For the past few years, I’ve been very fortunate to live adjacent to (and, more recently, nearby) a satoyama, a little strip of near-wilderness amid the hustle and bustle of suburban and metropolitan areas.
Tokyo is the world’s largest city and it is densely populated.
Much of the city is industrialized, but frequently there are little havens of almost untamed natural woodland or small-lot farms.
I used to go for walks in the farmland near our previous home and loved the serenity. I could walk through pristine forests just a couple of minutes’ drive from bustling highways and densely packed residential or industrial areas that you would have no idea even existed.
Now living in a residential estate, I’m a little further away from the satoyama, but there are still plenty of parks nearby.
This morning, though, I got to ride through the satoyama and to love it all over again.
This area is connected to the wonderful Tama Yokoyama no Michi, which is now a hiking trail. Part of this is an ancient track, sections of which were used during World War II to move tanks from what was then the Imperial Japanese Army‘s Sagami arsenal (now the U.S. Army‘s Sagami General Depot) to the arsenal that is now Tama Hills Recreation Area. Although hundreds of U.S. aircraft were flying over the area on almost daily bombing runs, they never found the track under the canopy, much of what remains today.
Writing this post, I learned about the UN’s Satoyama Initiative, which takes from the satoyama tradition in Japan and aims to encourage biodiversity and conservation.