Arimine Lake is an artificial lake created by the construction of the Arimine Dam. The dam took five years to build. Efforts were taken to ensure that the natural surroundings were protected and the Arimine Forest Cultural Village was established. As a result, the area has remained unspoilt and has been designated as the Toyama Natural Park, National Rest Home and one of Japan's top 100 forests and water sources.
The fresh green and red leaves of the beech, oak and maple trees are wonderful. A sight of particular beauty is that of red leaves in autumn with the snow-covered Mt. Yakushi in the background. Wadagawa Valley, which lies between Komi and the dam, is so beautiful it will take your breath away. And it's not just the scenery that's so attractive, but the natural treasury of precious plants and wild birds.
The camping area at the shoreside is popular for people who like the outdoors.
Kurokuma Falls are 15m wide and 85m high, and are located in Ajigasawa, Nishitsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture. They have been selected as among Japan's top 100 waterfalls.
The waterfall is at the branch of the Akaishi River, which flows down from the Shirakami Mountains, and are classed as a World Heritage site. These are the largest waterfalls in the prefecture.
It is said that the waterfalls were named for a figure that looks like a standing bear. 'Kurokuma' means 'black bear'.
A virgin beech forest surrounds the waterfall and refreshes those who visit it. It is possible to access the waterfall by car as there is parking nearby.
The view of the abundant falling water is dynamic, and becomes a masterpiece when seen in the seasons of spring-green and fall-red leaves. It is a recommended site for those who want to get close to Mother Nature herself.
The waterfall passes through Takinozawa and flows into the Akaishi River, where rare fish like the Golden Ayu and the Ito swim.
Kurokuma Falls make a magnificent, dynamic and powerful display of nature
Wakka Wild Flower Garden is located in Sakaeura near Tokoro in Kitami, Hokkaido. The garden is part of Abashiri National Park and is situated near the Okhotsk Sea coast and on the shore of Saroma Lake, one of Japan's three biggest lakes. As a natural treasury, it has been designated as a site of Hokkaido Heritage.
'Wakka' in the language of the native Ainu people means 'drinking water' or 'springwater'. On the long sandbar dividing Saroma Lake and the Okhotsk Sea, there is a spring called Wakka Flower Holy Water. The name Wakka here refers to the rich supply of water in the area. The sandbar is 200~700m wide and about 20km long. It is the biggest area of seaside grassland in Japan.
Varying ecosystems have formed within the forest, grassland, dunes and marsh. More than 300 kinds of plants and flowers grow here including species from outside. The area is also a natural habitat for various wild birds.
Wakka Wild Flower Garden is also known as Ryugu Highway and features vivid natural scenery.
Mt Gessan is one of the three mountains in the Dewa Sanzan group, and is located in Tagawa, Yamagata prefecture.
Mt Gessan is 1984m high and stands almost in the middle of Yamagata prefecture. It lies in the northern part of Bandai Asahi National Park and is a treasure house of nature that includes animals, plants and primary forest like beech.
The name of Gessan ('moon mountain') derives from the fact that it appears to be as enormous as a half-moon. The mountain has always been linked to religion and there is a shrine at the top dedicated to Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto, a brother of the goddess Amaterasu-omikami.
The mountain has also been a place for ascetic training. Many practitioners have visited here to worship Gessan-okami, but most of them have not felt ready enough and have gone back. Their route back is still known as the 'Return of Practitioners' although hikers take this road today. Mt. Gessan is a spiritual mountain with great views and alpine plants.
Kuragari Valley is in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, and has a forest. There are facilities here, such as a campground. The valley is located 26km east of Okazaki near the Hongusan Prefectural Nature Reserve.
The valley lies between 250m and 600m above sea level. Flowing through the valley is Otokogawa River. In the forest are both evergreen and broad-leaf trees, with streams of many sizes flowing among them.
People enjoy the forest as a place for recreation and relaxation. In spring, birds sing, while summer days are filled with the croaking of 'kajika' frogs. Nature continually delights visitors and refreshes them. From the highest point the Southern Alps can be seen ranging across the horizon.
Yatsubuchi Waterfall has been selected as one of Japan's top 100 waterfalls, and is located in Shishigase, Takashima, Shiga Prefecture.
It is situated on Mt Buna (1214m) in the Hira mountain ranges. From the name 'Yatsubuchi' (which means 'eight waterfalls') we can see that it has eight falls: Uodome-no-buchi, Shoujiga Fall, Karateno Fall, Osuribuchi, Kosuribuchi, Byobuga Fall, Kibunega Fall and Shichihengaeshi.
The water that flows through the falls is transparent, clear and fresh. There are several smaller waterfalls other than the former ones and they also flow through the woods and granite rocks.
Growing in the granite area around the falls are plants such as rhododendron, Diapensiaceae and azalea. A walk through the valley to observe the wild birds and plants is enjoyable, while it is also perfect to hike in the fresh green summer season or during the autumn leaves.
Shioji Primeval Forest is in Maetsue-machi, Hita, Oita Prefecture. The primeval shioji tree is a waterside deciduous broadleaf tree native to Japan.
Shioji forest spreads for 3ha across the hills of Shakadake in western Maetsue and is a precious primeval forest, where Japan's few remaining shioji trees can be seen in their natural state. The annual rainfall of this forest zone is over 3000mm, making it very damp and humid. Many varieties of moss and low plants thrive in this environment, as well as rare insects and small animals that are the subjects of scientific study.
The water that wells out from the soft soil and the rich forest is plentiful in minerals and forms the headwaters of the Chikugo River. In addition to shioji, many other deciduous broadleaf trees grow near the forest, including beech and maple.
The primeval shioji forest is an example of a preserved area that reveals a part of Japan's original environment.
Soda-no-ike is an irrigation pond located in Amagasemachi-deguchi, Hita, Oita Prefecture. Amagasemachi is famous for its hot springs, but Soda-no-ike is located on the other side of the Kusu River. Or in other words, on the other side of the hot springs area. The gently sloping hill surrounding the pond is called Sogandai by the locals.
Soda-no-ike, at an elevation of 700-800m, was made from damming the spring water from the surrounding mountains. Hence, the pond has become a wetland, with vegetation such as nymphaeales, water shields, trapa and a large variety of flowers, insects and wild birds that can be seen from spring through autumn. It is a perfect example of a wetland ecosystem and is a natural treasury of life.
Primarily built for irrigation purposes, the pond is normally deserted and has nothing of much attraction to see. Yet it is a place where people, even non-locals, come to relax and quietly enjoy the simple joys of nature.