At the foot of Yahiko mountain soaring high in the middle of the Chikugo plain in Niigata pref. stands the Yahiko(Iyahiko) Shrine. The grounds are covered by a dense grove of aged trees, such as cedars and Japanese cypresses. Though the exact year of construction is not known, the shrine is referenced in Manyoshu, an old poetic anthology dating back to 750 AD, so it certainly predates that time. The shrine is devoted to Ame no Kagoyama no Mikoto. Ordered by Emperor Jinmu (the legendary first emperor), Ame no Kagoyama no Mikoto taught the people of Echigo region of Niigata pref. various agricultural methods of fishing, salt making, rice farming, and sericulture amongst others, and contributed greatly to the development of the region. The shrine was once affectionately called Iyahiko-sama and flourished as a spiritual home of the mind and the soul for people in Echigo. In its museum, shrine treasures such as Shidano-Ootachi, a prominent long Japanese Katana and designated as an Important National Property, and armors that are said to have once belonged to Yoshiie Minamto and Yoshitsune Minamoto, both being legendary warriors from 12th century, are exhibited. The hall was rebuilt in 1961after being destroyed in a large fire.
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.
Mt. Akagi-yama, one of the Jomo Three Mountains and Japan’s 100 Fine Mountains, located in the center of Gunma Prefecture, is the generic name for mountains including Kurobi-san, Komagatake, Jizo-dake Choshichiro-yama, and Nabewari-yama.
It is a double-rimmed caldera volcano. There are three beautiful lakes near the mountaintop; Lake O-numa (an atrio lake), Ko-numa (a crater lake) and Kakuman-fuchi (a high moor).
The north wind known as “Karakkaze,” which is characteristic to the Kanto Plain in winter, is also called “Akagi Oroshi,” because it blows from Mt. Akagi-yama.
Mt. Akagi-yama has been worshipped by local people since the ancient times. It is a symbol of Gunma Prefecture.
Mt. Enodake in Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a granite rock mountain with a flat mountain top extending from east to west. Though it is not a very high mountain, it can be seen from any place in the city and is blessed with bountiful nature. The mountain is also closely associated with Saigo Takamori.
The trail up the mountain is full of places of interest such as the drinking fountain beside a small waterfall, the ruins of a stone circle, the place named “Maeyashiki,” where the ruins of stone walls can be seen and Senjonozoki Obsevatory, which commands a fine view of the Pacific Ocean. The view from the top of the mountain is also wonderful. You can command a panoramic view of the mountains overlapping one after another.
Mt. Enodake is famous for the breakthrough of the Satsuma forces led by Saigo Takamori. At the foot of the mountain remains a house where the Saigo’s forces had the last strategy meeting after they were defeated by the Imperial troops in the Satsuma Rebellion (1877). The house is preserved as the Ruins of Encampment of Saigo Takamori and open to the public as a history museum. On the November 3 every year, the mountain festival to pursue the trail that Saigo’s forces took is held and joined by a lot of people including those from Oita and Fukuoka prefectures.
The Hokoiwa Rock at the top of the mountain is said to be the tomb of Ninigi no Mikoto. It is said that a shrine was built during the reign of a legendary emperor Sujin and called Enosan Daigongensha Shrine.
Oi-ike Pond is a 9.2 hectare artificial pond located in Okusa in Koda Town, Aichi Prefecture. The water is fed from the Hirota River, a tributary of the Yahagi River. Constructed in 1943, it is the largest agricultural irrigation pond in the prefecture.
There is a golf driving range on the side of the pond, where golfers can enjoy dynamic shooting toward the water of the pond. The area around the pond is a famous cherry blossom viewing spot. The upstream area of the river is dotted with mudslide control dams.
The pond is not only used for agriculture but also provides disaster control measures, habitat of various wildlife, the communication place for local people and the place to get contact with natural water. It is a precious municipal property that is indispensable for the local communities.
Mt. Upepesanke is located at the southern end of the Taisetsu Mountains, which are made up of representative mountains in Hokkaido. Mt. Upepesanke with the altitude of 1848 m is a relatively high mountain in the Taisetsu. Contrary to the other mountains, it looks massive rather than steep. A lot of climbers come from all over the country and head for the mountain top at the high season. On the way to the summit, there are several peaks, from which you can enjoy viewing magnificent landscapes and various alpine plants. The edge line that continues to the summit is also very beautiful. It’s the greatest pleasure to walk along the way toward the summit with the grand landscape coming in sight on either side of the edge line. After coming down the mountain, having a relaxing time in Nukabira Hot Spring at the foot may be a good idea. You may find another charm when you soak in a bathtub and look up at the place where you have just left.
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.
The Okhotsk Sea in Hokkaido is famous for drift ice in winter. In the most severe season, 80 percent of the sea is covered with drift ice. In mid-November, drift ice starts forming at points where the Amur River to the north in Sakhalin flows into the sea. This drift ice expands in the north wind and travels with the currents some 2000km south to arrive near Abashiri by mid-January.
Because fresh water runs from the Amur River into the Okhotsk Sea, the surface of the sea here is less salty. Sea water with less salt freezes more easily, thus forming drift ice.
This ice, born in the far north sea, brings rich plankton, which is fed on by sea creatures such as hairy crab, salmon, trout and scallop.
As far as you can see, the drift ice forms a field of white that is completely silent without the sound of waves. Drift ice on the Okhotsk Sea is a poetic world produced by mysterious nature.