Cape Nosappu is at the tip od Nemuro Peninsula in the easternmost end of Hokkaido. It is located at 43°22’ N; 145°49′ E. The cape is very close to the Khabomai Rocks including Signalny (Kaigara-jima) and Tanfilyeva (Suisho-jima) and Kunashir Island (Kunashiri-to).
Known as “the Cape of Drift Ice,” the cape displays the dynamic and fantastic landscape of drift ice in winter. It is also famous as the place where the rising sun can be seen earliest in Japan. On New Year’s Day, a lot of people visit to “worship” the new year’s first sunrise.
The Cape Nosappu Lighthouse at the tip is the oldest in Hokkaido, which opened in 1872. In Bokyo-no-Misaki Park in the vicinity, there are a variety of facilities related to the Northern Territories such as the arch-shaped monument for the restoration activity called “Shima-no-kakehashi (Bridge to the Four Islands),” Bokyo-no-Ie (Northern Territory Folk Museum) and Hoppo-kan (Northern Museum).
Baba-tate Castle located in the town of Kamata, Hokota City, Ibaragi Pref. is one of Kamata Hakkan (eight secondary castles) of Kamata Castle built by Kamata clan in the early Kamakura period. As the name Baba (riding ground) shows, it used to be the riding ground of the main castle and adjacent Shingu Shrine. Each of the eight castles, which consist of Baba-tate, Fujiyama-tate, Hanawa-tate, Hahagai-yakata, Kanjochi-yakata, Odoue-yakata, Ryugaya-yakata, and Kanashiki-yakata, was resided by a powerful vassal of Kamata clan and functioned as the defense fort of the main castle. Baba-tate was in the shape of trapezoid, and it had a very simple early Middle-Age-typed structure. Now the main building was lost and only a part of the water moat and the earthwork remain at the present time.
Amagoi Kasa-odori is a rain dance ritual performed at Noda Shrine in Noda Town, Kariya City, Aichi Prefecture, in late August every year. The dance is dedicated in front of the altar after the holy sake and candles are offered. The rain dance has been handed down for nearly 300 years since 1712. Although it was discontinued in the early Show period (1926-1989), it was revived by the local preservation group and has been performed to this day. It is designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property by the city.
When the singers start to sing the rain-making song and the shrine priest performs the purification ritual, the dancers in yukata with the bottoms tucked up into the obi belts and the sleeves tucked up with red tasuki sashes and wearing the wide-brimmed straw hats appear in the dancing field. They stand face-to-face on both sides of the drums with short drumsticks called “Tsuroro” in their hands and start to dance in a refreshing manner. During the dance, the dancers look up at the sky to the blowing of the conch horns.
Akasaka Dolls are clay dolls made in Akasaka, Chikugo City, Fukuoka Pref. It is designated as a prefectural specialty craft product. Three is no record about a precise history of this handicraft and its origin is unknown but it is presumed that those dolls were first made as an odd job of the potters who worked for the official kilns of Arima Province in the middle of the Edo period. The most famous one is an ocarina called “Tette-Poppo (meaning an awkward man in the local dialect), which was popular among children in those days. Now there are more than ten kinds of dolls including Fukujin (a lucky god), Tenjin (a god of scholarship), and a monkey. The doll is made by applying white pigment made of burnt seashell to a simple brown ware, to which colorful painting is given. It is a very simple clay doll but its simplicity reminds us of childish innocence. It is the representative traditional folk craft in Chikugo area.
Kagi Manto in Kaifuku in Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture, is the O-Bon festival on August 14, in which giant bonfires are lit on mountainside. It is a historic festival, dating back 890 years and is designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property of the city.
The festival originates in the memorial service, in which 108 torches were burned in dedication to the repose of the warrior monks who lost their lives in the battles between the Shingon and the Tendai sects of Buddhism from the Otoku to the Kanji eras (1084-1094) in the late Heian period.
108 torches called “Suzumi” are set on fire, forming a 200 meter line on the western side of Mt. Manto, where it is believed that the souls of warrior monks are enshrined. Seen from the foot of the mountain, the burning torches look a huge hook (“kagi” in Japanese); thereby it is called Kagi Manto, which literally means “the 10,000 torches in the shape of a hook.” The fire brightly burning against dark sky will lure you into the world of fantasy.
Katakai Festival serves as the autumn festival of Asahara Shrine in Katakai Town in Ojiya City, Niigata Prefecture. It is a historic festival handed down for 400 years. Held for two days from September 9 to 10 every year, the festival is famous for its impressive fireworks, which are considered contributions to the shrine as offerings to the deities.
During the festival, the shrine performs the rituals such as Tama-okuri, at which a firework's explosive device is presented as an offering to the shrine, and Tsutsu-hiki, at which a tube for launching fireworks is offered to pray for the successful shooting of fireworks.
As the town of Katakai is the birthplace of 3-shaku dama (round fireworks with a circumference of about 90 cm), numerous 3-shaku dama fireworks are gorgeously shot up into the sky during the festival. The 4-shaku dama (120 cm in circumference) fireworks, which create an illumination of 800 meters in diameter in the sky, have also been successfully set off and recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest fireworks in the world.
As many as 15,000 fireworks in total number are displayed during the 2-day festival period. The giant fireworks blooming in the night sky above the town symbolize the pride of pyrotechnists in Katakai.
The shell mounds built in the early Jomon period (about 6,000 years ago) were discovered on the plateau, which is 20 m above sea level, in the Bibi district in Chitose City, Hokkaido. They were discovered when the railroad construction work was being done at the end of the Taisho period (1912-1926).
A shell mound is comprised mainly of sea shells of shellfish such as common fresh water clams and short-necked clams, which were thrown away at the same place for a long time until it formed a mound. This indicates that the area around a shell mound as right beside the sea when it was formed.
The Bibi Shell Mounds are considered important evidence that proves the level of the sea was much higher in the Jomon period than the present time because of the warm temperature trend in those days.
They are large mounds with a height of 1.2 m and a diameter of 4 m. They are the shell mounds discovered in the innermost land in Hokkaido. The shells of 14 species of shellfish including Corbicula japonica and short-necked clam together with earthen ware have been unearthed at the site. This is a huge time capsule in which the life of the people living 6,000 years ago is bottles up.
Lake Akkeshi with an area of 3,200 ha and a circumference of 25 km is located in Akkeshi Town in Hokkaido. It is considered to have been a part of the ocean in the prehistoric times. The lake is a part of a Special Zone of a prefectural national park and a nationally designated Special Wildlife Protection Area.
The lake is fed by the Bekanbeushi River, in the upstream area of which lies magnificent Akkeshi Wetland. About 25 sub-species of goose come flying to the lakes and ponds in Akkeshi Town, which is also one of the few places in Japan where Whooper swans inhabit during winter. More than 10,000 Whooper swans migrating to Japan make a short stay here and more than 2,000 swans winter here. Lake Akkeshi together with Bekanbeushi Wetland on the north shore of the lake is designated as a Ramsar Site.
The lake is known for aquaculture of oysters and short-necked clams. There are a lot of oyster reefs created by the deposition of natural oyster shells, on which plant colonies are formed. Lake Akkeshi is a treasure trove of plants, fish and shellfish.