Ishikari Plain in Hokkaido used to be a vast wetland, which disappeared with agricultural land development. Presently the primitive state of such land features can only be seen in Bibai City. Bibai Wetland, 440 m long in north to south direction and about 540 m long in east to west direction, is a small wetland surrounded by drainage ditches and barley and rice fields.
The wetland is the habitat of wildlife including rare species of swamp plants as well as large birds and animals such as foxes and swans. As the academic importance of the wetland is highly esteemed, Bibai Research Station of National Agricultural Research Center for Hokkaido Region has conducted research and maintenance of this wetland.
Mt. Hinokiboramaru with an altitude of 1601 m is on the border of Tsukui-cho in Sagamihara City and Yamakita-cho in Ashigara-Kami-gun in Kanagawa Prefecture. It is the second highest peak in the Tanzawa Mountains after 1673 m Mt. Hirugatake. Though located in the center of the deepest mountains in the western part of the Tanzawa Mountains, a finely arranged mountain trail is provided and there are no such places as you might loose your way or get into trouble.
The name “Hinokiboramaru” comes from the stream named “Hinokibora,” a feeder stream of the Kurokura River, which flows out of this mountain down to the south.
The area near the top of the mountain is the virgin forest of beech trees. The contrast between greenish yellow young leaves and the trunks with white spots is very beautiful. The beech forest is selected as one of Kanagawa’s 50 Excellent Forests. On the south side of the mountain is the colony of Shiroyashio-tsutsuji (Rhododendron quinquefolium). At the end of May every year, the mountain is jammed with people who come to enjoy viewing these cute flowers. Mt. Hinokiboramaru is one of the most popular mountains in the Tanzawa Mountains.
Numaura Wetland located in the southern part of Rishiri Island is a designated Natural Monument of Rishirifuji Town. This wetland along with Otadomari-numa Pond and Minamihara Wetland is selected as one of 500 Important Wetlands in Japan by the Ministry of Environment as Rishiri-to Wetlands.
Communities of swamp plants and alpine plants such as Isotsutsuji (Ledum palustre var. diversipilosum) and northern cranberry are formed. This is also the northernmost boundary of Ezo-tsutsuji (Therorhodion camtschaticum).
The wetland was formed in the explosion crater about 4,000 years ago. The reflected image of Rishiri Fuji on the surface of Otadomari-numa Pond is wonderful.
80% of Japan’s wetlands are located in Hokkaido. With the continuing decrease in the number of wetlands in Japan, Rishiri-to Wetlands are what we must protect and conserve.
The word “Shiretoko” comes from “Sir-etok,” meaning “the end of the land” in the Ainu language. In primeval forests in this end of the land are the mystic lakes called Shiretoko Five Lakes (Shiretoko Goko). There are no rivers feeding these lakes. They were created by the rain and snow collected between strata as the groundwater and springing out over the years.
You can walk around the five lakes in about an hour by following the natural trail. If “Ikko (the 1st lake)” and “Niko (the 2nd lake)” are enough to see, it takes only about 30 minutes.
With a variety of flora and fauna, the area deserves to be called a primeval paradise. If you are lucky, you will have a chance to see Ezo squirrels or Ezo deer on your way.
You will be deeply impressed by the panoramic view of the Shiretoko mountain range seen from the observatory on a nearby hill as well as by the reflected images of surrounding trees on the calm surface of the lakes.
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.
Lake Chimikeppu is located in Shibetsu-cho in the eastern part of Hokkaido. “Chimikeppu” in the Ainu means “a place where water gushes out of a cliff.” This is a dammed lake produced by the landslide due to the crustal change occurred about 10,000 years ago. As the lake has a complex coastline, which indented into the surrounding valleys, it looks like an artificial lake but actually it is not. It is known as a habitat of Himemasu (sockeye salmon) and Marimo (lake ball). Surrounded with the primary forest of Jezo Spruce and Sakhalin fir, the area around the lake is inhabited by a variety of wildlife including wild birds such as black woodpeckers, which is a natural protected species, and Ezo red foxes. You can walk along the 1.5 km promenade along the lake, enjoying magnificent view of the pristine natural beauty around the lake.
Odaigahara Plateau is located in Kamikitayama Village, Nara Pref. The annual precipitation of this area is 5000 mm, which ranks the heaviest in the world. The wet climate has created a primitive forest that is comparable to the one in Yakushima Island. The forest with its floor covered with green moss as well as magnificent and powerful waterfalls is the figurative art that nature has created. The primitive forest is also the home to wild life such as antelope, Japanese deer and rare plants of the season. If you are lucky, you might come across a group of lovely deer on your way. For walking, “Higashi Odai” walking trail extending about 9 km is recommendable. At the top of Daijyagura Cliff with a height of 1,000 m, you can command a 360-degree panoramic view including Ominesan mountains. Pure forest of Tohi (medicine plant) in Masakigahara is known as the south bounds in Japan. While walking along the trail, you will enjoy the twittering of Japanese robins and other wild birds.
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.