Capes on Okushiri Island had been considered holy places where people offered prayers to gods in the ancient times. Among such capes is Cape Miyatsu Benten. If you go northward on the east side of the island, you will see the cape with a shrine atop of it.
It is Bentengu Shrine, the history of which dates back to 1831, when local fishermen enshrined the statue of Benten at the watch house located here and prayed for a good catch. The shrine building was built in 1927 and since then Benten has been guarding the people of the nearby villages.
The cape commands a magnificent ocean view with the main land of Hokkaido seen in the distance. Surrounding sea is so cleat that you can see the bedrocks. The cape rises in mystic tranquility and only the lapping of the waves can be heard.
Chizenji Temple worshipping Benzaiten is located on Awajishima Island. Benzaiten is the Japanese name of the goddess Saraswati, who is the goddess of wisdom and performing art and one of Shichifukujin (Sevn Gods of Fortune) in Japan. The temple belongs to Shingon Sect and the Sango (the name of the mountain in which it is located) is Daiko-zan. The time of its establishment is unknown, but its history is as long as its earliest record can be found in a copied sutra “Dainehan-kyo” written during the Nanboku-cho period (1336-1392). The main hall was built in the middle of the Edo period, where the statues of Dainyorai and Benzaiten are located. The temple is one of the Awaji Shichifukujin Pilgrimage temples and visited by as many as a hundred thousand pilgrims during the year. Especially during the winter there is a day when more than 2,000 pilgrims visit the temple. On the first prayer day to Benzaiten on January 7 and at the ritual of Sentai Jizo Nagashi (the floating of the talisman representing Jizo) held on August 23, a lot of pious visitors come to dedicate their prayers.
The Old Jinya of the Nanbu domain is the ruins of a base camp located in Shiokubi-cho, Hakodate City, Hokkaido. It was constructed in 1799 by the Nanbu domain under the order of the Tokugawa Shogunate to reinforce the defenses of Hakodate. It was the main encampment that controlled sub-camps constructed in Muroran, Oshamanbe and Sunahara.
In 1821, when the Matsumae domain recovered its confiscated territory in Hokkaido, the base camps built by the Nanbu domain were dismantled. In 1855, when the Nanbu domain again received the order from the Shogunate to defend the areas in Hakodate including Cape Benten, they reconstructed their base camp. In 1868, with the advance of the soldiers who deserted the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Nanbu domain set fire on the base camps and abandoned the territories in Hokkaido.
The premise of the encampment was originally 16,200 sq m in area, but it was expanded to 36,000 sq m in the later eras. At the present time, only the stone walls and the monument erected by Iwate Nanbu Association remain in the ruins site.
Otamoi Coast is a scenic spot in the northern part of Otaru City in Hokkaido. It is a part of Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru-Beach Quasi-National Park and counted as one of the 8 Scenic Spots in Otaru. The word “otamoi” means “a cove with sand beach,” but there is no sign of what its name shows. Today, it is a rocky shore with sheer cliffs towering at the edge of the ocean. The promenade is built on top pf the 200 cliffs, where you can enjoy viewing this dynamic seascape. In summer, people come for swimming and fishing. It is also famous as the practice area for rock climbing.
The area around the coast has been called “Hakuja-no-tani (White Snake Valley) since the ancient times, and the adjacent cove was considered as a holy place, where Otamoi Jizo is enshrined.
In the early Showa period (1926-1989), there was an amusement part called “Otamoi Amusement Park” here. The promenade was arranged from Japanese restaurant Ryugu-kaku, which looked very much like Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto, to Otamoi Jizo, along which the play equipment area, Benten-do Hall and the music hall were provided. Being called the finest amusement park in northern Japan, a large number of people visited this place. It was closed after the restaurant was destroyed by fire in 1952.
Suwa Gorge located in Minakami Town in Gunma Prefecture is a gorge created by swift flow of the Tone River. With oddly-shaped stones and rocks such as Benten-iwa Rock continuing on both sides of the stream, it is a representative scenic spot in Minakami Town. As the promenade is finely arranged along the stream, visitors can fully enjoy its beautiful scenery in each season including tender green in summer and crimson foliage in fall.
The stone monument inscribed with a poem by Yosano Akiko is erected beside the Sasame Bridge at the entrance of the gorge. The clear flow of the Tone River and Mt. Tanigawadake viewed from the bridge is exquisite. The Tamasudare-no-taki Waterfall with a height of 30 m and the Ryugase Waterfall flow down on the stream. In the vicinity are Momiji Park and Suwakyo Hot Springs, which provide visitors with a variety of activities.
Onaura Beach located in the west of Katsuura Bay in Matsube, Katsuura City, Chiba Pref. is a part of Minami-Boso Quasi-National Park. The huge rock called “Megane-iwa (eyeglasses rock)” or “Benten-iwa,” which was formed by long-term erosion and weathering, adds to the scenic attraction. The beach is popular as a quiet bathing spot and the rocky shore is a known good-out-of-the-way fishing spot. Along the coastline of Katsuura Bay, there are a lot of sightseeing spots including Ubara Risokyo ria coast, Katsuura Marine Park, which is the largest marine park in Asia, and Kushihama Bathing Beach. Visitors can enjoy various outdoor activities all through the year.
Hashigui Rocks are 40 large and small rocks extending across the sea 850 m from Hashigui, Kushimoto-cho to Oshima Island.
Legend has it that once upon a time Kobodaishi Kukai laid a wager with Amanojaku (heavenly evil spirit) if he could build a bridge to Oshima Island before dawn. Seeing that Kukai would win, Amanojaku cheated Kukai by mimicking a rooster call. Hearing this, Kukai thought the day broke and gave up completing the bridge. Consequently only the posts remained.
At low tide, the path to Benten Island in the middle of the way appears, which amuses tourists. The rocks are located in Yoshino-Kumano National Park. Hashigui Rocks are designated as a national Natural Treasure and selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Sunrise Spots.
Mt. Bandai erupted in 1888 and caused extensive damage to the surrounding areas. The northern side of the mountain collapsed by the eruption and the avalanche of rocks and earth dammed the river to form the 3 Lakes of Bandai (Lake Hibara, Lake Onogawa, and Lake Akimoto) and many other nameless lakes and ponds in Bandai Highland, which is a beautiful highland where about 300 lakes and ponds scattered around. Goshiki-numa, or Five Colored Lakes, is a cluster of approximately 40 large and small volcanic ponds including Bishamon-muna, Aka-numa, Midoro-numa, Ryu-numa, Benten-numa, Ruri-numa, Ao-numa, and Yanagi-numa, all of which are located among the 3 Lakes of Bandai at the northern foot of Mt. Bandai. The 3-km walking trail, by which visitors can see around more than ten ponds, is very popular. Changing their colors from cobalt blue to indigo blue or copper brown, those mysterious ponds are called “Witches’ Eyes.”