'Kan' (as in 環境 'Kankyo': environment, surroundings) has a form that shows a rather deep meaning. The upper part of the character is 'eye.' ○ means 'gem' or 'precious stone.' Apart from the character form made up of these three elements, there is also a character form with the 'gem' classifier. The 'gem' classifier (the character's radical on the left) takes the form of a 'cord' passing through three 'gems.'
Actually, 'Kan' is related to funeral customs and the belief in resurrection from death and faith. As the 'eye' above is open, it symbolizes resurrection from death. In antiquity, it was the custom to bury a dead person with his or her possessions. This character takes the form of a gem around the neck of the deceased's dress. As can be seen in the character 含, there also was a custom of placing a gem in the deceased's 口 mouth.
Dr. Shirakawa mentions, in works such as 'Koshiden: The Life of Confucius,' that Zhuang Zi (in 'The True Classic of Southern (Cultural) Fluorescence') often describes such customs as above. However, as is to be expected from a leading Daoist, he is rather critical and negative. For example, in Zhuang Zi's 'Miscellaneous Chapters, Esoteric Things,' he satirizes Confucians who retrieve gems attached to corpses following exact descriptions of the deceased's possessions in 'The Book of Odes,' which later Confucians have regarded as a moral authority. Dr. Shirakawa has pointed out that in the work of Nishida Kitaro, a representative philosopher of Japan, one can see good influence from Zhuang Zi, who, in a sense, has philosophized the world of Chinese characters. In this respect, Kanji have a dimension that connects the past with the present.
環境 'Kankyo: environment' is closely related to the fate of mankind. Wouldn't it be a really appropriate character to think about when maintaining a healthy environment?
The Shiromizu Waterfall is an 80 m tall dynamic waterfall in the upstream of the Dogawa River, a tributary of the Omarugawa River, in Kamiyama Valley in Misato Town, Miyazaki Prefecture.
The waterfall seen from the top of the mountain trail is really dynamic and worth seeing. White lines of water flow down the sheer cliff into the river. From the Rindo (forest road) Bridge, 200 m down the stream, you can enjoy a fine combination of the waterfall and surrounding trees.
The area around the waterfall is designated as a prefecture’s natural environment protection zone with a vast expanse of virgin forest and rivers with many deep pools and waterfalls such as the Kuro-daki Waterfall, which is said to be a “visionary waterfall.” The forest area includes Japan’s southernmost beech tree forest. Also, the fir tree and the Isunoki tree on the way to Shiromizu Waterfall are selected as one of 100 huge trees of Miyazaki Prefecture.
Bifukawa-Matsuyama Moor is on Mt Matsuyama and overlooks the town of Bifuka (Nakagawa-gun, Hokkaido).
Bifuka-Matsuyama Moor is located 797m above sea level and is also known as the highest moor in northern Japan. The moor is approximately 25ha in area and includes three ponds of varying sizes, into which kokanee salmon are periodically released.
The moor was designated as a Natural Environment Conservation Area of Hokkaido in 1976 (Showa 51), because of its many small alpine trees dwarfed by wind and snow. Trees unique to the mountain include aka-ezo pine (Picea glehnii) and Siberian dwarf pine, which are considered to be of academic importance.
The moor features a 1km-hiking route that runs through real wilderness. Here can be found highland plants flowering in various seasons, including the tachigi-boushis (Hosta rectifolia) and horomuirindous (Gentiana triflora var. japonica subvar. horomuiensis). The hiking route brings visitors to the great outdoors, where they can see dwarf trees such as the ezo pine and Siberian dwarf pines sitting between the blue sky and the green landscape. Indeed, such views could only be created by nature.
One of the three largest production areas for roof tiles (kawara) in Japan is Sanshuu in Aichi Prefecture. It is believed that tile-production started here in about 588. According to records, there is information that kawara craftsmen existed at that time.
Sanshuu became a tile-production area in 1700 because clay could easily be brought in from the nearby towns of Anjo, Toyota and Seto. Furthermore, Sanshuu's position in the center of Japan meant that tiles could be transported easily to other parts of the country.
There are three major types of tiles: ibushi, yuuyaku, mu-yuuyaku and shioyaki. The tiles are fired for a period of between 13 and 16 hours. The length of the firing ensures that the tiles are tough. In the past. the firing process was carried out manually, but today electric kilns are used. These days, with the rise in environmental awareness, new tiles suited for recycling and for solar panels have been developed.
The word “chise” in the Ainu means “a house,” which could be seen in the Ainu Kotan (village). It was normally built in Yosemune-zukuri style（a square or rectangular building.）The building materials of an Ainu house varied according to geographical and climatic conditions. Bamboo leaves, wild grasses, thatch, reed grass and tree bark were used for roofs and walls, which were tied with grapevine or tree bark. The wood of chestnut, Japanese Judas tree and Amur maackia were used for supporting pillars, which were directly set up without foundation stones. A chise has three windows; the one in the back is a rorun-puyar (god’s window), through which the gods entered, the one on the right is for letting in light, and the one near the entrance is for cooking ventilation. The orientation of the houses in a kotan (village) is identical; in most of the cases, a house is oriented from east to west with the god’s window facing the east. A chise was 33 to 99 square meters in area. It was a warm and comfortable home of the Ainu in the old days.
Mt. Petegaridake is a part of the peaks composing the Hidaka mountain range, which extends to Cape Erimo. It is called “Japan’s No.1 Fine Peak” or “Far and Away Mountain” and also counted as one of 200 Fine Mountains. The peak is at 1736 m above sea level. The mountain trail runs along the ridge from east to west. Below the top is Petegari Lodge, where climbers are received with a warm hospitality. The mountain is covered with deep snow in winter, so no climbers can enter the mountain area. In the high season of the summer, a lot of climbers come to challenge its peak. The route has many difficult points; especially on the eastern route, climbers have to go over three cirques (round howes) and go up and down ridges many times. Even if their feet get stiff, maybe they will get something only obtainable at the mountain top. Listen carefully, and you will hear the squeak of Japanese pikas.
Oyako-iwa Rocks (Parents and Child Rocks) are three large and small rocks, which seem to be afloat on the expanse of blue Pacific Ocean in the offing of Samani Town in southern Hokkaido. They are named so because they look like the father, the mother and a child resting close to each other. The group of rocks is counted as one of the eight scenic spots in Samani Town.
The rocks had been called “Unpe Repunke,” meaning “the parents and a child rocks” by the Ainu people, which was later translated into Japanese. According to an Ainu legend, when a village on the coast was defeated in a battle, the village head went into the sea and transformed himself into a huge rock, at which the pursuers shot arrows, until finally the rock split into three. You will be confused by these mysterious rocks because you might be able to find only one rock or two, depending on your observation point.
The coast area is arranged into a recreational area, where visitors can enjoy swimming at Oyako-iwa Fureai Beach and fishing from the breakwater. The rocks seen from Oyako-iwa Observatory at the sunset are especially beautiful.
Lake Toyoni is a 30-hectare lake about 9 kilometers up the forest road along the Saruru River on the north-eastern slope of Mt. Toyoni. This is the only natural lake in the Hidaka Mountain area. From its heart shape, it is called “Lake Heart.” It is also known as “Lake Batei (horseshoe)” because it also looks like a horseshoe. The Ainu people called it “Kamuito,” meaning “God Pond.”
The quiet lake full of emerald green water is surrounded by thick primeval forests, where northern pikas and Ezo squirrels inhabit. If you are lucky, you may get a glimpse of one. With only the twittering of birds, the lake lies in total tranquility. From early to the middle of October, it is surrounded with wonderful autumn leaves. It is the most suitable scenic spot for those who favor quiet natural environment.