Sakaide Ohashi Festival held in August every year is the biggest event in the city of Sakaide in Kagawa Prefecture. The festival was first held in 1950 as “Sakaide Harbor Festival.” Since the Seto Ohashi Bridge was open to traffic in 1988, it has been called by the present name.
A lot of events are held all over the city during the festival period. Some include children’s drum float parade, dance performance by children, folk performing art stages, a popular music concert, and a concert by amateur music bands. The highlights are So-Odori (the grand parade of dancers), in which 3,000 dancers including spectators dance around the city, Sashi-kurabe (the play contest) of the big drums, which are placed on the gorgeous floats and parade through the city, and the display of fireworks over the harbor.
The Sayabashi Bridge is a bridge over the Kanakura River in Kotohira-cho, Kagawa Prefecture. This arched wooden bridge with copper roof in Kara-hafu style (undulating bargeboards) is said to have been constructed during the Genroku era (1688-1703). The deck of this bridge is 4.2 m above the water and 24 m in length.
It was named Sayabashi (Scabbard Bridge) because its curved shape is similar to the scabbard of a sword. It is also known as the “Uki Bashi (Floating Bridge)” because it no bridge legs. It was registered as a Registered Tangible Cultural Property in 1998.
The bridge had been washed away by floods several times and removed to the present place in the Meiji period (1868-1912). Since then, it is opened only once a year for the Otaisai festival of Kotohira-gu Shrine in October every year.
Gyoki was a Japanese Buddhism priest of Nara period. He was a charismatic monk of the ancient Japanese Buddhism. He was called by the honorific title of Gyoki Bosatsu (Bodhisattva Gyoki).
Gyoki was born in Kawachi province (present-day Osaka Prefecture) in 668. He studied Buddhism under the priest Dosho of hokoji Temple in Asuka, and took Buddhist vows at the age of 15. He also studied civil engineering under Dosho. Advocating hat Buddhism should be independent of the regal power, he propagated Buddhism for salvation of the suffering people. He also contributed to social welfare like building temples, roads, bridges, irrigation reservoirs. The Imperia court was afraid of his overwhelming influence on common people and clamped down on his activities blaming that he had violated the law to regulate priests and nuns.
However, when Emperor Shomu asked Gyoki to help raise funds to build Daibutsu (a great Buddha statue) in Nara, Gyoki accepted the emperor’s request, and immediately began fund-raising campaigns. He was recognized by the Imperia court and was given a rank of Daisojo (the Great Priest). At the age of 80, he had passed away at Sugawaradera Temple in Nara in 749 just before the consecrating ceremony for the statue took place.
The legends about Gyoki Bosatsu are referred to in many books such as “the Nihon Ryoiki,” “the Honcho Hokke Kenki” and “the Nihon Ojo Gokurakuki.” It is said that he might have drawn the oldest Japanese map, “Gyoki-zu.”
Takatsudo Gorge (Midori City, Gunma Prefecture) extends along the Watarase River, which flows out of a mountain in Nikko. Referred to as “Yabakei in Kanto,” There are many monstrous or oddly-shaped rocks such as Gorilla Rock, Skelton Rock and Pot Hole Rock and deep pools including Isegafuchi Pool.
The Hanetaki (Splashing Waterfall) Bridge is a footbridge, which looks triangular either seen from the front or from the side. As water splashing over the bridge looks like a waterfall, it was named so. 120 tiles with pictures of birds, fish and flowers were dedicated from all over the country and set in the bridge.
As the promenade is arranged along the river, a lot of hikers visit the gorge on weekends and enjoy its exquisite scenery. Tender green and autumn foliage are especially splendid.
Mt. Iimoriyama is a 254-meter mountain in Asuke Town in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. It is a part of Korankei Gorge, a famous scenic spot of the prefecture. About 4,000 maple trees growing from both sides of the Tomoe River, a tributary of the Yahagi River, to the top of Mt. Iimoriyama, turn red all at once in fall, which creates an exquisite landscape. It is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Scenic Spots of Autumn Leaves.
The fallen leaves are always cleared off the promenade in this mountain, so there is no danger of slipping on the wet fallen leaves even in fall. The best viewing spot of the autumn leaves is from the vermillion Taigetsu Bridge. It is breathtakingly beautiful.
There are several historic sites in the mountain area. The back shrine of Asuke Hachimangu Shrine used to be located in this mountain until the Meiji period (1868-1912), but there is no remnant of it today. On the mountainside is Kojakuji Temple, where the colony of katakuri (Erythronium japonicum) produces cute white flowers in spring.
Kamikoshi Gorge is a 7 km scenic spot in the eastern part of Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. Contrary to Korankei Gorge down the river, which is always bustled with tourists, this gorge is a quiet place with few visitors. Only the sounds of wind blowing through the valley and water running in the stream can be heard.
There is a fishing zone built in a part of the river, where various natural land features including huge rocks, deep pools, rapids and gentle pools are utilized to create an ideal fishing zone for fanciers of mountain stream fishing.
Satsuki azaleas bloom along the river from the middle of May to early June. When Sekkoku (Dendrobium moniliforme) takes root on one of the huge rocks on rare occasions, its beautiful flowers attract attention of the visitors.
Clear stream flows between the continuing huge and oddly-shaped rocks with splashes of water. The deep pools are filled with emerald green water. The water of the stream is so cold that you can’t bathe for a long time even in summer.
There are seven waterfalls in a 300 meter stream of the Nohara River, which is located a little ahead from a village of Hodono in the eastern end of Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture. From the Ichi-notaki (the 1st waterfall) to the Nana-no-taki (the 7th waterfall), each waterfall is about 3 to 5 meters tall. The largest and widest one is the Nana-no-taki located down the Takimi Bridge. It flows down in two lines and has the largest basin.
Visitors are fascinated by the diversified flows of falls together with the surrounding magnificent views. The seven falls look differently according to the surrounding landscape that changes from season to season, each of which has its own beauty. The landscape of the Ni-no-taki (the 2nd waterfall) seen from the bridge in the foliage season is the most exquisite.
Lake Okuyahagi located near the southern border of Gifu Prefecture is a dam lake formed by Yahagi Dam constructed in 1970. It functions as the downstream reservoir of Yahagi- Daiichi (No.1) and Daini (No.2) Electric Power Plants, which employs pumped-up hydropower. It is always full of water and provides water for the surrounding areas.
Nature remains intact in the area around the lake. A variety of small animals inhabit in the mountains, while Amago and pale chub live in the clear stream. The landscape of the lake changes from season to season. A lot of visitors come to enjoy cherry blossoms in spring and autumn leaves from mid to late November. It is the scenic spot, where various outdoor activities can be enjoyed.