Lake Furen is a brackish lake located between Nemuro City and Betsukai-cho in Hokkaido. It is the 3rd largest lake in Hokkaido. Being a part of Notsuke-Furen Prefectural Natural Park, the area around the lake has wide variety of land features such as sandbanks, meadows, swamps and virgin forests, where various species of flora and fauna inhabit.
From June to August, rugosa roses, Ezosukashiyuri (Lilium maculatum ssp. dauricum) and Sendaihagi (Thermopsis lupinoides) produce red, yellow and purple pretty flowers one after another to create a large flower garden all around the area.
Known as the water bird’s paradise, it is visited by the nation’s largest species of swan. Swans come flying from the early September to the end of December, and winter here till the middle of March or early May. About 240 species of other wild birds including red-crowned cranes, black woodpeckers and yellow-breasted buntings can be spotted in the area, which has become a popular spot for bird watching.
The Sarobetsu-genya in the watershed area of the Sarobetsu River is one of the largest wetlands in Japan. It is a part of Rishiri-Rebun-Sarobetsu National Park.
In the central part of this 23,000 ha moor lies Genseikaen Park, where as many as 100 species of swamp plants can be seen from early summer to fall. Those include very rare northern cranberry and bog rosemary, gentians (Gentiana triflora var. japonica) that produce cute purple flowers, and Yezo daylilies with bright yellow flowers. Being called “the symbol of the moor,” Yezo daylily is an extremely rare plant because it blooms for only two days during the summer. Chance it! You might be able to see it.
The Sarobetsu-genya Moor is the treasure trove of wild birds. East Siberian taigas and othe birds migrating for the south and red-crowned cranes can be seen in the late fall. In winter, white-tailed eagles come flying from Russia. It is a precious land which fosters flora and fauna as well as provides us, human beings, with relief and refreshment.
Kikugetsutei is a tea house is an aristocratic tea house located in Ritsurin Park, which is famous for its exquisite stroll-type garden. The construction of this garden started in 1625 by the lord of the Takamatsu domain, Ikoma Takatoshi, and was completed in 1745 after 100 years of improvements and extensions made by five successive domain lords of the Matsudaira family. The park was designated a prefectural park and opened to the public in 1875.
The lord of the Matsudaira family loved this grand Kikugetsutei Tea House.
With the greenery of Mt. Shiun as a backdrop, its elegant shape looks in good harmony with the pond. The tea house is in Shoin-zukuri style (the style of warrior residences) and elaborately designed so that you can fully appreciate the beauty of the pond and the surrounding landscape beyond the water.
On the second Sunday every month, you can join the tea ceremony “Tsuki-gama” here at Kikugetsutei Tea House.
Ritsurin Park in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture, is a National Special Scenic Spot and is one of the largest and most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan.
The building of this garden dates back to the early 17th century. In 1625, the lord of the Takamatsu domain, Ikoma Takatoshi, began the construction. Then in 1642, Matsudaira Yorishige took over the domain and continued its construction. The work was completed by the 5th lord of the Matsudaira family in 1745 after 100 years of improvements and extensions. After the new Meiji government took control, the park was designated a prefectural park and opened to the public.
Ritsurin Park is a stroll-type landscape garden exquisitely laid out with mounds, ponds and trees, where visitors can appreciate landscapes from every part of the garden. The building of a garden around the South Pond using the beautiful greenery of Mt. Shiun as a backdrop is specifically exquisite.
Tea ceremonies and garden concerts are held at Kikugetsutei Tea House, which used to be favored by the successive domain lords. In fall, the garden is lit up for visitors to enjoy autumn leaves.
Kami-Kawasaki washi paper is a traditional handicraft in Kami-kawasaki, Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture. It is designated as a prefecture’s Important Intangible Cultural Property.
The making of this paper dates back more than 1,000 years to the era reigned by Emperor Reizei (967-969). During the Heian period (794-1192), the paper from Kami-Kawasaki was highly valued by nobles as “the paper from the Deep North.” It is said that “Mayumi-gami,” which was praised by the famous female writers, Murasaki Shikibu and Seisho Nagon, was made in this town.
In the Edo period, the Niwa clan, the lord of the Nihonmatsu domain, promoted washi making and gave the town a license to produce paper, which led to the development of the present handmade washi paper industry.
Locally grown paper mulberry and tororo-aoi (the forming aid made from the roots of the tororo plant) are used as materials. Kami-Kawasaki washi paper has been made in the same processes and techniques of manufacture as was written in the Kamisuki Chohoki (the handbook of paper making) written in 1798.
Iris Festival is held from May 25 to June 20 every year in Chiryu Park, the outer garden of Chiryu Shrine. The Japanese irises in this park were donated by the imperial Meiji Jingu Shrine in 1955, 1957 and 1960. Sixty different species of irises that were loved by Emperor and Empress Meiji come into flowers during the festival. The best time is around June 10, when visitors can enjoy viewing gorgeous and colorful flowers of about 30,000 stocks of iris.
During the festival period, various enjoyable events are held in the park, such as the children’s sketch contest, the photo contest of the iris flowers, the demonstration of Karakuri dolls, tea ceremonies, the tanka poem contest and the exhibition of the shrine treasures.
The city of Chiryu in Aichi Prefecture was the 39th of 53 post stations on the Old Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). Chiryu Festival is held at Chiryu Shrine from May 2 to 3; Hon-matsuri (the main festival) and Ai-matsuri (the interval festival) are held alternately once every two years.
The main festival is famous for Bunraku and Karakuri performance and the parade of the gorgeous five festival floats, each of which is about 7 meter tall and 5 tons in weight and owned by the town within the city. The techniques of operating Karakuri dolls have been handed down since the Edo Period (1603-1868). Bunraku and Karakuri art is nationally designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.
In the interval festival, the pretty floats decorated with colorful flowers and the children in Yakko (men servants of daimyo) costume parade through the city.
Bense Swamp located in Kizukuri Tateoka, Tsugaru City, Aomori Pref. is one of the largest swamps in Tsugaru Qausi-National Park. In the area around this swamp are numerous large and small lakes and pond. Surrounded by Hirataki Pond, Otaki Pond and Bense Pond, this swamp at an altitude of 20 m above sea level has an area of 20 ha, where the community of Nikko-kisuge (Hemerocallis middendorffii var. esculenta) forms a bright orange carpet in June, and the purple community of sword-leaved iris shudders in the breeze in July. The swamp was formed because dead plant layers such as peat moss have heaped up due to the severe climatic conditions. It is unusual that this kind of marshy plant community is formed near the beach. In Honshu and the northeastern part of Hokkaido, it can be seen nowhere other than in the wetland area around Mt. Byobuyama including this swamp. Bense Swamp is a scenic spot where visitors can enjoy bright-colored cute flowers.