Lake Choboshi is a brackish lake located near Otsu fishery harbor in Toyokoro Town in the eastern part of Hokkaido. The lake has a circumference of about 5 km. It is connected to the Pacific Ocean by a narrow sand dune.
The name “Choboshi” derives from an Ainu word “chi-o-pusi-i,” meaning “the place where a river breaks open.” As is shown by its name, the end of the lake actually breaks open and the lake is included in the ocean when water rises.
The area around the lake is surrounded by forests of conifer and broadleaf trees. It is a part of Notsuke-Furen Prefectural Natural Park. The group of plants growing in the sand dune was designated as the prefecture’s Natural Monument in 1963. From spring through early fall, rugosa rose, Yezo daylily and dragon’s head (Dracocephalum argunense) come into bloom.
The walking trail and camping site are provided in the lakeside area. Visitors can enjoy various activities all though the year including lake smelt fishing and yachting on ice. Also, 45 Kannon statues including Ryogoku Holy Place of 33 Kannon are enshrined in the area around the lake.
Momo (Peach) Rock is located in the southern part of longish Rebun Island in the northern part of Hokkaido. The place where the rock is located was on ancient battle field referred to in an Ainu legend.
The rounded huge rock with sharply wringed top really looks like a peach. The green grass that is covering the rock surface looks velvety as if they were real peach skin. The soft feel of peach skin will come to your mind. It stands magnificently against the blue sky.
The area around this huge rock is covered with colonies of alpine plants peculiar to this island such as Rebun-kozakura (Primula modesta var. matsumurae）and Rebun-kinbaiso (Trollius ledebourii var. polysepalus). You can enjoy viewing these cute flowers from the observatory as well as from the promenade. It will be really refreshing to command this exquisite view in the wind from the Sea of Japan.
Minai Shrine on Rebun Island in Hokkaido is where an Ainu girl is enshrined. It is located in Kafukai Coast in the eastern part of the island about 10 minutes’ drive from Kafuka ferry terminal. It is so a small shrine that you might miss it if there were no torii gates erected. The shrine building stands between the two torii gates and it faces the sea.
The shrine was founded in 1881. The shrine name “Minai” comes from a Japanese phrase “minai,” meaning “do not see.” Legend has it that Serena, the wife of Karusiar, the young village head of Rebun, was waiting for her husband, who had left the island to join the battles between the Ainu people. She was waiting for him for a long time until she became a rock. There was a rumor among the villagers that one would have a misfortune if one saw the rock. Then they covered the rock not to see it, thereby the rock was called “Minai Kamuy.”
Today local people worship the shrine as the deity of prevention of illness, a big catch and especially of safe delivery.
Ganbou Rock is a 78-meter-high rock located near the town of Engaru in Noboribetsu county, Hokkaido and is designated as one of Hokkaido’s 100 Natural Spots.
There is an observation deck at the top of the rock, which is a 15-minute walk up.
This rock is the symbol of Engaru and is popularly known as ‘the rock that is the first place to receive the morning sun in this town’ or ‘the rock that is settled warmly in the evening sun’.
The name ‘Ganbou’ is derived from the Ainu word ‘Ingarushi’ (which means ‘the place with a fine view’). It is also known as an historic battlefield of the Ainu people. The view from the observation deck gives a marvelous 360-degree panoramic view.
Sun’s Hill Engaru Park, much loved by the town people, marks the starting point of the hike to the top.
The Ashiribetsu Waterfall in Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park in Sapporo City is the largest waterfall in the city. It is one of Japan’s 100 Fine Waterfalls. The word “ashiribetsu” means “a new river” in the Ainu language. The waterfall is in the upstream of the Atsubetsu River, which flows out of Mt. Soradake in the southern end of the city. It flows down the 30 m high cliff with dynamic splashes of water.
The waterfall shows different scenery in each season. It is lit up during the annual summer festival. The illuminated waterfall, together with the river that flows into darkness and white flowers of Pee Gee Hydrangea that shine on the river banks, creates a mysterious landscape. Though it is frozen in winter, visitors can either walk or ski along the trail and enjoy viewing it.
The word “Shiretoko” comes from “Sir-etok,” meaning “the end of the land” in the Ainu language. In primeval forests in this end of the land are the mystic lakes called Shiretoko Five Lakes (Shiretoko Goko). There are no rivers feeding these lakes. They were created by the rain and snow collected between strata as the groundwater and springing out over the years.
You can walk around the five lakes in about an hour by following the natural trail. If “Ikko (the 1st lake)” and “Niko (the 2nd lake)” are enough to see, it takes only about 30 minutes.
With a variety of flora and fauna, the area deserves to be called a primeval paradise. If you are lucky, you will have a chance to see Ezo squirrels or Ezo deer on your way.
You will be deeply impressed by the panoramic view of the Shiretoko mountain range seen from the observatory on a nearby hill as well as by the reflected images of surrounding trees on the calm surface of the lakes.
Lake Chimikeppu is located in Shibetsu-cho in the eastern part of Hokkaido. “Chimikeppu” in the Ainu means “a place where water gushes out of a cliff.” This is a dammed lake produced by the landslide due to the crustal change occurred about 10,000 years ago. As the lake has a complex coastline, which indented into the surrounding valleys, it looks like an artificial lake but actually it is not. It is known as a habitat of Himemasu (sockeye salmon) and Marimo (lake ball). Surrounded with the primary forest of Jezo Spruce and Sakhalin fir, the area around the lake is inhabited by a variety of wildlife including wild birds such as black woodpeckers, which is a natural protected species, and Ezo red foxes. You can walk along the 1.5 km promenade along the lake, enjoying magnificent view of the pristine natural beauty around the lake.
Lake Komuke located on the hill facing the Sea of Okhotsk is a brackish lake like Lake Saroma, which is 10 km to the east. The name comes from an Ainu word “komuke-to,” which means “a winding lake.” The lake is actually composed of three large and small lakes, which are connected one another with channels. Along the coastline, rugosa roses and cowberries bloom in summer and glasswort in clusters turn red in fall, which looks as if a red carpet is spread all over. To the north of the lake is Komuke Natural Flower Garden, which is famous for the colonies of black crowberry. In spring and fall, various kinds of wild birds fly to this lake, where over 250 species including swans, gray herons, spines, plovers, and Siberian Rrubythroats are identified. This is the paradise of wild life. At the sunset, the lake with abundant water against the red sky creates a fantastical scene.