Hello, it’s me again, the design engineer Yuichiro Katsume.

Have you heard about the Great Wall of China?

The Great Wall is the ruins of a very long series of protective walls. Even the parts that exist today measure more than 6,000 kilometers, but it used to measure 20,000 kilometers in total. Because of its length and size, it’s said to be the only structure visible from outer space, a fact that’s mentioned in textbooks.

However, it’s actually difficult to see it with the naked eye, and it can probably only be seen with a camera equipped with telephoto lens. A man-made wall stretching out to about 6,000 kilometers – it’s beyond the imagination.

That’s the Great Wall of China, but actually, there’s also something in Japan that’s visible from outer space. While it’s not a structure, it’s also man-made. Today, I’d like to talk about this structure.

Let’s look at it from outer space.


So now, we’re in outer space. Of course, we can’t see anything from this distance, so let’s zoom in a little closer.


We can now see the Japanese archipelago.


Our destination is in Hokkaido, the northern part of Japan.


Let’s look a little closer at the eastern part (the right side of the picture).


Now we can see something.


There’s a grid-like pattern that blankets the ground. What could it be?

Actually, this is a “lattice-shaped windbreak forest” in the Konsen Plateau in the Doto region. The grid’s lines form the actual windbreak forest, with the width of each line measuring 180 meters. The square areas surrounding the lines are farmland. Each side of each square measures 3,200 meters (3.2 km).

A line laid out with a width of 180 meters, grids with sides measuring 3 kilometers. The breadth of its scale is almost difficult to fathom.


The total length of the lines measure 643 kilometers, and the total area of the windbreak forest is 15,000 hectares – these are amazing numbers too. This windbreak forest is clearly visible in the photos that the astronaut Mamoru Mori took in February 2000 aboard the space shuttle Endeavor.

So how did this “lattice-shaped windbreak forest” come about?

It is said that the quadrant method employed by the United States during their development of the Konsen Plateau during the Meiji Era was the basis for this windbreak forest. In the quadrant method, right angles intersect each other to draw grids, forming quadrants for the partitioning of farmland and the planning of town areas.

At any rate, the purpose was development, and they were dealing with untouched land. In other words, regardless of development for farmland or for town areas, it was basically a plan for deforestation. But this plan specified leaving parts of the land as a windbreak forest – every 3.2 kilometers, land of a certain width were to remain untouched. As a result, parts of the forest with a certain width formed a grid-shaped windbreak forest that remains to this day.

Let’s go back to earth now. We can also view the windbreak forest’s grids from earth, from the Kaiyoudai Observation Deck in Nakashibetsu town.


At first glance, it seems that the trees are intruding and it’s difficult to figure the windbreak forest out, but if you look at the back of the hill in the middle of the picture, to the left-hand side you will see the straight lines of the windbreak forest’s grids stretching out.

The present windbreak forest’s appearance is maintained by the planting of mainly Japanese Larch trees.


This road seems endless, a scenery that’s quite unique to the Doto region. If you suddenly shift your gaze to the groves at both sides of the road,


you’ll also see planted trees here all lined up in a straight line, which feels rather strange.


I feel that the natural and the artificial are always forming some kind of theme.


I also feel that the “lattice-shaped windbreak forest” is something that will give me, one who thinks that the natural and the artificial form some kind of theme, something to ponder.


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