Yukura Shrine is located in Yukawa-cho, Hakodate City, Hokkaido. The enshrined deities are Oanamuchi no Mikoto and Sukunahikona no Kami. The shrine is said to have been founded in 1617.
In 1653, Matsumae Takahiro, the little son of Matsumae Ujihiro, the lord of the Matsumae domain, was suffering from a serious illness. His mother, Seiryoin, got a revelation in a dream telling her to put her son in the hot spring in the precinct of this shrine. When she did as she was told, Takahiro completely recovered from his illness. In the next year, the Matsumae clan constructed the main hall and dedicated some treasures including a golden statue of Yakushi Nyorai and a bronze-made Waniguchi (a metal gong) in token of their gratitude.
The shrine is also believed to be the guardian of the hot spring town of Yukawa. To the left of the main hall stands a stone monument inscribed with the words “the Birthplace of Yukawa Hot Spring” and its history. Covered with huge ginkgo trees and other greenwood, there is a tranquil atmosphere in the precinct.
Aoso Shrine in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, is the headquarters of Aoso shrines all over the country. It was founded in 852 by Hozumi Yasumasa, the ancestor of the current shrine priest’s family, who came to this area from Kyoto. He enshrined Amaterasu Omikami (the sun goddess), Ame no Minakanushi no Kami (the god of the universe), and Tsukuyomi no Kami (the god of the moon) in the cave where holy water sprang out; hereby the shrine is famous as the place where the sun, the stars and the moon are enshrined together.
Yasumasa taught the villagers how to grow hemp plants. It is said that the shrine name “Aoso,” which literally means Green Hemp, was derived from this episode. The shrine has been known for its divine power to cure and prevent palsy, and it is said that if you visit this shrine three times, you will never be stricken with palsy for the rest of your life.
As the Hozumi clan was involved in maritime industry, the shrine is also worshipped as the deity of navigation safety. The famous fine water “Osuzu” springs out in the precinct. A lot of visitors come to take a drink of this holy water.
Terashita Kannon is a temple located in Akabonai, Hashikami-cho, Sannohe-gun, Aomori Prefecture. The principal object of worship is Sho Kannon. It was founded in the Kamakura period (1192-1333) as the 1st Holy Place of 33 Kannon Pilgrimage in Oshu Nukabe.
In the Kannon Hall surrounded with dense forest of cedar trees, a statue of Kannon, 65 cm tall, which is said to have been carved out from Japanese judas wood by a high priest Gyoki in 724.
It is believed that if you worship 33 Kannon statues of this temple, you will receive the same benefit as you visit 33 Kannon Holy Places in Kinki. As the idea of Shinbutsu Shugo (fusion of Shinto and Buddhism) has been practiced in this area, Ushioyama Shrine is located in the precinct. Today it is visited by a lot of pilgrims, who quietly offer prayers in the precinct.
The waterfall in back of the main hall was the training ashram for mountain practitioners in the old days. Local people have come to worship and take this water as the miracle water to give perpetual youth and longevity. It was selected as the prefecture’s fine water by the governor in 1989.
Clear water counted as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Water gushes out at the base of a 500-year-old huge cedar tree in the precinct of Hakoshima Fudoson Temple in Hakoshima, Higashi-Agatsuma-cho, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma Prefecture. It springs out 30,000 tons of water per day. The water is supposed to be the sub-soil water of Lake Haruna.
Legend has it that the wife of a Warring States period warrior of the Kibe clan was pursued by the enemy and finally threw herself into Lake Haruna. Knowing this tragedy, her son Priest Enko of the nearby temple sent her memorial tablet to the bottom of the lake to appease her soul. The tablet, however, floated out of water in the springs later. This memorial tablet is placed in the temple hall even today.
The spring water pours into the Narusawa River, which supplies water for agriculture, trout aquaculture and the prefecture’s Inland Water Fisheries Experiment Station as well as the drinking water to the local village. This clear water is so cold that your hand will become numb.
Obata in Kanra-machi, Kanra-gun, Gunma Prefecture used to be a castle town constructed around Obata Castle, which was built by the Obata clan enfeoffed with 20,000 koku of rice in the late Muromachi period (1336-1573). The town was flourished under the rule of the Warring-States-period powerful warriors including the Obata clan, the Oda clan and the Matsudaira clan. In 1615, Oda Nobukatsu, the second son of Oda Nobunaga, was enfeoffed with this area and became the founder of the Obata domain. The area had been ruled by the eight generations of the Obata clan for 152 years since then.
The reminiscence of the Edo period can be found in this small castle town. The Ogawazeki, a water channel built about 400 years ago, runs through the center of the town and cherry trees border the channel. On the left side of the street along the channel continue the residences with warehouses. The residences of the Edo-period warriors stand on both sides of the Nakakoji Street, which is as wide as 14 m. Their white clay walls are shining brilliantly.
Obata Cherry Festival is held on the 3rd Sunday in April every year. The magnificent parade of warriors wearing the armor and helmet and riding on horses, the gun troop and women warriors goes through the town. The demonstration of firing a harquebus and the performance of Shimonita Arafune Drums can be seen in the festival field.
Shokawa in Toyama Prefecture is a town dominated by water. Water runs from the Hida Mountains into the Sho River and through Mt Goka to appear again at the edge of Tonami Plain, where Shokawa is located. Abundant water also runs to Tonami Plain from mountains in Nanto. Waterfalls and clear water springs occur, too, at many places along the slopes and at the foot of the mountains.
Shokawa features one of Japan's 100 best water sites: Uriwari-no-shimizu, which means 'Split-Melon Clear Water'. To find this site in Shokawa, look for some Buddha stone statues in a shallow cave near the road under a hilly terrace in Iwaguro housing development. In the cave, clear water wells up under the gaze of the Buddhas.
About 600 years ago, legend has it that Shaku-shonin, a founder of Zuisenji Temple in Inami, was visiting this area when one of his horse's hooves suddenly broke through the ground and released clear water. The 'split melon' name refers to a story that a melon once split naturally when cooled in the water here. The water never stops even for extended periods of hot weather, and is thus worshiped as holy water.
Kyogo Spring is located in Fukidashi Park in Kyogo-cho, Abuta-gun in Hokkaido. Rising nearby is Mt Yotei (1898m), the tallest mountain in southwest Hokkaido. The foot of the mountain is abundant with springs and fountains, with a total of 17 natural spring sites.
The volume of water issuing from the springs each day is an amazing 530,000 tons. Of the 17 springs, Kyogo Spring has the greatest volume of water: some 70,000 tons each day! The springs are fed by rain or melted snow that percolates through Mt Yotei, then combines with the minerals in the ground in a process lasting 50 to 70 years, before finally welling out as natural spring water. The spring water is classified as 'kanro' (sweet) and is known to be very soft and slightly sweet.
Kyogo Spring was also chosen as one of Japan's top 100 sites for renowned water by the Environment Agency in 1985.
As the spring water pushes up between the mossy rocks and green trees, it releases a pleasant murmuring sound and creates a relaxing, healing space. It's not only the local people who love this spring water, but fanatics, too, who come all the way from Sapporo just to drink it.
Takkiri Valley is located in the deep mountain between Innai Town and Kusu Town in Oita Pref. The riverbed is composed of a huge monolith with a length of 2 km. The surface of the riverbed is so smooth and the water is so shallow that you can walk in the river and also children can play in the water safely. Clear water, which is selected as one of 15 Fine Water of “Toyo no Kuni (present Oita Pref.),” springs out in the riverbed. Walking along the stream for about 30 minutes, you will get to the point where the Otobi Waterfall drops down into the bottom of the cliff. Takkiri Valley is a part of Koreya-Yabakei Valley, a scenic area surrounded by natural beauty, where towering strange rocks and bizarre stones stand. The combination of those stones and rocks, landscape of a mountain village and autumn leaves altogether attract visitors. As there are fishing pond, picnic shelters, and kiosks along the way, visitors can easily enjoy picnicking or walking. During the summer a camping site is open. You can also admire the tinted autumn foliage of maple trees.