Wakka Wild Flower Garden is located in Sakaeura near Tokoro in Kitami, Hokkaido. The garden is part of Abashiri National Park and is situated near the Okhotsk Sea coast and on the shore of Saroma Lake, one of Japan's three biggest lakes. As a natural treasury, it has been designated as a site of Hokkaido Heritage.
'Wakka' in the language of the native Ainu people means 'drinking water' or 'springwater'. On the long sandbar dividing Saroma Lake and the Okhotsk Sea, there is a spring called Wakka Flower Holy Water. The name Wakka here refers to the rich supply of water in the area. The sandbar is 200~700m wide and about 20km long. It is the biggest area of seaside grassland in Japan.
Varying ecosystems have formed within the forest, grassland, dunes and marsh. More than 300 kinds of plants and flowers grow here including species from outside. The area is also a natural habitat for various wild birds.
Wakka Wild Flower Garden is also known as Ryugu Highway and features vivid natural scenery.
Kuragari Valley is in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, and has a forest. There are facilities here, such as a campground. The valley is located 26km east of Okazaki near the Hongusan Prefectural Nature Reserve.
The valley lies between 250m and 600m above sea level. Flowing through the valley is Otokogawa River. In the forest are both evergreen and broad-leaf trees, with streams of many sizes flowing among them.
People enjoy the forest as a place for recreation and relaxation. In spring, birds sing, while summer days are filled with the croaking of 'kajika' frogs. Nature continually delights visitors and refreshes them. From the highest point the Southern Alps can be seen ranging across the horizon.
The Banjo River is the main stream of the Banjo water system in the southern area of Oita Prefecture. The river extends 38km from its source at Mt Haitate to the mouth of Saiki Bay.
There are several theories as to the origin of the river's name. One, is that it's named for a master carpenter named Banjo Toryo Masuemon, who came from Nara and built the Banjo Bridge. Another possible origin is from the name and the shape of Banjo Gane, which was given by the Imperial court to the person in charge of construction. There was also a village called Kawabe-no-Banjo near Saiki castle, which may also be the origin of the name.
In the Edo period, large-scale construction took place to create the four canals of the Saiki domain, which helped the domain's economy.
The Banjo River is one of the major clearwater streams in Kyushu. Its rich ecosystem includes fireflies, kingfishers and crested kingfishers.
The Banjo River festival is held every year in July at the town of Yayoi, and the Cosmos festival takes place in October. These festivals are very familiar to the people who live by the Banjo River.
Yatsubuchi Waterfall has been selected as one of Japan's top 100 waterfalls, and is located in Shishigase, Takashima, Shiga Prefecture.
It is situated on Mt Buna (1214m) in the Hira mountain ranges. From the name 'Yatsubuchi' (which means 'eight waterfalls') we can see that it has eight falls: Uodome-no-buchi, Shoujiga Fall, Karateno Fall, Osuribuchi, Kosuribuchi, Byobuga Fall, Kibunega Fall and Shichihengaeshi.
The water that flows through the falls is transparent, clear and fresh. There are several smaller waterfalls other than the former ones and they also flow through the woods and granite rocks.
Growing in the granite area around the falls are plants such as rhododendron, Diapensiaceae and azalea. A walk through the valley to observe the wild birds and plants is enjoyable, while it is also perfect to hike in the fresh green summer season or during the autumn leaves.
The upper reaches of the Kawahara River flow for a long stretch through the spectacular Hyodo Valley in Kamitsuemachi, Hita, in Oita Prefecture.
The Hyodo Valley has an altitude of 600m and the mountain stream has very clear, translucent water with a refreshing and brisk aspect. It is also known as an excellent spot for masu salmon fishing, and a common sight is that of families fighting against a masu salmon at the fishing spot.
There are various waterfalls that tumble over rough and jagged rocks, making an intense scene that is enhanced by color contrasts in the four seasons. Many wild birds, such as the crested kingfisher, the akashiyobin, and the grey wagtail, nest along the ravine, allowing people to enjoy birdwatching as well. In the autumn, the maple trees turn a rich red, and if the weather is fine, these and the ginkgo trees, along with the other trees in the valley appear to shine. Because of its secluded setting, the Hyodo Valley is an excellent area to experience nature.
Soda-no-ike is an irrigation pond located in Amagasemachi-deguchi, Hita, Oita Prefecture. Amagasemachi is famous for its hot springs, but Soda-no-ike is located on the other side of the Kusu River. Or in other words, on the other side of the hot springs area. The gently sloping hill surrounding the pond is called Sogandai by the locals.
Soda-no-ike, at an elevation of 700-800m, was made from damming the spring water from the surrounding mountains. Hence, the pond has become a wetland, with vegetation such as nymphaeales, water shields, trapa and a large variety of flowers, insects and wild birds that can be seen from spring through autumn. It is a perfect example of a wetland ecosystem and is a natural treasury of life.
Primarily built for irrigation purposes, the pond is normally deserted and has nothing of much attraction to see. Yet it is a place where people, even non-locals, come to relax and quietly enjoy the simple joys of nature.
Hita in Oita Prefecture is one of the few places where fishing using cormorants takes place. The history of cormorant fishing is very long and is even mentioned in the 'Nihon-shoki' (second-oldest record of Japanese ancient history) and the 'Kojiki' (oldest extant chronicle).
Chinese records from the Sui Dynasty also mention the visit of an ambassador to Japan at that time and the unusual fishing method he saw using cormorants. Fish caught this way are flawless, without a scratch and very fresh, and especially prized as gifts is the sweet 'ayu' fish. After the Meiji period, however, when many cormorant fishers lost the support of their daimyo lords, this method of fishing gradually died out and today surivives as a tourist industry only.
In Hita, cormorant fishing can be seen accompanying the opening of the ayu season on the Mikuma River, from 20 May to 31 October. The sight of 62 houseboats softly lighting up the river has become a graceful symbol of the town. In 1966, cormorant fishing was designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Heritage of Oita.
Hegura Island is located about 48km north of the Noto Peninsula. The shore has complicated inlets and cliffs formed by exposure to rough waves. The island is about 13m high and some 5km around and is small enough to explore in an hour.
In the past, fishermen from Wajima on the opposite shore would come here during the summer fishing season. But now, the number of inhabitants is increasing. Thanks to currents and landforms, it has many good fishing spots and is especially popular with ama, professional woman divers, who were described in an ancient poem in the Manyoushu (A Collection of a Myriad Leaves).
The views around the island have not changed so much over time and, in summer, many ama come here to dive for fish. In fact, the island is mainly fished by ama, their main catch being abalone, agar, soft seaweed and turban shells.
In addition, the island is a good resting place for birds migrating between Japan and the Asian Continent. In fact, there are some birds that can only be seen here in all Japan.