The pearl industry flourishes in Shima, Mie prefecture, while Ago Bay is known as the 'home of pearls'. It is also famous as the place where pearl cultivation originated.
In 1893, Kokichi Mikimoto extracted five half-circled pearls from a pearl oyster during an experiment, proving that pearls could be cultivated from oysters. Pearl cultivation around Ago Bay in Mie prefecture really took off after that discovery.
Today, in Ago Bay eight pearl culture cooperative associations and four fisheries cooperative associations are licensed to cultivate the pearls.
Pearl culture requires several different fishing grounds for each developmental process of the pearl oyster, and it is necessary to take great care with the water temperature and to protect against red tides.
Today, pearl cultivation techniques in Mie prefecture are highly valued across the nation. The pearls are recognized for their high quality, and have received awards at national pearl culture fairs almost every year.
Hegura Island is located about 48km north of the Noto Peninsula. The shore has complicated inlets and cliffs formed by exposure to rough waves. The island is about 13m high and some 5km around and is small enough to explore in an hour.
In the past, fishermen from Wajima on the opposite shore would come here during the summer fishing season. But now, the number of inhabitants is increasing. Thanks to currents and landforms, it has many good fishing spots and is especially popular with ama, professional woman divers, who were described in an ancient poem in the Manyoushu (A Collection of a Myriad Leaves).
The views around the island have not changed so much over time and, in summer, many ama come here to dive for fish. In fact, the island is mainly fished by ama, their main catch being abalone, agar, soft seaweed and turban shells.
In addition, the island is a good resting place for birds migrating between Japan and the Asian Continent. In fact, there are some birds that can only be seen here in all Japan.
Mitsukejima Island is a small island, about 30m high, situated off the eastern shores of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture.
Because the island looks like the prow of a ship, it is also nicknamed 'gunkan (battleship) island'. When the tide is out, it is possible to cross to the island on foot. The name 'mitsuke' relates to a story in which the famous monk Kōbō Daishi was traveling through Sado on his way to Noto. The first object that met his eyes was this island. In Japanese, 'mitsuke' means 'found or saw', hence its name.
A shrine located on the peak attracts people involved with fishery. There used to be a spring festival, however it no longer takes place these days. Camping sites and bathing beaches are available near the island. Today, Mitsukejima Island is known both as a sightseeing spot and as a beach for leisure activities.
Gokashowan is a ria (submerged coastal landform), or a drowned valley by the sea. It is located within the Ise-shima National Park in Mie Prefecture. The water is surrounded by a strip of land that connects Tasosaki, Nansei-cho, Watarai-gun, Mie Prefecture and Tomenohana, Nansei-cho along the shore.
Gokashowan Bay is also called the Fuukouwan (Fuukou Bay) and is a representative example of a ria with many bays and inlets within its drowned valley. The mouth of the bay is about 2.6km wide, 22.2 km2 in area, and is 27m deep at its deepest point.
Within the bay, many types of coastal fishing take place, using fixed shore nets, gill nets and purse seine nets. Apart from coastal fishing, pearls, nori (laver), hamachi (young yellowfish) and tai (bream) are farmed here. In the Shukutaso area, deep-sea fishing for katsuo (bonito) and maguro (tuna) takes place. Additionally, many types of amusements can be enjoyed, including swimming, camping, sailing and fishing for fun.
As well as being the 'backdoor' to the beautiful scenic spots of Ise-shima, Gokashowan Bay has been, and still is, the central and most prominent spot for fisheries in all of Nansei.
Noutou-Kongou is the coastal region near Togi, in Hakui district, Ishikawa prefecture. There are many places to see along this extraordinary coast. Hatago rocks is one of them.
Also known as 'Noutou's Two Rocks', the two rocks are connected by a rope and are worshiped. A long time ago, legend has it that the goddess Nunaki-iri-Himeno-Mikoto was trying to develop the cloth industry in Noutou. One day, she was attacked by a bandit. She threw the cloth she was carrying into the sea, whereupon it changed into the two rocks. This legend is the origin of the story of these rocks.
When the setting sun sinks, the silhouette of the two rocks floats in the dark red of the sea. The view is almost surreal: it is as if a goddess appears.
Manzamou is a scenic spot in a quasi-national nature park in Onna-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa Prefecture.
It is said that the name Manzamou originated in the early 18th century, when King Shoukei of the Ryukyu Dynasty described the prairie as having 'enough hair (grass) to seat everybody'. It isn't surprising either that the king praised Manzamou for its simply astonishing scenery features that include: a coral and rocky promontory shaped like the head of an elephant; a carpet of green grass on top; and the clear, translucent sea around it.
Although natural grass prairies are not a rare sight in Okinawa, the raised coral reefs are, and Manzamou is the largest prairie in Okinawa, where many seashore plants can be seen, too. Flowers, such as the 'isonogiku' and many other special plants, some only found in Manzamou, exist in this seaside region. These clusters of plants have been named a Natural Monument of Okinawa.
It isn't an overstatement to say that Manzamou is a natural paradise surrounded by beautiful sea and divine plants.