Facing the Sea of Japan in Kaminokuni, Hokkaido, are the remains of a medieval fort-mansion ('tate'). The fort comprised three halls: Hanazawa, Suzaki and Katsuyama halls, all of which are located in Kamino and which have been designated as an important asset of Hokkaido. The remains of Katsuyama hall, the largest of the halls, have helped solve several mysteries about Hokkaido in the middle ages, following excavations and studies of important artifacts since 1979.
Katsuyama hall was built by the father of the Matsuyama clan, Takeda Nobuhiro. In 1457, he overpowered the local Ainu people, and built this fort-mansion as a feudal residence. Excavation of the hall ruins revealed a trench, the remains of a dwelling and some crockery, as well as records showing that more than 200 people of both Japanese and Ainu race lived together here. Such evidence of racial harmony has drawn a lot of attention.
Some 45% of the ceramics and pottery unearthed here was made in China, which shows that there was active trading and exchange with China.
The Kaminokuni fort-mansion is a very important ruin, which not only has an aura of romance, but has helped historians fill in missing links in Hokkaido's past.
The Kisagi Basin is a bizarrely shaped shoal, located in the Sasano ravine in Kamitsue-machi, Hita, Oita Prefecture. The strangely shaped rocks and the massive rocks of the Hoshihara layer, which completely change the flow of the river, created the ravines near the Kantani Bridge. This bridge spans the middle reaches of the Kawahara River.
The natural landscape of the basin, which is some 20m wide, possesses a mysterious beauty. Its colors change subtly and marvellously with each season. Besides conifers, there are various broadleaf trees, such as chestnut, dogwood, soyogo and azebi, that enclose the Kisagi Basin, giving it the wonderful appearance of a botanical garden. The ambience of the Kisagi Basin becomes more vibrant in the autumn as the red leaves on the riverbank glow elegantly in the sunlight.
The Kisagi Basin is a lovely place, giving visitors a sense of joy, tranquility and harmony with nature.
Shinji Lake is located between Matsue and Izumo districts in Shimane Prefecture. The lake is a known a‘brackish-water lake’, because it has a mixture of both fresh and seawater. Also, it is said that it was formed 10,000 years ago. The word Shinji evolved from the word ‘Swine’s pathway’. It is the 7th largest lake in Japan. Moreover, the lake is a habitat of viand fishes, both fresh water and seawater varieties. In this sense, it is also known as the number-one fare spot for Corbicula japonica. The corbiculidae shellfish plays an important role in the loch. It clarifies the water by swallowing plankton and expelling clean water. It is possible, with the present quantity of shellfish, to purify 5 times the amount of water in Shinji Lake. In winter, over 20,000 birds, including swan, goose and duck, come to the lake. The abundant fish and shellfish that depend upon the lake’s eutrophication (natural enriching with nutrient), a feature of brackish-water, become the prey of the birds. Photographers also gather around the lake to catch the mystery of nature on film.
Taikodani Inari Shrine is located in Kanoashi district, Shimane Prefecture. Kamei Norisada, the 7th lord of the Tsuwano clan, founded the shrine in 1774. It is said that this shrine is modeled on the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. Today, it is counted as one of the five great Inari shrines in Japan. Inari is a god of food, clothing and shelter. Similarly, it draws worshipers who wish for prosperity in trade, success in industry and good fortune at any time of year. The name of the shrine comes from a story that a guardian of a castle lost the key and was told to commit ritual suicide by disembowelment, yet, after continuous worship at the Inari shrine, he found the key on the day of the ritual . After this, the word “success” was added to the shrine’s name. One thousand Shinto gates are lined to form a zigzag tunnel. Kanoshi district also has a lot of lightning strikes in. The shrine appears particularly beautiful when the snow covers the vermilion gate and courtyard.
Ootodoro Waterfall is a marvellous cataract located in Sawadani, NakaDistrict, Tokushima Prefecture. The Sawatani River, a tributary of the Sakashuukitou River, has an altitude, is 450m above sea level. The waterfall consists of three levels, but the lower part is itself separated into four levels. The waterfall is also wide and deep. In the upper level, the rock is white, and the water that flows over it is elegant and very beautiful. Its beauty even surpasses that of the Ookama Waterfall, which is one of Japan’s top 100 waterfalls. The waterfall is an overwhelming 20m high. The huge volume of water ensures that the surroundings stay moist and green. It is interesting to see the autumn leaves in fall. In winter, the water becomes very transparent and blue. There is a wonderful tranquility. The beautiful valley scenery can be enjoyed in all seasons, with each season adding something special to the waterfall’s scenery.