Lake Biwa was formed about four million years ago and is the third oldest lake in the world behind Lake Baikal and Lake Tanganyika. It is one of only 10 ancient lakes in the world. It is also the biggest lake in Japan.
In the Muromachi period, Konoeno Masaie, one of the then emperor's chief advisers, selected the Eight Views of Omi around the lake, following the Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang around Lake Dongting in China.
Unfortunately, the appearance of the scenery has completely changed today. But for the Eight Major Views of Lake Biwa that were selected in 1950, the scenery has not changed much.
The present eight scenic views include:
*Morning fog, rocks in Nedu-Osaki (Takashima City)
*Cool wind, white beach in Omatsuzaki (Otsu City)
*Drizzle, trees in Hiei (Otsu City)
*Evening sunlight, clear stream in Seda, Ishiyama (Otsu City)
*New snow, spectacle of Mt Shizuka (Kinomoto Town)
*Deep green, shadow of Takebu Island (Nagahama City)
*Bright moon, old castle in Hikone (Hikone City)
*Spring color, Azuchi-Hachiman's waterfront (Azuchi Town, Omi-Hachiman City)
You can enjoy these various scenic sights, too, and be moved by their magnificence, as well as walk around the castle town reading about its history.
Born 1959 in Yamagata City, Yamagata Pref., Japan. Mr Okuyama worked for auto manufacturers in various strategic roles including as chief designers for GM (USA) and Porsche (Germany), then as creative director at Pininfarina S.p.A.(Italia), later he became independent. He is well known worldwide as a designer for Maserati Quatrroporte, Enzo Ferrari and Ferrari Scaglietti. He also worked on industrial design projects in a wide range of fields including public transportation with trains and planes, furniture, product design, interior design, spatial design and urban planning. He created and marketed the “KEN OKUYAMA” brand for eyewear. In 2006, he established the “Yamagata Koubou” furniture brand. He is currently an honorary professor for the Industrial Design program at the Art Center College of Design (USA) and at the Kanazawa College of Art (Japan). He is also vice chair of the jury for the Good Design Award and runs the Yamagata Carrozzeria Project. He lives in Italy.
Chinda Waterfall, located in Oita Prefecture, is made up of a male waterfall which diverges from the main streams of the Ono River, and a female waterfall which branches off the Hirai River tributary.
The male waterfall measures 17m in height and 93m in width, and the female waterfall measures 18m in height and 4m in width. Due to the steepness of the drop and its great width, Chinda Waterfall is called 'the Niagara Falls of Bungo'.
During the Muromachi period, Sesshu, one of the most prominent masters of suiboku (ink painting), stayed in Bungo, Oita, on his return from Ming China. He painted a picture called 'Chinda-bakuzu', which took Chinda Waterfall as motif and inspiration. 'Chinda-bakuzu' is one of the most famous and renowned landscape paintings of Japan, with its strong, yet magnificently beautiful brushstrokes.
Chindai Waterfall Fellowship Park, located alongside Chindai Waterfall, was created by local citizens themselves: the cutting and planting took about 3 years to complete. The view of the waterfall from the observatory tower is simply astounding.
Kenkofu-kyo Canyon is a beautiful scenic spot located near the region where the Ono and Notsu rivers join in Ono, Bungo, Oita Prefecture.
Kenkofu-kyo Canyon is also known as a place cherished by Tanomura Chikuden, a famous writer of the late-Edo period, and is said to have been named by Chikuden himself.
By the shores of the Kenkofu-kyo, the mountain scenery is like a Nanga (Southern Painting). Various large rocks such as the Senganga-iwa, Meoto-iwa and Sennin-ana, along with the varying colors of trees in the four seasons, illustrate a somewhat nostalgic, yet eloquent scene.
There is also a park where camping, canoeing and other outdoor activities may be enjoyed. Different canoeing meets are held at this place, from the National Athletic Meet to various other competitions.
Mikaeri Waterfall is the biggest waterfall in Saga Prefecture with a drop of 100m. The main stream is called 'Man Waterfall' and the substream 'Woman Waterfall'. A priest at the nearby Johoji Temple named them so in the Genroku period. It has been known as a scenic place since that time and many writers have visited there.
A clear stream runs and falls curving gently far above your head. Small substreams draw white lines on rocks around you; they give an elegance to the surrounding verdant nature.
Situated beyond the waterfall is Mt. Sakurei, a holy mountain of the Shukendo sect; many people undergo spiritual training here.
Mikaeri Waterfall has been selected as one of Japan's 100 Major Waterfalls and many sightseers visit it. There is a suspension bridge at some distance which gives a good view of the waterfall.
The district is also famous for hydrangeas and, from the beginning of June to July, you can enjoy these colorful flowers together with the beautiful waterfall; this is a very rare chance.
The landscape of Mount Nantai and Lake Chuzenji is one of the most popular scenic sites in Nikko, Tochigi pref.. The circumference of Lake Chuzenji is about 25km and the water can reach depths of 163m. Standing 1,269m above sea level, Lake Chuuzenji is the highest elevation naturally occurring lake in Japan over four square kilometers. The lake’s characteristic shape was formed around 20,000 years ago when Mount Nantai erupted and the surrounding valleys were blocked by magma. A popular tale says Lake Chuzenji was discovered in 782 by Shoudo-shounin, the founder of the Nikko Temple, who upon successfully ascending Nantai Mountain saw the lake from the summit. Mount Nantai, one of the 100 Most Famous Mountains in Japan and the symbol of Tochigi Mountain, is said to be the origin of the name “Nikko”. The mountain was once a favored site for mountain worshippers and ascetics and flourished as a place of worship that was closed to women. Futara-san Shrine, a very popular tourist destination, stands atop the mountain. During the Mount Nantai Tohai Festival, many people make the sacred annual summer pilgrimage to experience the sunrise from the top of the mountain.
It is a magnificent sight to look up at Mount Nantai soaring above beautiful Lake Chuzenji. The lake can also be experienced aboard a sight seeing ferry.
The Mutsu Bay is enclosed by Shimokita Peninsula, Natsudomari Peninsula and Tsugaru Peninsula in Aomori Pref.. This scenic coastline is full of varied scenes. Natsudomari Peninsula with an altitude of 200 to 300 m, which crops out into the Mutsu Bay, is a part of Asamushi-Natsudomari Prefectural Natural Park and the tip of Shimokita Peninsula is designated as Shimokita Peninsula Quasi-National Park. Asadokoro Beach in Natsudomari Peninsula is known for the place where swans spend their winter days. The steep mountainsides are eroded by the sea and form the bluff in the west part of Shimokita Peninsula, where natural forest of Acer pictum and linden trees covers its coastline. At the base of Natsudomari Peninsula lies Asamushi Hot Spring town. There are also an aquarium and other facilities in the town of Asamushi. Mutsu Bay is known as the birthplace of Japan’s large-scale scallop fry harvesting.