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[Experience Report] So many things to discover in the forest!

The sound of trees swaying in the wind and the chirping of birds gives a moment of healing.

 

Why not enjoy a walk in a forest in Daisetsuzan National Park, feeling the gentle breeze?
This time, we took part in the Shirogane Primeval Forest Walking Tour!
A nature guide will explain to you all the mysteries that you may or may not know about forests.
(Photos taken in mid July)

 

◆Feel the Magic of Mother Nature

The start of the walking course is a protected young pine forest. Cardiocrinum lily flowers greeted us at the entrance.
Incredibly, it seems like it takes around 6 - 8 years for this lily's flowers to bloom.
It withers after one bloom, leaving behind seeds-- quite the dramatic flower!
This is an old forest that took some damage as a result of Mt. Tokachi's volcanic eruptions and has naturally regenerated. Amongst conifers like spruces and fir trees, broad-leaf trees like birch, rowan, oak and poplars are mixed in. You can still see the influence and scars of volcanic mudflows and pyroclastic flows among the trees.
If you look closely, you'll see baby pine trees growing atop mossy logs.
When the lives of spruces and pines come to an end, they use trees that have fallen in the wind as nurseries to create a new generation of trees. This pattern is known as "the fallen tree cycle".
Most of the mother tree's seeds that fall to the earth will not get enough sunlight and will not be able to grow tall.
The only seeds that will be able to gain height are the lucky ones that landed on a fallen tree. However, even amongst those seeds, it will take over 100 years for them to grow into a large tree and until then, only a select few lucky ones will survive the competition of the forest.
Trees that grew using the "fallen tree cycle" will grow to have exposed roots that stick out above the ground.
The fallen tree that served as their platform will eventually be returned to the earth, leaving behind a hollow as evidence of the fallen tree that was once there. And if you look closely, you'll notice there are places where trees have grown in a straight line. This is because all of these trees grew from the same log. You'll also meet with some quite unusual plants while exploring the forest.
This pure white plant that looks more like a mushroom is a "Myco-heterotrophic" plant. It is not green and so it does not photosynthesise. Instead, it gets nutrients from a symbiotic relationship with fungi.
Due to its transparency, it is often called a "ghost mushroom" in Japanese.

These are the fruits of clintonia udensis. They change to a tasty-looking azure colour.
These fruits are of the Skeleton Flower. To look at them, you'd think these were blueberries! In spring, white flowers bloom on this plant.
The new greens that emerged just this year have a bright colour and are very soft. Please, give them a feel! They have the natural fragrance of the forest.

The forest moss is so soft and fluffy, too!

 

◆Animals in the Forest

What do you suppose these scars are? In fact, these are claw marks left by a bear as it climbs the tree! You can just imagine it climbing up with its big paws!
There's a big, long hole in this tree. This is a hole a black woodpecker has used all its strength to peck open!
The black woodpecker is a relative of the common green woodpecker and has a completely black body with a red-capped head. It is a nationally protected species.
From this hole, it eats bugs and ants that live inside the tree.

Hey, the forest's own version of deep-fried shrimp! Only joking, it is in fact, a conifer cone but the seeds have all been eaten by Hokkaido squirrels, so it's become skinny. While showing us photos of cute Hokkaido squirrels, our guide told us about this peculiarity.
There sure are a lot of deep-fried shrimp scattered about this one area. No doubt this is a Hokkaido squirrel's favourite dining spot!

 


The forest walking tour has a long run, and depending on the season in which you participate, the plants you can see as you go will change.
Around spring, you can also walk through the lingering snows in the forest by donning snowshoes.
In early summer, the new greens are full of life and shimmer and in autumn, fall colours bloom. This is a forest where you can truly enjoy the passage of the four seasons.
On rainy days in the heat of summer, the forest is cool and the greenery sparkles with droplets, so we highly recommend this walk on rainy days.

There are so many things to discover in the forest with a nature guide at your side.
Come and search for the forest's mysteries with us in Daisetsuzan National Park, the largest national park in Japan!