The boat ride down the Hozu-gawa River is a 16 km, 2 hour journey through the mountains in Kyoto, from Hozu-cho, Kameoka City to Arashiyama, Kyoto City.
During the time that Nagaokakyo was the capital city of Japan (784~794), Hozu-gawa River was used to transport goods downstream to the Kyoto and Oosaka areas. It was in 1606, however, that the river was formally developed and utilized as an industrial waterway, due mainly to the efforts of Suminokura Ryoukai, who used the river to transport such local products as timber, firewood and charcoal from the Tanba region to Kyoto.
This river trip is now known, even in other countries, as the best boat ride in all of Japan.
The narrow winding course of the river produces many rapids and rocks of various shapes stud the river, providing a challenge to those steering the boats. During the trip, riders can also enjoy the echo of the paddles, sounds of the bush warbler in the valley and a chorus of kajika frogs in the summer.
With such seasonal scenic wonders as cherry blossoms, rock azaleas, lush green leaves, colorful autumn leaves and snowy landscapes, the ride down the river is pleasurable all year around.
Sekokyo Gorge extends about 1 km to the west from the Deaibashi Bridge, which is thrown over the point where the Nekko River and the Hontani River flow into the Kano River. Located in the southwestern end of Yugashima Hot Springs, the gorge is visited by a lot of tourists who come to enjoy beautiful scenery of tender green in spring and crimson foliage in fall. Its beautiful flow of bubbly water has been highly acclaimed.
The promenade set out from the central part of Yugashima hot spring town to Sekokyo Gorge is called “Yumichi (the Hot Water Road),” which local people used to take when they went to the public bathhouse in the old days. Yumichi is also known as the path of literature, for there are many stone monuments concerning poets and novelists such as Akiko Yosano, Yasushi Inoue, Motojiro Kajii and Bokusui Wakayama.
Choshikei Gorge extends along the upstream of the Denpo River running through Shodoshima Island. Shodoshima Skyline (Prefectural Road 27) connects it with Kankakei Gorge, which is counted as one of Japan’s Three Fine Gorges. Shodoshima Island is famous for wild monkeys, and Choshikei Gorge is also a home to hundreds of monkeys. You could visit Choshikei Monkey Park at the foot of Mt. Sentakubo, where the mode of life of wild monkeys can be observed nearby. Some of them are friendly to human beings because of the food handouts.
Following the trail up the mountain, you will pass by Onote-hime Shrine, a tiny shrine, which enshrines Princess Onote, the founder of Shodoshima Island. At the top of the mountain is the observatory, where you can have a calm and peaceful moment, viewing the panoramic landscape of the Seto Inland Sea.
In fall, trees with crimson foliage beautifully add colors to the clear stream of the gorge.
Goshiki-dai Plateau, located in the border of Takamatsu City and Sakaide City in Kagawa Prefecture, is the lava mass composed of five peaks. The five peaks are slightly different in color; hereby they were named Black Peak, Blue Peak, White Peak, Yellow Peak and Red Peak according to the five colors of Buddhism.
Driving on the road running on the hillside, you can enjoy fine views of the Seto Inland Sea and the mountains in Okayama Prefecture. You can also enjoy the seasonal changes in scenery including wild birds and azalea in spring and crimson foliage and orange picking in fall. The walking trails, the grass land and camping sites are provided on the hillside. You can also visit Kagawa Natural Science Museum and The Seto Inland Sea Folk History Museum (consolidated into Kagawa Prefectural Museum in April, 2008).
White Peak located in the western part of the plateau is presumed to have been where the retired emperor Sutoku, who had been defeated in the Hogen Rebellion and exiled to this province, was cremated. Many historic sites concerning the retired emperor remain in the mountain.
It is said that Hyozu Taisha Shrine in Nosu City, Shiga Prefecture, was founded during the Nara period (710-794). As its name Hyozu literally means “the master of soldiers,” it had been worshipped by the Imperial Court and the warrior class.
The shrine treasure varies from weapons to Buddha’s ashes, which is the reminder of Shinbutsu Shugo (the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism). The vermillion main gate magnificently awaits visitors. It is said to have been dedicated by Ashikaga Takauji and the Japanese ink writing on a rafter shows that it was constructed in 1550. It is a 1-bay and 1-entrance well-balanced gate in Irimoya-zukuri style, which is prefecturally designated as a tangible cultural property.
Beyond the gravel path is the Haiden Hall (oratory). The red thick rope hanging from Waniguchi (the bronze gong) is very impressive. Its magnificent garden was constructed in the Heian period (794-1192). It is a pond-stroll garden. The ground covered with a moss carpet looks superb especially in the rainy season. From the middle to the end of November, the tinted autumn leaves are lit up for night visitors.
The Yagen Mountain Stream is the 4 km clear stream in an upstream part of the Ohata River, which flows into the Tsugatu Straights. It is at the northern foot of Mt. Asahina and a part of Shimokita Peninsula Quasi-National Park, which includes famous Mount Osore.
It is famous for its beautiful scenery comparable to the scenic beauty of more famous sightseeing spots in the prefecture such as Lake Towada and Oirase Gorge. From tender green in early summer to beautiful autumn colors, visitors can enjoy seasonal changes in scenery.
You can also enjoy forest bathing while walking along the 4 km path beside the stream. It takes about 1 hour from Yagen Hot Springs to Okuyagen Hot Springs. The stream is known as a good fishing spot for sweetfish and Japanese local trout such as Yamame and Iwana.
Near the stream is National Yagen Camping Site, where a lot of people enjoy camping in summer. About 2 km up the stream from the camping site is “Kappanoyu (Kappa’s Hot Spring),” an open-air bath with the legend of Kappa, and Mutsu City Okuyagen Shukei Park, where there is another open-air bath “Meoto-Kappanoyu.”
The hot spring area is called “Yagen” because the shape of the hot spring vent looked like Yagen, a tool used in the making of traditional herbal medicine.
Mt. Gantosan is located at the northern end of the Zao Mountain Range in the border of Miyagi Prefecture and Yamagata Prefecture. The mountain has twin peaks; Kita Ganto and Minami Ganto. Although Minami Ganto is higher by 1 meter, Kita Ganto is designated as the summit.
The mountain is 1,485 m above sea level. There are several climbing routes including the one from Sasaya Pass toward the south, the one from Kawasaki Town in Miyagi Prefecture to the west, and the traverse route from Mt. Kumanodake to the north. If you are fully equipped, climbing up this mountain is not very difficult except in winter. On fine days, you can command a panoramic view of the Zao mountains from the summit.
You can also enjoy seasonal flowers and plants such as azaleas and alpine roses in early summer, Umebachiso (Parnassia palustris) in late summer and crimson foliage in fall. Mt. Gantosan is a drainage divide that separates the Mogamigawa River System, which flows into the Sea of Japan, and the Natori River System, which flows into the Pacific Ocean.
A beautiful view of autumn leaves may be seen from late October to early November in Takanose Valley near Naga in Tokushima Prefecture.
This sight became famous in 1980, when it received the most votes in a poll for the 100 (Best) Tourist Spots in Tokushima. The poll was part of the commemoration of the prefecture’s 100th anniversary.
'Kouyou-no-nishiki' (a tapestry of autumn leaves) became the specialty of this region, along with the Kitou cedar and the Kitou yuzu.
The autumn leaves cover the sharply-sloping sides of the valley, which was formed by the headstreams of the Nakagawa River. This magnificent view stuns all those who see it. The turning maple leaves are especially beautiful, making the valley the best-loved scenic spot in Shikoku.
In other seasons, too, Takanose Valley is attractive for the tender green leaves of spring, the deep green leaves of summer, and the snow-covered landscapes of winter. This makes the area appealing to tourists all year round.