Teriha Gorge located in the upstream of the Yunokoya River in Minakami-machi in Gunma Prefecture. The gorge has eleven waterfalls, each of which has the elegant name such as Higurashi (Evening Cicada), Konomi (Nut), Shigure (Shower in Late Autumn), Fudan (Constance), Tsuzumi (Japanese Hand Drum), Kodama (Tree Spirit), Kawasemi (Indian Kingfisher), Hakuryu (White Dragon), Iwana (Char) and Senryu (Diving Dragon), which were given by a Haiku poet, Mizuhara Shuoshi.
Teriha Gorge is a scenic spot with the atmosphere of unexplored land. Tender green in spring is beautiful but the landscape in fall is far more wonderful. The waterfalls gently flow down in the picturesque beauty of the brocade woven with red and yellow autumn leaves. Each of the waterfalls has its own elegance, but the most overwhelming in this season is the Tsuzumi-no-taki waterfall.
As it takes less than one hour to see around the gorge, you can spend leisurely time in forest bathing. It’s the unknown scenic spot.
99% of Japan’s gold leaf is made in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Pref., which is due to the fact that climate and water in this area is suitable for gold pounding and that the producing places of Buddhist family altars and lacquered ware, for which gold leaf is consumed in high volume, are close to this city. A gold leaf is 1/10,000 to 2/10,000 mm thick, which is almost transparent. It is said that a piece of gold sized as large as a ten-yen coin can be thinned out into a sheet as large as a tatami-mat. A gold leaf must be uniformly flat without breaking or tearing. Imai Gold Leaf Co., Ltd. established in 1898 is Japan’s only one gold leaf trading company that has its own factory. It deals in other metal leaf such as silver leaf, platinum leaf and edible gold leaf as well. The company has handed on the traditional technique and tries to pass it on to the posterity, pursuing the beauty of gold leaf. In the showroom of the company, the hands-on-experience section is provided for the customers to know the charm of the gold leaf “with their own eyes and heart.”
Kashima Nishiki is a traditional hand-woven fabric made in Saga Pref. It is known for the delicate and gorgeous geometric patterns. The origin of this craft dates back to the early Edo period, when a widow of the feudal lord of Nabeshima Clan in Hizen-Kashima, who had been ill in bed, hit upon an idea of making a woven fabric when she saw the beautiful pattern of the bamboo ceiling, which was called the Ajiro pattern. At first, the weaving was passed on as a form of female education for young girls from samurai families such as the Sagas, the Ogis and the Kashimas. Many improvements had been made in the course of time and the techniques which are used today were established. In making of Kashima Nishiki, Japanese paper made of paper mulberry, which is coated with gold and cut into strips, is used as the warp, and dyed silk thread is passed through the paper strips as the woof. The subtle, delicate and time-consuming techniques are needed in the making process, in which the warp is worked with silk woof at every other thread to create enchanting patterns. Nishiki brocades were highly praised at the Anglo-Japanese Exposition held in Britain during the Meiji period and even today they are highly evaluated overseas as the perfection of Japanese hand weaving. Since this participation in the exposition, Nishiki brocades are known as “Saga Nishiki,” however, the ones made in Kashima area are still called Kashima Nishiki.
Hime dharma is a traditional craft product of Matsuyama City, Ehime Pref. Its round shape with bushy black hair is very cute. The history of Hime dharma dates back to the late 4th century. It is written in an old record that Emperor Chuai and Empress Consort Jingu visited the land of Iyo and took a bath at Ishiyu (present Dogo Hot spring). Thanks to this bathing, a baby was born in due time, who later became Emperor Ojin and people called the hot spring “Yuzuki” (hot spring of the 9th month). Hime dharma represents the pregnant figure of Empress Jingu. In the modern times, a pair of Hime dharmas representing a couple is very popular as a prayer for safe delivery. It used to be made paulownia but later hariko (carton pierre) was adopted and has been used to the present. It is believed that a child who plays with this dharma grows into a gentle person, or if a sick person puts this dharma in his/her room, he/she will get well sooner. Hime dharma is also loved by people as a lucky charm to increase their business.
Iroha-zaka winding road is a slope with 48 hairpin curves connecting Umagaeshi, Nikko City and Lake Chuzenji. It was nominated as one of “the 100 Best Roads of Japan”. This road is the main access to Oku-Nikko, where Lake Chuzenji and Nikko Yumoto Hotspring are located. It takes the one-way traffic system that the Second Iroha-zaka is used to go up and the First to come down. Each corner has a signboard with a letter of old Japanese alphabet in alphabetical order that stars from i-ro-ha. This road used to be for worshippers of Mt. Nantai and Lake Chuzenji in the past days. Women and horses had not been allowed to go up the slope until the early Meiji period, so the entrance of the slope was called Umagaeshi, which meant returning horse, and Nyonin-do (women’s hall) is located on the place where women returned after they worshipped Mt. Nantai. You can enjoy continuous exquisite views along Iroha-zaka, yashiotsutsuji (mountain azalea) in spring and autumnal leaves in fall. You can also command a panoramic view of Mt. Nantai, the Kegon Fall, and Lake Chuzenji from Akechi-daira on the second Iroha-zaka.
Mt. Chausudake is a part of the Nasu Mountain Range with an altitude of 1,915 m. The unique cotyloid shape of its peak that was formed by the volcanic eruption together with its actively fuming harshness fascinates a lot of tourists. There are many signs of volcanic activity everywhere in the mountain including steam eruptions, sulfurous smell and loud erupting sounds. Rocks are also weathered into yellow with sulfide. There are, however, abundant alpine plants in this region. The mountain top area is filled with blooming mountain cherry in the early May and mountain azalea in the late May. You can command a panoramic view of autumn leaves in fall. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to get to the end of the aerial tram that is close to the peak. From here 40 minute walk will take you to the peak of the mountain, so even a family with infants can get easy access.