NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2007/2/12


鶴見古墳 Tsurumi-kofun Tsurumi Ruins

Jp En

Officially designated as an historical site, Kawabe Takamori Ruins consist of 6 large keyhole-shaped tomb mounds, surrounded by 120 graves. All of them have a large keyhole-shaped tomb mound facing different directions.

The ruins have lost their shapes over time due to the increase of surrounding paddy fields. However, this is the only place which has several ruins concentrated in Oita Prefecture. Even in Kyushu, these ruins comprise the the second largest burial site after the Saitobaru Ruins (320 graves) in Miyazaki Prefecture.

The Tsurumi Ruins were the last tombs to be made for the headman of Usa area in the mid-6th century. Furthermore, they are an important historical record of the burial system during the late Kofun period.
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2007/1/26


桜滝 Sakura-daki Sakuradaki Waterfall

Jp En

Sakuradaki waterfall is located near Amagasemachi, in Hita, Oita Prefecture. The waterfall gets its name from the mountain cherry trees ('sakura') that grow profusely here.

With a height of 25 meters and a width of 15 meters, this waterfall is defined by its white veil-like stream of falling water. In this area, both banks of the Goraku River are cliffs revealing bare rock, but the contrast with the deciduous trees growing between the cracks shows a simple kind of beauty.

The basin of the waterfall is a beautiful half sphere, and there is only a small opening around the waterfall, making it hard to see from far away. The fact that the waterfall is only a 5-minute walk through calm and peaceful paddy fields from JR Amagase station is also a good point. After crossing the rails and walking a short distance, it is already close enough to feel the spray from the waterfall. Sakuradaki is an easy-to-reach location for everyone to appreciate the magnificence of nature.
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八面山 Hatimen-san Hachimen Mountain

Jp En

Hachimen Mountain, in Nakatsu, Oita Prefecture, is 659m high, and so named because it looks the same from whichever direction you see it. ('Hachime' means 'eight directions'.)

Hachimen Mountain is a table-top plateau formed by volcanic eruptions from Mount Aso, or in other words, it is a humongous rock formation with steep cliffs. In olden times, it was called Yayama, or Ya Mountain.

The mountain occupies the northeastern corner of Yabahitahiko Quasi-National Park. Hachimen Mountain represents the town of Nakatsu, and relay antennas for local TV stations can be seen on its peak. The Konjiki Hot Springs are located at the foot of the mountain, while Yaba Ravine can be found in the surrounding area. The peak boasts a grand panoramic view of Toyomae and Nakatsu towns, along with the Suo Sea, Yamakuni River, and the rice paddies of the Nakatsu Plains.

Locals say that when returning from faraway lands, they do not feel entirely home until they see Hachimen Mountain. Hachimen Mountain has, and always will be, an inextricable part of the landscape of Nakatsu.
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2007/1/22


三重 千枚田 Mie Senmaida Maruyama Senmaida Ricefields

Jp En

Located in Kiwa, near Kumano in Mie Prefecture, Maruyama Senmaida is a beautiful group of terraced ricefields that have been designated among Japan's 100 most beautiful.

The word 'senmaida' means 'thousand-layered small ricefields'. There are over 1300 terraced fields; some reputed to be so small that farmers are heard to say, 'I found the field I lost, it's here under my bamboo hat'.

A while ago, depopulation had reduced the number of ricefields to nearly 500, but thanks to the local population combining efforts with Kiwa-cho and the adoption of an owner-system, the number of ricefields is back to what it used to be.

The narrowest field is only two tatami-mats wide, and the elevation difference between the lowest and highest terrace is nearly 100m. It is impossible to use machines because of the steep incline of the terraces. Therefore every single blade of rice is reaped by hand.

There are many steep rice terraces in Japan, but Maruyama Senmaida leads in beauty and in its state of preservation. It can be said that these rice terraces literally comprise a scene of peaceful interaction between humans and nature.
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2007/1/16


小杉の大杉 Kosugi-no-oosugi Small-Cedar's Big Cedar

Jp En

Big Cedar is a tree in Small-Cedar district, and is near the village of Sakegawa, in Mogami County, Yamagata prefecture.

Although the great cedar tree might look like a couple of trees, it is in fact a single tree standing among paddy fields. Its base is 6.3m in circumference and it is 20m tall. It is said to be more than 1000 years old.

Because it has two big trunks, it is also called the 'Couple Cedar' or 'Marriage-Tie Cedar'. In addition, owing to its resemblance to a tree seen in the movie, 'Tonari-no-Totoro', it has lately gained more fame and come to be called 'Totoro's tree'.

The tree is venerated by the village and a mountain deity has been enshrined at its base.

Usually, a cedar tree tends to grow narrow and high in order to get more sunshine and survive. But, because there has been nothing other than rice fields around the tree, it has leisurely spread out to receive much sunshine.
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