The stone monument inscribed with the words meaning “This is the northernmost point of Honshu” stands on the extensive beach of Omazaki Cape at the tip of Shimokita Peninsula in Aomori Prefecture. The streets of Hakodate City, about 18 meters away across the Tsugaru Straits, can be viewed on a fine day. The magnificent ocean view from Omazaki Cape will make you realize you are standing at the end of the farthest land. The sun setting in the land of Hokkaido is a superb view.
The town of Oma is famous all over the country as the base port of Ipponzuri (fishing one by one with one pole) of tuna. The monument of huge tuna is erected at the cape and it is a popular photogenic subject. The area around the cape is arranged into a park, which is alive with tourists during summer.
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.
About 7 kilometers from Monbetsu on the Omusaro Plateau in Hokkaido, are the remains of pit dwellings. These remains spread over a hill between Shokotsu River and Omusaro Pond near the town of Okoppe. There are 208 pit dwellings of early native peoples extending for about 1km in this area.
These remains probably belong to the early Jomon period of about 10,000 years ago. There are also remains belonging to the later Satsumon period that feature the unique Okhotsk culture of the Ainu people of Hokkaido. These pit dwellings show us the life of these peoples over a period of 10,000 years.
Today, the remains are part of a park on the plateau, and there is a great view from the top. There has been some restoration of the pit dwellings, and of high-floored warehouses which give a feeling of life in the Satsumon period 1,000 years ago. Plants favored by the Ainu people, such as 'oubayuri', 'ezoengosaku' and 'gyojaninniku' have been planted in the area.
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.
Ainu bark-fiber is a woven cloth used for the traditional garments and costumes of the Ainu people of Hokkaido. These garments are some of the most representative and familiar forms of clothing worn by the Ainu, and are known as 'atoshi' in Ainu dialect.
Bark fiber used in this fabric is taken from the inner bark of the Manchurian elm, then woven on a loom. As cotton was more highly valued by the Ainu then, garments were considered to be more valuable when cotton was woven into cloth along with bark fiber.
Among the Ainu, the Hokkaido Ainu were the principal users of this fabric. It was worn for daily use, and was mass exported to the main island of Japan in the late 18th century due to its excellent durability and detailed weaving. Today, this fabric is still woven all over Hokkaido as a traditional handicraft.
Kyogo Spring is located in Fukidashi Park in Kyogo-cho, Abuta-gun in Hokkaido. Rising nearby is Mt Yotei (1898m), the tallest mountain in southwest Hokkaido. The foot of the mountain is abundant with springs and fountains, with a total of 17 natural spring sites.
The volume of water issuing from the springs each day is an amazing 530,000 tons. Of the 17 springs, Kyogo Spring has the greatest volume of water: some 70,000 tons each day! The springs are fed by rain or melted snow that percolates through Mt Yotei, then combines with the minerals in the ground in a process lasting 50 to 70 years, before finally welling out as natural spring water. The spring water is classified as 'kanro' (sweet) and is known to be very soft and slightly sweet.
Kyogo Spring was also chosen as one of Japan's top 100 sites for renowned water by the Environment Agency in 1985.
As the spring water pushes up between the mossy rocks and green trees, it releases a pleasant murmuring sound and creates a relaxing, healing space. It's not only the local people who love this spring water, but fanatics, too, who come all the way from Sapporo just to drink it.
Katsuyama-no-tate is a mountain castle in Hokkaido and was built in the latter half of the 15th century by Takeda Shingen, the ancestor of the Matsumae family. The castle area is about 350,000m2. Until the end of the 16th century, Katsuyama-no-tate was Takeda and Katsuzaki's political and power base and center for the northern trade along the Japan Sea.
Excavation of Katsuyama-no-tate has revealed about 30,000 artifacts, including Mino ware and Chinese celadon, metal and wooden objects, as well as the remains of buildings, wells, waterless moats and bridges. They tell us about life in olden times. Moreover, more than 500 tools made of bone and horn that were used by the Ainu people have been found.
These traces tell us about Japan's trade on the Japan Sea in the northern part of the country, and life in the middle ages, which have increasingly drawn scholarly attention.
Matsumae Castle is the most recently established castle in Japan. It is also called Fukuyama Castle and was completed in 1854.
Designed by Ichikawa Ichigaku, a resourceful military man, the architecture has three parts: main, secondary and third buildings. On the southeast side of the main building, there is a three-storied keep tower. In the third building, 7 cannons are set facing the sea. Also, there were 9 other cannons outside the castle facing the ocean. From these facts, we can see that the castle was secure from attack from the ocean side.
After only 13 years, it was destroyed following the collapse of the Matsumae clan. In 1960, the remaining sections of the castle were restored. Now, the keep tower is used as a museum, where weapons and objects from the castle, as well as pictures such as 'Sakura-sita Bijin-zu', are exhibited.