Take a Walk on Tsukuba`s Wild Side- with a nature and history walk- this coming Sunday April 23rd
By Avi Landau
Tsukuba City is now known as a center for the development of cutting edge technology, and many who visit here are only familiar with its research institutes, institutions of higher learning, government apartment complexes, new housing developments and shopping malls.
Until about 40 years ago, however, this area consisted of several very old agricultural hamlets set around nearly impassable forest and marshland.
Though the old villages remain, much of ( or should I say most of) the nature in the flatlands of Tsukuba has been paved over for development, or reigned in, in the form of parks. There still is, however, a relatively large tract of undeveloped wilds which exists within easy walking or cycling distance of the Tsukuba TX Terminal.
Just a ten minute bike ride to east of the station ( or a 20 minute walk), in the area that is now referred to as Nakane Konda-dai ( which runs from the old Sakura City Office north to the village of Kamizakai), wild fields and deep forest provide shelter for a wide array of birds ( some of them very rare), mammals, and other creatures.
Around these wilds ( which can be explored for hours without hitting a road), are fascinating old neighborhoods which are throwbacks to another age- abounding in splendid farmhouses, mysterious sacred stones, rustic shrines and temples, and plenty of evidence of unique local customs and traditions.
How, you may ask, did this area survive the onslaught of local development?Well, there are two reasons. One is the presence of numerous archaeolgical sites in the area- dating from each of Japan`s major historical periods.When the Science City was being planned, this area was set aside for further excavation and investigation. After, 20 years, however, these important archeological treasure-troves seemed to have been forgotten, and hungry developers were all set to cut down the trees and pour the concrete.The bulldozers never came , however, thanks mostly to the indefatiguable efforts of one woman- Kayoko Takahashi- who filmed work crews knocking down the nest of a rare goshawk ( O-Taka) after she had reported its existence to the authorites. Construction ( or should I say DESTRUCTION) was then put on temporary hold. Since then she has been campaigning tirelessly to preserve this area natural and historical heritage. It is still largely intact.
One thing that must be done as part of efforts to protect this area for future generations is to try to raise awareness by arranging for people to experience it first hand.
Now as regular events held by the Society to Protect Konda`s Ecosystem ( founded by Takahashi-San) nature and history walks take place every 4th Sunday of the month.,
The starting time is always 9:30 AM in front of the gymnasium at the old Sakura Branch Office ( Kyu Sakura no Chosha).
Depending on the month there are different guides for these walks- some focusing on plants, some on birds, some on insects.
When I am the guide, however, I like to spread the focus between history, local customs, and not only the wild flora and fauna, but the agricultural scenery as well.
And this month, on the 23rd, I WILL be your guide.
Please join us.
I am SURE you will enjoy this amazing area.
I will be taking you through the hamlets of Hanamuro, Higashi-Oka, and the forest of Konda.
Hope to see you there.
The cost of joining is 300 Yen ( which is for insurance).