Yokohama’s Uncharted Lands
Whether you leave the fishing pond empty-handed or get lucky with a catch, there’s still something bigger to gain in this age-old Japanese village.
Stepping into this village for the first time is like entering a world that was. Far from the bright lights and modern fixtures of the Yokohama Port area, this village, nestled in local satoyama (arable lands located near mountain foothills), surrounded by blue skies and stretching fields, is a portrait of an older and unchanging Japan. Dotted by several ponds, the area is home to Kumano Shrine, a sacred site situated within a slightly elevated grove and believed to protect local inhabitants. The ponds, varying in size and shape, are fondly named after forest creatures like mujina (Japanese badger) and kuma (bear). In Japanese folklore, badgers are known to shapeshift as humans, as seen in the Studio Ghibli comedy-fantasy film Pom Poko. Perhaps these ponds were, in the distant past, the gathering spaces of such fauna, where badgers could transform and bears would bask in the water. In a way, their names are one piece of this seemingly mythological landscape.
Located in the Northwestern region of Yokohama, this place, dubbed Jike Furusato Village, is a precious vestige of the traditional Japanese village. You can easily arrive here by bus from a number of stations: Aobadai or Ichigao Station on the Den-en-toshi Line, or the Kakio Station on the Odakyu Line, to name a few. A great starting point upon arriving in the village is a local information center called Shikino-ie (House of Four Seasons). You can even embark on a guided tour of the area to dive deeper into its history. You can access the Kumano-ike (Bear Pond) and, for a fee, fish for Japanese carp, a must-do activity for anyone exploring this village. Although it’s a regulated fishing area, you’ll feel fully immersed in the pond’s natural setting, beloved for its lush and lazy atmosphere. There is no rental system for fishing equipment, however, so be sure to bring your own.
By the time you return to the village center, the sun may be setting over its quiet scenery. Even without a catch to your name, it’s enough that you spent your day here, in the age-old solace of Jike Furusato.
Jike Furusato Village, Kumano-ike (Bear Pond)
414 Jikecho, Aoba-ku, Yokohama
Hours of Operation:
February - November: 6:30am - 4:10pm Weekends and Holidays, 7am - 4:10pm Weekdays
December - March: 7am - 4:10pm Daily
Closed Tue (unless it’s a public holiday)
Adults: ¥2,200/day, ¥1,700/half-day
Seniors: ¥2,000/day, ¥1,500/half-day
Women and Junior High Schoolers: ¥1,700/day, ¥1,200/half-day
The souls of medieval Japan linger on Asahina Kiridoshi, an ancient path from Yokohama to Kamakura.
Before railways were built through the hills leading to Kamakura, the military center of medieval Japan, people traveled to the historic city on foot via the seven kiridoshi, or passes. Asahina Kiridoshi is one of these famous pathways and connects Kamakura to what is now Yokohama’s Kanazawa Ward. While its name alone is evocative of an ancient, faraway world, you can actually still trek the pass today.
This is a path which, years ago, was the stomping ground of warriors on horseback, en route to their homes or perhaps a bloody battle, heaving in their armor as they trekked the land. Imagine also the heavy hearts of noble women, nestled into a koshi (ancient carriages carried by workers), as they watched the scenery drift by. Such figures of the past are long gone, leaving behind a quiet and seemingly deserted narrow pathway surrounded by walls of lush foliage.
Start in Yokohama and don’t fret, as there are several signs leading the way to the former shogun’s capital. Find your entry point beneath Yokohama Yokosuka Road, and follow the koshinzuka, a sacred stone monument from the Edo era, until you approach the opening of a stone precipice. Here, you’ve discovered the beginning to your Kamakura journey. The path is well trodden, and, come late autumn, the ground is barely visible beneath a layer of fallen leaves. On both sides are exposed stone walls, presumably composed of tuff, or rock made from volcanic ash. This type of malleable rock is abundant in Kamakura and formed the foundation of manmade tomb-caves called yagura, the final resting place of samurai in medieval times. More often than not, Buddhist statues were engraved near the opening of these yagura caves, as if offering their protection to the deceased souls within. The Azuma Kagami (“Mirror of the East”), a medieval text that chronicles the event of the Kamakura shogunate, the feudal government from Japan from 1185 to 1333, states that this path was created at the behest of Regent Yasutoki Hojo.
There is, however, a second origin tale. Supposedly, the famous warrior Asahina Yoshihide, the child of famed military commander Wada Yoshimori, built this kiridoshi in a single night. It sounds more myth than true, surely, though it’s certainly fitting that a legendary road such as Asahina Kiridoshi would be shrouded in mystery and, above all, intrigue.
1 Togezaka, Asahina-cho, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama
Take the Kanachu bus (10-minute ride) from Kanazawa-Hakkei Station, get off at the “Asahina” stop and walk five minutes.
Entry to Asahina Kiridoshi may be blocked due to a 2019 landslide. Please check the homepage to confirm the reopening of the path (scheduled for January 2020).