Osasahara Shrine is a very old shrine founded in 986. As the place where the god of water resides, it is visited by a lot of worshippers. Susanoo no Mikoto, Kushinada-hime and other 3 deities are enshrined.
Assembling the cream of the gorgeous Higashiyama Culture, Honden (the main hall) was constructed in 1414 during the Muromachi period. Though small in size, elaborate decoration is given to every detailed part of this Irimoya-zukuri building. The transom and doors are also beautiful. It was designated as a National Treasure in 1961.
To the right of the main hall is a bottomless swamp named Yorube-no-ike. It is said that the swamp has been filled with affluent water even though there is a long spell of dry weather since two mikoshi (portable shrines) were sunk into the swamp in hope for rain.
As this area has produced high quality glutinous rice and it is said to be the birthplace of Kagami-mochi, Kagami-no-miya Shrine enshrining the original of Kagami-mochi is located in the shrine precinct.
Izunuma and Uchinuma are lakes in Senhoku Plain in Miyagi Prefecture. Covering a total area of 4 square meters, the majority of the surfaces of these shallow lakes is covered with water plants such as lotuses and reeds and provides precious habitat for insects and fish. They were designated as a registered wetland under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as a Waterfowl Habitat, known as the Ramsar Site in 1985.
Located in the northernmost area of the warm-temperate zone, the surfaces of Izunuma and Uchinuma rarely freeze, even during the coldest seasons. This makes them a popular wintering area for such waterfowl as whooper swans, white-fronted geese and Aleutian Canada goose. At the sunrise, you can see 30,000 goose and ducks flapping their wings all at once. This sound was designated as one of Japan’s 100 Landscapes with Sounds by the Ministry of Environment.
Visitors can enjoy viewing wild birds all through the year from observation deck at Izunuma Uchinuma Visitors Center.
Mt. Iwaonupuri is a part of the Niseko-Annupuri volcanic mountains. Although it has an altitude of only 1,116 m, the panoramic view from the summit is famous among hikers. It is also popular for its relatively easy access. As it takes only one hour to the summit, it is recommended for beginners. There is a steep ascending slope just after the starting point, but the rest of the way is almost flat. You can give yourself over to natural wonder and enjoy viewing nameless ponds or a community of cowberry on your way. In about 30 minutes, the summit will come in sight. From there, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Mt. Annupuri in front, the rural landscape of the town of Kucchan to the left below, Weiss Ski Resort and Niseko O-numa Pond. The best season is the fall, when leaves turn blazing red and bright gold to weave out a magnificent landscape. In winter, a lot of skiers come to enjoy ski-trekking.
Bense Swamp located in Kizukuri Tateoka, Tsugaru City, Aomori Pref. is one of the largest swamps in Tsugaru Qausi-National Park. In the area around this swamp are numerous large and small lakes and pond. Surrounded by Hirataki Pond, Otaki Pond and Bense Pond, this swamp at an altitude of 20 m above sea level has an area of 20 ha, where the community of Nikko-kisuge (Hemerocallis middendorffii var. esculenta) forms a bright orange carpet in June, and the purple community of sword-leaved iris shudders in the breeze in July. The swamp was formed because dead plant layers such as peat moss have heaped up due to the severe climatic conditions. It is unusual that this kind of marshy plant community is formed near the beach. In Honshu and the northeastern part of Hokkaido, it can be seen nowhere other than in the wetland area around Mt. Byobuyama including this swamp. Bense Swamp is a scenic spot where visitors can enjoy bright-colored cute flowers.
Tatara-numa is a pond in the border of Tatebayashi City and Ora-machi in Gunma Prefecture. Located at 20 m above sea level, it is a small pond with an area of about 80 ha and a circumference of 7 km. However, the pond is famous as the only place in the prefecture where swans can be seen flying. From November every year, swans come flying to this pond and reflect their elegant figures on the surface of the water.
Standing on the lakeside with a gentle wind blown from the nearby pine grove, visitors can forget the bustle of a big city. The pond aglow with the setting sun is especially beautiful. Lucky visitors can see Mt. Fiji in the sunglow.
The pier protruding over the water is crowded with angers for Japanese crucian carp and bass. In spring, wisteria on the 130 m wisteria trellis and 120 cherry trees bloom in Tatara-numa Park beside the pond.
Ukishima Benzaiten Temple, which was referred to in the Taiheiki, stands on the land protruding into the pond.
Mt. Akagi-yama, one of the Jomo Three Mountains and Japan’s 100 Fine Mountains, located in the center of Gunma Prefecture, is the generic name for mountains including Kurobi-san, Komagatake, Jizo-dake Choshichiro-yama, and Nabewari-yama.
It is a double-rimmed caldera volcano. There are three beautiful lakes near the mountaintop; Lake O-numa (an atrio lake), Ko-numa (a crater lake) and Kakuman-fuchi (a high moor).
The north wind known as “Karakkaze,” which is characteristic to the Kanto Plain in winter, is also called “Akagi Oroshi,” because it blows from Mt. Akagi-yama.
Mt. Akagi-yama has been worshipped by local people since the ancient times. It is a symbol of Gunma Prefecture.
There is a pond named Hataorinuma in a quiet atmosphere of the rural suburb in Towa Town, Miyagi Prefecture. The pond was considered a holy place in the old times and neither people nor boat was allowed to get into the pond.
The area was ruled by Nishigori Shinzaemon in the late Azuchi-Momoyama period. He resided in Kosui Castle constructed on a flat hill to the southwest of the pond. In 1590, when the Kasai and Osaki clans rebelled against Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Shinzaemon fought on the side of the Kasai clan and was killed at Sanuma Castle during the battle with the Date clan.
To hear this and holding it disdain to be captured by the enemy, his wife, Nishiki-no-mae, set fire on the castle and walked into the pond and died. Later on fine and windless days, villagers heard the sound of weaving night and day and they began to say a person who heard the sound would suffer from bad luck. Thinking that the late Nishiki-no-mae, who was a good weaver, was weaving at her loom, villagers built a Benzaiten Hall on the side of the pond and prayed for her soul. Since then the sound stopped, it is said.
Today the tragic atmosphere has been completely wiped away and the pond is visited by anglers all through the year.
Bifukawa-Matsuyama Moor is on Mt Matsuyama and overlooks the town of Bifuka (Nakagawa-gun, Hokkaido).
Bifuka-Matsuyama Moor is located 797m above sea level and is also known as the highest moor in northern Japan. The moor is approximately 25ha in area and includes three ponds of varying sizes, into which kokanee salmon are periodically released.
The moor was designated as a Natural Environment Conservation Area of Hokkaido in 1976 (Showa 51), because of its many small alpine trees dwarfed by wind and snow. Trees unique to the mountain include aka-ezo pine (Picea glehnii) and Siberian dwarf pine, which are considered to be of academic importance.
The moor features a 1km-hiking route that runs through real wilderness. Here can be found highland plants flowering in various seasons, including the tachigi-boushis (Hosta rectifolia) and horomuirindous (Gentiana triflora var. japonica subvar. horomuiensis). The hiking route brings visitors to the great outdoors, where they can see dwarf trees such as the ezo pine and Siberian dwarf pines sitting between the blue sky and the green landscape. Indeed, such views could only be created by nature.