The Kubo cherry tree is one of a group of 1200-year-old trees in Isazawa, Nagai City, Yamagata prefecture.
By the grounds of the Isazawa Elementary School stands the splendid Edohigan cherry tree, which has been designated as a National Natural Treasure. Its branches reach 9m around and it is 16m tall. Its total length of branches was reputed to have been 63m some 150 years ago.
The name of the Kubo cherry tree comes from the old name of this district. The Kubo cherry tree is also called the Otama cherry tree. Sakanoue-no-Tamuramaro, the Barbarian-Subduing Generalissimo, visited this district and fell in love with a girl named Otama. But after returning to his native land, he received the news that she had died of grief for him. Missing her, he had his followers plant cherry trees near her grave. These cherry trees are said to be the origin of the Kubo cherry tree. Perhaps even now, she still loves him and makes the cherry tree blossom each year.
Designated a National Natural Treasure, the Beni-shidare-jizo is a weeping cherry tree estimated to be approximately 400 years old, and said to be the daughter of the 1000-year-old Miharu Waterfall cherry tree.
The Beni-shidare-jizo tree has a base circumference of 6.3m, a trunk circumference of 4.1m at a point 1.3m above ground, and a height of up to 16m. A giant branch spreads 14m to the west from a point 2.5m above the ground. Some 2m above, 11 more large branches spread out in all directions for 18m.
Many descendants of the Waterfall cherry tree have been comfirmed, but no tree can exceed the Jizo tree due to the exceptional beauty of its branches spreading across the sky like wings.
A Jizo-do is built at the foot of the tree where, in the past, and even now, people come to pray for good health for newborn children and protection from premature mortality.
The blossoms are said to bloom annually from mid through late April. The distinct way the lightly colored blossoms of the Beni-shidare-jizo tree flourish in every which way is definitely a sight to see.
The Ishibe cherry tree is named for Jibudayuu Ishibe, one of the senior statesmen of the Ashina clan, and the feudal lord of the Aizu clan during the medieval era. The cherry tree used to be Ishibe's favorite tree in the private garden of his residence.
Today, Ishibe's residence is no more, but the tree can be seen from far away among rice fields. The tree has eight different trunks branching from a single base trunk, and blossoms faster than the Somei-yoshino cultivar because it is of the Edo-higan variety.
The trees blossom from mid- through late April and the view of the tree in full blossom is truly a sight to see. The Ishibe cherry tree is one of the five great cherry trees in Aizu, which include the Sugi-no-ito cherry, Oshika cherry, Tora-no-o cherry, and Haku-boku cherry, and is said to be around 600 years old. It has been designated a Natural Treasure by the city of Aizu-wakamatsu, and also has been designated a Green Cultural Treasure by the Fukushima Prefecture.
In spring, visitors are able to enjoy walking through a pink corridor formed by a total of 165 cherry blossom trees blooming on both banks of the Kannonji River.
Most of the trees are 40 to 90 years old while some exceed this. The contrast between the snowy Bandai Mountains is beautiful, and the Inawashiro cherry trees blossom later than usual for cherry blossom trees.
The blossom petal blizzards of May are splendid, and one may feel the presence of spring after walking through the corridor of blossoms while viewing the grand landscape of the Bandai Mountains and Lake Inawashiro.
A highly recommended spot for viewing the cherry blossom is from Yanagibashi Bridge near Ooyamazumi Shrine. Additionally, visitors can enjoy the blossoms of a 130 year old weeping cherry tree with a trunk circumference of 2.8m at Kannonji Temple. A Cherry Blossom Festival is also held during mid- through late April.
Karasuma Peninsula features an extensive community of lotuses, which spread across Kusatsu in Shiga Prefecture. Stretching out for as much as 9.3ha, there is nowhere else in Japan that has so many lotuses in one place.
Lotuses flower between the middle of July and the middle of August. The best time to appreciate them is early in the morning around 6 a.m. The scene of thousands of lotus flowers swaying above the leaves is simply mesmerizing and takes viewers into a timeless bewitching world.
Alongside the lotus area is an aquatic botanical garden established by Kusatsu town and called Mizu-no-mori (Water Forest), with over 200 species of plants. The garden includes all sorts of lotuses and water lilies, and has a greenhouse (where many Southern garden plants and seeds are cultivated), as well as a small theater, which screens films and picture shows of lotus gardens and all kinds of lotuses.
During the lotus-flowering season, the garden opens earlier than usual at 7 to allow the people who have come to enjoy the lotuses to be able to relax afterwards.
The lotuses of Karasuma Peninsula make a charming and captivating spectacle, harmonizing perfectly with the scenery of nearby Lake Biwako.
Kakuzan Park, also known as Tsuyama castle ruins, is situated in the center of Tsuyama district in Okayama Prefecture. Mori Tadamasa, the founder of the Tsuyama clan, established Tsuyama castle in 1616.
It took Mori Tadamasa 13 years to construct the modern-style castle on the plains here. The castle used to have a five-storey keep and over 60 turrets. However, the castle was abandoned in 1873. Nowadays, the princely stonewalls and the turrets, restored in 2005, soar again within the premises.
Kakuzan Park was selected as one of Japan's top 100 spots to view cherry blossoms. It is also known as the best cherry blossom-viewing spot in western Japan. Over 5000 cherry trees, including the Yoshino cherry, blossom each spring. The night view of the cherry blossom is also fantastic, and over 100 thousand tourists visit the park annually. Tourists are also attracted to other beautiful seasonal sights, such as spring wisteria and azalea, fall foliage and winter scenery.
Umenosato Park is located in Kojiro, Tsuyama, in Okayama Prefecture. Within the 5-hectare site are over 3800 plum trees representing 14 types of plum. The park was created by locals and was opened in 1994.
From mid-February to late-March, the plum trees blossom, covering the whole park in bloom and marking the advent of spring with their scent. There are many different colored blossoms, ranging from red to pale-pink and white.
A 'Ume Festival' also takes place near the park entrance and lots of people come to visit then. In the ume-processing factory, goods such as pickled plum, jam, dried plum and jelly are manufactured, and prove to be popular goods for sale.
Japan is said to be a technology-oriented nation and 'technology' usually means high-technology, such as semiconductors. But Japan has had frontier technology in every historical period.
Civil engineering technology, traditional handicrafts and arts are described as 'takumi' and feature fine and careful frontier technology that equals any high-technology in modern times.
Handicraft symbolises the expression of things in a small world. Fine and beautiful patterns on relatively small works are unique to Japan. If you can work sensitively within the limits available to many Japanese craftsmen, it is evidence that you are Japanese.
This 12cm-long strap has become a work of art in the hands of a braid artist who has inherited the takumi technique used in Kyoto. In this craft, splendid silk threads in the traditional colors of light pink and verdant green demonstrate the unique artistic sense of Japanese people.