The Riasu (or Saw-tooth) Sanriku Coastline is a raised coastline of 600km in total that spreads out from southeast of the Aomori Prefecture through the coast of the Iwate Prefecture to Ojika Peninsula in Miyagi Prefecture. Sanriku (or three riku) is a generic term referring to Mutsu in Aomori, Rikuchuu in Aomori and Rikuzen in Miyagi. The Riasu coast is a jagged stretch of coastline that consists of many long, narrow coastal inlets which uniformly cut into the coastal lands creating the appearance of saw teeth.
Offshore at the Sanriku coast is where the Okhotsk current (Oyashio) , a cold current, and the Japan Current (Kuroshio), a warm current, meet, creating a rich fishing spot that is considered to be one of the Four Great Fishing Grounds in the world.
The precipitous cliffs of the Sanriku coast are also an ideal breeding ground for wild birds such as osprey, Japanese cormorant and black-tailed gull.
Along the Riasu Sanriku Coastline there are many spectacular vistas created by the raging waves and rain storms of the Pacific Ocean.
Nippo Coast is a 120 km ria coast from Saganoseki Peninsula in Oita Prefecture to Mimitsu Beach in Hyuga City, Miyazaki Prefecture in the eastern part of Kyushu. This ria coast was formed by the subsidence of the ground due to the crustal movement of the Kyushu Mountain Range, which separated Kyushu from Shikoku. The name “Nippo (日豊)” is the combination of the names of old provinces, Hyuga (日向) province (present Miyazaki Prefecture) and Bungo (豊後) province (present Oita Prefecture). The whole part of the coast is designated as Nippo-Kaigan Quasi-National Park.
Seen from Cape Hyuga, which is protruding in to the Hyuganada Sea, the white splashes of restless waves make an exquisite contrast with the continuing sheer cliffs. As the seawater is warm and clear, various marine animals such as table corals, Favia corals and stony corals inhabit in the sea.
Karekinada (sea of withered tree) is the sea along a ria coast from Shirahama-cho to Kushimoto-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama Pref. There are some opinions about the origin of its name. One explanation goes that the only port along the coastline that a ship can drop at on a stormy day is Susami Port. There is no other port to take a rest, namely “the shade of a tree” for overland travelers, the rest of the coast is as good as withered trees. Another explanation is that the sea wind and waves of this coastline are strong enough to wither trees. There are strange-shaped stones and huge rocks continuously standing along this inhospitable shore. This is also a part of the Ohechi route of Kumano Ancient Road. It is a steep mountain path above bold cliffs and rocky beaches, but the view from above is said to be the best on the route. It is also known as the setting of a novel “Karekinada” by Kenji Nakagami. The area along the coastline was designated as Kumano-Karekinada-Kaigan Prefectural National Park in 1968, and a strong effort for nature conservation is being made.
Minamikitaura Coast, extending from Urashiro-machi to Kitaura-machi in Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a beautiful ria coast facing the Hyuganada Sea. It is one of the main attractions of Nippo-Kaigan Quasi-National Park. As there area many capes and coves in the coastline and the offing is dotted with small islands, it is called “Matsushima of Hyuga.” The beach boasts its white sand and clear seawater.
As a suitable place for swimming and various outdoor activities such as camping, fishing and diving, it is crowded with a lot of tourists in summer. When it is cold in the morning, the surface of the sea is covered with mist and creates a mysterious atmosphere.
Uradome Beach extending 15 km at the eastern end of Tottori Prefecture is the most famous scenic spot along the Sea of Japan. Being called “Matsushima of the Sanin region,” it is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Beautiful Beaches and the Heisei Nippon 100 Scenic Spots. This is a ria coast formed by the erosion of granite stones, where various strange-shaped rocks, caves and steep cliffs continue. It is said that Toson Shimazaki, a writer of great literature in the Meiji through Showa periods, was once fascinated by the beauty of the landscape here. Especially beautiful is the area around Shirohara Beach, which is designated as a marine park by the Ministry of the Environment. The ocean along the coast is famous for its high transparency. You can see through up to the depth of 25 m. In summer, the beach is crowded with people enjoying swimming and snorkeling. Cruising on a tour boat around coast islands including uninhabited Natane Five Islands is also very popular.
Walking past the red pine grove, you will marvel at the exquisite view of the Rikuchu Ria Coast. Unosu Dangai, or Seagull Nesting Cliff, where 5 columns of 200-meter high and 4-km long precipices layer with one another, is a raised beach that is typical to the Rikuchu Kaigan Coast. Below you, you can see the nests of Japanese cormorants and seahawks on the cliff face. From the observatory, you can command a panoramic view of the whole cliff like a huge Japanese folding screen. The sea that changes colors depending the time of the day is especially beautiful. You can follow a promenade along the coast to Shimanokoshi.
The Mitsu-ishi Rock is a giant rock located in Nippo-Kaigan Quasi National Park lying along the coastline of Oita and Miyazaki prefectures. The name “Nippo” is the on-yomi reading of the combined first Kanji characters of two ancient province names; Hyuga Province (presently Miyazaki Pref.) and Bungo Province (presently Oita Pref.). This quasi national park, which was designated in 1974, covers the huge area from Sagaseki Peninsula in the north to Mimitsu area in the south. The coastline consists of rias. The sea in this area is known for fishing grounds of famous Seki saba, Seki aji, and Usuki fugu (blowfish). Because of the Kuroshio Current flowing along the coastline, the sea water is warm and has high transparency, so there are several marine parks. The area, called “Yabakei of the Sea,” has a lot of scenic spots with towering strange-shaped rocks including this Mitsuishi Rock and Meoto-iwa Rocks (wedded rocks), which is famous for being tied with Shimenawa (enclosing rope).
Ago Bay lies to the south of the Shima Peninsula in Mie Prefecture. It is the biggest landlocked bay in the Shima Peninsula and has a saw-toothed coastline. Big and small, innumerable islands like Kashiko Island are very impressive.
Ago Bay is famous for pearl culture and, in the early Showa period, it was called Pearl Bay. Ago Bay is where a genuine round pearl was invented for the first time in the world, and it is said 'Ago Bay is the home of the pearl'.
The name 'Ago' dates back to the time of the Emperor Tenmu. In prehistoric times, many peoples lived here. There are many stone age tools found here, which were brought from remote Shinshu, evidence of the movements of prehistoric man in Japan.
Ago Bay appears at the beginning of Japanese history, and is a very time-honored sea. The pearl rafts are charming sights, unique to this district and a pleasure for visitors to see.