Nabetsuru-iwa Rock located in the offing to the south of Okushiri Harbor on Okushiri Island in Hokkaido is the symbol of this island. It was named because its center was hollowed by sea erosion to form a shape like nabetsuru (handle of a pot). It is lit up from 7:00 to 10:00 at night and creates a fantastic view. You can view it from the observatory on the island. It may be nice to view this natural work of art and think about the power of nature for some time.
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.
Officially designated as an historical site, Kawabe Takamori Ruins consist of 6 large keyhole-shaped tomb mounds, surrounded by 120 graves. All of them have a large keyhole-shaped tomb mound facing different directions.
The ruins have lost their shapes over time due to the increase of surrounding paddy fields. However, this is the only place which has several ruins concentrated in Oita Prefecture. Even in Kyushu, these ruins comprise the the second largest burial site after the Saitobaru Ruins (320 graves) in Miyazaki Prefecture.
The Tsurumi Ruins were the last tombs to be made for the headman of Usa area in the mid-6th century. Furthermore, they are an important historical record of the burial system during the late Kofun period.
In Chitose, Bungo-ono, Oita Prefecture, there is an impressive sculpture of the Dainichi-Nyorai Buddha (Vairocana: the embodiment of Dharmakaya) carved from rock. It is said to have been made by Nichira in 1533.
The rock sculpture is about 3.2m high and was made using a technique called 'sekishin-sozo' in which the body is carved from stone; the face, arms and legs are made of clay; and the robe is made of plaster.
More than half of the face of the sculpture, which has an intimidating and forceful expression, is covered with dirt and clay which, along with its monstrous torso, creates a distinct and extraordinary atmosphere. The sculpture draws visitors into a compelling and profound world.
Since ancient times, locals profess that the sculpture is an 'ushigami', whose reputed power to work wonders and answer prayers attracts visitors and worshippers.
Festivals take place here twice a year on 28 January and 27 August. In 1976, the sculpture was designated as an Important Cultural Property of Oita.
Shindo Waterfall, near the town of Kokonoe in Kusu, Oita Prefecture, is one of Japan's top 100 waterfalls.
The site of the waterfall is in the south of Kyusui Valley on the Naruko River. The water drops from a height of 93m and is very beautiful though there is no basin at the bottom of the falls.
A hot spring, with water that reaches a temperature of 38 degrees, issues from the left side of the waterfall, while the right side features two calcareous caves that also have hot springs inside. The name 'shindo' ('tremble' in English) comes from the idea that even the surrounding mountains tremble when they hear the brave waterfall.
The waterfall is connected to the legend of a dragon-god whose power was weakening and who asked for a girl to be sacrificed for him. When the local people refused, the god dried-up the flow of water and blew fire into the village. Eventually, the people made an offering, but one of rice cakes, not a girl. In short, Shindo Waterfall is remarkable for its sense of bravery, heroism and wonder.
Hakusan River includes the Nakatsumure and Okubata rivers. Its water is included among Japan's top 100 waters as well as top 100 village waters.
The ravine formed by these rivers features a rock called Hoge-Iwa, which legend has it was cut from the cliff by an ogre. There is also a limestone cave, something rare in Japan, called Ineseki, which is said to have been formed about 200,000 years ago. The cave took its present shape when the area was submerged following the erupting of Mt Aso 85,000 years ago.
Other natural features in the area are Ayukaeri no Taki, a V-shaped waterfall that descends through a continuous series of seven falls, as well as the 30m-high waterfall called Shikaotoshi no Taki. In summer, the appearance of thousands of fireflies makes a glorious view. The water is suitable for drinking. In the open space beside the ravine is a cenotaph bestowed by an Oita general for the attainment of the water.
The Takahashi River flows through the karst landscape of Atetsu Plateau, and has carved out the V-shaped Ikura Valley. It is a beautiful and dynamic valley, designated as a Natural Monument of Okayama Prefecture.
One of the three major limestone caves of Japan, and also a designated Natural Monument of Okayama Prefecture, Ikura Cave opens on to a limestone bluff some 1,200m long and 240m high. Inside the cave, the earth's presence can be felt from the three waterfalls, made by nature over hundreds of millions of years.
The Ikura Valley has always attracted people, ever since the Takase boat went back and forth among the bizarre rocks and subtle valleys. On visiting the Ikura Valley in 1929, Akiko Yosana composed the tanka: 'The bluff gazes up into the sky with such dignity, even the maple leaves get frightened'.
The Sosogi Coast is designated as a National Place of Scenic and Natural Treasure. The top end of the coast is marked by 357m-high Mt Sakura, the western edge by the mouth of the Machino River and the eastern edge, with Tarumi Waterfall, borders the town of Suzu. The coastline includes an area extending back 100m from the shore.
The sheer cliffs of Mt Sakura face the sea and are so dangerous in places as to earn the mountain the nickname 'unfilial child' in Noto. Green rhyolite rock, eroded by the sea, produces grand and beautiful views. In severe winter gales, the crashing waves that dance on the rocks are known as 'wave flowers'.
Window Rock (Madoiwa) is one of the most popular spots along the 2km-long Sosogi Coast. Legend has it that the hole in the large triangular rock was made by an arrow shot from the bow of Minamoto no Yoshitsune.
Also along the shoreline are places of great academic interest to geologists and other scientists.