Minai Shrine on Rebun Island in Hokkaido is where an Ainu girl is enshrined. It is located in Kafukai Coast in the eastern part of the island about 10 minutes’ drive from Kafuka ferry terminal. It is so a small shrine that you might miss it if there were no torii gates erected. The shrine building stands between the two torii gates and it faces the sea.
The shrine was founded in 1881. The shrine name “Minai” comes from a Japanese phrase “minai,” meaning “do not see.” Legend has it that Serena, the wife of Karusiar, the young village head of Rebun, was waiting for her husband, who had left the island to join the battles between the Ainu people. She was waiting for him for a long time until she became a rock. There was a rumor among the villagers that one would have a misfortune if one saw the rock. Then they covered the rock not to see it, thereby the rock was called “Minai Kamuy.”
Today local people worship the shrine as the deity of prevention of illness, a big catch and especially of safe delivery.
Neguma (Sleeping Bear) Rock is on the coast of Senboshi in the western part of Rishiri Island. The word “Rishiri” comes from an Ainu word “ri-sir,” meaning “an island with a lofty mountain.” As its name shows, the island has a lofty mountain of Mt. Rishiri, which is famous as the treasure trove of alpine plants, many of which are peculiar to this island.
On the western side of the island are a lot of capes and uniquely-shaped rocks, among which the most famous are this Sleeping Bear Rock and Jinmen (Human Face) Rock. When the island emerged in the prehistoric period, lava was rapidly cooled by the seawater to form this rugged coastline. Today these unique rocks are good points to have a comfort rest for the tourists who are sightseeing around the island. You can go down to the shore and enjoy walking along the shoreline on some coasts.
Mt. Ponyama with an altitude of 444 m is located in Rishiri Fuji-cho on Rishiri Island, Hokkaido. Rishiri Island is a round island with Mt. Rishiri in its center. Mt. Rishiri, which is 1721 m above sea level, is counted as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Mountains. As Mt. Ponyama is far smaller than Mt. Rishiri, it is called “Pon” meaning “small” in Ainu. Consequently there are a lot of “pon” mountains on this island. Ponyama generally refers to Mt. Oshidomari Ponyama, the highest of all the “pon” mountains. From the top of the mountain, you can command a wide view of Rebun Island and the streets of Oshidomari area. You can also enjoy viewing alpine plants and wild birds. On the back side of the island rise several parasitic volcanoes such as Oniwaki Ponyama and Senboushi Ponyama. There are also beautiful ponds like Himenuma Pond and Otadomari Pond, which are thought to be the remains of volcanic craters. As the promenade links Sho-Ponyama, Kanrosui and Himenuma Pond, it is easy to get to the summit of Mt. Ponyama
Jogashima is a small island located near Misaki port, in Miura, Kanagawa Prefecture, at the southern edge of the Miura Peninsula.
Jogashima features rock strata that is ten million years old. The island is long and narrow from east to west (1.8km), 4 km around and covers a total area of 0.99m2. It is the biggest natural island in Kanagawa Prefecture and faces the Pacific to the south and Misaki fishing port to the north.
The island is just like a natural stratum museum; many changes in the earth's crust have led to curved, sharp and shifted strata that are exposed in different areas around the island.
There are many sightseeing spots on Jogashima, such as a tablet incised with the poetry of Kitahara Hakushu, Jogashima Park (one of the 50 major parks), narcissi (one of Japan's top 100 sites for flowers), Umiu Observation Deck, the cave entrance of Umanose, Jogashima lighthouse, Aburatsubo Gulf (one of 50 scenes), Awazaki lighthouse and Keikyu Aburatsubo Marine Park.
Jogashima is small but full of sightseeing places and with a long history, too.
Ago Bay lies to the south of the Shima Peninsula in Mie Prefecture. It is the biggest landlocked bay in the Shima Peninsula and has a saw-toothed coastline. Big and small, innumerable islands like Kashiko Island are very impressive.
Ago Bay is famous for pearl culture and, in the early Showa period, it was called Pearl Bay. Ago Bay is where a genuine round pearl was invented for the first time in the world, and it is said 'Ago Bay is the home of the pearl'.
The name 'Ago' dates back to the time of the Emperor Tenmu. In prehistoric times, many peoples lived here. There are many stone age tools found here, which were brought from remote Shinshu, evidence of the movements of prehistoric man in Japan.
Ago Bay appears at the beginning of Japanese history, and is a very time-honored sea. The pearl rafts are charming sights, unique to this district and a pleasure for visitors to see.
Nagaki are enclosures made of rocks that enable fish to be caught using the sea's tides. At high tide, when the nagaki is under water, fish move inside; when the tide goes out and the sea level drops below the walls, the fish are trapped and easily caught.
This fishing method is practiced not only in Okinawa and Kyushu, but in Polynesia and in parts of Southeast Asia. In Okinawa, the nagaki is famous for its use especially along the Sawada coast of Irabu Island and the south coast of Kohama Island.
The nagaki in Kohama are up to 12m wide by 1200m long, making them the biggest in the world. It is said that in old times, nagaki were first built for a lady born in Kohama who served in the court of the Ryukyu King.
Ovet the centuries, most nagaki have collapsed, but some are still used. Nagaki is a way of fishing that lets you feel a sense of fun.
Kumejimakaigan no Tatamiishi (the Tatami Rocks of Kumejima Island Beach) is a coastal area of Oujima Island, Okinawa, that features regular formations of peculiar rocks.
Oujima is a small isolated island lying to the east of Kumejima and has a circumference of only 4km. On its southern end are groups of peculiar pentagon- and hexagon-shaped rocks about 1m to 2m in diameter. These smooth rocks are called tatamiishi (tatami rocks) because the appearance of the rocks is similar to traditional Japanese flooring with tatami mats. At a glance, they also look like the patterns on a tortoise shell.
Ou means the isolated island where 'fusou' (a ritual where the deceased were left on an island to naturally decompose) was practiced. Oujima was once deserted, but today is used for sugarcane-growing.
The only highlight of this island are the tatami rocks. The beach has also become a popular spot for swimming.
There are about 1000 tatami rocks, each approximately 1m in diameter. These rocks were formed when hot magma cooled and cracked perpendicularly to create a pillar-shaped structure. It is very rare, even outside Japan, to see so many of these rocks in one place.
Noutou-Kongou is the coastal region near Togi, in Hakui district, Ishikawa prefecture. There are many places to see along this extraordinary coast. Hatago rocks is one of them.
Also known as 'Noutou's Two Rocks', the two rocks are connected by a rope and are worshiped. A long time ago, legend has it that the goddess Nunaki-iri-Himeno-Mikoto was trying to develop the cloth industry in Noutou. One day, she was attacked by a bandit. She threw the cloth she was carrying into the sea, whereupon it changed into the two rocks. This legend is the origin of the story of these rocks.
When the setting sun sinks, the silhouette of the two rocks floats in the dark red of the sea. The view is almost surreal: it is as if a goddess appears.