Notsuke Peninsula is Japan’s largest sand spit, which is a 28 km long fish hook-shaped peninsula jutting into Nemuro Strait on the eastern edge of Hokkaido. Desolate landscape with withered trees called todo-wara and nara-wara continues endlessly. There used to be forests of oak and beech trees in this area, but the trees were blighted by ground subsidence and seawater erosion. Weathering is still in progress now.
Inside the bay is a tidal flatland, where many species of shellfish and crustacean inhabit. Migratory birds such as Whooper swans and geese come to stay here on their migration in spring and fall. Notsuke-hanto Wetland was designated as a Ramsar Site in 2005 and its ecosystem has been protected by the city government.
Shibetsu Wetland is located to the north of Notsuke Peninsula in the eastern part of Hokkaido. The wetland was formed on the sand dune facing Nemuro Straight between the Po River, a tributary of the Ichani River, and the Shibetsu River. The wetland area is a part of Po River Historic Site Natural Park. Generally, the wetland in the upstream area is called Kawakita Wetland and the downstream area is called Sanbongi Wetland.
It is a high moor with 170 ha peatland. Also, tundra plants that have existed since the glacial ages about 3,000 years ago can be seen. A wetland is the most fragile land form and so is a peat moss land. Once it is trampled, it takes a long time to recover. Shibetsu Wetland is designated as National Natural Monument and has been preserved carefully.
Wakka Wild Flower Garden is located in Sakaeura near Tokoro in Kitami, Hokkaido. The garden is part of Abashiri National Park and is situated near the Okhotsk Sea coast and on the shore of Saroma Lake, one of Japan's three biggest lakes. As a natural treasury, it has been designated as a site of Hokkaido Heritage.
'Wakka' in the language of the native Ainu people means 'drinking water' or 'springwater'. On the long sandbar dividing Saroma Lake and the Okhotsk Sea, there is a spring called Wakka Flower Holy Water. The name Wakka here refers to the rich supply of water in the area. The sandbar is 200~700m wide and about 20km long. It is the biggest area of seaside grassland in Japan.
Varying ecosystems have formed within the forest, grassland, dunes and marsh. More than 300 kinds of plants and flowers grow here including species from outside. The area is also a natural habitat for various wild birds.
Wakka Wild Flower Garden is also known as Ryugu Highway and features vivid natural scenery.
Mt. Kurikoma with an altitude of 1627 m above sea level rises over four prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate, Akita and Yamagata. Located almost in the center of Tohoku region, the mountain has magnificent views. From the mountain top, you can command a panoramic view of Mt. Gassan, Mt. Chokaisan, the Zao Mountains, Mt. Komagatake, Mt. Hayachine and even as far as the Pacific Ocean. About 150 kinds of alpine flowers grow in colonies, which create wonderful flower fields. Intact nature remains in the mountain such as the primary forest of beech trees, wetland, gorges, waterfalls, spring water and snow patches. A variety of wild birds and animals inhabit there. A lot of tourists come to enjoy fresh green in spring, hiking in summer, autumnal foliage in fall and skiing in winter. In addition, hot spring bathing can be enjoyed all through the year. The mountain is part of Kurikoma Quasi-National Park. The area including Mt. Kurikoma and the southern part of Mt. Yakeishi is designated as the Ecological Conservation Area of the Forest around Kurikomayama and Tochigamoriyama to protect natural forests in the area.
Ayakawa Gorge located in Aya-cho, Higashimorokata-gun, Miyazaki Pref. is a scenic spot composed of the two clear mountain streams, the Aya-Kita River and the Aya-Minami River, and one of Japan’s largest evergreen forest. Numerous spring water that gushes out of the earth surface in the deep forest flows into the streams. This group of spring water is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Water.
The gorge is a part of Kyushu Chuo-Sanchi Quasi-National Park. The 1,700 ha laurel forest is composed of nearly 40 species of trees including camphor, oak and Shii (Castanopsis cuspidata), many of which are over 300 years old. This densely grown forest is the habitat of wild birds including varied tits, great tits and Mountain Hawk-eagles. Sweetfish swimming upstream can be seen in the clear mountain rivers. Rare species of plants grow in the forest. You can have a full view of the gorge from the world’s highest hanging bridge that is thrown across the forest. Walking in this bountiful nature, you can slip back into the Jomon period.
The Banjo River is the main stream of the Banjo water system in the southern area of Oita Prefecture. The river extends 38km from its source at Mt Haitate to the mouth of Saiki Bay.
There are several theories as to the origin of the river's name. One, is that it's named for a master carpenter named Banjo Toryo Masuemon, who came from Nara and built the Banjo Bridge. Another possible origin is from the name and the shape of Banjo Gane, which was given by the Imperial court to the person in charge of construction. There was also a village called Kawabe-no-Banjo near Saiki castle, which may also be the origin of the name.
In the Edo period, large-scale construction took place to create the four canals of the Saiki domain, which helped the domain's economy.
The Banjo River is one of the major clearwater streams in Kyushu. Its rich ecosystem includes fireflies, kingfishers and crested kingfishers.
The Banjo River festival is held every year in July at the town of Yayoi, and the Cosmos festival takes place in October. These festivals are very familiar to the people who live by the Banjo River.