Great Green Grid is a lattice-shaped windbreak forest in Konsen Plateau in the eastern part of Hokkaido. It is a globally “large-scale” forest, which can’t be constructed in this country except in Hokkaido. It is registered as one of Hokkaido Heritages.
The side of each lattice is 3,000 m in length, the green belt is 180 m in width, and the total length of the forest is as long as 648 km. It became famous after astronaut Mamoru Mori captured it with a video camera when he flew aboard the space shuttle “Endeavor,” from which alone we can imagine how huge it is.
It was originally built to protect nearby cattle farms and grazing ground from wind and snow, but it has also become habitats and pathway for wild animals. In recent years, it is a popular spot for horse trekking and animal watching.
Lake Chimikeppu is located in Shibetsu-cho in the eastern part of Hokkaido. “Chimikeppu” in the Ainu means “a place where water gushes out of a cliff.” This is a dammed lake produced by the landslide due to the crustal change occurred about 10,000 years ago. As the lake has a complex coastline, which indented into the surrounding valleys, it looks like an artificial lake but actually it is not. It is known as a habitat of Himemasu (sockeye salmon) and Marimo (lake ball). Surrounded with the primary forest of Jezo Spruce and Sakhalin fir, the area around the lake is inhabited by a variety of wildlife including wild birds such as black woodpeckers, which is a natural protected species, and Ezo red foxes. You can walk along the 1.5 km promenade along the lake, enjoying magnificent view of the pristine natural beauty around the lake.
Piyashiri Marsh is Japan’s northernmost high moor, 4 km to the direction of Oumu-cho from the summit of Mt. Piyashiri, one of Japan’s 100 Fine Mountains. This marsh land with an area of 38,000 square meters is located at an altitude of 920 m above sea level. Here, a variety of wildlife add mystique to the landscape. On the forest floor of Yezo spruce, the community of alpine plants such as sundew, hare's tail cotton grass, and moorwort looks like a carpet of flowers. In this truly unexplored land, there are three large and small ponds, where Ezo brown frogs and Ezo blue dragonflies are resting in a leisurely way. As the area is also a habitat of brown bears and other wild animals, you can’t go into this marsh land with an easy going thought, which might have enabled beautiful nature to remain intact.
Lake Kokkuri is the largest and located in the western most among all the lakes and ponds spreading in Niseko area in Rankoshi-cho in the southern part pf Shakotan Peninsula. According to the town record, this strange name was given by Yoshitaro Yoshizaki, who discovered the lake in 1895. In those days, this area was considered as a land of seclusion, where wild foxes and raccoon dogs inhabited. As a raccoon dog is called “kokkuri” in Japanese, he combined it with a popular practice of occultism “Kokkuri-san” and created the name. First it was written in kanji, but somewhere along the line katakana came to be used. Surrounded with the primary forest of over 200-year-old Earman’s birches and others, the lake creates the very atmosphere of the secluded land. The lake is located at 550 m above sea level and a lot of Ezo salamanders as well as carp and crucian carp inhabit here. The scenery across the lake is reflected on the water surface on a still day.
Mt. Asahidake located in the center of Hokkaido is the main peak of the Daisetsu mountain range. Although it is 2,290 m above sea level, the ecological conditions of the mountain is similar to those of 3,000-meter-class mountains in Honshu. This is because the mountain is located at high latitude.
Swamp plants grow in Tennyogahara Field and over 40 species of alpine plants can be seen in Sugatami-no-ike Pond and its surrounding area. The area is known as a habitat of rare species of insects such as Eversmann's Parnassian, which is a national Natural Monument and can be found only in the Daisetsu mountain range, and 6 other species of alpine butterflies as well as of wild animals such as northern pikas (Ochotona hyperborea yesoensis) and Ezo deer.
As the aerial tramway service is provided from Asahidake Hot Spring in Higashikawa-cho to Sugatami-no-ike Pond, a lot of visitors come to enjoy hiking without much difficulty.
Various flowers come into bloom in summer, which look like a huge flowerbed in the garden of grand nature. Covered with crimson foliage, it displays magnificent scenery in fall; while it looks breathtakingly beautiful when covered with white snow in winter.
Mt. Hakusan, located on the border of Ishikawa, Fukui and Gifu prefectures is believed to be the sacred mountain and has been worshipped by the people living in Hokuriku Region. Along with Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tateyama, it is counted as one of Japan’s Three Fine Mountains. The pilgrimage to this mountain was founded by the priest Taicho Shonin in 717, and since then the mountain together with Shirayama Hime Shrine has been worshipped as the sacred place for Shugendo (mountain practice). The mountain has three peaks of Omae-mine, Kenga-mine and Oonanji-mine. The highest peak is Omae-mine with an altitude of 2702 m. It is said that Mt. Hakusan has been active as a composite volcano for 300,000 to 400,000 years. Fossils of dinosaurs have been found in the Jurassic layer of earth. There are a lot of hot springs in this area. The mountain is also known as the treasure box of alpine plants, natural forests and wild animals. There are a lot of steep places in the middle of the mountain, where there are even some unexplored places. The area including the mountain was designated as a national park in 1962. Its pure and beautiful figure still gives strong impression on the visitors.
The upper reaches of the Kawahara River flow for a long stretch through the spectacular Hyodo Valley in Kamitsuemachi, Hita, in Oita Prefecture.
The Hyodo Valley has an altitude of 600m and the mountain stream has very clear, translucent water with a refreshing and brisk aspect. It is also known as an excellent spot for masu salmon fishing, and a common sight is that of families fighting against a masu salmon at the fishing spot.
There are various waterfalls that tumble over rough and jagged rocks, making an intense scene that is enhanced by color contrasts in the four seasons. Many wild birds, such as the crested kingfisher, the akashiyobin, and the grey wagtail, nest along the ravine, allowing people to enjoy birdwatching as well. In the autumn, the maple trees turn a rich red, and if the weather is fine, these and the ginkgo trees, along with the other trees in the valley appear to shine. Because of its secluded setting, the Hyodo Valley is an excellent area to experience nature.
Ayugaeri-no-taki (Waterfall of Returning Sweetfish) is a small waterfall found along the Yamakuni River in Sankousugi, Nakatsu, Oita Prefecture. The origin of the name comes from the story of a young sweetfish that was moving up the Yamakuni River but could not get past this waterfall.
Ayugaeri-no-taki has a width of 10 meters and is the only waterfall along the Yamakuni River. It is located in the center of a flood plain, and forms a miniature waterfall. There are many waterfalls named 'Ayugaeri-no-taki', but this one, seen along National Route 212, is the most humble.
The way the water splashes onto the surface below along with droplets sprayed into the air, all occurring just between two simple, rustic boulders, is absolutely beautiful. There are many views with these kinds of strangely shaped rocks along the National Route in this area, making it a very interesting place. Ayugaeri-no-taki is a notable scenic beauty spot that is appreciated for its sense of secrecy.