GOCOO (pronounced gokuu) is a Japanese Taiko Drum band that, while playing more than 40 Japanese drums, creates the sound and beat of mother earth. The band consist of 7 female and 4 male members who generate their original sound that cannot simply be categorized as traditional, folk or rock music. The sound is more primitive and trance-like and it is beyond nationality and music genre. The core of the band is its leader, Kaori Asano, who possesses the enchanting power of a modern shaman.
Ms. Asano brings her sticks down with full power as she swings her long hair as in a shishi lion dance.
Ms. Asano has said: “On stage, there comes a moment when daily affairs are stripped down to nothing but “love” and “gratitude” - the most genuine feelings of our souls. I think this must be what was originally intended by the idea of having a “festival”. I am often told that I am expressing something new but in truth, the newest things are intimately connected with the oldest things”
The band was formed in 1997 and GOCOO is highly regarded in Japan as well as in other countries. They have performed more than 100 shows abroad, including Europe. Their music was used in the movie, Matrix. GOCOO also performed their music at the opening of the Earth Summit in 2008 as an Asian representative.
Kuji Amber is amber produced in Kuji City, Iwate Prefecture.
Amber is a fossilized resin that takes million of years to form. The region of Kuji is notable for its production volume and high quality. Historically it is known to be the only amber production location in Japan.
The oldest amber in the world is around 300 million years old. Amber produced in Kuji region is about 85 million years old, which dates from the end of the Cretaceous Period. However, Kuji amber is the oldest amber in the world that is used for jewelry production.
Kuji amber has been produced since ancient times and amber found in the ruins of ancient tombs from the Tumulus period in various regions are considered to be from Kuji region. It is known that studios manufacturing amber already existed by the Heian period.
In recent years, a number of amber pieces which contain academically valued rare insects have been found. Amber is also loved as a natural jewelry that brings profundity and warmness.
A precious object carrying a message from ancient times presents itself to us with a moment from infinity that the earth has been witnessing.
Hanasaki Lighthouse Kurumaishi (wheel stone) down the path from Hanasaki Lighthouse at the tip of Cape Hanasaki is one of a few of its kind in the world. This unique stone, 6 m in diameter, is a nationally designated Natural Monument. With radial joints in concentric circle, it really looks like a wheel as its name shows.
Besides this huge stone, there are some other wheel stones, 1 to 3 m in diameter, can be found in this area. The radial joints on a wheel stone were created when hot lava was cooled in the sea water in a short time. Amazingly, wheel stones were created as long as 6,000 years ago, when dinosaurs became extinct. Hanasaki Lighthouse Kurumaishi is the symbol of the cape that tells us the memory of mother earth.
Subaru is the Japanese name for the Pleiades, an open cluster in the constellation of Taurus dominated by beautifully shining blue stars. The word “Subaru” is derived from an ancient Japanese word “sumaru,” which meant “to assemble.” It is said that “sumaru” became “subaru,” which meant “to unify” in the later periods. The kanji for Subaru (昴) was borrowed from the Hairy Head mansion (昴宿, pinyin), one of the twenty-eight mansions of the Chinese constellations.
The oldest writing that referred to Subaru in Japan is Wamyoruijusho, a 10th-century dictionary edited according to Chinese categories, compiled by Minamoto no Shitago by the order of Isoko Naishinno (Imperial Princess).
In Section 254 of The Pillow Book written by the famous authoress Sei Shonagon around the early 11th century, the following passage can be seen: “The Pleiades, Altair, Venus, the stars most admirable. If only there were no shooting stars to come visiting us at night.” This is the most famous passage in the Pillow Book for those who are involved in astronomy. Admiration for Subaru remains unchanged by time.
Lake Chimikeppu is located in Shibetsu-cho in the eastern part of Hokkaido. “Chimikeppu” in the Ainu means “a place where water gushes out of a cliff.” This is a dammed lake produced by the landslide due to the crustal change occurred about 10,000 years ago. As the lake has a complex coastline, which indented into the surrounding valleys, it looks like an artificial lake but actually it is not. It is known as a habitat of Himemasu (sockeye salmon) and Marimo (lake ball). Surrounded with the primary forest of Jezo Spruce and Sakhalin fir, the area around the lake is inhabited by a variety of wildlife including wild birds such as black woodpeckers, which is a natural protected species, and Ezo red foxes. You can walk along the 1.5 km promenade along the lake, enjoying magnificent view of the pristine natural beauty around the lake.
Pahoehoe is basaltic lava that has a smooth, undulating, or ropy surface. As basalt contains relatively less silicon dioxide, basaltic lava behaves more like a plastic substance than a liquid substance. As lava continues to flow underneath this plastic skin, the surface can bunch up or wrinkle into a form that resembles coiled rope. Such a surface is called ropy pahoehoe.
There is a belt of dark gray ropy pahoehoe cropping out along the coast from Hanaze to Tazaki Beach in Kaimon Town in Ibusuki City, Kagoshima Prefecture. It is one of the few examples of ropy pahoehoe found in Japan. This lave belt was formed when Mt. Kaimon erupted in about 500 B.C. The trace of lava that erupted out of the crater of Mt. Kaimon and flew toward the offing can be clearly seen. As the precious natural phenomenon, from which we can learn about volcanic and geological activities of the earth, it is prefecturally designated as a natural monument.
As it was proved by a geological survey that Mt. Gionyama (1,307 m) located in the central part of Kyushu was formed about 430 million years ago, it is called the birthplace of Kyushu Island.
The name “Gion” derives from the oratory to worship the mountain built at the foot in the ancient times by a mountain practitioner, who trained himself at Gion Kannoin Temple, a temple housed in the precinct of Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto before Shinto and Buddhism were separated. People called the oratory Gion Shrine and the mountain Mt. Gion.
The mountain is one of the few places in Japan where a lot of fossils from the Silurian period of the Paleozoic Era. The fossils of marine life such as chain corals and trilobites have been excavated from the limestone layer near the summit. The mountain is also known as the treasure trove of alpine plants. The summit commands a wonderful view including Mt. Hayabinomine (Futagoyama) and Mt. Aso.
Mt. Kirishima is a generic name for the volcanoes in the border of Kirishima City in Kagoshima Prefecture and Ebino City and Kobayashi City in Miyazaki Prefecture. It is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Mountains. It is presumed to be a post-caldera volcano formed in the southern rim of Kakuto caldera basin.
Mt. Kirishima is composed of many peaks including the highest peak of Karakuni-dake (1,700 m), Takachiho-no-mine, Naka-dake, Ohata-yama, and Ohachi. There are a lot of crater lakes such as Onami-ike, Ohata-ike, and Rokukannon-ike. The mountain area is a part of Kirishima- Yaku National Park. The communities of Kyushu azalea can be seen in the highlands.
Mt. Kirishima is the land of Japanese mythology concerning its creation. “Amano Sakahoko,” the three teeth fork-shaped weapon is staked upside down at the top of Mt. Takachiho-no-mine, which is believed to be where the Heavenly Descendant Ninigi no Mikoto descended from Takamagahara Field (Heavenly Hill Field).