Its original character is 气. Again, the original character of 气 is 乞, the form of moving clouds. 気 can be thought of as the basic unit of energy, be it air, atmosphere, weather, vapor, or breathing.
In ‘Explanation of Common Use Kanji,’ the last character dictionary of Dr. Shirakawa, for the first time in his dictionaries, we find his explanation commenting on the vital role of 米 ‘rice’ nurturing 気 spirit or energy. By the way, also Jacob Chang-Ui Kim from Korea gave a similar view in his English explanation of Kanji.
Food is what supplies living beings with energy. Without eating, one cannot live and there is no vitality. From ancient times on, rice is the basic food and basis of energy in East Asia.
The upper part of 気 can also be thought of as the rising steam from rice boiling, and it therefore may even be regarded as a pictograph. In Japanese, 気 came to be used in a lot of expressions describing human feelings and states of mind. In East Asia as a whole, it has become the basis of martial arts culture built on the importance of breathing techniques, as Chinese shadow boxing and Aikidō.
In ancient Greek philosophy, with ‘pneuma,’ there is a very similar notion. The Stoa, a classic school of thought that commends pantheism and a life style following the laws of nature, taught that ‘pneuma,’ the most fine matter like air, is the carrier of ‘logos,’ or world reason, extant everywhere in the universe. In this sense, 気 is (was) a common way of thinking in East and West.
Kunimigaoka located in Takachiho Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a hill, the summit of which is at 513 meters above sea level. It commands a panoramic view of Mt. Sobo in the north, Mt. Amanokaguyama, Takamagahara, Mt. Shikojimine and Takachiho Basin in the east, Mt. Aso in the west and the Gokase River below.
The name of the hill derives from a mythology. When Tateiwatatsu no Mikoto, a grandson of Emperor Jinmu, pacified Kyushu, he stood at the top of this hill at the sunrise and the sunset and performed the Kunimi ritual, which is an early Japanese ritual of “gazing down upon the land” performed by emperors or chieftains to pray for a rich harvest in autumn.
On cold autumn mornings from late October to early November, the villages in the basin below are folded in dense fog and the dramatic “cloud ocean” can be seen.
Tsurugi Mountain Valley is a ridge that has an altitude of 1,955m. It is located in Higashiiyama, Miyoshi District, Tokushima Prefecture. From the valley, Kishuu, Seto Inland Sea and Ashizuri Cape can be seen. The name derives from the legend that Emperor Antoku’s sword (tsurugi) was hidden in the mountains. Also, it is known as a holy mountain. Tsurugi Mountain is the second highest peak in Western Japan, after Mount Ishizuchi. The mountain is covered with large wild trees like tsuga and beech. Higher up in the mountains are fields of alpine plants, such as rhododendron and the typical Japanese plant Miyamakumazasa, a natural treasure that opens into cute flowers every season. Ichinomori, on the east side of the sword mountain, is known as ‘the beauty spot of five leaf pines’, for the native plant shikokushirabe and for the magnificent sunrise.
Iroha Island is a general term for the island chain consists of 48 large and small islands located in Imari Bay, a part of Genkai Quasi National Park in Saga Pref. It is said that the Buddhist great priest, Kukai (Kobo-Daishi) named them after 48 letters in the ancient Japanese alphabet. The green islands including Bentenjima or Hotatejima in the blue ocean are so beautiful that even Kukai, who was a master of calligraphy, is said to have stopped writing for a moment. The landscape of Iroha Island changes according to the ebb and flood. When the tide ebbs, mud flat appears and the islands are connected together to create scenic beauty, which reminds you of a stone garden in Kyoto. The ocean is not only beautiful but also bounteous. This calm bay is known for cultivation of quality pearls. Oysters in this bay are also famous. In winter you can taste really fresh natural oysters.
Mount Kongo is a 1125 meter high mountain located on the boundary of Gosho, Nara Prefecture and Senshu region of Osaka Prefecture. It is listed on Japan’s 200 fine mountains. It is also known as a training place of En no Gyoja, who was the founder of Shugendo.The mountain is a aprt of Kongo Ikoma Kisen Semi-national Park. It also enjoys the eminent number of mountaineers, which can compete with famous Mount Fuji. The main feature of Mount Kongo is that you can climb it all through theyear. Affuluent nature in each season is overhwlming. People who recommend to climb on a winter morning point out the beautiful fog deposit seen in the buna wood near the mountain peak. In the surrounding area, lots of remains of castles such as Senshu Castle of Kusunoki Masashige, the hero described in the Taiheiki, Kami-Akasaka Castle and Simo-Akasaka Castle, and other historic sites including Masashige’s birthplace are straggling.The view from the observatory in the mountain’s breast is also wonderful. You can see a plain field spreading in the foreground and rows of mountains in the background, beyond which are Omine Mountains running from east to south.
'Shiretoko National Park' is designated as a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO and is located around the Shiretoko Peninsula in the eastern part of Hokkaido. Brown bears and Ezo deer are free to roam this vast expanse and eagles, salmon, sea lions and whales move freely throughout the land, sea and sky; it's an amazing treasure trove of nature.
Shiretoko is famous for the Shiretoko Five Major Lakes or the Shiretoko Cape, but in addition, there are many other excellent locations such as Rausu Lake, Shiretoko Mountains and Shiretoko Eight Major Landscapes (Oshinkoshin's Waterfall, Oroshiko Rock, Yuuhi Tableland, Puyuni Cape, Furepe's Waterfall, Shiretoko Pass, Shiretoko Five Major Lakes, and Kamuiwakka Hot Waterfall). You can enjoy magnificent scenes of nature in all it’s wildness throughout the seasons.
It is popular to drive on 'Shiretoko Crossing Road' of Route 334, the winding road crossing from Rausu to Utoro on the Shiretoko Peninsula. You can have a fun road trip and enjoy the view of Mt.Rausu. You will be able to enjoy sightseeing from your car, hiking snow covered trails and traipsing through the trees and admiring the fall foliage. You might even meet a wild Ezo deer or Kita fox if you are lucky.
The Asuma River flows through the center of Fukui City. Along the banks of 2.2 kilometers, there is a long line of 600 cherry trees planted, which is said to be Japan’s most magnificent cherry blossom colonnade and included in Japan’s 100 Sakura Views. In early April, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, you can enjoy walking under the cherry blossom tunnel. If you walk at night during “Spring Festival in Fukui” with the cherry blossoms lit up, you will feel as if you have slipped into fantasy.
In June after a religious rite of “Nagoshi-no-Ooharae; Chinowa Kuguri (Expelling sins and dirtiness of a half year by walking through a large ring made of thatch)” is held at a Shinto shrine, people cast katashiro (human-shaped puppets) including hitogata (wooden dolls) into the river to cleanse their sin or illness that was supposed to be transformed into the puppets. Deep-rooted in Fukui’s folkways, this annual event has been steadily handed down through generations as a part of people’s daily lives.