Numazu Summer Festival held around the last weekend of July every year is the biggest summer festival in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. A lot of attractive events including the grand parade of Numazu Shiki-saisai Dance, the competitive performances of Shagiri music, the Japanese drum performance and the Mikoshi parade are held during the day.
Each day ends with a gorgeous fireworks display held over the Kano River. Kano River Fireworks Display, which started during the post-war restoration period, is now the biggest fireworks display held in an urban area in the Tokai district. The riverside is bustled with spectators to enjoy this charming sight of the summer. 9,000 fireworks in total are shot up into the night sky during the two-day festival period. The finale of the festival is decorated with the 470 meter long Niagara Falls.
Shinmeisha Shrine in the Naka area in Nishiizu Town, Shizuoka Prefecture, is an old shrine, which was relocated to the present place in 1600.
The Sanbaso dance dedicated at this shrine on the evening of November 2 and on the morning of November 3 every year is performed as a Japanese-styled puppet play (Ningyo-Joruri). It is said that this is one of the Ningyo-Joruri performances that were introduced to this area during the Edo period (1603-1868).
The doll performance is dedicated to give thanks to nature and to pray for a rich harvest, family safety, national peace and prevention of diseases. The dedicated play “Okina” is a drama in Kabuki style, which is originally a repertoire of the Noh play. Each of the three dolls, Chitose, Okina and Sanbaso, is about 1 meter tall and operated by two local young men. Taking charge of operating different parts of the doll, the two doll handlers skillfully operate the doll and make it dance and perform the drama, which is breathtakingly beautiful. The movements of the dolls are so elaborate that you will feel as if a real man is acting as a doll.
The Sanbaso dance dedicated at the annual autumn festival of Ushikoshi Shrine in Ukusu in Nishiizu Town, Shizuoka Prefecture, on November 2 and 3 every year is performed as a Japanese-styled puppet play (Ningyo-Joruri). Sanbaso is a genre of the Kabuki and Ningyo-Joruri dancing, which originated in the Noh play. The doll performance is dedicated to pray for a rich harvest and national peace and stability.
There are several theories about the origin of Ningyo-Joruri performance in this area. One theory states that it was introduced by a nobleman from Kyoto, who was exiled to the Izu province. Another theory states that it was introduced in the early Edo period (1603-1868) by Okubo Nagayasu, who came to this province as Magistrate of Izu Gold Mine. In any case, it is clear from the shrine record that the Sanbaso dance was already performed at this shrine by the local young men during the Tenmei era (1781-1788).
Each of the three dolls, Chitose, Okina and Sanbaso, is operated by three doll handlers. Taking charge of operating different parts of the doll, they handle the doll in a well-balanced manner to the music of Japanese drums, flutes and clappers. The unity created by the dolls and their handlers leads the spectators to the fantastic world.
Yuhidaki is a 30 meter waterfall located in Yamada Town in the northernmost part of Shuzenji Town in Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. It flows down in two stages; the upper stage is 20 meter tall and the lower stage is 10 meter tall. The white lines of water flowing down on the columnar joint rock surface, which is typical to this region, are very beautiful. The statue of Fudo Myoo is enshrined beside the bottom of the waterfall.
Double-flowered cherry trees that come into bloom in late April and hydrangea flowers that line the walking trail down to the basin in June offer wonderful color contrasts to the waterfall. In winter, on the other hand, the dashing flow of water freezes to create beautiful ice pillars. You will feel as if time has stopped when you see the sharp tips of ice plunging from above your head and protruding toward you.
Hacchoike is the caldera lake located in a height of 1,180 meters on the south ridge of Mt. Amagi. It was named so because the circumference is 8 cho in the Japanese length units, which is about 870 meters. From its mysterious atmosphere, it is called “the Eye of Izu.” As the lake is surrounded with Suzu-take bamboo trees (Sasamorpha borealis), it is also called “Aosuzu-no-ike (Green Bamboo Pond).”
The lake is also known as the habitat of Forest Green Tree Frogs (Rhacophorus arboreus). This frog is designated as a Natural Monument. Although they are rarely seen in recent years, they have been gradually increasing in number as the result of the efforts for environmental conservation.
The nearby observatory, about 10 minutes’ walk from the lake, offers a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji, the South Alps, the Hakone Mountain Range and Izu Peninsula.
Sekokyo Gorge extends about 1 km to the west from the Deaibashi Bridge, which is thrown over the point where the Nekko River and the Hontani River flow into the Kano River. Located in the southwestern end of Yugashima Hot Springs, the gorge is visited by a lot of tourists who come to enjoy beautiful scenery of tender green in spring and crimson foliage in fall. Its beautiful flow of bubbly water has been highly acclaimed.
The promenade set out from the central part of Yugashima hot spring town to Sekokyo Gorge is called “Yumichi (the Hot Water Road),” which local people used to take when they went to the public bathhouse in the old days. Yumichi is also known as the path of literature, for there are many stone monuments concerning poets and novelists such as Akiko Yosano, Yasushi Inoue, Motojiro Kajii and Bokusui Wakayama.
The Banjo Waterfall on the Jizodo River, a tributary of the Kano River, is about 20 meters high and 6 meters wide. Collecting clear stream from the mountains in Amagi, it dynamically flows down with roaring sounds. You can see the waterfall from the backside, from which the waterfall is also called “Urami no Taki (meaning a waterfall seen from the backside)” or “Ryo-omoi no Taki (the Love-with-each-other Waterfall).”
The legend of Red Ox is handed down about this waterfall. Legend has it that once Red Princess visited the waterfall on the back of a red ox and wove at her loom beside the waterfall. As the sound of the weaving loom mixed with the roaring sound of water sounded like a bellow of an ox, people believed that the spirit that resided in the waterfall must be an ox.
With a 1,000-year-old zelkova tree, a camping site and Japanese horse-radish fields in the vicinity, visitors can enjoy bountiful nature around the waterfall.
Ayutsubo Falls are located in Nagaizumi Town in Shizuoka Prefecture. The falls gush out of two cracks in the 10 meter high cliff formed by Mishima Stream of lava and flow down into the midstream of the Kise River. They discharge 3 to 7 tons of water per second.
They were named Ayutsubo (Sweet fish Basin) Falls because sweet fish stopped swimming and gathered together in the waterfall basins. As the water in the basins looks indigo blue, they are also called Aitsubo (Indigo Blue Basin) Falls. Or, the view of Mt. Fuji in back of the falls is so exquisite that the falls are called Fujimi-no-taki (Mt. Fuji Viewing Falls).
Ayutsubo Falls were prefecturally designated as a Natural Monument in 1996. When it rains heavily, water gushes out of every crack in the cliff with roaring sounds to form a dynamic cataract. The view of the falls from Ayutsubo no Kakehashi, the hanging bridge in the down stream, is further more beautiful.