Kaisho-No-Mori Forest : "Where am I?" —"I don’t know."

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6月7日携帯 112      “That is Shiro-ito-so (Chionographis japonica).” I turned around and found a man standing behind me and pointing the delicate flower. “It’s my first time to see the plant,” I replied. I was at the entrance of a forest called Kaisho-No-Mori in Seto on the afternoon of May 26. Actually I had been there before (http://wp.me/p16bjt-V), but I didn’t remember the flower. I was being impressed by his knowledge when the man started explaining about other plants. He is a member of a support group for the forest. 6月7日携帯 116

     After saying thank you and good-bye to him, I began climbing. Kaisho-No-Mori is about 600 ha and is too big to walk around the whole forest. So I decided to follow the same route that I had walked through with a guide at the previous time. I had thought I could trace the path by myself. But my thinking was too optimistic…I was able to climb up to the top of a hill called Sankaku-ten, which is about 166 meters high above sea level, and then began to come down and was lost in the forest…6月7日携帯 124

     “It’s dangerous to come down when you’re lost in the forest. Mmm…I’ve heard of that…but I’m now doing that…” I thought that to myself when I was walking. Strangely I smelt something sweet like pudding on the way. “Pudding! Pudding! Pudding!” I was chanting the word to encourage myself and kept coming down through the pathless route. Luckily I did not lose the sense of direction and was sure I could come out of the forest to somewhere proper path. But I felt lonely. 6月7日携帯 126

     Suddenly I heard talking voices. I raced down into grasses and then stumbled out of the thicket. I was standing on a forest road. The voices of the speakers I had heard inside the forest were two elderly ladies and I saw them walking away chattering. “Hello.” I faced to the right when a young man was standing with a big backpack. “Hello,” I greeted back to him and then asked. “Where am I?” He stared at me in wonder, and then replied. “I don’t know.”

     He took a map out of his backpack and checked the route. I guessed where we were with the map and decided the destination. I said good-bye to him and started walking. At last I found the proper route after a while, and was relieved…TS3N0145

     Kaisho-No-Mori Forest is in Seto, which is located northeast of Nagoya and is famous for ceramics, and once was a candidate site for Expo in 2005. But there was a big protest movement against the construction with supporters of environmentalism and an endangered bird was found there during the campaign. So the plan as the Expo site was abandoned and the forest was saved. Actually the forest was almost destroyed in the high economic growth era, but many trees were planted later and the forest looks like “a forest” now. 6月7日携帯 129

     The forest is owned by Aichi Prefecture and some people. Interestingly there are many cedars in the prefectural area and the folk area has many deciduous trees. And you can see the two zones at one time. (Can you see that on some pictures here?) The prefecture has planted mainly cedars to let the forest recover quickly, but it causes two big problems: First, cedars have little water retaining abilities and lead to landslides when it has much rain in the area. Second, many people have become allergic to cedar pollen including me… 6月7日携帯 131

     Nevertheless, Kaisho-No-Mori Forest is a quiet and peaceful place to which it is easy to access from Nagoya. You can enjoy fresh air, see wild flowers, and hear birds’ songs there getting away from hustle and bustle of a city life. I had a great time, too! Oh, I have an advice. When you enter the forest, you should go with a guide.

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