Izunuma and Uchinuma are lakes forming a wetland in Senhoku Plain in Miyagi Prefecture. The total area of the wetland is 4 sq. m and the water depth is only 1.6 m at the deepest. Being designated as a Ramsar Site, the lakes provide wintering places for waterfowls such as Greater White-fronted Goose (National Natural Monument) and Bean Goose and habitats for aquatic plants and insects.
Izunuma-Uchinuma Lotus Flower Festival is held from the end of July to the end of August, when the surface of the pond is covered with beautiful lotus flowers. Pale pink lotus flowers among green leaves make a brilliant contrast with clear blue sky. Flowers can be viewed from the walking trails and surrounding roads. Also, as a sightseeing-boat is operated during the festival, you van enjoy viewing the lotus flowers from the boat in the center of the pond.
Japanese cuisine is highly regarded worldwide for its beauty. This is often attributed not only to the food itself but also to the selection of serving dishes. When served on an elegant plate, home cooking looks even more appetizing. Handmade dishes in which each piece is subtly different in color and shape further heighten the dining experience. In an aesthetic unique to Japan people regularly assimilate nature into their everyday lives; the opposite of beauty being neat and orderly. This Wara White Lotus Serving Plate is handmade and each piece has subtle differences of color and shape. The plate with an inscribed lotus leaf pattern is otherwise plain and enhances the presentation of any dish. It is 20.5cm in diameter and perfect for any occasion. Acquiring a unique handmade plate produced by a small studio is reminiscent of an old Japanese saying, “treasure every meeting, for it will never recur”. Embracing beauty like this will further enrich your life.
Ryokan was a Soto Zen Buddhist monk in the late Edo period (1603-1868). He is also known as a calligrapher and poet, who wrote both Japanese waka poems and Chinese classic poems.
He was born in in the village of Izumozaki in Echigo Province (now Niigata Prefecture) in 1758. He was much influenced by his father, who was a Nanushi (village officer) and poet. Ryokan studied under Omori Shiyo, a scholar of Chinese classics and became his father’s assistant.
Later he visited and stayed at Entsuji Temple (in present-day Okayama Prefecture), where he was ordained priest by the Zen master Kokusen. It was around this time that Ryokan also took interested in writing poems and deepened exchanges with many poets of the time.
Ryokan attained enlightment and was presented with an Inka (a formal acknowledgement of a student’s completion of Zen training) by Kokusen at the age of 33. He left Entsuji Temple to set for a long pilgrimage and necer returned to the monastery life. He lived the rest of his life as a hermit and taught Buddhism to common people in easy words instead of difficult sermons.
He disclosed his own humble life, for which people felt sympathy, and placed their confidence in him. A lot of artists and scholars also visited his small hut, Gogo-an, where he talked with them over a drink of Hannya-yu (enlightening hot water, namely Japanese hot sake). He died in 1831. His only disciple, Teishin-ni published a collection of Ryokan’s poems titled “Hasu no Tsuyu (Dewdrops on a lotus leaf).”
Koshimizugaike Pond located in Hioki in Shintomi Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a pond, which is oblong in north and south and about 1 kilometer in circumference and 7 hectare in area. Having never dried up, the pond is covered with beautiful lotus flowers in summer. From the middle of July to the middle of August every year, white and pink lotus flowers come into bloom and colorfully decorate the surface of the pond.
In winter, lotus roots are harvested in the unique method that has been handed down in this area. It is said that cultivation of lotus roots started by Akizuki Taneshige, the 7th lord of the Takanabe domain, as the measures to save local farmers from food shortage in winter.
Beside the pond is Mizunuma Shrine, which is said to have been founded in the Genroku era (1688-1703). The enshrined deity, Mizuhanome no Kami, is worshipped by the local people as the goddess of agriculture and prevention of bad luck concerning water.
Tanegaike Pond, 3.37 km in circumference and 17.3 m in maximum depth, is a dammed pond located in the southern end of Tottori Sand Dune. It was formed by the sedimentation of sand from the dune and the nearby river.
This mysterious pond is famous for a legend about a beautiful woman named Otane, who was a personified snake. Once upon a time, Otane, who was working for a wealthy man in the town of Kofu, changed herself into a snake every night, stole persimmons from the persimmon tree beside the pond, and gave them to her co-workers. One day, when she was penetrated her disguise, she ran away from the town and became the spirit of the pond. In June, lotus flowers cover the surface of the pond as if they were the reincarnation of Otane.
The pond is also famous as a fishing spot for black bass and visited by a lot of anglers all through the year.
Ikegami Honmonji Temple located in Ikegami, Ota-ku, Tokyo is a Daihonzan (major head temple) of the Nichiren sect. In 1282, Priest Nichiren, who has suffered from a disease, dropped in at Ikegami Munenaka’s residence in the village of Senzoku (present-day Ikegami) in Musashi province on his way from his home temple in Minobu to a spa in Hitachi province (present-day Ibaraki Pref.). He stayed here for 20 days and passed away. Ikegami Munenka dedicated his premises to Nichiren’s temple, where one of Nichiren’s disciples, Nichiro, established Honmonji Temple.
The five-story pagoda, a nationally designated Important Cultural Property, was constructed in 1607 and survived the air raids in the World War II. It still gives a magnificent impression from season to season. Shoto-en Garden in the north of the precinct is a historic site, where Saigo Takamori and Katsu Kaishu had a conference on the surrender of Edo Castle.
Kochoji Temple located in Okanomiya, Numazu City, Shizuoka Pref. is one of the four major head temples of the Hokke sect of Buddhism. The principal object of worship is the Hokke Mandala written by Nichiren Shonin himself. The time of its foundation is not known. It is said to have been a Tendai sect temple before 1276, when the resident priest Kuzon became a disciple of Nichiren and was given a new name, Nisshun. He changed the name of the temple to Tokuei-san Kochiji Temple. Thereafter, the founder of the temple is to be Nichiren and the second generation resident priests to be both Nisshun and Nippo.
The main hall was built in 1311, and through several construction works it became a large temple. However, all the buildings except the main hall and San-mon Gate were burnt down in two fires. The main hall was restored to the present form in recent years. The temple is visited by a lot of cherry blossom viewers in spring.
Kokuzenji Temple located at the foot of Mt. Futaba to the north of Hiroshima Station was founded in 1340 by the priest Gyonin, who became pupil of Nichizo, one of Nichiren’s apprentices. The temple was originally named Gyoninji Temple. It is said that the temple was fronting the sea in those days. “Tousatsu (the wooden plate staked to a building’s ridgepole stating details of the construction)” shows that the main hall was built in 1671. This dignified building is in Yosemunezukuri style with double roofs, in which no bracket complex (“kumimono” in Japanese) is used except in the step canopy. It is very unique that the space housing the altar protrudes from the backside of the building, the roof of which is in Shikorobuki style (a hip-and gable roof on separate panels).