Sekokyo Gorge extends about 1 km to the west from the Deaibashi Bridge, which is thrown over the point where the Nekko River and the Hontani River flow into the Kano River. Located in the southwestern end of Yugashima Hot Springs, the gorge is visited by a lot of tourists who come to enjoy beautiful scenery of tender green in spring and crimson foliage in fall. Its beautiful flow of bubbly water has been highly acclaimed.
The promenade set out from the central part of Yugashima hot spring town to Sekokyo Gorge is called “Yumichi (the Hot Water Road),” which local people used to take when they went to the public bathhouse in the old days. Yumichi is also known as the path of literature, for there are many stone monuments concerning poets and novelists such as Akiko Yosano, Yasushi Inoue, Motojiro Kajii and Bokusui Wakayama.
Yukura Shrine is located in Yukawa-cho, Hakodate City, Hokkaido. The enshrined deities are Oanamuchi no Mikoto and Sukunahikona no Kami. The shrine is said to have been founded in 1617.
In 1653, Matsumae Takahiro, the little son of Matsumae Ujihiro, the lord of the Matsumae domain, was suffering from a serious illness. His mother, Seiryoin, got a revelation in a dream telling her to put her son in the hot spring in the precinct of this shrine. When she did as she was told, Takahiro completely recovered from his illness. In the next year, the Matsumae clan constructed the main hall and dedicated some treasures including a golden statue of Yakushi Nyorai and a bronze-made Waniguchi (a metal gong) in token of their gratitude.
The shrine is also believed to be the guardian of the hot spring town of Yukawa. To the left of the main hall stands a stone monument inscribed with the words “the Birthplace of Yukawa Hot Spring” and its history. Covered with huge ginkgo trees and other greenwood, there is a tranquil atmosphere in the precinct.
The Kakita River, a tributary of the Kano River, flows in a southerly direction in the centre of Shimizu Town in Shizuoka Prefecture. This river rises about 40 km away from the southeastern base of Mt. Fuji and fed by springs from the underground water table which is maintained by rain and melting snow that was discharged from Mt. Fuji into Mishima Stream of lava formed about 8,500 years ago.
There are several dozen springs which supply the Kakita River with 1 million tons of water each day. The water temperature in the Kakita River is about 15℃ throughout the year. The quality of the spring water is extremely good and it is called “the Last Clear Stream in Japan” or “the Finest Spring Water in the Orient.” It is counted as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Waters selected by the Ministry of Environment.
In 1986, Shimizu Town built the Kakita River Park, where visitors can see the water springs all through the year from the observatory deck.
Fireflies used to be seen everywhere in the country, but now we only have few opportunities to see this delightful insect due to the drastic changes in our environment. Fireflies, which fly around emitting pale light, are beetles of the family Lampyridae in the order Coleoptera. Although the larva may overwinter for two or three seasons before metamorphosing into adults, it lives for only ten days after reaching adulthood.
The activities to protect and preserve firefly habitats have been done in many areas in Kagawa Prefecture. The water ways dedicated to the protection of fireflies are constructed in some area. Therefore, you can see Genji-botaru (Luciola cruciata) and Heike-botaru (Luciola lateralis) in many places. Some of the famous firefly viewing places include Kandani Shrine in Sakaide City and the area around the Koto River in Takamatsu City. Some towns hold Firefly Festival in June.
The Tando River is a clear mountain stream in Morioka City, Iwate Pref. As the habitat of Ayu, Yamame and Iwana, the river is a treasure trove for anglers. Landscape changes from season to season, while the gentle stream consoles visitors all through the year. As there are so few people seen around, you may feel scared with its tranquility. Besides, there are several dangerous places along the promenade, you’d better not walk into the valley alone.
Mt. Katsuragi is located on the border of Kushira, Gose City, Nara Pref. and Chihaya Akasaka-mura, Minami Kawachi-gun, Osaka Pref. It is a part of Kongo-Ikoma-Kisen Quasi-National Par. Among the Kongosan mountains, this 959-meter mountain is the highest mountain next to Mt. Kongo.
Mt. Katsuragi is believed to be the residence of Hitokotonushi no Okami. Legend has it that when En no Ozuno, the founder of mountain practice, was building a bridge from Mt. Katsuragi to Mt. Kongo, this god helped him with his work only at night because he was ashamed of his ugly face.
The tableland at the top of the mountain called “Katsuragi Highland” is famous for mountain azaleas in spring and Japanese pampas grass in fall. Its diversified mountain path with natural beauty that changes from season to season is popular among hikers.
Numata Castle was located in Numata City, Gunma Pref. It is said to have been built by Bankisai Akiyasu, the 12th generation head of the Numata clan. The castle was called Kurauchi Castle in those days. As it stands at the strategic spot on the way to Kanto region, a lot of battles to capture this castle were fought among warring lords such as the Uesugi clan of Echigo region (present-day Niigata Pref.), the Hojo clan of Odawara, and the Takeda clan of Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Pref.). In the Edo period, this area came under control of the Sanada clan. Sanada Yukinobu started its modification work in 1597, and in several years it was modified into an early modern-styled castle with the five-story donjon, Ninomaru (the second castle), Sannomaru (the third castle), and the stone walls, which were rear for Kanto region. At the present time, only a part of stone walls and moats remains, which remind us of the ancient times. In spring, a 400-year-old cherry tree called “Goten-zakura (palace cherry tree)” is in full bloom. It looks as if it were talking of rise and fall of the castle.
This mountain castle is one of the largest in Gunma Pref. It was built some time in the late Muromachi period or the Warring States period. It was first resided by the Obata clan, a retainer of the Uesugi clan, the Kanto Kanrei (the responsible head of the shogun’s executive office in the Kanto region), but after his lord, Uesugi Norimasa, who was attacked by the Hojo clan of Odawara, left Hirai Castle (Fujioka City, Gunma Pref.) in 1552, the Obata clan served for Takeda Shingen as his retainer. In the Battle of Nagashino in 1575, the Obata clan joined Takeda’s cavalry as its leading force. After the Takeda clan was destroyed, the Obata clan served for Oda Nobunaga and expanded its territory. In the Siege of Odawara in 1590, the Obata clan fought to protect Odawara Castle and was defeated by the allied forces of daimyo on Hideyoshi’s side, which led to the dismantlement of Kunimine Castle. The castle area of Kunimine Castle is as huge as 2.5 km from north to south and 2 km from east to west. Time-taking restoration work was given to the residential structures. The remains of castle compounds, vertical moats and front approach are also well preserved.