Ochiishi-misaki Wetland spreads on the plateau-shaped small cape protruding into the Pacific Ocean at the base of Nemuro Peninsula in the eastern part of Hokkaido. It is designated as the prefecture’s Natural Environment Preservation District. The wetland is known as the southernmost boundary of Lapland rosebay (Rhododendron parvifolium), which produces little flowers in June. Other rare plants such as skunk cabbage, Hakusanchidori (Orchis aristata) and hare’s tail cotton grass can be seen.
Walking through the wetland and the swamp forest of red pine trees along the wooden trail, you will get to a light house, which is located at the easternmost end of Japan. From there, you can command a panoramic view including unending stretch of the green carpet of the wetland, the dynamic coastline of continuing cliffs and the far-off horizon in the Pacific Ocean.
As a part of natural preservation district, there are no man-made structures, so you can enjoy natural landscapes that remain intact here.
Shodoshima Peacock Garden is a bird garden located near Ikeda Harbor on Shodoshima Island in Kagawa Prefecture. As many as about 1,000 peacocks stroll on the ground of the garden. Peacocks, or to say correctly “peafowl,” are the birds in the pheasant family, mainly inhabiting in China and the southeastern Asia. Peafowl are most notable for the male's extravagant display feathers, which are flared out to get the female’s attention.
We rarely see peafowl flying, but in this peacock garden, visitors used to enjoy the Peacock Flying Show, in which a unit of peafowl few away and back in time to the music. It was said that there was no place in the world that could rival in training such a large number of peafowl. However, the show has been discontinued since 2003.
You can also see flamingoes and many other rare birds collected from all over the world. There is also an aquarium offering a panoramic view of fish next to the bird garden. This is a suitable place for a family vacation.
Choshikei Gorge extends along the upstream of the Denpo River running through Shodoshima Island. Shodoshima Skyline (Prefectural Road 27) connects it with Kankakei Gorge, which is counted as one of Japan’s Three Fine Gorges. Shodoshima Island is famous for wild monkeys, and Choshikei Gorge is also a home to hundreds of monkeys. You could visit Choshikei Monkey Park at the foot of Mt. Sentakubo, where the mode of life of wild monkeys can be observed nearby. Some of them are friendly to human beings because of the food handouts.
Following the trail up the mountain, you will pass by Onote-hime Shrine, a tiny shrine, which enshrines Princess Onote, the founder of Shodoshima Island. At the top of the mountain is the observatory, where you can have a calm and peaceful moment, viewing the panoramic landscape of the Seto Inland Sea.
In fall, trees with crimson foliage beautifully add colors to the clear stream of the gorge.
Ichigoyama Castle is located at the eastern peak of Mt. Ushibuse (491 m) in Yoshii-cho, Gunma Pref. It is said that the castle was built in the late Muromachi period (1336-1573) as an attached castle of Hirai Castle, which was resided by the Uesugi clan. Located at the top of such a high peak, the castle is thought to have been used as a base to send smoke signals during the Warring States period (1493-1573). The castle fell in 1563 by the attack of Takeda Shingen. It is presumed that several outer compounds separated by dry moats were constructed but there are almost no ruins remaining now. The area was arranged into Ushibuseyama Natural Park to provide citizens with recreation and relaxation. On the castle ruin stands a three-story mock donjon with a commercial museum of Yoshii-cho on the 1st floor, a historical museum on the 2nd floor, and an observatory on the 3rd floor, from which visitors can command a 360°panoramic view.
Ganbou Rock is a 78-meter-high rock located near the town of Engaru in Noboribetsu county, Hokkaido and is designated as one of Hokkaido’s 100 Natural Spots.
There is an observation deck at the top of the rock, which is a 15-minute walk up.
This rock is the symbol of Engaru and is popularly known as ‘the rock that is the first place to receive the morning sun in this town’ or ‘the rock that is settled warmly in the evening sun’.
The name ‘Ganbou’ is derived from the Ainu word ‘Ingarushi’ (which means ‘the place with a fine view’). It is also known as an historic battlefield of the Ainu people. The view from the observation deck gives a marvelous 360-degree panoramic view.
Sun’s Hill Engaru Park, much loved by the town people, marks the starting point of the hike to the top.
The word “Shiretoko” comes from “Sir-etok,” meaning “the end of the land” in the Ainu language. In primeval forests in this end of the land are the mystic lakes called Shiretoko Five Lakes (Shiretoko Goko). There are no rivers feeding these lakes. They were created by the rain and snow collected between strata as the groundwater and springing out over the years.
You can walk around the five lakes in about an hour by following the natural trail. If “Ikko (the 1st lake)” and “Niko (the 2nd lake)” are enough to see, it takes only about 30 minutes.
With a variety of flora and fauna, the area deserves to be called a primeval paradise. If you are lucky, you will have a chance to see Ezo squirrels or Ezo deer on your way.
You will be deeply impressed by the panoramic view of the Shiretoko mountain range seen from the observatory on a nearby hill as well as by the reflected images of surrounding trees on the calm surface of the lakes.
Mt. Rausu-dake (1,660 m) is the highest mountain of the Shiretoko volcanic mountain range in Shiretoko Peninsula. It is counted as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Mountains. The view of the mountain covered with pure white snow in winter is magnificent. Many snow patches remain even in summer.
From the top of the mountain, you can command a panoramic view of the ocean including far-off Kunashiri Island. The two starting points of a trail up a mountain are located at Rausu Hot Spring in Rausu-cho and Iwaobetsu Hot Spring in Shari-cho. It takes 4 hours and 30 minutes from Rausu, and 6 hours from Shari.
In Mt. Rausu, you can observe a lot of alpine plants that come into bloom one after another on the slopes where snow thaws. At the peak blooming season in summer, the whole mountain becomes field of flowers. Here you will be moved by the great power of nature that overcome and survive severe winter.
Odaigahara Plateau is located in Kamikitayama Village, Nara Pref. The annual precipitation of this area is 5000 mm, which ranks the heaviest in the world. The wet climate has created a primitive forest that is comparable to the one in Yakushima Island. The forest with its floor covered with green moss as well as magnificent and powerful waterfalls is the figurative art that nature has created. The primitive forest is also the home to wild life such as antelope, Japanese deer and rare plants of the season. If you are lucky, you might come across a group of lovely deer on your way. For walking, “Higashi Odai” walking trail extending about 9 km is recommendable. At the top of Daijyagura Cliff with a height of 1,000 m, you can command a 360-degree panoramic view including Ominesan mountains. Pure forest of Tohi (medicine plant) in Masakigahara is known as the south bounds in Japan. While walking along the trail, you will enjoy the twittering of Japanese robins and other wild birds.