Thursday, May 19, 2011

Red Carpet Welcome

At this time of year, the gentle southern slope near the top of Mt. Katsuragi (960m) turns into a red carpet of what is called ”一目百万本” (million azaleas at a glance) in full bloom.

Fair weather in May tempted my husband and I to go and see them on Sunday.

Parking the car on the road shoulder at Mizukoshi-toge, a connecting place between Mt. Katsuragi and Mt. Kongo, we started walking in the natural forest. Sunlight filtering through fresh green leaves made an air greener and produced a pleasant refreshing ambience.

Japanese bush warblers were chirping beautifully, though there seemed to be an unfledged going through training in singing, which made me smile.

Getting out of breath by the long uphill on the way, in an hour and a half or so the mountain top covered with reddish orange azaleas came in sight.

Actually, though they were still about a third full bloom, a bit later to bloom than usual year like other flowers, I was quite satisfied with their treatment.

They are spontaneous, starting growing around 40 years ago after indigenous bamboo grasses that used to overshadow wild azaleas died. They are thriving now.

Speaking of forest, 温帯林 (temperate zone forest), where coniferous trees such as fir, Japanese hemlocks, Japanese cedars and cypresses , and broadleaf trees such as Japanese beeches, deciduous oaks, dogwoods etc. mingled, used to cover the expanse of Japanese forests. Those were the habitats of a variety of animals and plants and important water resources for humans as well as every living thing.

Water flows into the stream.

However, the government –initiative development project to promote Japanese cedar trees plantation after World WarⅡturned out to be counter-effective. Forestry has not  paid off due to the low-price imported timber and as a result many conifer plantations have been ignored and not well taken care of, which have been adversary influence on surroundings, on animals and plants.

Japanese cedar plantation along the trail of Katsuragi. This place is taken care of .

Recently I came to know a member of Japan Bear & Forest Association; a conservation group that tackles preservation and restoration of mountain ecosystems. The other day I joined them for one of the activities to plant nursery trees of broadleaf tress yielding nuts and acorns in the wasteland. I’m thinking of joining them for their activity from now when I have time.

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