Those who have already explored the farmer's markets at Morinosankakuboshi and Yumesanchi will certainly find plenty of other things to do in Kihoku. While the western imagination might consider Japan to be a country obsessed with modernity, the nation has perhaps more pride in their natural beauty than any other. A visit to the Narukawa Valley should prove this to anyone. Hikers, campers and fishers will certainly enjoy the natural amenities. The scenic valley is beautiful, and simply gazing at the area should be enough to settle the spirit. Of course, that isn't to say that physical needs aren't thought of as well, and visitors will be able to treat themselves to a meal of pheasant at the lodge that accompanies the valley. For those who want to have a traditional bath, the valley also boasts an onsen.
The Yasumorido Somennagashi is something of a seasonal attraction, and is open between mid-July and the end of August. Clumps of somen noodles get forces through a trough and customers pick them out with their own chopsticks. A dipping sauce is provided, and the process is really quite unique. A small pond is located nearby, and is stocked trout for those who'd like to enjoy some fishing. Of course, the Yasumorishonyu Cave attracts people during the hot summer months because of the cool temperature it boasts.
The Kawanobori Ekiden is a so-called river climbing relay race that consists of teams that rush along the Hiromi River. Though they can run in shallow areas, each single step must land in the water. As well as this one of a kind athletic event, the town also hosts a Tetsujin iron-man race for individual runners. Perhaps it isn't so strange, then, that professional baseball player Tadashi Shiba is from the town. A dynamic and athletic area was probably also a great home for Tadashi Hyodo, who was the first female in Japan to gain a pilot's license.
If someone says that they are headed off on a vacation to Ichinomiya, it can be confusing to say the least. Ichinomiya refers to the first shrine in each of the old provinces of Japan. This means that there are numerous places in the country that share that same name. Anyone who wants to head off to the attractive sandy beaches of the Kujukuri-hama, though, will certainly want to head for the Ichinomiya in Chiba Prefecture. Getting to the destination should not be too difficult, considering that the Kujukuri Toll Road is in a convenient position.
Japan National Route 128 connects Tateyama and Chuo-ku, and might be a great way for those who are using the highway system.
The Kujukuri-hama, or Kujukuri Beach, is one of the most popular places to swim and surf for individuals who live in the Greater Tokyo area. The name refers to the old ri unit of measurement; Minamoto no Yoritomo measured the beach at 99 ri. Since the distance that made up a ri later changed, many people these days incorrectly feel that the beach's name is a simple reference to the long distance. The sanderling is a small bird that can often be seen on spring and fall days to look for food; any visitor to the beach will certainly want to look out for these busy flying workers.
In particular, the Ichinomiya name in this case refers to the Tamasaki Shrine. This historical landmark features an annual festival on September 13. The kagura performances that the Shrine holds are considered to be an Intangible Cultural Property of Chiba Prefecture. Kagura is a type of theatrical dance in the Shinto community that translates to god entertainment, and it has a long and storied tradition. This cultural and religious monument is certainly not something to miss.
The majestic Shuri Castle stands in Naha, Okinawa. Though it was wrecked during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, the historical site was laboriously reconstructed in 1992. Developing plans that would be authentic and faithful to the original structure took a massive amount of information. Individual memories were studied just as much as photographs and records to build it once again. Nevertheless, the new Shuri Castle site welcomes visitors to this unique part of Japan. The area around the castle has been named Shuri Castle Park, and it was welcomed to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2000. No travel package to Okinawa should pass up this attraction.
There was a period of almost five centuries when this site was the very heart of the historical Ryukyuan Kingdom. In 1879, when Okinawa became part of the burgeoning Japanese state, the castle passed into Japanese hands. Having been the center of political and cultural life in the previous period, it has a remarkable architectural flavor. Okinawan strongholds have a distinctive look that is quite remarkable, and referred to as gusuku. For those who enjoy their time at Shuri, an excursion can be planned to a number of other similar sites. Castle touring can be an excellent way to explore the cultural experience of an area in Japan that is very different form the rest of the nation.
Even if one doesn't have enough time to spend a full day at the Shuri site, they can at least pause and reflect for a few moments at the Sonohyan-utaki Ishimon if they are in the Naha-shi area. Though it may not be as majestic as the former, it shares UNESCO recognition with Shuri and marks the point of an important grove. This utaki area is sacred, and comprises the trees and plants that are within the area.
On one hand, it wouldn't be unfair to call the city of Shimoda a city of tourism. On the other hand, however, that wouldn't be fair at all. This beautiful area of Shizuoka Prefecture is hardly what most people would think of when they think of tourism. Instead, guests can immerse themselves in any of the famous onsen hot springs baths and have a very real taste of Japanese culture. Since many of these resorts are geared towards domestic, instead of international tourism, a hot springs bath might be exactly what the doctor ordered. This is true in more ways than one, considering that many Japanese people swear by the healing properties of these mineral baths as a part of balneotherapy.
Just as the region's popular blends of tea steep in water, Shimoda is steeped in history. Commodore Matthew Perry negotiated the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, and that ultimately caused the Shimoda port to be opened to American trade. Yoshida Shoin attempted to board his so-called black ships in that year, and Perry's bust still stands in the town today. The city also saw an opening up with Imperial Russia in 1855, and a treaty with that nation was signed at Cho-raku-ji.
No one will want to miss the Mikomotojima Light, which is the oldest lighthouse still in operation in Japan. It was the first concrete building to be constructed in the country, and was finished in 1871. The lighthouse was designed with a great deal of British influence, and it was one of the eight lights to be erected because of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce. The Japanese government recognizes the site as a Historic Monument, and most people will want to take a photo at least at a distance. While it might seem antique compared to the nearby Fuji International Speedway, it remains a fixture of this proud town.
Japan is a very mountainous country, yet there are a few majestic peaks that stand above all the rest. If you plan to visit Japan, you must see at least one of them. These picturesque peaks show off the natural beauty of Japan.
This is the tallest mountain in Japan. Mount Fuji is a perfect peak... it has the classic pointed cone that is often depicted in artwork and admired the world over. A dormant volcano, Mount Fuji is revered in Japan for its beauty and perfection. Mountain climbing and skiing are activities that are common around this mountain. Climbing is done only during a short period in the high summer as attempting the climb the rest of the year is very dangerous. Mount Fuji rises to an impressive height of 12,388 feet above sea level.
Mount Tate is 9892 feet above sea level. It is located in the Toyama region of Japan. This mountain is known for its impressive fall beauty, when all the trees are draped in bright colors. The Oyama Shrine is located at the peak of Mount Tate. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful Shomyo Falls while they make the climb to the plateau.
Mount Haku is also a dormant volcano. It stands 8783 feet above sea level. This mountain is a designated national park and remains pristine. Hiking is allowed and wildlife abounds here. Seasoned hikers may choose to take some of the rougher trails. They offer quite a challenge and can be very treacherous. Mount Haku is at its best in the late summer and fall.
Other mountains in Japan include Mount Aso, Nantai-san, Akaishi-dake and Hachimantai. If you truly love the mountains of Japan, check out the book "100 Famous Japanese Mountains" by Kyuya Fukada. Written in 1964, it celebrates the mountains of Japan and gives their history as well as climbing tips. It maybe out of print where you are so you may want to pick up a copy of Hiking in Japan instead.