Japan’s largest Jizo Bosatsu statue with a height of 4 m is enshrined at the side of National Route 4 in Sanbongi Town in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. It was erected in 1765 in the Edo period to appease the souls of the criminals who were burned at the stake. Beside the statue is another smaller Jizo Bosatsu holding babies under both arms. Today, a lot of families visit this place to pray for children’s growth and fine health.
In April every year, a festival is dedicated to this Jizo Bosatsu. The Chigo (children in ancient costumes) parade and the traffic safety campaign parade, in which 200 local organizations participate, are held in the town. Spectators along the road applaud and cheer on the children wearing elegant costumes and walking proudly hand in hand with their mothers.
The Shiribetsu River, which flows out of Mt. Fure-dake, runs through the foot of Mt. Yotei and Ran’etsu Town and pours into the Sea of Japan, is a Class-A river with a total length of 126 km and a watershed area of 1,640 sq km. As was certificated as the clearest river in Japan from 1999 to 2002 by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the river boasts its crystal clear water.
A variety of water sport activities are done in this river. As one of the few fine spots for rafting, it is often featured in sport magazines. Some commercial rafting companies provide exciting rafting tours in spring.
The abundant water of this river provides excellent environment for various living organisms as well as agricultural water, power generation and domestic water for the people in the surrounding areas. The watershed area of this river is one of the finest agricultural zones in Hokkaido, where high quality potatoes, asparaguses, Yukihikari rice are harvested. The Shiribetsu River is the blessings of nature and irreplaceable asset of Hokkaido.
Since the Edo period (1603-1868), a pilgrimage to Kotohira-gu (Konpira-san) has been a great pleasure for people and a lot of pilgrims visited the town of Kotohira from every part of the country. Accordingly, the roads from all directions converged on this shrine, and many stone lanterns were dedicated by people and erected as the landmark for pilgrims.
The Takatoro Stone Lantern located next to Kotohira Station of Kotoden Railway on the riverside of the Yoshino River is the tallest stone lantern in Japan. It is 28 m tall and could be seen from far-off Marugame Harbor when it was lit at night. Using oil and candles as light source, it was designed to prevent light from being blown out by wind. Today, Takatoro Stone Lantern is the symbol of Kotohira Town.
Katano-kamoike is a permanent freshwater lake in Katano-cho, Kaga City, Ishikawa Pref. It has an area of 1.54 ha and a depth of 3.6 m. The Lake is designated to a Ramsar Site as well as a Natural Monument of the Prefecture. The Lake is surrounded by rice paddies, the depth of which is designed to be shallow so that they can go under the water when the water is dammed in fall. That is, the rice paddies filled with water are connected to the pond, creating an expanded marshy area. The site is an important stopover point for many species of birds in winter. The number of species and individuals are said to be the largest in Japan. Rice agriculture taking advantage of the geese behaviors has been practiced in this area. As weed is eaten by geese flying over to rice paddies in search of food, farmers don’t have to use chemical herbicides. Their droppings function as organic fertilizer. This harmonious coexistence with geese is ideal, but on the other hand, there are several problems seen in recent yeas including a decrease in the number of rice paddies, increasing use of dry farmland, and a decline in the number of migrating birds.
Sugihara Paper is a traditional handicraft handed down for over 1,000 years in Kami-ku, Taka-cho, Hyogo Pref. Cold and clear water that springs out of the deep mountain and the severe climate with heavy snow have grown fine mulberry that is made into this paper. This craft dates back to the Nara period (701-794). Its further advanced techniques have made it possible to produce fine paper for copying mantras and thin paper. It was once listed as the most excellent paper in quality as well as in quantity in production. However, with the change of times, it was replaced by western-styled paper, and the paper making in Sugihara valley came to a period in 1925. It was in 1966 when the townspeople started to work on the preservation of this craft. They put up the stone monument at the birthplace of Sugihara Paper, and then in 1968, established Sugihara Handmade Paper Factory, where annually 700 kg of washi paper is produced with the traditional paper filtering techniques. They had revived the craft so far as to be designated as a prefectural Important Intangible Cultural Property and in 1983.
Osezaki in Nishiura Enashi in Numazu City in Shizuoka Prefecture is a 1-kilometer cape protruding into Suruga Bay on the west side of Izu Peninsula. It is traditionally called Biwashima (Biwa Island) because, according to the story handed down in this area, it was originally an island formed by the elevation of the sea bottom due to a big earthquake that occurred in 684. The island was named Biwashima but it was connected to the main land by the sand bar formed in the later times.
Located in the innermost part of Suruga Bay, Osezaki has been a famous scenic spot to view Mt. Fuji across the ocean and has been visited by a lot of tourists all through the year.
With stabilized sea conditions, Osezaki is a treasure trove of nature, providing habitats for abundant variety of wildlife. It is famous as the northernmost wild boundary of Chinese bottle trees. Over 1,000-year-old wild Chinese bottle trees form a colony along the promenade on the open sea side of the cape. It is designated as a National Natural Monument. Osezaki is also an internationally well-known dive site.
Onami-no-ike is the highest crater lake in Japan. It is located to the southwest of Mt. Karakuni-dake in the Kirishima mountain range. Of 10 lakes in the Kirishima mountain range, this is the second largest lake and one of a few lakes where fish inhabit. The lake fills the deep caldera (1412 m above sea level) that was formed by the eruption of Mt. Kirishima about 40,000 years ago.
During the seasons of tender green and crimson foliage, the area around the lake is crowded with tourists. In winter, beautiful hard rime and migrating bird such as mallards and spot-billed ducks can be seen. Seen from the observatory on the lakeside, the reflected image of Mt. Karakuni-dake in the lake is exquisite itself. As it is a part of Kirishima-Yaku National Park, there are a lot of other sightseeing spots around the lake.
Nihonkoba is the 934 meter high mountain in Eigenji-Takano Town in Higashiomi City, Shiga Prefecture. Located to the north of Eigenji Dam, it is the highest point of the long mountain ridge that separates the dam area from the plain on the eastern side of Lake Biwa and continues to the Suzuka Mountain Range.
The name “koba” means “a lumberyard” and it is said that, as its summit commands a wonderful view of Lake Biwa, it was named “Nihonkoba” meaning “Japan’s No.1 lumberyard.” Its extraordinarily flat summit is very impressive.
Located far away from the main peaks of the Suzuka Mountain Range, there are few climbers seen in this mountain, so it is very suitable for one who prefers tranquil atmosphere. The summit is a flat open space where 30 to 40 people can take a rest. It commands a fine view of the Suzuka Mountains including Ryozendake, Oikedake and Fujiwaradake.
Other places of interest include the wide gully of Fujikawa, a wetland and Kijin-no-iwaya (Eccentric’s Cave).