Mt. Rebun is a relatively low mountain with an altitude of 490 m located on Rebun Island in Rishiri-Rebub-Sarobetsu National Park in the northwestern end of Hokkaido. Rebun Island is a flat island composed of hills and coastal terraces. A variety of alpine plants grow from above sea level due to its high latitude, the island is called “the Island of Flowers.”
Mt. Rebundake is nearly at the center of this longish island. It is counted as one of the 100 beautiful mountains in Hokkaido. Two hours’ walk through the woods of Erman's Birch Sakhalin fir will lead you to the top of the mountain. As the access to the summit is not very difficult, it is visited by a lot of tourists.
In summer, more than 300 species of plants including bunchberry dogwood (Chamaepericlymenum canadense), Isotsutsuji (Ledum palustre var. diversipilosum) and Ezo-suzuran (Epipactis papillosa) come into bloom. However, as the wind is very cold, you must be attentive to your clothes. The 360-degree view from the summit is just magnificent. The emerald green ocean spreads beyond green hills below. Rishiri Fuji on Rishiri Island ―and Teuri Island together with the tip of Sakhalin on a fine day― can bee viewed in the southeastern direction.
Jizo Rock is a 50 m pair of rocks located in the southwestern coast of Rebun Island in the northernmost part of Hokkaido. It is one of the representative sightseeing spots of the island and used as the motif of the town sing board of Rebun Town.
It was named Jizo because the two rocks look like two hands joined together in prayer when seen from the sea. Actually, the rocks in the bottom of the sea were erected by an ancient crustal movement and have been eroded by the rough waves to create such shapes.
Alpine plants bloom on the surface of the desolate cliffs around the rocks and create a marvelous landscape in summer. Jizo Rock looks dynamic in the daytime, while benevolent in the evening. Either has its own interest, but it is the most splendid when the sun sets between the two rocks. The photos of Jizo Rock in the sunset often appear in brochures for tourists.
Numaura Wetland located in the southern part of Rishiri Island is a designated Natural Monument of Rishirifuji Town. This wetland along with Otadomari-numa Pond and Minamihara Wetland is selected as one of 500 Important Wetlands in Japan by the Ministry of Environment as Rishiri-to Wetlands.
Communities of swamp plants and alpine plants such as Isotsutsuji (Ledum palustre var. diversipilosum) and northern cranberry are formed. This is also the northernmost boundary of Ezo-tsutsuji (Therorhodion camtschaticum).
The wetland was formed in the explosion crater about 4,000 years ago. The reflected image of Rishiri Fuji on the surface of Otadomari-numa Pond is wonderful.
80% of Japan’s wetlands are located in Hokkaido. With the continuing decrease in the number of wetlands in Japan, Rishiri-to Wetlands are what we must protect and conserve.
Yakutanabata Festival (Start Festival) is held in early August in Noshiro City, a city facing the Sea of Japan in the northern part of Akita Prefecture. Yakutanabata Festival is a kind of the Nebuta lantern festival, which originates in an old episode that Abe no Hirafu (about 1,300 years ago) and Sakanoue Tamuramaro (800 years ago) used lanterns as decoys to attract attention of the enemy when they fought against the Emishi (the aboriginal inhabitants of ancient northern Japan). It is also said that the custom of lantern float was carried out to shake off drowsiness in the midsummer as well as to pray for a good harvest in coming fall and drive away the ill luck.
In Yakutanabata Festival, a castle-shaped giant lantern float are pulled around the city. Leading the parade are the Dengaku musicians, who powefully beat drums and produce peaceful tone of Japanese flute. At the end of the festival, shachi or dolphin-like ornaments attached to the top of the lantern are burned and set afloat to the Yoneshiro River.
In the evening when the ohayashi music stops and street lamps along the river are turned off, the area is dominated by silence. Then the shachi ornaments placed on rafts in the river are set on fire. In the solemn music played by the ohayashi musicians, they are floated away into the Sea of Japan.
Lake Jusan is a brackish lake on the Sea of Japan in Goshogawara City in Aomori Prefecture. It is also called Jusan-gata. With a circumference of 30 km, an area of 2,060 ha and a depth of 3 m, it is the 3rd largest lake in the prefecture. It is known for a collecting ground for common clams (Corbiculidae).
The excavation research carried out in the 1990s revealed that Tosaminato, a legendary port city, which existed from the late 12th to the 15th centuries, was located on the sand bar between this lake and the Sea of Japan. As the home ground of the Abe and Ando clans, the powerful warrior families in the Tsugaru region, the city was prosperous as a port city, where international trade was actively carried on. It declined in the late 15th century with the ruin of the Ando clan.
A lot of historic sites, which prove the prosperity enjoyed by the Ando clan, remain in the area around Lake Jusan. Those include Sannobo Hie Shrine with the double Torii gate in Kyoto-style and the thirteen attached temples and Fukushima Castle ruins, where the Ando clan had resided.
Mt. Gantosan is located at the northern end of the Zao Mountain Range in the border of Miyagi Prefecture and Yamagata Prefecture. The mountain has twin peaks; Kita Ganto and Minami Ganto. Although Minami Ganto is higher by 1 meter, Kita Ganto is designated as the summit.
The mountain is 1,485 m above sea level. There are several climbing routes including the one from Sasaya Pass toward the south, the one from Kawasaki Town in Miyagi Prefecture to the west, and the traverse route from Mt. Kumanodake to the north. If you are fully equipped, climbing up this mountain is not very difficult except in winter. On fine days, you can command a panoramic view of the Zao mountains from the summit.
You can also enjoy seasonal flowers and plants such as azaleas and alpine roses in early summer, Umebachiso (Parnassia palustris) in late summer and crimson foliage in fall. Mt. Gantosan is a drainage divide that separates the Mogamigawa River System, which flows into the Sea of Japan, and the Natori River System, which flows into the Pacific Ocean.
Donto Festival is held on January 15 every year in the Imazu area in the southern end of Oki-Dogo Island. Donto, or Dondo in some districts, is the festival, in which ornaments for New Year’s Day are burned in the bon fire in hope of good health in the coming year. Donto Festival has been handed down in Imazu since the Heian period (794-1192).
Early in the morning on the festival day, people with colorful bags in their hands get together on the beach. They carefully put Ofuda (talismans) and New Year’s ornaments on the huge fire-stage called Donto, build up of bamboo poles. After a large streamer is put on the stage, piled straw is set on fire and burn up into a huge column of fire.
When the bamboo poles are burned down and fall into the sea, young men divided into East and West teams and wearing only loincloths dive into the frigid sea and struggle for the burned bamboo poles. At the end of the festival, the bamboo poles are carried to the houses that had blessed events in the previous year.
Ganmon Cave, located about the center of Noto Kongo, the most scenic spot in Noto Peninsula, is a cave that wave erosion of the rough Sea of Japan hollowed out in the center of a huge rock. The cave is 15 m tall, 6 m wide and 60 m deep. A small ship can go through it. The towering rock is covered with old pine trees. There are several legends about this cave. The most famous one is that Minamoto no Yoshitsune hid himself in this cave when he headed for Oshu (presently Tohoku Region), escaping from his brother, Yoritomo. Near Ganmon Cave stand a lot of strange places of interest. To the south of Ganmon Cave lie Goban (Go board) Island, where Yoshitsune and his followers are said to have enjoyed playing Igo, and the Takanosu (hawk’s nest) Rock with a height of 27 m, where hawks made there nests, the Fukiagenotaki Waterfall with a height of 27 m, and Senjojiki Rock