Ochiishi-misaki Wetland spreads on the plateau-shaped small cape protruding into the Pacific Ocean at the base of Nemuro Peninsula in the eastern part of Hokkaido. It is designated as the prefecture’s Natural Environment Preservation District. The wetland is known as the southernmost boundary of Lapland rosebay (Rhododendron parvifolium), which produces little flowers in June. Other rare plants such as skunk cabbage, Hakusanchidori (Orchis aristata) and hare’s tail cotton grass can be seen.
Walking through the wetland and the swamp forest of red pine trees along the wooden trail, you will get to a light house, which is located at the easternmost end of Japan. From there, you can command a panoramic view including unending stretch of the green carpet of the wetland, the dynamic coastline of continuing cliffs and the far-off horizon in the Pacific Ocean.
As a part of natural preservation district, there are no man-made structures, so you can enjoy natural landscapes that remain intact here.
Masaoka Festival is held in April every year Ichihasama Masaka in Kurihara City, Miyagi Prefecture, in memory of Lady Masaoka, a wife of Shirakawa Yoshizane and the wet nurse who raised Date Tsunamura, the 4th lord of the Sendai domain. The memorial ceremony is held by the present members of the Shirakawa family at Ryuunji Temple, where the Yatsushika Odori (8 Deer Dance) is dedicated in front of Masaoka’s grave.
After the memorial ceremony, about 500 citizens join the parade and go through the town. Some of them act as warriors in armors to reenact the days when Lady Masaoka lived. The festival floats, the drum and fife band and the dancers of Yatsushika Odori also join the parade.
Lady Masaoka is famous as the model of a Kabuki play “Meiboku Sendaihagi.” This is based on the troubles in the Date family of the Sendai domain in the Edo period. In the story, the wet nurse Masaoka protects her young lord from a party of villains by sacrificing her own son.
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.
Dogashima is a scenic spot in the western Isu Peninsula. Facing Suruga Bay, its beautiful coastline is compared to Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture, one of Japan’s Three Finest Views, and it is called “Matsushima in Izu.” Visitors can fully enjoy its dramatic stone formations created by forces of nature.
The highlight of the sightseeing in Dogashima is Tensodo (Skylight Cave) on Kameshima Island in the close offing of the boat pier. The erosion of waves made a tunnel in the rock. The ceiling of the tunnel is open, and it is just like a skylight. The cave is nationally designated as a Natural Monument.
The three islands (Zojima, Nakanoshima and Takashima) in the offing of the coast are generically called “Sanshiro Island.” At low tide, a 30 meter wide natural stone bridge emerges and connects the islands with the mainland shore so that people can walk to the islands. This stone bar is called a “tombolo” and is prefecturally designated as a Natural Monument.
On the hill near the coast is Orchid Resort Dogashima with an area of 9 hectare. Visitors can enjoy various species of orchids of the season both in the greenhouses and in the open air garden.
Chochin Lantern Festival is an annual festival held at Kashima Shrine, the headquarters of all the shrines in the Shirakawa region. The festival is held once every two years; only in the odd number year in the Heisei period (1989-present). Together with Yahiko Lantern Festival at Yahiko Shrine in Niigata Prefecture and Isshiki Grand Chochin Festival at Suwa Shrine in Aichi Prefecture, it is counted as one of the three largest chochin lantern festivals in Japan.
The present form of the festival was established in the Edo period, when Honda Tadayoshi, the lord of the Shirakawa domain, dedicated a portable shrine. The festival includes the parade of mikoshi and floats accompanied by people carrying big chochin lanterns. As is called “the ceremonial festival,” it hands down formal procedures of the Edo-period warrior class.
However, there is more than ceremony of course. The parade of thousands of chochin lanterns, which looks like a long brilliant light belt, creates a magnificent atmosphere. When the huge chochin lantern, which leads each of the 23 arrays carrying its own mikoshi, is raised high and pulled down repeatedly, a big applause is evoked among the spectators. As the festival with a history of 400 years, it is the pride of people living in the Shirakawa region.
Mt. Goshikidake is a volcano composing the Zao Mountain Range in the border of Yamagata Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture. It is 1,674 m above sea level. It is a post-caldera pyricrastic cone in the outer rim of the crator with a diameter of 2 km. At the center of the caldera lies a caldera lake known as Okama, one of the major attractions in Zao area.
The walking trail is set around Okama so that you can go round the lake, which changes colors from cobalt blue or emerald green to brown depending on the weather conditions.
As there is nothing to cut off the view, you can enjoy the scenery of the magnificent Zao Mountain Range covered with crimson foliage in fall. In winter, you can take a close look at snow monsters, which are trees frozen by winds and covered with snow. In any season, you will fully enjoy soaking yourself in the world filled with the wonder of nature.
Mt. Yakurai is an independent mountain in Kami Town, Miyagi Prefecture. From its gentle and conical shape, it is called Kami Fuji. The mountain can be viewed from any part of the town and is loved by people as the symbol of the town. With an altitude of 553 meters, it is the 4th lowest mountain among the 100 Fine Mountains in the Tohoku region.
It was named so, because the statue of Yakushi Nyorai was placed at the top of the mountain when an epidemic prevailed during the Nara period (710-794). The mountain has two peaks; the North Peak and the South Peak. Of these, the North Peak is the summit. There are back shrines of Yakurai Shrine at the top of the both peaks.
The summit commands a wonderful panoramic view including the mountains of the Funagata Mountain Range such as Mt. Kurikoma and Mt. Funagata, the mountains from Mt. Kitaizumigatake to Mt. Izumigatake and the expanse of the Osaki Plain at the foot.
Pink flowers of dogtooth fawn lily (Erythronium japonicum), violet flowers, and plae yellow flowers of stachyurus (Stachyurus praecox) will add fine accents to the refreshing landscape.
Mt. Daitodake is a tholoid volcano located in the border of Miyagi and Yamagata Prefectures. It is 1,366 m above sea level. The Natori River rises in this mountain. With a spacious trapezoidal summit, it has a stately appearance.
Contrary to the spacious summit, the side of the mountain is very steep. However, several climbing trails are set out and even beginners can get to the summit without so much difficulty.
At the summit is a caldera lake, which is surrounded by huge flat land. In early summer, the summit is covered with alpine roses. You can spend a luxurious time at the spacious summit surrounded by alpine roses and a panoramic view. Above your head is nothing other than the sky.
Futakuchi Gorge at the foot of the mountain is also a must-see scenic spot. Tender green in summer and crimson foliage in fall are especially beautiful.