Kunimigaoka located in Takachiho Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a hill, the summit of which is at 513 meters above sea level. It commands a panoramic view of Mt. Sobo in the north, Mt. Amanokaguyama, Takamagahara, Mt. Shikojimine and Takachiho Basin in the east, Mt. Aso in the west and the Gokase River below.
The name of the hill derives from a mythology. When Tateiwatatsu no Mikoto, a grandson of Emperor Jinmu, pacified Kyushu, he stood at the top of this hill at the sunrise and the sunset and performed the Kunimi ritual, which is an early Japanese ritual of “gazing down upon the land” performed by emperors or chieftains to pray for a rich harvest in autumn.
On cold autumn mornings from late October to early November, the villages in the basin below are folded in dense fog and the dramatic “cloud ocean” can be seen.
Kasumi Shrine located in Takaharu-cho, Nishimorokata-gun, Miyazaki Pref. is famous for a white snake legend. The enshrined deity is Oanamuchi no Mikoto, Sukuna Bikona no Mikoto and Ukemochi no Mikoto. The shrine is one of Kirishima Six Gongen Shrines. Founded in 1815, the shrine had been known as the god of stockbreeding, marriage and business success since ancient times. When offering a prayer in fron of Haiden (the oratory), visitors light a candle as they do at Buddhist temples. There is a 30 cm long white snake inhabiting in the rocky cavern behind the main hall. As the snake is believed to be the messenger of Kirishima Gongen (the god of Kirishima mountains), pilgrims visiting Kirishima Six Gongen Shrines first visit Kasumi Shrine to worship the snake. It is believed that if you are lucky enough to see the snake, your desire will be attained. The shrine is visited by a lot of worshippers even today.
Many tomb mounds are located along the ancient road “Yamanobe no Michi” in Tenri City, Nara Pref. Among them is the tomb of Emperor Sijin. The formal name of mausoleum is “Yamanobe no Michi no Magari no Okanoe no Misasagi,” and that of the kofun (Imperial tomb) is “Yanagimoto Andon-yama Kofun.” It is presumed to be the tomb of Emperor Sujin, the 10th emperor of Japan. As some say Emperor Sujin existed before Christ, and others say he lived in the 3rd century, the exact reign of this emperor is unknown, but it would seem that he was the first existent emperor in Japan. He is said to have established the foundation of Yamato Dynasty. The style of the kofun is a keyhole kofun, with its square front and round back. The wodth of the front part is 100 m and the diameter of the back part is 158 m. There are several small kofuns called “Baicho” built around it. From the surrounding moat bank, you can command a afine view of the Haiden hall and the Torii-gate in Shinmei style at the front of the tomb, fresh green floating islands on the water-filled moat and a panoramic view of Nara Basin filled with green leaves. This is a place of exquisite view.
Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine is located in Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture. The main deities enshrined here are Ojin Emperor, and the queen and princess goddesses.
In 1603, a separated god spirit of Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine in Kyoto was moved to Yuigahama in Kamakura and a new shrine was built there. In the fourth year of the Jisho period (1180), Minamoto Yoritomo came to Kamakura and moved the Hachimangu building to the present place, Kobayashi. It was when Yoritomo conquered 60 states across Japan that he had this shrine built on this hill. In the following year, he became head of government and was at the peak of his power.
Since then, Tsuruoka Hachimangu has been a symbol of Kamakura. All the rituals and events of the Kamakura government were held here. Moreover, both the Toyotomi and Tokugawa families worshiped this Hachimangu as a symbol of the samurai.
The strong, silent people who were born here in Kamakura and placed their faith in Tsuruoka Hachimangu, became the progenitors of the samurai way.
In Nagai, Yamagata Prefecture, there is a museum dedicated to archaeological sites excavated in the vicinity. The museum itself is in Jomon Village at the foot of Mt Nishi, an area peppered with many ancient sites from the Jomon period.
Extensive research in Showa 52 led to the recognition of the site as an ancient area of habitation dating to the paleolithic Yayoi period. Inside the museum are clay figures and artifacts, while outside on Kodai-no-Oka (Hill of Antiquity) in the center of the village are gigantic clay figures. Visitors can also experience 'camping' inside a restored pit dwelling.
The resource center was built with the idea of preserving the surrounding mountains, rivers and hills, and is populated with many rare animals and plants. Camping in the autumn, when the leaves turn, is also popular.
Tsurugahara is a beauty spot in Kusu, Oita Prefecture. The area features a pond surrounded by strange stones and it is said that a cottage belonging to the Mori domain head used to stand here. Since long ago, the beautiful water scenery has been famous.
Standing grandly in the weathered Yaba valley that surrounds the pond, are large round stone column joints and pillars as well as rocky mountains. The rocks and red pines are reflected on the silent surface of the pond.
A small island covered with pines and azaleas lends further calm to the ambience of this spot. It's almost as if you were in a Japanese garden.
There are numerous Buddhist stones as well as 13 Buddhist statues set in 88 places. The weathered surface of the Buddhist stones adds to their intriguing aspect.
Tsurugahara is a beauty spot that gives us different views in each of the four seasons: fresh green in spring; red leaves in autumn; and snow in winter.
Kaminoyama Castle is located in the center of Kaminoyama City, Yamagata Prefecture. The other name for this castle is Tsukioka Castle. The castle stands on a hill and is a symbol of the castle town, Kamiyama, as much as the rich nature of Tsukioka Park.
Kaminoyama Castle has a long history: in 1528, the Koyanagawa Clan was vanquished by Buei Yoshitada, who then built this castle in 1535. In 1692, the castle was dismantled by the then government, but it was reconstructed in 1982.
The castle features a three-storey tower and is beloved for its small size and beauty. Rebuilt after 290 years, it is now a historical museum exhibiting information about Kaminoyama's history, industry and culture. There is an observation deck at the top of the castle tower from where you can see the Zao Mountains and the city of Kaminoyama.