Megi-jima Island, which is a part of Setonaikai National Park and about 20 minutes ferry ride from Takamatsu Harbor, is often called by its nickname of Onigashima (Ogres' Island), which derives from a long cave located in the hillside on the island. Since it was discovered in 1930, it has been associated with the ogres’ den in the story of Momotaro.
From the platform above the cave, you can command a panoramic view of the Seto islands including Oshima, Kabuto-jima and Yoroi-jima as well as the attractive fishing village at the foot of the hill, where houses have high stone walls called “ote” to provide protection from cold wind called “Otoshi” in winter.
In Takamatsu City Onigashima Oninoyakata Museum at Megi port, many objects concerning ogres are exhibited.
Dogashima is a scenic spot in the western Isu Peninsula. Facing Suruga Bay, its beautiful coastline is compared to Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture, one of Japan’s Three Finest Views, and it is called “Matsushima in Izu.” Visitors can fully enjoy its dramatic stone formations created by forces of nature.
The highlight of the sightseeing in Dogashima is Tensodo (Skylight Cave) on Kameshima Island in the close offing of the boat pier. The erosion of waves made a tunnel in the rock. The ceiling of the tunnel is open, and it is just like a skylight. The cave is nationally designated as a Natural Monument.
The three islands (Zojima, Nakanoshima and Takashima) in the offing of the coast are generically called “Sanshiro Island.” At low tide, a 30 meter wide natural stone bridge emerges and connects the islands with the mainland shore so that people can walk to the islands. This stone bar is called a “tombolo” and is prefecturally designated as a Natural Monument.
On the hill near the coast is Orchid Resort Dogashima with an area of 9 hectare. Visitors can enjoy various species of orchids of the season both in the greenhouses and in the open air garden.
Enzu-no-wari is a traditional lunar new year festival held in Miyato, Matsushima of Miyagi Prefecture. The festival includes the 'tori-oi' in the Tsukishima area of Miyato. This is a festival to pray for a good harvest, good catch of fish, family safety and success in business. The Enzu-no-wari is designated as an important intangible cultural folk asset of Japan, since it is a valuable example of an historical festival held today.
Every year, for seven days from 11-16 January, boys from 2nd grade in elementary schools and 2nd grade in junior high schools of the Tsukishima area stay at a grotto under the Isuzu Shrine. The boys eat, sleep and go to school together, and live by themselves during this period.
On the night of the 14th, all the boys visit every house in the Tsukishima area. As they walk, they strike their pine staffs against the ground chanting 'enzu-no-wari, touryouba, kasurawatte, suotsukete, enzogashimasanagase' ('When you go after the vicious bird, crush its head, and send it away to the island of Ezo').
On the next day, they wake up early and make a fire from gathered wood, then chase the birds by calling 'Ho-i, Ho-i'. The boys roast their bellies with the smoke and pray for their good health that year.
By respectfully following tradition, these children will hand down a tradition to future generations.
Shokanbetsu-tenuriyagishiri National Park, in Ishikari, the western part of central Hokkaido, was designated a park in 1990. Ruran Shore is located inside the park.
Ruran means 'path that god walks on' in the language of the native Ainu people of Hokkaido. Solid rocks appear to be cut from the shore and the cliffs are so mysterious you cannot help thanking the ancestors who named the shore. Many of the rocks along here have strange rugged shapes and are lined with cracks.
Some of the many beauty spots on Ruran Shore include Yoshitsune's Tears Rock and Amoi Cave, as well as caves along the cliffs. Nature has produced some glorious views.
This shore is also well-known for its beautiful evening sunsets. You will be moved and tremble at the beauty of the sight. Strange rocks become red as they are lit up by the evening sun setting on the far horizon. This is indeed the twilight time of the Ainu god.
Kashuni Waterfall is located at the mouth of the Charasenai River where it plunges into the Okhotsk Sea near the town of Shari in Hokkaido.
'Kashuni' means 'place where there is a cabin for hunting' in the language of the native Ainu people of Hokkaido.
The waterfall drops directly into the sea, so it cannot be seen from the land. The best way to see it is to take a pleasure cruise past. The waterfall is fed by abundant water from the Shiretoko mountains, and falls into the sea through a cave.
The view is very dramatic. Behind the waterfall is a backdrop formed by the Shiretoko mountains, wild rocky cliffs, and a white stream running through the green trees, together producing a spectacular view.
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.
Hachimangu Kinomiya Shrine located in Yawatano, Ito City, Shizuoka Pref. is a shrine that is full of nature and tradition. The enshrined deities are Honda Wake no Mikoto and Ihakura Wake no Mikoto. The legend has it that the deity of this shrine drifted on a vase and reached the rock bed called Kongotsu near the present shrine. People worshipped this deity in the cave near the beach and later transferred it to the present location. This shrine is actually composed of two shrines; the one in the right is Hachimangu Shrine and the left is Kinomiya Shrine. The existing Honden (the main hall) was built in 1795 and Haiden (the hall of oratory) in 1824, both of which were built by excellent carpenters all over Izu Peninsula. Huge trees of Castanopsis cuspidataI, Japanese evergreen oak, cedar, and Japanese conifer as well as broad leaf evergreen trees in temperate climate and tropical ferneries grow in the precinct. This is also the northernmost wild boundary of Angiopteris lygodiifolia. The whole wood in the precinct is designated as a nationally protected species.
Gyoku-ho-dorin, the 15th resident priest of Toko Temple (which has a history of 612 years), asked Yoshino Kakunojo, a Hide stone craftsman, to sculpt 521 statues of rakan. Starting from 1863, it took him 19 years to complete.
The sculpting of the rakan was to gain merit for the local people. Usually rakan do not appear to have human face, but these statues are carved to represent four different emotions, which make them peculiar. Also at this site behind the main building is a bussokuseki (a carved stone foot) called 16 Rakan. It is modeled on a similar one at Todaiji Temple in Nara. The size of this rare bussokuseki is about 48.5cm.
The rakan temple, standing in the harsh rocky mountains, was established in 645 by an Indian monk. Many visitors come here to pray for safety and good work.
Within the cave are over 3777 statues, of which the 500 rakan in the Murodo are the most famous. Standing in the entrance is a statue of the Zenkai monk, which contains his relics.