Shibetsu Wetland is located to the north of Notsuke Peninsula in the eastern part of Hokkaido. The wetland was formed on the sand dune facing Nemuro Straight between the Po River, a tributary of the Ichani River, and the Shibetsu River. The wetland area is a part of Po River Historic Site Natural Park. Generally, the wetland in the upstream area is called Kawakita Wetland and the downstream area is called Sanbongi Wetland.
It is a high moor with 170 ha peatland. Also, tundra plants that have existed since the glacial ages about 3,000 years ago can be seen. A wetland is the most fragile land form and so is a peat moss land. Once it is trampled, it takes a long time to recover. Shibetsu Wetland is designated as National Natural Monument and has been preserved carefully.
Saigyo-an located in Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Nara Pref. is a hermitage, where Saigyo supposedly spent three years. Saigyo (1118-1190) was a great poet in the Heian period and wrote poems for “Shin-Kokin-shu” and “Sanka-shu.” The wooden statue of Saigyo is placed inside the hut. Cherishing the memory of Saigyo, Matsuo Basho visited the hut and composed a poem in 1684. Two stone monuments respectively inscribed with a poem by Saigyo and Basho stand in front of this serene hermitage. Surrounded with cherry blossoms in spring and autumnal foliage in fall, the hermitage will impress you with the wabi-sabi aesthetic and inspire your poetic mind.
A clear water called “Koke-Shimizu” springs out in the vicinity. It is counted as one of 31 Fine Water in Yamato.
It is said that Hyozu Taisha Shrine in Nosu City, Shiga Prefecture, was founded during the Nara period (710-794). As its name Hyozu literally means “the master of soldiers,” it had been worshipped by the Imperial Court and the warrior class.
The shrine treasure varies from weapons to Buddha’s ashes, which is the reminder of Shinbutsu Shugo (the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism). The vermillion main gate magnificently awaits visitors. It is said to have been dedicated by Ashikaga Takauji and the Japanese ink writing on a rafter shows that it was constructed in 1550. It is a 1-bay and 1-entrance well-balanced gate in Irimoya-zukuri style, which is prefecturally designated as a tangible cultural property.
Beyond the gravel path is the Haiden Hall (oratory). The red thick rope hanging from Waniguchi (the bronze gong) is very impressive. Its magnificent garden was constructed in the Heian period (794-1192). It is a pond-stroll garden. The ground covered with a moss carpet looks superb especially in the rainy season. From the middle to the end of November, the tinted autumn leaves are lit up for night visitors.
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.
Bense Swamp located in Kizukuri Tateoka, Tsugaru City, Aomori Pref. is one of the largest swamps in Tsugaru Qausi-National Park. In the area around this swamp are numerous large and small lakes and pond. Surrounded by Hirataki Pond, Otaki Pond and Bense Pond, this swamp at an altitude of 20 m above sea level has an area of 20 ha, where the community of Nikko-kisuge (Hemerocallis middendorffii var. esculenta) forms a bright orange carpet in June, and the purple community of sword-leaved iris shudders in the breeze in July. The swamp was formed because dead plant layers such as peat moss have heaped up due to the severe climatic conditions. It is unusual that this kind of marshy plant community is formed near the beach. In Honshu and the northeastern part of Hokkaido, it can be seen nowhere other than in the wetland area around Mt. Byobuyama including this swamp. Bense Swamp is a scenic spot where visitors can enjoy bright-colored cute flowers.
Kameoka Hachiman Shrine is a historic shrine in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. It originates in the shrine founded in present Yanagawa in Date City, Fukushima Prefecture, during the Bunchi era (1185-1189) by Date Tomomune, the founder of the Date clan, by transferring the deity of Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura. Later in 1681, it was relocated to its present location by Date Tsunamura, the 4th lord of the Sendai domain.
All the shrine structures and votive offerings except the torii gate and the stone steps were burned down by the fire at Sendai Air Raid in 1945. The present shrine pavilions including Honden (the main hall), Haiden (the oratory) and Heiden (the offering hall) were built in 1965.
Only the torii gate and the long stone steps leading to the precinct still retain some remnants of what it used to be. At the foot of the stone steps are the vermillion painted bridge and a huge and old weeping cherry tree, which is a municipally designated protected tree. Going up the long old stone steps, which Matsuo Basho also climbed more than 300 years ago, you can’t help but think of the ancient people’s holy devotions and love for nature.
Entsuin Temple is a historic temple that belongs to the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism. It is the 1st Holy Place of 33 Kannon Pilgrimage in Sanriku. Located in Matsushima, one of Japan’s Three Finest Views, the temple is popularly called “Rose Temple” or “Moss Temple.”
In the precinct is Otamaya (the mausoleum) named Sankeiden, where Date Mitsumune, a grandson of Date Masamune, is buried. Constructed in 1647, it is the oldest mausoleum structure in the precinct. It is a square building with a pyramid-styled tiled roof. The railing is built around the building. It is one of the few 3-bay square mausoleums in the Tohoku region.
Inside the mausoleum is Zushi (a miniature Buddhist shrine) housing the statue of Mitsumune on the horse. The painted decoration given on Zushi is very gorgeous. Interestingly, some Western-styled patterns influenced by the Kirishitan (Christianity) culture can be seen among the decorations.
The mausoleum had been closed to the public for 350 years. However, it was open to the public since it was designated as an Important Cultural Property by the national government.
The Mangokuura Sea is an immense inland sea with an area of 7.2 ha located behind Watanoha Port and surrounded by mountains on Oga Peninsula. The name “Mangoku (10,000 koku of rice) Ura (Sea)” comes from an old story that when Date Tadamune, the 2nd generation lord of the Sendai domain, visited this place, he said “If land reclamation is given to this land, it will produce 10,000 kuku of rice.” In the Edo period, coastal salt production was done in this inland sea under the promotion of the Sendai domain. Since the Taisho period, cultivation of oysters and laver has been active in this area. Here. Ishinomaki is said to be the birthplace of oyster cultivation. So the high-quality breeding oyster of this nutritious sea is especially famous not only in Japan but also all over the world. The Mangokuura Sea is also a popular place for gathering of clams and fishing of flounder and rock trout. The Mangokuura Sea is the “Mother Sea” that produces fresh seafood.