The Sarobetsu-genya in the watershed area of the Sarobetsu River is one of the largest wetlands in Japan. It is a part of Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park.
In the central part of this 23,000 ha moor lies Genseikaen Park, where as many as 100 species of swamp plants can be seen from early summer to fall. Those include very rare northern cranberry and bog rosemary, gentians (Gentiana triflora var. japonica) that produce cute purple flowers, and Yezo daylilies with bright yellow flowers. Being called “the symbol of the moor,” Yezo daylily is an extremely rare plant because it blooms for only two days during the summer. Chance it! You might be able to see it.
The Sarobetsu-genya Moor is the treasure trove of wild birds. East Siberian taigas and othe birds migrating for the south and red-crowned cranes can be seen in the late fall. In winter, white-tailed eagles come flying from Russia. It is a precious land which fosters flora and fauna as well as provides us, human beings, with relief and refreshment.
Katano-kamoike is a permanent freshwater lake in Katano-cho, Kaga City, Ishikawa Pref. It has an area of 1.54 ha and a depth of 3.6 m. The Lake is designated to a Ramsar Site as well as a Natural Monument of the Prefecture. The Lake is surrounded by rice paddies, the depth of which is designed to be shallow so that they can go under the water when the water is dammed in fall. That is, the rice paddies filled with water are connected to the pond, creating an expanded marshy area. The site is an important stopover point for many species of birds in winter. The number of species and individuals are said to be the largest in Japan. Rice agriculture taking advantage of the geese behaviors has been practiced in this area. As weed is eaten by geese flying over to rice paddies in search of food, farmers don’t have to use chemical herbicides. Their droppings function as organic fertilizer. This harmonious coexistence with geese is ideal, but on the other hand, there are several problems seen in recent yeas including a decrease in the number of rice paddies, increasing use of dry farmland, and a decline in the number of migrating birds.
Onami-no-ike is the highest crater lake in Japan. It is located to the southwest of Mt. Karakuni-dake in the Kirishima mountain range. Of 10 lakes in the Kirishima mountain range, this is the second largest lake and one of a few lakes where fish inhabit. The lake fills the deep caldera (1412 m above sea level) that was formed by the eruption of Mt. Kirishima about 40,000 years ago.
During the seasons of tender green and crimson foliage, the area around the lake is crowded with tourists. In winter, beautiful hard rime and migrating bird such as mallards and spot-billed ducks can be seen. Seen from the observatory on the lakeside, the reflected image of Mt. Karakuni-dake in the lake is exquisite itself. As it is a part of Kirishima-Yaku National Park, there are a lot of other sightseeing spots around the lake.
Lake Komuke located on the hill facing the Sea of Okhotsk is a brackish lake like Lake Saroma, which is 10 km to the east. The name comes from an Ainu word “komuke-to,” which means “a winding lake.” The lake is actually composed of three large and small lakes, which are connected one another with channels. Along the coastline, rugosa roses and cowberries bloom in summer and glasswort in clusters turn red in fall, which looks as if a red carpet is spread all over. To the north of the lake is Komuke Natural Flower Garden, which is famous for the colonies of black crowberry. In spring and fall, various kinds of wild birds fly to this lake, where over 250 species including swans, gray herons, spines, plovers, and Siberian Rrubythroats are identified. This is the paradise of wild life. At the sunset, the lake with abundant water against the red sky creates a fantastical scene.
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.
Otatomari Marsh is a marsh with an area of 9.1 ha, located in Oniwaki Numaura, Rishirifuji-cho in the south of Rishiri Island in Hokkaido. The name “Otatomari” means a sand harbor in Ainu. Seen from the marsh, Mt. Rishiri, with the top covered with glacier snow, looks like an Alpine mountain. Otatomari Marsh is famous for the reverse images of Mt. Rishiri on the surface of the water. The bottom of the volcanic crater became moorland to form a marsh, which is surrounded by wetland and the northernmost primeval forest of Yezo spruce in Japan. The bed of the forest is covered with Sphagnum , and if you walk into the forest, your ankles will soak into the mud. When you walk along the promenade around the lake, you will enjoy the extensive scenery with Yezo daylilies and beachhead irises blooming in early July. The marsh is also known as the place for migratory birds to come flying. You can leisurely enjoy the natural features at Otatomari Marsh.
Lake Utonai is a freshwater lake located to the east of Tomakomai City, Hokkaido. This lake is known as the place where flocks of Greater White-fronted Goose and swans come flying and called as the treasure box of plants and animals or the birds’ paradise, where more than 250 species of birds have been confirmed so far. Fed by clear streams of the Bibi River and the Tokisatamappu, the lake is the largest of all the mires and marshes surrounding the area, with a circumference of 9 km, an area of 275 ha and an average depth of 60 cm. As visitors can come in contact with wild birds and nature that changes with seasons, a lot of people come for bird watching and nature observation. In 1981, the area of 510 ha including the lake and surrounding wetlands was designated as Japan’s first “sanctuary” for wild birds by the Wild Bird Society of Japan. In the next year, the area was nationally designated as a wildlife preserve. Also in 1991, the area was designated as a registered wetland under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as a Waterfowl Habitat, known as the Ramsar Convention, as the 4th site in Japan. Now migratory birds and other wild birds are protected in the area.
Hegura Island is located about 48km north of the Noto Peninsula. The shore has complicated inlets and cliffs formed by exposure to rough waves. The island is about 13m high and some 5km around and is small enough to explore in an hour.
In the past, fishermen from Wajima on the opposite shore would come here during the summer fishing season. But now, the number of inhabitants is increasing. Thanks to currents and landforms, it has many good fishing spots and is especially popular with ama, professional woman divers, who were described in an ancient poem in the Manyoushu (A Collection of a Myriad Leaves).
The views around the island have not changed so much over time and, in summer, many ama come here to dive for fish. In fact, the island is mainly fished by ama, their main catch being abalone, agar, soft seaweed and turban shells.
In addition, the island is a good resting place for birds migrating between Japan and the Asian Continent. In fact, there are some birds that can only be seen here in all Japan.