As it was proved by a geological survey that Mt. Gionyama (1,307 m) located in the central part of Kyushu was formed about 430 million years ago, it is called the birthplace of Kyushu Island.
The name “Gion” derives from the oratory to worship the mountain built at the foot in the ancient times by a mountain practitioner, who trained himself at Gion Kannoin Temple, a temple housed in the precinct of Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto before Shinto and Buddhism were separated. People called the oratory Gion Shrine and the mountain Mt. Gion.
The mountain is one of the few places in Japan where a lot of fossils from the Silurian period of the Paleozoic Era. The fossils of marine life such as chain corals and trilobites have been excavated from the limestone layer near the summit. The mountain is also known as the treasure trove of alpine plants. The summit commands a wonderful view including Mt. Hayabinomine (Futagoyama) and Mt. Aso.
This temple is Bekkaku Honzan (a special headquarters) of Jodo-Shinshu. The Buddhist priest Shinran, who had been exiled to Echigo (present Niigata Pref.), was given absolution and invited to this place. He stayed here and promulgated his faith from 1214 to 1232 before going back to Kyoto. The temple is known as the place where Shinran wrote his famous “Kyogyo Shinsho (A Collection of Passages Revealing the True and Real Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way).” There is a unique gingko tree planted by Shinran himself in the precinct, which is called “Ohatsuki Icho (seeds grow on the leaves).” This Ohatsuki gingko tree was designated as a cultural property by the prefecture on November 15 in 2000. A gingko tree is a known example of a living fossil and is thought to have existed for more than one million years. Though Ohatsuki is not confined to old trees, visitors are glad to pick up a nut and bring it home to plant as a token of their visit. Thinking that the tree was planted by the holy man, they may find a special meaning in the nut.
Umoregi-zaiku (bogwood carvings) is a traditional handicraft handed down in Aobayama in Miyagi Prefecture. “Umoregi” is carbonized, or fossilized, conifer, which lay buried in the layers of 3 to 5 million years ago. It was found a lot in the areas of Aobayama. .
The history of this handicraft dates back to the late Edo period. In 1822, Yamashita Shukichi, a foot-soldier of the Sendai domain, discovered pieces of bogwood in Aobayama. He made all kinds of efforts and finally succeeded in making out a plate to put on vessels or votive offerings to deities. The making of this craft rapidly spread among the low-ranked warriors in the domain as their side jobs.
Umoregi-zaiku is a unique handicraft that isn’t done in any other part of the country, and Umoregi itself is a unique material for crafts that is difficult to obtain today. In the making of Umoregi-zaiku, a piece of wood is hollowed out into a desired shape with chisels. Then lacquer is applied with fuki-urushi (buffing of coated lacquer) technique to create gloss. After lacquer is applied and buffed out 7 to 8 times, the product takes on deep gloss and stately appearance. With its beautiful grain and graceful luster, this blackish brown Umoregi becomes a high-grade work of art. .
This coast of exquisite beauty got its name Minokoshi (literally meaning “left unseen”) because the path to the coast was so steep that Kobodaishi gave up seeing the sight of it. The coast is located at the tip of a headland in Chihiro Peninsula further south from Tatsukushi Beach. Like Tatsukushi Coast, the coast of Minokoshi is made up of the shale and sandstone strata called the Tatsukushi Formation, which was formed about 20 million years ago. This coast is characterized by honeycomb formations created by a long-term erosion of sea winds and waves. Contrary to the masculine impression of Cape Ashizuri, the seascapes of Tatsukushi and Minokoshi give soft and feminine impression. 1-hour walk will be enough to enjoy looking around various rock formations including the ancient water ripple marks and “the folding screen rock.”
Mt. Hakusan, located on the border of Ishikawa, Fukui and Gifu prefectures is believed to be the sacred mountain and has been worshipped by the people living in Hokuriku Region. Along with Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tateyama, it is counted as one of Japan’s Three Fine Mountains. The pilgrimage to this mountain was founded by the priest Taicho Shonin in 717, and since then the mountain together with Shirayama Hime Shrine has been worshipped as the sacred place for Shugendo (mountain practice). The mountain has three peaks of Omae-mine, Kenga-mine and Oonanji-mine. The highest peak is Omae-mine with an altitude of 2702 m. It is said that Mt. Hakusan has been active as a composite volcano for 300,000 to 400,000 years. Fossils of dinosaurs have been found in the Jurassic layer of earth. There are a lot of hot springs in this area. The mountain is also known as the treasure box of alpine plants, natural forests and wild animals. There are a lot of steep places in the middle of the mountain, where there are even some unexplored places. The area including the mountain was designated as a national park in 1962. Its pure and beautiful figure still gives strong impression on the visitors.
Iwami-tatamigaura is a section of raised coastline located near Hamada City, Shimane Prefecture.
This platform is situated at Kane beach near the town of Kokubun. It is about 25 meters high and formed by wave erosion and by the upheaval of the area by an earthquake over a hundred years ago. There are three layers: the top layer and the lower layer are similar, and are composed of magma and sandstone.
The top layer was once the sea floor, and is now a platform. This vast eroded platform has cracks regularly crisscrossing so that it looks as if many Japanese tatami mats were laid out on the beach. This is why it is called ‘Tatamigaura’ or ‘Senjoshiki’.
Shell fossils from 15 million years ago as well as fossilised driftwood, whale bones, and other traces of ancient animals are some of the things that can be found at Tatamigaura.
You can also see special landforms such as rifts, sea caves and a chair-like round rock caused by wave erosion. There are many eroded nodules where you can observe the remains of ancient sea creatures.
There is a sea cave called Hole-Kannon and out in the sea is the famous view of the Dog and Cat Islands, which is very popular with tourists.