At the foot of Yahiko mountain soaring high in the middle of the Chikugo plain in Niigata pref. stands the Yahiko(Iyahiko) Shrine. The grounds are covered by a dense grove of aged trees, such as cedars and Japanese cypresses. Though the exact year of construction is not known, the shrine is referenced in Manyoshu, an old poetic anthology dating back to 750 AD, so it certainly predates that time. The shrine is devoted to Ame no Kagoyama no Mikoto. Ordered by Emperor Jinmu (the legendary first emperor), Ame no Kagoyama no Mikoto taught the people of Echigo region of Niigata pref. various agricultural methods of fishing, salt making, rice farming, and sericulture amongst others, and contributed greatly to the development of the region. The shrine was once affectionately called Iyahiko-sama and flourished as a spiritual home of the mind and the soul for people in Echigo. In its museum, shrine treasures such as Shidano-Ootachi, a prominent long Japanese Katana and designated as an Important National Property, and armors that are said to have once belonged to Yoshiie Minamto and Yoshitsune Minamoto, both being legendary warriors from 12th century, are exhibited. The hall was rebuilt in 1961after being destroyed in a large fire.
Green pine grove extends 2 km in arch along white sand beach at Takada Matsubara Beach in Rikuzen Takada City, Iwate Pref. This pine grove is of about 70,000 pine trees, which are over 300 years old. The landscape reminds us of the one drawn in a Japanese-style painting. The beach is counted as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Views.
Takuboku Ishikawa, a poet in the Meiji period, who spent his junior high school days in Iwate prefecture, spoke highly of this beach. Also, Kyoshi Takahama, a master haiku poet in the Meiji period, praised the beach and wrote a haiku about it when he visited this place as a member of the judges to decide Japan’s 100 Fine Views. The stone monuments inscribed with their poems are erected in the grove. Approximately 4.4 million people come to this beach for relaxation and refreshment.
Ganbou Rock is a 78-meter-high rock located near the town of Engaru in Noboribetsu county, Hokkaido and is designated as one of Hokkaido’s 100 Natural Spots.
There is an observation deck at the top of the rock, which is a 15-minute walk up.
This rock is the symbol of Engaru and is popularly known as ‘the rock that is the first place to receive the morning sun in this town’ or ‘the rock that is settled warmly in the evening sun’.
The name ‘Ganbou’ is derived from the Ainu word ‘Ingarushi’ (which means ‘the place with a fine view’). It is also known as an historic battlefield of the Ainu people. The view from the observation deck gives a marvelous 360-degree panoramic view.
Sun’s Hill Engaru Park, much loved by the town people, marks the starting point of the hike to the top.
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.
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.
The Amedaki Waterfall in Kokufu-cho, Tottori Prefecture is in the upstream of the Fukuro River, which runs out of Mt. Oginosen. The waterfall is 40 m high and 4 m wide and is the biggest waterfall in the prefecture. It is also selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Waterfalls. The rushing flow of water on the surface of the whinstone cliff has a tremendous impact.
The waterfall is surrounded by the virgin forest of chestnut, zelkova, and beech, which entertains the visitors with different landscapes from season to season; the brightness of fresh green leaves in spring, the mysterious harmony between the whinstone rocks and crimson foliage in fall and the solemn atmosphere of the waterfall in the snow in winter.
The waterfall has been regarded as the holy place for the ascetic training since the ancient times. In the old days, the waterfall was visited by a lot of worshippers on August 1st on the old calendar, when “Otaki Mairi Festival” was held. At the present, the waterfall opening ceremony is held on the first Saturday through Sunday in June every year, where the Shinto rituals and Kasa-odori (umbrella dance) are performed.
Uradome Beach extending 15 km at the eastern end of Tottori Prefecture is the most famous scenic spot along the Sea of Japan. Being called “Matsushima of the Sanin region,” it is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Beautiful Beaches and the Heisei Nippon 100 Scenic Spots. This is a ria coast formed by the erosion of granite stones, where various strange-shaped rocks, caves and steep cliffs continue. It is said that Toson Shimazaki, a writer of great literature in the Meiji through Showa periods, was once fascinated by the beauty of the landscape here. Especially beautiful is the area around Shirohara Beach, which is designated as a marine park by the Ministry of the Environment. The ocean along the coast is famous for its high transparency. You can see through up to the depth of 25 m. In summer, the beach is crowded with people enjoying swimming and snorkeling. Cruising on a tour boat around coast islands including uninhabited Natane Five Islands is also very popular.
The Daisen Waterfall is one of the waterfalls in the upstream of the Kaseichi River, which springs out of Jigokudani Valley at the foot of Mt. Daisen in Tottori Prefecture. It is a beautiful waterfall, which is counted as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Waterfalls. The waterfall flows down the height of 43 m in two stages. The upper stage is 28 m tall and the lower stage is 15 m tall. It used to be divided into three stages, but one of the stages disappeared due to Muroto Typhoon in 1934. The gushing water with roaring sounds and splashes is really overwhelming. The lower stage fall can also be seen from the hollow in the backside, where falling water feels very cool.
The promenade is arranged as a part of Chugoku Nature Trail project, so you can enjoy walking and forest bathing in the primary forest of beech trees. In fall, the mountain is colored with red and yellow leaves that make fine contrast with the waterfall. From Daisen-daki Suspension Bridge on the way, you can look down the most exquisite view of the Kaseichi River.