin-Matsuda Station 新松田駅, or JR Matsuda Station 松田駅 of Gotemba Line 御殿場線. From #3 stop in the bus terminal at the north exit of Odakyu, ride a commuter bus service for about half an hour by Fujikyu-Shonan Bus 富士急湘南バス (Time table here). When we visited the Forest of Growing last spring, from Yadoriki terminal we took the left road along the Nakatsu River. This time, from the bus stop, we return a bit along the bus route, and turn left at the corner of Yadoriki Post Office. There, we can find a sign saying “Mt. Nabewari / Japanese Allspice Garden ロウバイ園, this way.” Simply following the direction of the sign and in less than 10 minutes we meet a garden of thousands of Japanese allspice (Chimonanthus praecox). In 2006, the kids of Yadoriki Junior High and local volunteers planted the first batch of the seedlings, and now they are matured and increase their number naturally. Their ethereal yellow waxy flowers have noble scent. Between mid-January and mid-February every year, they are in full-bloom. This is a popular tourism destination … I’ve heard a rumor as it becomes too popular many city folks rudely poke in and take photos of the private housings around the garden. If you visit Yadoriki to enjoy flowers of Japanese allspice, please behave reasonably and respect the privacy of the locals …

Yadoriki Bus Terminal.
For today’s itinerary this is one of the last points
you can use western style flush toilets
before reaching to Okura Bus Terminal.
Please use your chance wisely.
We took the left road to Yadoriki Forest last Spring …
A review:
it’s Nakatsu River we can find near Yadoriki Bus Terminal.
It collects water pouring out from the underground of
the Yadoriki Forest of Growing
and the southwest slope of Mt. Nabewari.
This time, we return a bit along the bus road.
Then, we can find a sign saying
“Mt. Nabewari / Japanese Allspice Garden, this way.”
From the first sigh,
we are welcomed by this 2nd sign showing us the direction.
The road to the Garden climbs slowly within tea estates.
On the right,
we can admire Mt. Shidango (ASL 758m)
This utility route bumps to the entrance of the garden
and continues to the south.
To enjoy the allspices,
we have to bid a farewell to the paved way and
enter the garden on the front and left.
The Japanese Allspice Garden of Yadoriki.
Actually, its walking path is populated rich variety of wild grasses.
For aficionados,
this is a fun place even without the flower of wintersweet.
And here in the Garden comes
the very last flush toilets for today before Okura.
The ultimate chance!

Zig-zagging up the path in the Garden, we eventually reaches to a cedar forest planted some 70 years ago by landlords in Yadoriki after the World War II. They are now large enough to be harvested, but probably stay there as it’s too cheap to cover the cost of cutting … Among the cedars, there are several large, and probably hundreds years old, broad-leaved trees such as Cornus controversa and Ginkgo biloba. I imagined a scenery here 90 years ago … The place could be a grassland where people of Yadoriki harvested the grass for thatching, or firewood forest with a bit of remaining huge wild trees … With the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 関東大震災, Yadoriki suffered massive landslides and many houses were swallowed by the rocks and debris from the mountains. Grassland, overused firewood forest, and /or aggressive logging by Morimura-gumi Co. 森村組 (now NoritakeCo.) on gravelly soil of Tanzawa may have made the area vulnerable for such natural incidences … A thriving Japanese allspice garden and cedars would be a measure for preventing such tragedy from returning … I really hope the trees would hold lots of water underneath.

In autumn,
Japanese allspices in Yadoriki produce
lots of seeds for their next generation.
From the climbing trekking road in the cedar forest,
we can observe Yadoriki community below.
 The community gained its name in 1876 when
7 villages along Nakatsu River decided to merge together.
in Japanese means
“coming together to cooperate.”
Always follow the direction to “Mt. Nabewari.”
The route goes through alternating coniferous forests,
Tea estates, and
Broad-leaved forests that would be once for firewood.
We can find remnants of coppicing here and there.
And of course, deer fence.
You’d better prepare for Haemadipsa zeylanica japonicaduring your visit here between May and November.
Lots of deer = lots of blood sucking leeches.
In the floor of coniferous forests in Tanzawa,
we can find Asarum nipponicumthat is endemic species of Japan.
It flowers very peculiarly.
Could you figure out its flower in this photo?
After saying goodbye to the tea plantations,
there is a meshed gate showing
the beginning of sizable afforested area.
It has no lock,
but hikers are asked to close it properly
in order to make the damage from deer minimum.

According to Mr. Misao Ozawa 小沢操, the last managing director of the Kanagawa Forestry Authority かながわ森林づくり公社専務理事 that was dissolved in 2010, after deep-seated landslides of the Great Kanto Earthquake, the prefectural government invested in reconstruction of the area for 1923-1930. The prefectural government invited forestry engineers from all over Japan to take charge in the frontline of the project. The work covered 1913ha out of collapsed 8632ha, and created the basis for later forest management. For such deep and steep mountains not much mechanized technology was available then. Almost all the work was done by hand using the obtainable materials in the field, like rocks, gravels, and logs. The collapsed slopes were step-processed with small waterways, and each step was planted with locally procured Alnus firma and Punus thunbergii. Even though, due to lots of typhoons and indiscriminate logging during and immediately after the World War II, the restorative works did not go smoothly. Then in 1949, the prefecture began to approach forest management in a coherent way for water source procurement. Their change of attitude started 5-year plan in 1960 for erosion control works. The fragile bold mountains were gradually afforested with commercial coniferous trees. Unfortunately, the policy did not have much consideration for the ecosystem of the area. From the late 1970s, people started to observe the die-back of natural beeches and Abies firma near the peaks of Tanzawa mountains, and ubiquitous deer ate up the undergrowth. The rest of the story was what I told during my July posts for deer problems in Tanzawa. The area received emergency treatments to preserve water source forests. In 2006, for securing a sustainable management of Tanzawa mountains, it was established a collaboration mechanism among local governments, academia, industries, media, and civil society, which was named the Committee for Nature Restoration in Tanzawa-Oyama Area 丹沢大山再生委員会. They coordinate management of water source forests in Tanzawa by various actors including forest volunteers. This is a project whose result would become apparent in hundreds years’ time. We have to be patient …

The trekking road in the afforested area after the gate.
I simply wondered why we could not find mushrooms here …
one of the senior forest instructors told me
it’s because this area needs more thinning
to let the light in to the floor.
More sun light means more undergrowth that would make the soil richer.
No mushroom suggests lack of soil nutrients.
This place requires more work to be done …
Mini-Cappadocia here;
meaning, soil erosion is occurring …
The thin top soil of Tanzawa mountains is apparent on this stratum.
The crush of Philippine and North-American Plates
pushes up slanting the remnants of ancient volcanic activities
some 1 million years ago.
To stop erosion here,
we have to make the trees on it healthy and vigorous.

Woops, we have come this far already. Next week, I tell you the continuing adventure of mine through the water source forests for Shijuhasse Rivers (and a bit for Mizunashi River 水無川). Stay tuned!

Kanagawa Water Source Authority

1194 Yasashi-cho, Asahi-ku, Yokohama, 241-8525
Phone: 045-363-1111