Field Science Education and Research Center, Kyoto University, Ashiu Forest Research Station (京都大学フィールド科学教育研究センター森林ステーション芦生研究林)
Field Science Education and Research Center, Kyoto University, Ashiu Forest Research Station (abbreviated to "Ashiu Forest Research Station, Kyoto University") is a research facility of Kyoto University, located in Miyama-cho, Nantan City, Kyoto Prefecture (Kyoto Prefecture). Origin: In 1921, Kyoto Imperial University acquired the surface rights to approx. 4,200 ha of a jointly owned forest in Kukeji of Chii Village, Kitakuwada County; this area became the university's first domestic research forest and was given the name the "Ashiu Research Forest." Following this, the agriculture department was established, and the forest was used for academic research and field work by researchers and students. In addition, the income from selling wood obtained from cutting down trees in the forest, and from charcoal-making business was used to create income for the university. It is one of the few large scale natural forests still remaining in the Kinki region. Because it includes some virgin forests in, it is sometimes called the Ashiu virgin forest or the Ashiu woods. Also, even today, the old name of Ashiu forest for field practice is still commonly used.
In the following descriptions, "research forest" is basically used to refer to this particular forest, but "field practice forest" is also used when referring to historical descriptions.
This research forest is located around the headwaters of the Yura-gawa River in the north-east part of Kyoto Prefecture, that is approx. 35 km north-north east from the central part of Kyoto City and borders Fukui and Shiga Prefectures. Its southern and southeastern areas border the Hirogawara (in Kyoto City) area and Kuta area in Sakyo Ward of Kyoto City, the northeastern area borders Kutsuki-mura, Takashima City, Shiga Prefecture, and the northern area borders the former Natasho-mura in Oi-cho, Fukui Prefecture.
Topographically, the altitude is high since the research forest is located in the east-end area of the Tanba highland. There are points dotted around with altitude over 900m, such as Mikuni-dake Mountain (959m) the highest point, then Karakasa Pass (935m), and Mt. Onomurawaridake (931.7m) located in its southern to eastern part, about two thirds of the entire area is at an altitude of between 600m to 800m. The altitude is lower in the west, for example, 356 m at research forest administration building, with the lowest altitude being 355 m. The initial portion of the Yura-gawa River flows in the shape of a U within the forest, and little or big streams along the valleys flow into the headwaters of the Yura-gawa River. As a whole, the land is shaped by its cycle of erosion, as seen in various areas in the Tanba highland; however, the inclination of the slopes are rather steep at 30 to 40 degrees. The geographical feature is formed from sedimentary rock on the chert layer that extends in the east-west direction on the base rock of the sand stone and mudstone (shale) belonging to the Mesozoic/Paleozoic layer called the Tanba belt. Precipitous cliffs or falls are formed in areas where chert dominates. Most of the soil is brown forest soil, but Podzol is also found locally in ridges higher than an altitude of 800 m.
This research forest belongs entirely to the transitional area between the climate on the Japan Sea side and that of the Pacific coast side, with lots of rain falls throughout the year. The yearly air temperature average in the administration building is 11.7℃, which is 3 to 4 degrees lower than the central area of Kyoto City, and the yearly average of rain fall amount there is 2,353 mm, approx. 1.6 times that of the central area of Kyoto City. At Chojidani (at an altitude of 640 m) in the eastern part, located approx. 300 m higher in the altitude than the premises of the administration building, the yearly air temperature average is approx. two degrees lower than the average for the administration building, and the yearly average of rain fall is around 400 mm to 600 mm more than the average for the administration building. The place is also known for heavy snowfall, with approximately 1 meter of snow accumulating in the administration building area and more than 2 meters around Chojidani. Although it changes depending on the climate for the year, the first snow of the season generally falls in November and can continue to fall until as late as April. The snowfall from December and later mostly remains without melting, and many areas of the forest, including Chojidani, remain covered in snow from December to early April.
Since, as described above, this research forest belongs to the transitional area between the climate on the Japan Sea side and that of the Pacific coast side, the flora there also belongs to the transitional area between the warm-temperate forest and the cool-temperate forest, which houses various species of plants. Within this research forest, 243 species of trees, 532 species of grass, and 85 species of fern-related plants have been found. They include academically important plants whose names include the geographical name of "Ashiu," such as Ashiu-sugi (Cryptomeria japonica var. radicans) and Ashiu-tennansho (Arisaema robustum var. ovale) that produce their offspring in the following way specific to areas with heavy snowfall: When snow accumulates on their lower branches, they come to touch the ground due to the weight of the snow, causing this part to become independent and grow on its own from the ground. Plants, such as Daphniphyllim macropodum var. humile, Aucuba japonica var. borealis, Ilex leucoclada, and Cephalotaxus harringtonia var. nana, which are specific to heavy snow areas grow here naturally. In addition, Hemerocallis middendorffii var. esculenta and Caltha palustris var. nipponica, all of which are species remaining from the ice age, also grow here. Furthermore, due to the heavy rainfall throughout the year, a variety of mushrooms, including nameko mushroom, oyster mushroom and Lampteromyces japonicus, grow here.
In the natural forest, plants in warm-temperate forests, such as konara oak, Quercus salicina and Ilexpedunnculosa, are found in areas lower than 600 m above sea level. In areas higher than this, plants in cool-temperate forests, including beech and Mongolian oak, are found. However, the boundary between these areas is unclear.
On the slopes, various types of trees grow corresponding to the height as in the following: The upper area is densely packed with Ashiu-sugi, while the middle area is primarily populated by beech followed by Mongolian oak, and Japanese horse chestnut and Japanese wing nut grow mostly in the valleys,
It is known that,Takenoshin NAKAI, a botanist and professor at Tokyo University wrote in a research journal as "People studying botany should visit the Ashiu forest for field practice of Kyoto University" because of its diversity in flora.
This research forest has been used for a long time, as described later. In addition to cutting down trees for wood, around Nodabata, clearings were burnt off to be used as hayfields. After the field practice forest was established, trees were cut down mainly around the headwaters of the Yura-gawa River, where a forest tramline was opened before the war, then Japanese cedar trees were planted at the site afterwards. After the war, trees were cut down on a large scale as forest roads were laid out, which reached its peak around the latter half of 1950s to the middle of 1960s. After that, the amount of tree cutting diminished, and almost no trees have been cut since the 1990s. Currently, the natural forest, which has not been touched at least since the the field practice forest opened covers 2,150 ha, approx, half of the total area of 4,200 ha of this research forest, and there are virgin forests within it that are considered to be untouched by humans ever since the forest was formed. Of the former natural forest where trees were cut down, approx. 1,800 ha which covers its majority has become a natural forest (secondary forest) that regrew after the logging, and the artificial afforestation which is mostly Japanese ceder trees covers approx. 250 ha. Japanese Cherry Birch, hornbeam and spice bush grow mostly in the secondary forests.
The fauna in this research forest is as diverse as the flora. The mammals living here include small ones, such as the Japanese dormouse and flying squirrels, in addition to mid to large animals, such as black bears, Japanese serows, Japanese monkeys, Japanese sika deer, wild boars, raccoon dogs, red foxes, badgers, and Japanese hares. In particular, mammals living there also include such precious species as black whiskered bats and Japanese mountain moles. Regarding birds, there are screech owls, crested kingfisher and mandarin ducks, and raptors are also found such as goshawks and sparrow hawks.
Golden eagles are also seen there rarely
For reptiles, one can find Japanese copperheads, Japanese grass snakes, Japanese rat snakes, Japanese striped rat snakes, Japanese grass lizard, Japanese pond turtle, burrowing rat snakes, and Oriental odd-tooth snakes. For amphibians, as well as the Japanese giant salamanders, which are a protected species, one can find Japanese clawed salamanders, Hida salamander, forest green tree frogs and Japanese singing frogs. For insects, in addition to the Japanese rhinoceros beetles, stag beetles, and Alpine black swallowtail, a variety of insects, from large ones to small ones, popular to precious ones, live here. There are some species that were newly found in Ashiu.
The forest for research as a field for academic research
When establishing this forest for research, the university paid attention to the following three points:
The place is located at the center of the Japanese cedar-growing area.
The place constitutes a large botanical garden where plants favoring cold climate and those favoring warm climate naturally grow together.
Its geographical shape provides the possibility that large-scale experiments can be conducted over river basin.
Actually, the number of plant species found in the virgin forest, one of the major ones in Western Japan, is approx. 900, including Ashiu-sugi and Ashiu-tennansho as named after Ashiu. It can be said that the famous quote "The persons studying flora should once visit the Ashiu forest for field practice of Kyoto University," was based on the diversity of its flora. However, as described later, although the forest was a research facility for the university, it was expected to derive a certain amount of profit as an income resource. Therefore, in the process of pursuing the contradictory themes that research had to be done and profits had to be gained as well, compromises had sometimes to be made both in the research and in the business. However, many research projects, such as investigating measures against the bark-peeling of Japanese cedars by black bears which sucked the sap of these trees as well as developing technologies to grow artificial forests and harvesting such forests, were conducted in the name of the business of logging and planting trees. In addition to research concerning forestry and forest industry, which included those conducted through doing business, research in a variety of other fields was conducted as well using the research forest for field research: research concerning the multi-purpose use of the forests utilized for agricultural purposes and concerning the processing of forest-related information, those concerning forest mechanisms, such as forest-maintaining functions and natural forest regeneration mechanisms, those concerning the ecology and classification of the flora and fauna that live in the research forest, and those concerning natural environments, such as air bubbles and geographical shapes.
For educational purposes, this research forest is used for field work and educational programs in each faculty or graduate courses for Kyoto University in addition to Faculty of Agriculture and Graduate School of Agriculture. Furthermore, the forest is also used for field work or social education by other universities, such as Kyoto University of Art and Design and Doshisha University.
The forest tramline
As described later, there is a forest tramline in this research forest. The only other forest tramline laid out in a research forest (forest for field practice) for a university in Japan is the forest-for-field-practice tranmline for Tokyo University that is laid out in Tokyo University's Chichibu field practice forest, located in the Oku-Chichibu mountain area.
Before the field practice forest was established, there were no roads that could be called roads in the area. Therefore, immediately after the field practice forest was established, work was started to provide forest roads. Major forest roads were provided so that cars could run on them. However, it was decided that tramlines would be laid out in areas where no other means would be available, tramlines were planned to be laid out that started from the field practice forest administration building and reach to Nakayama along the river flow in the headwaters area of the Yura-gawa River. The excavation work to lay out the tramline form the administration building to Oyomogi was completed in 1927, and to Nanase in the following year 1928. Only the roadbeds were completed initially. However, the work to lay out tramlines was also conducted, and the rails between the administration building and Akazaki were laid out in 1934 and extended up to Oyomogi in 1936. The track gauge of the tramlines was 762 mm, the weight of a rail was 6 kg or 4 kg, cut chestnut trees or cut beech trees were used as railroad ties, which had creosote oil pasted on to protect against rot. However, even the work to provide rail beds was not conducted for the initially-planned section between Nanase and Nakayama, with only walking roads provided there. After the Pacific War started, the tramline was planned to be extended up to Onokodani to secure the forest resource. The construction of a bridge to cross the Yura-gawa River was completed in 1942, and the tramline was extended in 1943 up to a work site located in Onokodani. While the main section up to Nanase was called the Honkoku (literally, real valley) tramline, the new section was named the Onoko provisional tramline. In 1944, a section was extended from the middle of Onoko provisional tramline to rise along Onoko Nishidani (Onoko west ravine). However, although the section was specified as a provisional tramline, the grades of the roadbeds and rails used there were higher than those used for the Honkoku tramline, as the rails used there were borrowed from the Yuragawa-river dam construction office of Ministry of Interior (in Japan). It is said that a looped section was provided on the Onoko provisional tramline.
The completed tramlines were used not only to transport logged wood, manufactured charcoal or cultivated shiitake mushrooms, but also by people for commuting to the work sites and fields for seedlings provided along the tramlines and for bringing in materials. In addition, the tramlines were also used to convey everyday commodities, such as rice, miso (soybean paste) and soy sauce, to the residents in Haino. Beech wood was mainly carried out using the Onoko provisional tramline, for use in making the blades of propellers.
In 1947 after the war, the Onoko Nishi (west) tramline was removed, and the rails were returned to their original straight form and given back to the Yuragawa-river dam construction office of Ministry of Interior. The forest tramlines were heavily damaged by Typhoon Hester that hit the area in July 1949. In particular, entire sections of the Onoko provisional tramline were buried or washed out, never to be restored again. On the other hand, regarding the Honkoku tramline, the bridge over the Yura-gawa River that had been washed out was restored, and furthermore, the tramline was extended up to Nodatani in 1950. The tramline remained unfinished for a little distance up to Nanase where roadbeds had been completed, but the tramline has never been extended up to Nanase.
After the 1950s when logging was carried out on a large scale, sidings were laid out in Akazaki-nishidani (Akazaki west ravine) up to Akazaki-higashidani (Akazaki east ravine) and were used for carrying out the lumber. However, after the logging business was terminated in mid-1960s, the value of the usage of the forest tramlines diminished. Since then, they were used only to commute to the fields for seedlings and work sites provided along the line and for carrying in materials and seedlings. Then, when that was finished around 1975, the use of the tramlines was even further diminished. After the 1980s, the facility became increasingly degraded, and no operation beyond Haino came to be conducted. On the other hand, no road was provided for the remaining section up to Haino, and the tramline had to be used thereafter. Therefore, the Yura-gawa River bridge that had been destroyed many times was replaced with a reinforced concrete one in 1973 and the tramroads were improved, for example, by replacing some of the tramroad ties with those of concrete. The improved sections were extended to more and more remote areas. In 1993, the Haino-bashi Bridge was replaced with a steel girder and therefore, the sections whose facilities were to be improved were extended over Haino. Recently, hand rails have been provided for the Yura-gawa River bridge to prevent pedestrians from falling.
Concerning the tramcars, the Tokyo University tramline for the field practice forest owned full-fledged gasoline locomotives and diesel locomotives because the university conducted logging business on a large scale. In this research forest, man-power or horse-power was used initially to push tramcars, and on down-slopes, they slid by themselves, controlled by a brake. After that, locomotives were introduced to increase the efficiency of work. However, they were simply made, with an engine for agricultural use, set on the bed of a tramcar and a simple roof placed over it, and were called stall-type locomotives. In addition to locomotives, self-propelled vehicles for people, using an engine of the Daihatsu Midget, were also provided and used to make inspection tours within the forest. When the logging business was conducted on a large scale, the business operators brought in their own locomotives and/or tramcars, but the details are not known.
The present forest tramline is still in operation although infrequently, and used to carry out inspection tours in areas up to Haino as well as other work. In the remote areas beyond Haino, there are fallen stones, fallen trees, or rotten and collapsed tree bridges like the big Ω loop bridge at Akazaki one after another, and it is difficult to walk there, to say nothing of restoring the tramroard. Also, on the "Middle" 1/25,000 topographical maps published by Geographical Survey Institute, modified in 1979, the symbol shown on it as "special tramline" until the version published in May 1981 was modified in 1991, then on the version published in May 1992, it is shown as the symbol of "footpath".
In this chapter, its history is divided into the following four periods and descriptions are made for each of them: the first period (until this research forest was inaugurated), the second period (from the inauguration of the field practice forest to the prewar in Showa era), the third period (from the postwar in Showa era up to 1970s) and the fourth period (up to now after then).
Ashiu Okuyama (the first period)
In the mountain areas that include former Kitakuwada County, including the area of this research forest, and also the northern forest part of both of former Kadono County and Otagi County bordering former Kitakuwada County, the cycle of logging and forest regeneration was repeated due to the active demand for wood in Kyoto as the area was specified as a somayama (timber forest) to secure wood for constructing the dairi (Imperial Palace) and other buildings after the relocation of the capital to Heian-kyo. However, the area where this forest for research located was in the most remote part of the headwaters area of the Yura-gawa River. Therefore, even rafting down Yura-gawa River to carry out the wood to the mass-consumption area of Kyoto, still needed to go over a pass once before reaching the Oi-gawa River (the Katsura-gawa River:the Yodo-gawa River water system) water system to transport it to inner Kyoto City. As well as this mass-consumption, there was also a demand for wood to be used in constructing buildings castle-centered towns such as Fukuchiyama City and Ayabe City which were located along the Yura-gawa River and Obama City on the other side of the mountain. Furthermore, there were also local demands for wood for construction, materials for woodworks or for making charcoals.
In such situations, mountain guardians who moved from nine small communities in the valleys around the headwaters of the Yura-gawa River which formed Chii-mura Village later, came to live in the mountain to engage in logging or making charcoal,
In addition, kijishi (wood masters) who moved within the mountains seeking wood also came to live there, making wooden craft works, such as wooden bowls and trays. In addition ton the use of mountain forests, there was also a road that went to Haino via Sasari-toge Mountain Pass, that descended once along the headwaters area of the Yura-gawa River, passed Hitsukuradani from around the area where the present administration building is now located, reached Gonzozaka, and then went to Wakasa. Therefore, this road acted as a sub-route connecting Kyoto and Obama. On the other hand, around Nakayama, the present upper most of Yura-gawa River where Kamidani (upper valley) and Shimodani (lower valley) meet as the border, the eastern area from Chojidani to Kamidani had a strong connection with Harihata-go Community in the west of Kutsuki-mura Village from a long time ago, and wood was carried out to the Kutsuki area over the Jizo Pass.
where Kamidani (upper valley) and Shimodani (lower valley) meet
This community had almost no connection with Chii downstream but had connections with Harihata-go Community and Chimi-mura Village, Wakasa Province. At the site of the old residences in Nodabata, the pine trees and Japanese plum tress that the residents there planted still remain even today.
In the Edo period, each village of Kita, Minami, Naka, Shimo, Ewa, Tota, and Kawauchidani, all of which became to constitute Chii-mura Village in Meiji and later eras, came to be included in the territory of Sasayama Domain, and the three villages of Sasari, Shiraishi, in addition to Ashiu Village that are located in the vicinity of the present administration building came to be included in the territory of Sonobe Domain, but the area corresponding to the present research forest was controlled by Kyoto daikansho (regional office of administrative official) as a tenryo (bakufu-owned land) and was initially handled collectively as a mountain common to the nine Chii villages, much as the mountain forest in other Chii areas was. However, as survey of mountain forests in other areas progressed, the mountain that was used by people in the nine Chii villages and the mountain used by people in Harihata-go Community came to be handled independently as Ashiu Oku-yama Mountain and Oroshi-yama Mountain, respectively. Nakayama-sha Shrine located around the boundary between the two mountains was called "Utsu shi Shrine," and the area around the shrine was called "Chimata-yama (everybody's mountain)" and was a mountain shared by people in both villages. Thus, there were many people that had settled and lived in this area since long ago. However, in the latter half of the Edo period, most of the mountain guardians who had lived there left, then only a few remained in Haino located at the entrance to Sasari Pass in the early Meiji period. Kijishi (wood masters) formed villages while moving within mountains, but some of them moved to other mountains and it also happened sometimes that an entire village perished due to famine. Here as well, three households moved to Nodabata from Wakasa, and engaged in manufacturing wooden products, such as dippers. However, these people had no contact with those in Chii Village until the middle of the Meiji period. Surprised at finding a dipper that had floated down the Yura-gawa River, a villager in Haino reported it to the office of the head of the village. An expedition team was organized, and upon "finding" these people, family registers were created in October 1889. It is said that the sequence of events was reported in papers at that time as "A present utopia" or "A Meiji village."
Since the Meiji period, this area as a whole came to be included in Chii Village, and the area of this research forest, referred to vaguely as Ashiu Oku-yama Mountain or Oroshi-yama Mountain, came to be registered in the forest cadaster due to land-tax reform. However, even though the expression of "a mountain common to nine Chii villages" was changed to "a mountain shared by nine villages," the ways of using the forests in this area changed little, and the people there entered the mountains and earned their living mainly through creating charcoal while cutting miscellaneous trees to produce everyday utensils. This way of using the forest changed gradually after the middle of the Meiji period. The forest business-managing concept that the trees more useful for materials such as Japanese cedar or Japanese cypress should be planted instead of using other small trees began to take hold, and the vast area of this research forest was targeted for business. It was difficult for Chi Village, that had a weak financial base, to conduct business for the vast forest by itself. Therefore, the village attempted to borrow money from banks to finance the business. However, the area had unfavorable geographical conditions, including a lack of adequate transportation services for shipping lumber. Therefore, the idea of financing the business faded away. Even after that, the issue of forest business was taken up and discussed as a problem to be handled by the village government. However, the business was never started due to its financial aspect and speculation by powerful persons in the village. In addition, the people who lived in Nodabata had moved down to Kuchiki Village or Natasho Village until the end of the Meiji period, leaving the place uninhabited.
On August 25, 1910, the present Sanin Main Line started operation between Sonobe Station and Ayabe Station, and Wachi Station was established on the same day. Then, by using trains to transport it from Wachi after rafting cut wood down the Yura-gawa River to Wachi made it possible to cut the cost of transportation and bulk-transportation. At the same time, demand for chestnut wood indispensable for the railroad ties of railways increased rapidly. Therefore, the following cases increased gradually: Chestnut tress in the headwaters area of the Yura-gawa River, where trees grew abundantly, were cut and made into railroad ties and then floated down the Yura-gaawa River to Wachi either as individual pieces or as rafts. It is said that, the Mitsui Company noticed this situation and conducted preliminary negotiations with the Chii Village side from the early to middle of the Taisho period to secure the forest resource in Ashiu Oku-yam Mountain.
The ownership of each forest in the areas including this forest for research was dealt with as a common forest of the community or as a collective property of the residents in the area even after the start of the Meiji period: not as in other areas where a few persons owned a vast forest area, not as in Tosa and Kiso where domain-owned forests in the Edo period were transferred to Imperial Forestry Bureau of Imperial Household Ministry as the Imperial property, nor as national forests supervised by the forest bureau of Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce (in Japan). Concerning these common forests, the following movement was carried out since the time when The Municipal Government Act was enforced in 1889: Ministry of Interior (in Japan) promoted the integration of properties owned by each community, including the forests owned by each community, into the corresponding city, town or village property, to establish and strengthen the financial base of each city, town or village property. In each city, town or village, the integration of properties initially had not progressed smoothly because influential persons' interests or power relationships among communities either conflicted or complicated the issue. However, starting at the time when the finance of each of the cities, towns and villages suffered badly after the end of Russo-Japanese War, integration came to be strongly promoted from the latter half of the Meiji period to the Taisho and Showa periods. In Chii Village, school forests were established in 1902 as a basic property of the school, but the movement of the integration of the forests to be owned by communities was promoted through many discussions from the end of the Meiji period.
Around this time, Kyoto Imperial University decided to employ a departmental system, replacing the university system composed of separate colleges, and decided to establish an agricultural faculty in 1923. However, at the time, the field practice forests for Kyoto Imperial University were provided only in Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula and Sakhalin, all of which were overseas Japanese territories. Therefore, it was strongly requested that a field practice forest be established in Japan. Under this situation, a survey to find an area appropriate for the forest was conducted mostly in Kyoto Prefecture and Shiga Prefecture, with Ashiu Oku-yama Mountain included as a candidate as well. In the process of conducting the survey, Ashiu Oku-yama Mountain was rated as being the most appropriate as the site for the field practice forest. Additionally, because Ashiu Oku-yama Mountain was vast and was located at a geographically disadvantageous place, the government side also considered that it would be too much for Chii Village to manage Ashiu Oku-yama Mountain after the forests owned by the communities were integrated into the village properties. Therefore, considering the status of Kyoto Imperial University, the Kyoto prefectural government negotiated to have Ashiu Oku-yama Mountain selected as the forest-for-field-practice site under the initiative of the Kitakuwada County government. Since the actions of the university side coincided with those of the government side, it was decided that Ashiu Oku-yama Mountain should be selected as the forest-for-field-practice site. Then on April 4, 1921, an agreement on the creation of surface rights for 99 years was concluded between the university side and the owners of the land (represented by village headman Murai). Here, the forest for field practice of Kyoto Imperial University was begun.
The launch of the forest for field practice (the second period)
In this way the field practice forest was launched. At that time, such forests for field practice of other imperial universities, Tokyo University and of Hokkaido University, already existed in Japan, and these forests were acquired as national properties. Therefore, 100% of the profit from selling the wood cut there became their own income. On the other hand, the terms of the lease granted surface rights to the forest land according to the following conditions: the surface rights owner was obliged to pay the land owner 50,000 yen every year for the first five years of the initial 40-year period and then 10,000 yen every year for the remaining 35 years, after which half of any profits made from the selling of any trees logged there were to be paid to the land owner. This method was selected reluctantly, because Kyoto University wanted to catch up to the other universities but there was no financial support available to purchase the vast forest. However, an incident happened in March 1922, soon after the conclusion of the contract, that the promised 50,000 yen was not paid to the land-owning side and only 10,000 yen was paid in August of the same year as all of the profits that had been gained from cutting wood over the space of a year. Therefore, it developed into a big issue as a default of the agreement, and a lawsuit was formed as well. Mediation attempts were made through discussions among the university, Kyoto Prefecture and the local people concerned, and they were reconciled in April 1923 according to the following conditions that modified some portions of the original contract details: The land-owning-person-side right of acquiring profit from cutting woods there should be transferred to the university side, and the person with the right to use the land should pay the land-owning person 220,000 yen that amounted to the accumulation of interests for land rent over 39 years, to compensate for the transfer of the right. There was no precedent in Kyoto Prefecture for the renewal of a contract based on standard price for the right of using the forest land. Therefore, it cannot be denied that this renewal, concluding the contract that included the clause of "paying a fixed amount of money for the right of using the land," later proved to be a disadvantage for the village side. However, using this 220,000 yen as a fund, the Chii village side could achieve the unification of the forests owned by the communities. In addition, it can also be said that, concerning the village finance in the prewar years, the stable income from the field practice forest contributed significantly to rescue the village finances, which had suffered during the Showa Depression. The village side also requested the following items when concluding the contract: the routes to carry wood should be provided so as to run through the village in the east-west direction, not so as to run through Hirogawara or Hanase via adjacent Kutsuki-mura Village or passing Sasari Pass, and the village side's rights to cut wood and disposing them in the forests of natural regeneration should not be lost. In addition, it can also be said that the establishment of this forest for field practice contributed quite effectively to the creation of job opportunities for residents in Ashiu and other local communities.
On the other hand, regardless of these troubles, facilities had been steadily provided there. After the construction of the administration building for the field practice forest was completed in 1923, the following facilities were built one after another: facilities such as work sites in the forest and fields for seedlings were established, a road for vehicles from Deai (a point branching from the present Kyoto Prefectural Road No.38 Kyoto Hirogawara Miyama Route) to the administration building in the field practice forest was laid out in 1925, the engineering work for laying out rails for a forest tramline from the administration building to Nanase, along the uppermost flow of the Yura-gawa River, was started in 1927, and rails were laid out between the administration building and Akazaki in 1934. Regarding the administration building, the present building was newly built in 1930. Concerning its business aspect, afforestation business started in 1924, the cultivation of shiitake mushroom started in 1925 and charcoal making started in 1933. Concerning the afforestation business, logging initially deteriorated the forest physiognomy and logging was stopped temporarily. Then miscellaneous small trees were cut to cultivate shiitake mushroom and make charcoal, and Japanese cedar trees were planted at the site where chestnut tress were cut to make railroad ties.
A business policy of placing emphasis on academic research was employed for the field practice forest during this era. Of the forests for field practice of Kyoto Imperial University, camphor was produced in the field practice forest in Taiwan, and in the field practice forest in Sakhalin, profits were earned from logging. However it was largely expected that the forest would be made into a site for conducting academic research, and there was a strong movement to attain academic achievements in the field practice forest in Ashiu. Therefore, the policy of placing an emphasis on attaining academic achievements rather than pursuing profits from business was employed as "Ideal business rather than business for pursuing profits." Because of these situations, the logging of chestnut trees as the material for railroad ties and miscellaneous trees for charcoal making were the main activities, as well as the selective cutting for construction materials and pulpwood for the cultivation of shiitake mushrooms, although the logging lumber was still under way at the same time. However, in the era from the Showa Depression to the Sino-Japanese War and to the Pacific War, securing income sources for operating the university was requested because budget for the university was reduced due to an increase in military spending, and cooperation by the university was also requested to pursue national policies. Therefore, the university's ideal management policy began to be forced to change. Lots of miscellaneous small tress and chestnut trees along the forest tramlines, which started its operation in 1934, were cut to make charcoal and make railroad ties. In addition, beech trees were cut as materials to make propellers for airplanes and materials to make containers. In particular, the amount of charcoal made there had increased year by year, largely exceeding 14,000 hyo (straw bags) that Kyoto Imperial University needed yearly in the era between mid-1930s and mid-1940s. The surplus charcoal was sold in the market, producing precious income, and descriptions of the charcoal appeared even in news papers as "University charcoal." After the Pacific War started, in order to secure the forest resource to pursue all-out war, the forest tramline was extended to the Onokodani area in 1943 to deal with the expansion of the forest area where trees were cut. Such an expansion of the forest area where tress were cut devastated the forest in an increasingly serious manner at the same time. However, nothing to stop it could be done under the war-time system until the war ended.
The forest for field practice after the war (the third period)
Concerning the main body of the university itself, the name of the university was changed, in 1947 after the war, from Kyoto Imperial University to Kyoto University, and it was reformed into a university under the new system (of education) in 1949 through the reform of the educational system. However, little change occurred about the system for the forest for field practice. On the other hand, the devastating situation of the field practice forest during the war remained unimproved even after the war. In addition, the forest was further damaged by three typhoons, as one misfortune followed another. In Typhoon Hester that hit the area in July 1949, record amounts of total rain fell in the area, 519 mm at the site of the administration office in the field practice forest and more than 600 mm at Mikuni-dake Mountain in the east, damaging or destroying more than half of the buildings there, except the administration office. In addition, all sections of the forest tramline to Onoko Higashidani, which started its operation during the war, were washed out or buried. In September 1950, the next year, Typhoon Jane hit the area, bringing stormy wind comparable to that of Typhoon Muroto, with many trees fallen due to the wind. In September 1953, shortly after that, Typhoon 13 in 1953 hit the area. Although the total amount of rainfall was 361mm, not as much as Typhoon Hester, it caused damage such as landslide disasters because the mountain forest had already been devastated by the both Typhoons Hester and Jane.
These disasters proved to be a big ordeal for the field practice forest, but the construction of facilities and forest roads was promoted together with the work to restore the state of the forest. In 1950, along with the forest tramline extension to Nodatani, a hydraulic power station was built to start to supply power. In 1952, the supply of the electric power to local residents started. In 1961, power supply by Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc. started. However, all residents in Haino where electric power was not supplied at this time left the village and the village of mountain guardians that had remained also disappeared. Forest roads were laid out centered on the Uchisugidani forest road that ran from Uchisugidani to Chojidani via Shimotani. Initially, the portion up to Ochiai-bashi Bridge was laid out and then the road was extended up to Yusen-bashi Bridge. Even after that, the work continued over Keyaki-toge Pass and the road reached the Chojidani work site in 1970. In addition, the Hitsukura forest road, which branched off the Uchisugi forest road at Ochiai-bashi Bridge and reached a point close to Hitsukura-dani Valley, opened in 1955, and in 1972, the Minekoshi forest road, which ran from the Chojidani work site to Oisugi, Kutsuki Village, via Jizo-toge Pass opened. Furthermore, towards 1980s, a forest road opened that, with Keyaki-toge Pass in the middle of the Uchisugi forest road at its center, ran to the immediate foot of Sugio-toge Pass in the north and to the south side of Bunanoki-toge Pass in the south.
The expansion of these forest roads resulted in increasing the forest area where trees were logged. In and after 1952 when the real development of the forest roads started, the forest area where trees were cut increased rapidly. It also started the direct sale of standing timber within large areas in 1955. The large-scale logging business reached their peak in the latter half of 1950s and around the middle of 1960s. The peak in the latter half of 1950s, corresponding to the boom period of demand for wood materials, was generated mostly because the market prices of wood remained high during the period. The peak around the middle of 1960s was generated mostly because, based on the initial land-leasing contract, it became necessary in 1962 to make a yearly payment (from profits from the logging business) and therefore, it became necessary to log a huge amount of trees to make the payment. On the other hand, both natural regeneration and artificial afforestation had been conducted since the start of the field practice forest. However, such reforestation could not catch up to the expansion in logging areas. In addition, the value of those planted Japanese cedar trees was rated lower than that of naturally-grown ones. Therefore, the natural forests of horse chestnut and zelkova trees were cut one after another. Even after that, the area where trees were planted did increase little, and the value of the trees that were planted did not improve satisfactorily. In addition, corresponding to an increase in imported wood, the price of domestic wood became stagnant. Therefore, a vicious cycle of expanding the tree-cutting area to increase the profit set in, making the state of the field practice forest further deteriorate. Also, in and after 1961, big achievements were attained in the aspect of research through the expansion of the direct business operation in the field practice forest, in such fields as afforestation, including the logging and transportation of trees, nursery fields, making wood and laying out forest roads. However, because the compensation was not enough with the general expense on the university side, the forest operation side was therefore forced to conduct unsustainable management. Wood prices then became stagnant, squeezing the business operation of the field practice forest. Therefore, even in the direct management system, the business operation could rid itself of the vicious cycle of logging all trees in the area and then replanting them. In 1966, being affected by the energy revolution and the campus strife at that time, the long-lasting charcoal-making business was discontinued.
As the state of the field practice forest deteriorated even further by large scale logging, not only people on the university side but also the land-owning side began to voice their anxiety and apprehension about the situation. Furthermore, as wood prices remained stagnant for a long period of time, it became difficult to make the yearly payment from the profit to the local communities, even though the logging business continued to be carried out on a large scale. Under this situation, a method of making a payment for land use to the land-owning side was considered, which differed from the previous method in that it involved paying rent on a land lease as opposed to making payment from profits. In this case, the general revenue resources of the university was desired to pay the rent. From 1974, this problem was also discussed repeatedly in the Japanese diet as well, and the method of paying rent on a land lease was decided to be introduced from 1981. While these activities were underway, the scale of direct business operation of the field practice forest was reduced in and after 1970, and the area where trees were cut decreased significantly after1975. Therefore, from the latter half of the 1970s to the early 1980s, the field practice forest came to be used mainly for research purposes again.
Changes in the industrial structure in the high economic growth period and the stagnant wood prices due to imported wood caused the forest industry to decline and the population in forest areas to decrease. Miyama-cho (former Chii Village) was no exception. The main businesses there, such as the forest industry and the business of making charcoal, continued to decline year by year.
In addition, persons in the area, centered on young persons or those in their prime of life, continued to flow out of the area, decreasing the population, since the area was located close to the Keihanshin metropolitan region,
On the other hand, in the Keihanshin metropolitan region, demand for electric power increased rapidly corresponding to economic growth and an increase in the population, and Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc. developed electric power resources in the Kiso-gawa River valley and in the Kurobe-gawa River valley, such as Kurobegawa No.4 Hydro Power Plant and the Kurobe Dam. The company also developed thermal power plants in coastal areas of the metropolitan region. In addition, the company turned its attention to nuclear power generation as well, and was proactively building nuclear power plants around the Wakasa bay. It was supposed that, even though these measures were taken, a power shortage could occur during peak time. Therefore, a plan to cope with the supposed increase in power demand was formulated that combined the system of pump-up power generation that enabled surplus electric power at night to be used effectively. Then around 1965, the Shimobe Dam as a pumped storage power plant was planned to be constructed in Natasho Village, and also the Kamibe Dam in Shimotani. Each of these plans was presented to persons concerned with Kansai Electric Power. In accordance with these activities, the property-owing nine-community, which constituted the land owners, requested that the whole field practice forest or an area around Shimotani should be returned to the community. The sightseeing business was also planned to be promoted effectively by using the lake created by the dam. On the other hand, a campaign was also actively promoted protesting the construction of the dam, for the reason that it would destroy the natural environment on a large scale. As these dam construction plans were the biggest issue concerning the research forest that had been faced since the war, the discussions involving the university staff concerned, the land owners, the administration, Kansai Electric Power, and the local residents that were conducted to give the participants a chance to express their support for or opposition to the plans continued for a number of years. Finally, Kansai Electric Power abandoned plans for pump-up power generation, because they could not obtain the understanding of the local people and others.
Turning from a field practice forest to a research forest (the fourth period)
As described above, the way of using the field practice forest returned to research-centered one, and the forest roads had been completed to a certain level by the 1980s. Almost no trees were cut since 1990s, and the artificial forests of Japanese cedar tress planted in the era when trees were cut on a large scale in 1950s and later have been repopulated. In addition, work to support naturally-regenerating forests and create artificial forests of broad leaf trees have been conducted experimentally. Furthermore, discussion about plans to construct plants for pumped storage power plant faded away, because the growth of electric power demand in the Keihanshin metropolitan region stagnated and awareness towards natural environments changed.
Public opinions concerning natural environments have changed from development-centered ones towards those for the maintenance of or nurturing of environments. Corresponding to these changes, walking in the woods has attracted attention as a way to stay healthy, and mountain climbing has experienced a boom, centered on middle aged persons. In addition, the tramline has been introduced to railway fans as one of the few remaining forest railways in Japan. Even until then, the field practice forest had often been introduced on TV or in news papers, because the place had an image of being "an unexplored region." However, few people visited there, due to insufficient road maintenance. However, the routes to access the place, such as National Route 162 and the Kyoto Hirogawara Miyama route, were developed in and after 1960s, and in 1979, the section up to Sasari-toge Pass, which had been the last unopened section of the Kyoto Hirogawara Miyama route, was opened. After that, widths of narrow roads were widened, and bypasses developed, that improved vehicle-running conditions.
In this way, the forest for field practice started attracting people's attention and access to the place was improved.
Therefore, entering the 1990s, the number of general public entering forest in Kinki region, and to this field practice forest where had a large scale natural forest and clear stream remained near big cities increased gradually,
Since around this time, local agents and travel agents plan tours jointly, group visits have also been operated. To promote the development of the region, in 1993, entry was permitted by car for tour groups visiting "The nature-and-culture-centered village" in Miyama-cho or "the Ashiu youth house of Kyoto Prefecture", on the condition that they follow all usage rules. Responding to these activities, a course to train the guides for the Ashiu forest for research was opened in 1997, producing 16 guides in the same year. This activity has been well accepted by the forest-for-research side as they believe it to be useful in explaining the role of the forests to the general public and others.
Furthermore, in the era from the latter half of the 1990s to the early 2000s, a campaign article entitled "The Ashiu forest: for World Heritage" had been placed in the Mainichi Newspapers on the "Green Day (tree-planting day)." However, an increase in the number of visitors to the forest generated problems in overuse, with undergrowth being trampled, littering, and problems with lavatories and water contamination. Concerning these problems, a memorandum about how to use the forest for research was exchanged in 1998 between "The nature-and-culture-centered village" in Miyama-cho and the forest-for-research side. In this way, measures for these problems, for example, limiting the number of guides and vehicles that can enter the forest, have been taken gradually. On the other hand, Japanese deer, whose number has increased due to the warm winter trend in recent years, generated the following problem: they caused serious food-related damage because they ate out all the young tree buds and undergrowth through spring to summer. The problems of overuse and food-related damage constituted a big problem for the university side as well, because they will cause the research forest (field practice forest) to deteriorate in ways different from those due to large scale logging. The work site in Chojidani was dismantled around 2000 by wearing out.
Corresponding to the trend of reforming universities, Kyoto University also integrated research facilities located outside the main campuses of University, and the following facilities were integrated into the Field Science Education and Research Center, Kyoto University, which has become a facility common to all departments of the university, and not the former department-based facility: the forests for field practices, which were located in Hokkaido, Wakayama, Tokuyama in addition to Ashiu, Shirahama Aquarium, Kyoto University located in Shirahama-cho, Subtropical Plant Institute, Kyoto University located in Kushimoto-cho and Maizuru Fisheries Research Station located in Maizuru City. The name of the forest was changed from the "forest for field practice", which was widely used, to the "forest for research", which is used up to today.
Problems in the past and today
In the past, it was requested that operation of the research forest finance itself to some extent by earning income by itself and contribute to the finance of the university. This situation, in addition to the fact that the field practice forest was operated on leased land, caused the vicious cycle in large scale logging as well as deterioration of the forest. In addition, being open to use by general public has recently caused overuse of the research forest, generating environmental problems within the forest, causing it to deteriorate as a result. The following describe the issues related to the research forest.
Problems concerning facilities and management
As described above, in an era when wood prices in Japan were high and firewood and charcoal were the main sources of thermal energy, it was naturally considered that income could be gained by selling forest resources, such as charcoal, in addition to wood cut in the field practice forest of a university. Therefore, it was natural in a certain sense that, in the operation of the Ashiu forest for field practice, there was the idea of "the management of the forest for field practice for contributing to the university finance" by cutting trees and doing business in the forest for field practice. In particular, Kyoto Imperial University at that time was behind other universities in opening domestic forest for field practice. In addition, the budget needed to establish the field practice forest reached approx. 1/5 of the budget of the university, and furthermore the 220,000 yen paid to the land-owning side when the contract was renewed in 1923 reached approx. 1/10 of the budget of the university as well. In these situations, it was almost impossible to purchase the land from the land-owning side in order to establish the field practice forest, as other universities already did to establish their domestic forests for field practice.
However, although logging and forest management were conducted to recover the cost of the investment, the earnings were lower than expected because the area's geographical features and vegetation meant that there was a lack of wood with a high market value, and inadequate access roads meant that there was a dependence on high-cost rafting to transport the wood.
Although the university took account of the conditions of the site and other factors and established the field practice forest while knowing its disadvantages, the local community side expected too much from the name of "a field practice forest of an imperial university"
As a result this situation produced a breach of contract shortly after the forest of field practice was established. Even so, the operation of the forest could attain a certain amount of profit by logging trees despite experiencing the turbulent period during and after the war, and contributed to the formation of wealth of the university and returned some of the profit to the local communities, although it was a fixed amount.
After that, when the time to make a yearly payment based on the profit arrived, the forest operation side was pestered to make their payment. As described above, the value of the wood from the naturally regenerated forests and from the artificially regenerated forests is low, and therefore, it turns out that logging of the natural forest becomes the focus of earnings. Under this situation, wood prices stagnated as well. Therefore, the forest operation fell into a vicious cycle of logging even more tress in the natural forests to earn enough profit to make the yearly payment based on the profit to the land-owning side, resulting in a situation whereby the state of the field practice forest deteriorated, and was far from earning profits. In addition, the land was leased. Therefore, when the local community side requested the return of the land that was to be used in constructing a dam to pump water, the problem became so serious that the very existence of the forest itself was threatened.
When the field practice forest was established, both the university side and the local community side nurtured the dream of "high-profit business based on the field practice forest" and could not get rid of the dream for a long period of time. It could not be denied that this situation cast a shadow over the management of the forest for field practice.
Overuse and Problems Concerning Animal Grazing Habits
In this research forest, there has been a substantial problem in overuse due to the increase in the number of people entering the forest. The forest was never meant to support a large number of visitors to begin with. On the other hand, the increase in the number of persons entering this forest is a reflection in the recent mountain-climbing boom. The style of mountain-climbing tour as a unit of dozens of people has started to be seen also. In particular, the approach to this site is shorter when the route in the eastern part of this forest for research, running from the Takashima City (former Kutsuki-mura) side to Chojidani via Jizo-toge Peas, is used. Using this route, the core portion of this forest, from Kamidani to Sugio-toge Pass, can be visited easily. Therefore, the number of persons entering this forest from this side has increased. As a result, the foot paths of Kamidani were deeply gullyed by lots of walkers, which has negatively affected the growth of flora there. In addition, trash and excretion by people entering this forest negatively affect the natural environment of this research forest. These problems are often seen in areas where people visit seeking natural landscapes, such as the Oze wetland and the Yakaushima Island. Therefore, the university has taken the following measures as well: making it well known that a large number of persons are prohibited from entering the forest at the same time; it is prohibited to enter any other place than paths in the forest; persons with pets are prohibited from entering this forest; making the visitors know the present state of the research forest by making them fill in questionnaires; and prohibiting entering this forest from the Takashima City side from 2006. However, historically, it is impossible to shut out all routes to this forest from the Takashima City side, and it has made possible since 2007 to enter this forest from the route only via Mikuni-toge Pass.
Naturally, it is requested that persons entering this forest understand that this research forest is a university facility and not an ordinary sightseeing spot, and that they must follow the rules upon entering the forest.
The number of Japanese deer has been increasing for the following reasons: Warm winter climates in recent years have decreased the number of deaths of young or old deer that are vulnerable to severe winter climates, there exists no animal to prey on them in their natural environment, and hunting is prohibited in the research forest. As a result the damage caused by grazing habits of animals, which are eating not only the undergrowth but also the bark of young tress, has been expanding year by year. If no measures are taken against this problem, the vegetation will be badly affected. However, with no effective measure existing, it is a difficult problem for which a solution can not be found easily..