Ozato Pine Groves is the arch-shaped seashore with 50,000 green pine trees and white sand spanning about 4 km in Kainan Town, Tokushima Prefecture.
The pine trees were planted not only for tourism but they protect the land from salty wind and storm surge from adjacent towns. The pine trees were first planted along this coast in the middle of the Edo period (1603-1868). Though generation change has occurred, the groves are conserved by the efforts of local people, exterminating harmful insects three times and mowing grass twice every year.
If you stand on the beach, blown in the sea breeze and devoting yourself to the sounds of waves, you will feel totally refreshed. The beach is famous as a fishing spot and the waves near the estuary of the Kaifu River are suitable for surfing. Sea turtles come to lay their eggs on the full moon night in early summer, when the beach is alive with tourists.
It is believed that far in the future, Miroku Bosatsu, or Maitreya Bodhisattva will become a Buddha, and then appear on earth to save those unable to achieve enlightenment, thus bringing universal salvation to all sentient beings.
The most well-known statue of Miroku Bosatsu in Japan is the one housed at Reihokan (the temple museum) of Koryuji Temple in Uzumasa in Kyoto. This Miroku Bosatsu Hankashi-yui-zou statue represents the seated Miroku with the finger of the right hand touching the cheek, as if in deep meditation or musing. The mystic smile and the gentle and sensitive finger put on the cheek are breathtakingly beautiful. The round outline gives feminine-like impression. The smile on its face is generally called an archaic smile.
It is said that this red pine wooden statue used to be decorated with gold powder. There are two theories as to where it was carved; one theory states that it was brought to Japan from the Korean Peninsula judging from the facial expressions and the material wood, and the other theory states that it was carved in Japan. The argument is yet to be settled. The clear eyes seem to suggest that it was brought from the continent.
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.
At Anrakuji Temple, there is a three-storied octagonal pagoda among the pine trees lining the road from Mt. Ogami in Ueda Shinshu.
Anrakuji Temple is said to have been established in the early Heian period, but its history before the Kamakura period is vague. This pagoda is the oldest building in the temple complex of Anrakuji. In addition, it is the only existing octagonal pagoda in Japan and also a very rare example of a Zen three-storied pagoda.
The pagoda is 18.75m tall. Its Zen architectural features include the connections between the pillars and the radial baulks that decorate the impressive octagonal roof. Even the Buddhist altar is octagonal. There is a Dainichi-Nyorai statue, which is very rarely seen in a Zen structure. The pagoda looks four-storied but the lowest roof is, in fact, a line of eaves called 'mokoshi'.
In 1947, the pagoda and Nagano Castle were the first buildings in Nagano prefecture to be designated National Treasures.
Sasaoka House is an old private house located in Uda, Nara Prefecture. It is the former residence of the Sasaoka family, country samurai who governed nine villages in the Edo period.
The house was built in the Kanei period (1624-44). The fifth house owner, Gohe, won some contest of strength and got pine trees from the domain head. He used the pines to build the house, and the pole plates, too.
The roof is thatched and half-hipped and the wall is white and unembellished. This tells us something of the atmosphere of olden times.
The large garden is well taken care of and is beautiful in spring, when the cherry trees and other shrubbery blossom.
The house has been designated as a National Important Cultural Asset, while the 24th head of the Sasaoka family still lives here and manages the house.
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.
Ice trees can be seen in winter at the Zao Onsen Ski Area. At that time, the hills of the Ou Mountains are covered with snow. Many ice trees, standing at twice the height of a man, appear like 'shrimp tails'. Skiers on the slopes glide between the ice trees.
Zao is the only place in the world where ice trees can be seen. Certain conditions are necessary for them to appear:
*a place where aiophyllous coniferous trees, such as pines, grow;
*strong seasonal winds of a low-temperature that blow from the same direction so that, as cloud droplets strike the trees' branches and leaves, they freeze immediately, in a process called 'ice coating';
*the snowfall should not be too much nor too little.
From late January to late February, the ice trees are illuminated, producing a fantastic atmosphere.
The Tsuda-no-matsubara is a waterfront located within Kinrin Park in Tsuda-machi, Sanuki-shi, Kagawa Prefecture. This waterfront is designated as part of the Setonaikai National Park and was built 400 years ago, on the orders of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
It is said that the name 'kinrin' derives from the sound of the sea breeze in the pine trees, which sounds like the 'kin' (or the 'koto', a traditional instrument). About 3,000 pine trees are reputed to thrive in Tsuda-no-Matsubara. Not only is the scenery exquisite, it also acts a windbreak.
Also here, are seven aged pine trees named for the Seven Gods of Fortune. Bridges lie along the trail, including the notable Negae-bashi ('Wish Bridge') and, on the way back, the Kanae-bashi ('Come True Bridge'). Legend has it that, if you recite your dreams and wishes to yourself as you cross this bridge, they will come true.
In the swimming season, the seashore, with its white sand and green pine trees, becomes lively and animated with people. This beach is cherished and revered by many people, and is sometimes used as a movie location.