NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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蔵王 お釜 Zaou Okama Zao Okama

Jp En

Okama is a volcanic lake 1.5km in circumference and 25m deep. It is located in Zao, Katta district, Miyagi prefecture. The lake lies in the middle of the Zao Mountains, which consist of Kumano, Katta and Goshoku mountains.

Okama has become the symbolic sightseeing place in Zao and has the official name of Goshoku Lake. But it is more commonly known as 'Okama' because its round shape resembles a kettle ('kama' in Japanese).

This lake is distinguished by its mysteriously colored water, which turns from emerald green to cobalt or brown depending on the weather or sunshine. The official name Goshoku ('five colors') is said to come from the changing colors of the water.

The water is mildly-acidic and nothing lives in it.  The changing temperatures of the water are very rare and the only place in the world where such a range occurs: until about 10m deep, the temperature falls below 2 degrees centigrade, but below that depth, the temperature rises!

From May to August, many hikers and sightseers visit Zao to see this lake.
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扇山火まつり Ougiyama-himatsuri Ogiyama Fire Festival

Jp En

The Ogiyama Fire Festival is one of the 'Eight Beppu Hot-spring Festivals' held in early April in Beppu, Oita Prefecture.

During the festival, local citizens set alight the dried grass on Mt Ogiyama (792m high), until the mountainside is a blaze of flames. The glow of the burning fires light up the mountain in the night sky.

The festival started in 1976, following a proposal for a nighttime fire event as part of the hot-spring festivals. The city's fire department is enlisted to provide relevant safety precautions by setting aside fire-free areas.

The fire festival is the main event of the Eight Beppu Hot-spring Festivals, and its strength and beauty draws tourists from all over the nation.
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震動の滝 Sindou-no-taki Shindo Waterfall

Jp En

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.
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"Nippon-kichi" leads you to places, people and things that reveal a certain Japanese aesthetic.

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