Heiwa Kannon located in Ohya-machi, Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Pref. is a huge statue of Kannon carved into a wall of Ohya Stone in the old Ohya stone quarry. It was made in hope for world peace and in memory of Japan and U.S. war dead soldiers in the World War II. The statue is 26.93-meter in height and 20-centimeter in circumference of waist. It was made in 1954 by a stone mason, Ryozo Ueno, who did its foundation work, and a sculptor, Asajiro Hida, who hand-carved its calm expression. From the top of the stairs beside the statue, you can command a wide view of the Utsunomiya plain over its shoulder.
On the left side of the Kannon was a tunnel leading to Ohyaji Temple, but it is currently closed for the danger of falling. Ohyaji Temple is also famous for its rock-cut Kannon known as Ohya Kannon. Heiwa Kannon is a symbol of the stone town of Ohya.
Lake Mashu in Akan National Park in the eastern part of Hokkaido is a caldera lake formed by an eruption about 7,000 years ago. The lake is famous for its beautiful water, which is one of the clearest in the world, and the fog that envelopes its surface as is sung in a popular ballad “Misty Lake Mashu” of 1960s.
Of all the peaks that are forming the outer rim of this caldera, the highest one is Mt. Mashudake (858 m), also known as Kamuinupri (god’s mountain). Mt. Mashudake presents its imposing view right in front of the first observatory of Lake Mashu. The walking trail is built from the first observatory to the summit. Walking along the ridge of the outer rim, you will go under the tunnel of dense foliage and enjoy viewing pretty alpine plants as well as mirror-like surface of Lake Mashu, which repeatedly come into and go out of sight. As there is very often a thick fog on the surface of the lake, you may not be able to see it. If the fog is not very thick, you may have a chance to enjoy the mystic atmosphere of the lake with the mysterious island of Kamuisshu in its center.
The Miroku Waterfall, which is 30 m high and 20 m wide, is located in Takko-machi, Sannohe-gun, Aomori Pref. The name comes from the Buddhist priest, Chugakubo, who worshipped Miroku Bosatsu (Maitraya Bodhisattva) and fasted to offer a fervent prayer to bring about a large waterfall to save people suffering from bad harvest. Going through the tunnel of the green leaves surrounded by the old growth of beech trees, you will stand in front of a huge rock, on which clear strips of water are descending. It is also known as “the Somen (very thin white Japanese noodles) Waterfall.” The water descending in many white strips on the huge rock looks delicate and mysterious. If you stay in front of the waterfall for half a day, both your body and mind will be unstiffened and healed by ions given off from the water splashes and green energy of the forest. The beautiful stream of water in the landscapes that change by the season is worth seeing. There is also a park named Miroku Water Park just next to the waterfall.
During the period to pioneer the primitive ground of Hokkaido, the Hokkaido Development Commission encouraged the use of bricks as the material to construct buildings in the inland areas. Accordingly, the production of bricks started in 17 factories in 8 districts in Hokkaido and brickes were used for many fine buildings including the former Hokkaido Government Building, which was given the nickname of “Akarenga” or Red Brick.
Since the Taisho period (1912-1926), Ebetsu became the production center of bricks. The Ebetsu brick is characterized by its red or brown colors, which derive from Nopporo clay contained in the local soil.
Bricks were used for railway tunnels, bridges, stations, schools, silos, houses and warehouses, all of which contributed to the modernization of the land. At present, over 400 brick buildings are preserved in good forms in the city of Ebetsu, which is a part of “the projects for preservation and utilization of historic brick buildings.” These buildings are designated together as one of the Hokkaido Heritages. The red brick buildings against clear blue sky look really magnificent.
Shimamui Coast is a 1 km scenic coast at the northern tip of Shakotan Peninsula in Hokkaido. It is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Beautiful Beaches and designated as the only underwater park in Hokkaido.
The entrance to Shimamui Coast is a narrow dark tunnel at the end of the parking lot. Once you pass through the tunnel, the splendid view of blue seawater will appear before your eyes! It is one of the most impressive scenes in Hokkaido.
From the observatory atop the sheer cliff, you can command the dynamic coastline that leads to Cape Kamui in front and Mt. Shakotandake in back. The sea below is so transparent that you can even see the bedrock. The sight of the waves splashing against Byoubu-iwa (Folding Screen Rock) in the cove is a sight you will want to see a number of times.
At the beginning of summer, the cliffs are decorated with the local flower, Yezo daylilies.
Japan’s largest virgin forest of camellia trees with an area of about 10 ha spreads near Toragasaki Lighthouse at the foot of Mt. Kasayama in Hagi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture. From December through March, about 25,000 camellia trees come into bloom. The names such as Hagi-komachi, Hagi-no-sato, Hakumoukou, Fukakusa-no-shosho and Kasayama-Wabisuke are given to some of the fine trees by citizens’ voting.
You’ll never get tired of looking around such a huge amount of camellia flowers because the color, size and shape of flowers, stamens, and leaves differ from tree to tree. You can enjoy this magnificent camellia forest at any time during the flowering season from the tunnel of camellia flowers at the peak time to the red carpet of the fallen flowers at the end of the season.
From February through March, Camellia Festival is held, where you can also enjoy local performing arts on stage and shopping at the local product market.
Cape Ashizuri is at the tip of Ashizuri Peninsula, the southernmost point of Shikoku. The 80 m steep cliff was created by subsidence and elevation that has repeatedly occurred for a long time to the granite rock stratum formed around Mt. Hakuo (433 m). Wild waves of the Pacific Ocean violently dash against the cliff. On top of the cliff stands a white lighthouse, which creates a magnificent and dynamic seascape peculiar to the Tosa region.
Due to the north-flowing Kuroshio Current, it is cool in summer and warm in winter, when the temperature never drops below zero ℃. There are many species of wild subtropical plants, many of which are designated as Natural Monuments. The cape is also famous for camellia blossoms. The promenade lined with 150,000 camellia trees turns into a camellia flower tunnel during the blooming season.
Going toward the west along the Marine Line in Takeno-cho, Kinosaki-gun, Hyogo Pref. and passing by Kirihama Beach, you will see a strange-shaped rock called Hasakari Rock. It looks as if a round rock has been wedged between the other two outcropping rocks. Actually, these three rocks used to form one large rock, but the central part had been eroded by waves to form a tunnel, and then the upper part of the tunnel crumbled and was wedged between the two columnar rocks. The word “hasakari” means to be wedged and get stuck” in the dialect of Tajima District (presently Hyogo Pref.). The rock is designated as a prefectural cultural property, by which the zest of formative arts by nature can be experienced.