Lake Choboshi is a brackish lake located near Otsu fishery harbor in Toyokoro Town in the eastern part of Hokkaido. The lake has a circumference of about 5 km. It is connected to the Pacific Ocean by a narrow sand dune.
The name “Choboshi” derives from an Ainu word “chi-o-pusi-i,” meaning “the place where a river breaks open.” As is shown by its name, the end of the lake actually breaks open and the lake is included in the ocean when water rises.
The area around the lake is surrounded by forests of conifer and broadleaf trees. It is a part of Notsuke-Furen Prefectural Natural Park. The group of plants growing in the sand dune was designated as the prefecture’s Natural Monument in 1963. From spring through early fall, rugosa rose, Yezo daylily and dragon’s head (Dracocephalum argunense) come into bloom.
The walking trail and camping site are provided in the lakeside area. Visitors can enjoy various activities all though the year including lake smelt fishing and yachting on ice. Also, 45 Kannon statues including Ryogoku Holy Place of 33 Kannon are enshrined in the area around the lake.
Tamaudun located in Shuri Kinjo-cho, Naha City, Okinawa Pref. is a royal mausoleum of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It is a National Historic Site and was registered with UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
The mausoleum was constructed by King Sho Shin in 1501. In Okinawa, there is a tradition of building a large and fine tomb to express the reverence to the ancestors. It is considered that the king had an intention of using his people’s reverence toward their ancestors for the stabilization and reinforcement of the national unity. The mausoleum is divided into three compartments laid out from east to west. The bodies were placed in the central compartment till they were skeletonized, and then the dry bones were taken out to be cleansed. After that the bones of kings and queens were placed in the eastern compartment and the other members of the royal family in the western compartment.
Although Tamaudun was severely damaged by Battles of Okinawa, it was restored to the present form after the World War II. Tamaudun was a sacred place of the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom.
Zakimi gusuku was a castle located in Zakimi, Yomitan-son, Okinawa Pref. It was built in the early 15th century by the renowned Ryukyu military architect Gosamaru. It was a middle-sided castle with a circumference of 365 meters and an area of 7,385 square meters. From the excavated items, the castle is thought to have been abolished in the 16th century.
During the Battle of Okinawa in the World War II, it was used as an antiaircraft artillery base by the Japanese air forces, and in the postwar period as a radar station by the U.S. forces. After the reversion of Okinawa to Japan, the preservation effort as a historic site was made. Up to the present the walls have been restored. The walls are said to be the oldest stone walls in Okinawa. The arched gate and its both sides are piled in orderly “Nuno-zumi” style (cloth piling), while the rest are piled up in “Aikata-zumi” style or Turtleback curvilinear shapes, which is typical to Okinawa.
Zakimi gusuku was designated as a National Historic Site in 1972, and was named a World Heritage Site, along with other Okinawa’s castles, in 2000.
This strange rock located in Kozagawa-cho is a nationally designated Natural Treasure. In the midstream of the Koza River with a total length of 56 km, which runs into the Kumanonada Sea and is known for its clear water, there are beautiful gorges formed by natural processes, which can be called the “figurative art created by nature.” One of them is the Kozagawa Gorge, located between Shichikawa Dam and the downstream. Along the gorge continuously stand strange rocks, each of which has a name according to its shape such as Ichimaiiwa (a monolith), Shojo-mine (a girl’s peak), and Mushikuiiwa Rock (worm-eaten rock). Mushikuiiwa Rock has numerous holes created by natural erosion, looking like a beehive. It is a worth-seeing art work made by nature. Kozagawa Gorge is one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spots in the prefecture. In spring, a lot of people come to enjoy cherry blossoms while looking around the strange rocks.
Mt. Gantosan is located at the northern end of the Zao Mountain Range in the border of Miyagi Prefecture and Yamagata Prefecture. The mountain has twin peaks; Kita Ganto and Minami Ganto. Although Minami Ganto is higher by 1 meter, Kita Ganto is designated as the summit.
The mountain is 1,485 m above sea level. There are several climbing routes including the one from Sasaya Pass toward the south, the one from Kawasaki Town in Miyagi Prefecture to the west, and the traverse route from Mt. Kumanodake to the north. If you are fully equipped, climbing up this mountain is not very difficult except in winter. On fine days, you can command a panoramic view of the Zao mountains from the summit.
You can also enjoy seasonal flowers and plants such as azaleas and alpine roses in early summer, Umebachiso (Parnassia palustris) in late summer and crimson foliage in fall. Mt. Gantosan is a drainage divide that separates the Mogamigawa River System, which flows into the Sea of Japan, and the Natori River System, which flows into the Pacific Ocean.
Gokoku Shrines are Shinto shrines located in every prefecture of the country and designated as places to enshrine those who have died in war as “eirei,” spirit of the departed hero. Those shrines were originally called Shoheisha Shrine, but were renamed Gokoku Shrine by order of the Interior Ministry in 1939.
Gokoku Shrine in Miyagi Prefecture was founded in 1904 at the ruins site of Aoba Castle, the main castle of the Sendai domain, where Date Masamune resided. The shrine pavilion was destroyed by fire cause by Great Sendai Air Raid in July, 1945. In 1958, old building of Kaze no Miya, one of the attached shrines of Ise Shrine was dismantled and reconstructed as Gokoku Shrine in Miyagi.
Eventually the total number of souls enshrined reached 56,000. Those include the dead soldiers from Miyagi Prefecture and the war dead from the areas under the control of the Army’s Second Division.
As the shrine is located atop a hill with an altitude of 144 m, the shrine is known as the best scenic spot in the city. It commands a panoramic view of the city with the Hirose River and the Pacific Ocean.
Shurokusai located at the foot of Mt. Takadate in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect of Buddhism. It used to be one of the attached temples to Kumano Shingu Shrine at the top of the mountain, and is known as the 2nd holy places of 33 Kannon Pilgrimage in Oshu.
It is said that the temple was founded about 1,200 years ago, when Sakanoue Tamuramaro offered a prayer for his victory in the war to conquer the people in the north land.
The principal image of worship is the statue of Sho Kanzeon Bosatsu, which is said to have been carved by Unkei, a master sculptor in the late Heian to early Kamakura periods.
The temple was originally called Shuroku-ji Temple, but as Date Masamune used it as the study (“sho-sai” in Japanese), it came to be called Shuroku-sai. It is one of the very few temples with the suffix of “sai” instead of “ji” used in the temple name.
There is a fine Japanese maple tree named “Risho no Benishidare” in the precinct.
The view from the top of Mt. Takadate is also wonderful. You can command a panoramic view of the Natori Plain at the foot and the Pacific Ocean and Kinkazan Island in the distance.
Tenjiku Shrine in Tenjiku Town in Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture, is the only shrine in Japan which enshrines Niihadakami, the god of cotton.
In 799 in the early Heian period, a Tenjiku-jin (Indian) drifted ashore to the beach of Nishio with cotton seeds. He lived in a village, which was later named Tenjiku Village, and gave the villagers the cotton seeds as a token of his appreciation. Unfortunately, the seeds did not grow well due to the climatic conditions, but Tenjiku Village is considered the birthplace of cotton in Japan.
After his death, the village people had worshipped his portrait as Koso-shin (the god of cotton). In 1883 in the Meiji period, when a shrine was to be founded in this village, people created the name “Niihadakami” for the god of cotton and enshrined it as their guardian god.
In Menso-sai held in October every year, local people carry boat-shaped portable shrine called Funa-mikoshi, reenacting the scene of the god’s drifting ashore. Also, the traditional rite of Watauchi (cotton beating) is performed by priests. The shrine is crowded with visitors including people from the cotton industry.