Thursday, May 08, 2008

Over Mitōsan to Makiyoseyama

Mitōsan (三頭山 - 1524 m) is the tallest of the three "celebrated mountains of the Okutama Region" in the Tokyo Metropolitan District, punctuating the border between the TMD and northern Yamanashi Prefecture. Its base can be reached either by a 30 minute bus ride from from Okutama Station on the Ōme Line or a 55 minute bus ride out of Itsukaichi Station on the Itsukaichi Line.

The Mugiyama Ukihashi (the floating footbridge)
across the Okutama Reservoir
Okutama Township, Tokyo Metropolitan District
May 6, 2008

On the Nukazasuyama trail at altitudes starting around 1000 meters one can see an increasingly rare sight: stands of living pine trees. The higher elevations are less hospitable to the pine sawyer beetle and the pine wood nematode, the vector and cause of the pine wilt disease that has wiped out all untended red pines and black pines (MTC photo - Yugawara, 3 January 2008) at lower altitudes over the last few decades.

Healthy red pine (akamatsu - Pinus densiflora) stand at 1100 meters
Okutama Township, Tokyo Metropolitan District
May 6, 2008

In my posts I frequently mock traditionalists who claim life was better in the past, before Japan accepted Western things. Here is a rare instance where the traditionalists are right. Pine wilt is an introduced disease, indigenous to North America. The nefarious nematode seems to have hitched a ride in the soil of trees imported to Japan.

Konara (Quercus serrata) forest
Okutama Township, Tokyo Metropolitan District
May 6, 2008

Cold is one of the few natural weapons against the spread of pine wilt disease. As global temperatures rise, these pines will come into the range of the beetle and the nematode.

In the future the only places one may see Japan's celebrated pines could be public parks, private gardens and ukiyoe.

View of the Tsurukawa Valley in Yamanashi Prefecture from Makiyoseyama (1188 m)
Hinohara Township, Tokyo Metropolitan District
May 6, 2008

1 comment:

Chris (i-cjw.com) said...

Given how much of Japan's primeval forest has been hacked down and replaced by life-sucking Cryptomeria, it would be tragic if the pines were to go the same way.