11_Mount Chokai

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11. Mount Chokai

location:  on the border of Akita and Yamagata prefectures (there are 2 trailheads for hiking to the top in Honjo Yuri) 

Chokai mountain is the second highest mountain in Tohoku, at 2236m, and faces The Japan Sea between Akita Prefecture and Yamagata Prefecture.
It is also known as “Dewa Fuji”  from the old name for this area (Dewa) and because of its beautiful outline which resembles Mount Fuji.
It used to be the focus of local people’s worship and was regarded as a fierce god of fire.  In fact, there is a lake called Choukaiko on the 7th station with many alpine plants around it.  A local legend says that a dragon lives here!
Mount Chokai is also renowned for its mountain flora and it appears in the prefectural song of Akita, in which it is described as  “graceful and peerless and unique”.
Mount Chokai is one of the most important of Akita’s many mountains and is mentioned in the school songs of elementary schools, junior high schools and high schools.
In September 2016 (Heisei 28), Mount Chokai was designated as a Geopark, together with the adjacent Tobishima island.
Interestingly, people from each area of Akita take pride in saying that their own view of Mount Chokai is the best.

keywords: nature, mountain, sightseeing
features:  magnificent, glacier,  mountain flora

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12_Hottai-no-Taki Waterfall

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12. Hottai-no-Taki Waterfall

location:  Chokai Machi Momoyake, Yurihonjo – 40 minutes by car from Yashima railway station

The waterfall collects water from melting snow on Mount Chokai and the surrounding spring water.
It is also the source of Koyoshi River which flows through the Yuri area.
The waterfall drops in 3 sections:-
top section:  there is a trekking course at the top of the waterfall which leads to the trailhead for climbing Mount Chokai;
middle section: unusual holes of various sizes appear around the riverbed, which are of significant academic interest;
bottom section:  the main cascade at the bottom plunges into a large pool of water.
The overall length of the waterfall is 100m, with a width which varies between 3~30m.  The elevation from the highest point to the bottom is 57.4m.
In 1960 Hottai-no-Taki Waterfall was designated as a place of outstanding natural beauty by Akita Prefecture
The volume of water which cascades down the waterfall is remarkable, and visitors can experience its cold and clear water, which is a feature of this natural offering at the foot of Mount Chokai.

keywords:  nature, waterfall
features: cold water all year round, abundance of water, dynamic stream

written by S. Sato

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13_Kujukushima Islands

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13. Kujukushima Islands

location:  Kisakata, Nikaho City

After Mount Chokai erupted in 466 BC, lava flowed down into the shallow waters of the Japan Sea, thereby forming many small islands along the coast from this clash of hot molten rocks with sea water.
Over time sedimentation caused the shallow sea to divide into sand dunes, with the result that the coastal landscape was transformed into many lagoons around the group of islands.
Each of these small islands was thickly covered with pine trees, and this picturesque scene of many pine-clad islands became a feature of the Kisakata coastline.
The celebrated haiku poet Matsuo Basho visited the area and introduced these islands in “Oku-no-Hosomichi” (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) in the Edo Period.
However, in 1804, a dramatic change occured when a series of earthquakes caused the seabed to rise up and the water around the islands was pushed out to sea.  As a result, the 99 islands became landlocked, and have remained that way since then.
In spring and early summer, during the rice planting season, you can imagine the pre-earthquake scene of the ninety-nine islands because the surrounding rice fields are then filled with water.
Please visit the Michi-no-Eki Kisakata (Kisakata Roadside Station) and climb the observatory in Nemu-no-Oka so that you can enjoy the panoramic view of where the original islands stood.

keywords: nature, crustal movement
features:  islands in the countryside, geological activity, haiku poems

written by A. Wakabayashi

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14_Mototaki Waterfall

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14. Mototaki Waterfall and underground spring water

location:  Kisakata-aza-hongo, Nikaho City – 20 minutes from Kisakata railway station by car

Legend says that all the frozen snow on Mount Chokai was absorbed into the ground 800 years ago, where it remained dormant under volcanic rocks for many centuries and now gushes out through moss-covered rocks, such as at Mototaki Waterfall.
The rare landscape here has become a focal point for its beauty and was also chosen as one of the 100 purest water sources in Japan by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment.
The stream of underground spring water flows into a waterfall 30m wide and from a height of 5m.  The water never runs dry and the current flows down in different directions.  The water flies off the mossy rocks and leaves traces of beautiful lines.
The contrast of this clear water and the green moss is both beautiful to behold and therapeutic for the mind.
This underground spring water is Mother Nature’s gift from Mount Chokai to us.

keywords:  nature, underground water
features:  water source, negative ions, mysterious

written by Y. Otaki


15_Nikaho-kogen Plateau

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15. Nikaho-kogen Plateau, Tsuchida Farm

location:  Toushi mountain, Nikaho – 20 minutes fom Nikaho IC (Nihonkai highway) by car

The Nikaho-kogen Plateau spreads out from the northern foot of Mount Chokai.  The hills here are 500m above sea level, and the pasture is expansive, with lakes and swamps dotted around in the bright green hills.
Two important flora of the plateau are the skunk cabbage and Japanese azalea.
Each season brings its own idyllic views which reassure and calm the senses, such as Jersey cows walking freely in the grass, or flowers in full bloom and swaying in the fields.
Another feature are the windmills which generate clean energy from the wind which blows in from the sea and over the plateau.
You can enjoy a panoramic 360 degree view of the whole area: Tobishima-island, Oga peninsula, and even the distant Awashima-island are all visible on the Japan Sea side; in the opposite direction are views of the Oou range of mountains; and there right in front of you is the stunning outline of Mount Chokai.
The animals which feed on the rich pasture in Tsuchida Farm are friendly, and contact with these farm animals can make you feel calm.  There is also a farm store, called the “Milk House”, where you can buy milk and dairy products and enjoy a light meal and relax.
The Jersey soft ice cream and cheese on toast are popular products in the store.

keywords:  sightseeing, plateau, pasture
features:  green, wind, windmill, health, Jersey soft-serve ice cream

written by M. Gamou &  H. Ishikawa

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16_Naso-no-Shirataki Waterfall

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16. Naso-no-Shirataki Waterfall

location:   Kisakata Kamigou, Nikaho-city – 25minutes by bus from JR Kisakata railway station and a further 15-minute walk

Standing at 26m high and with a width of 15m, Naso-no-Shirataki waterfall is one of the great waterfalls in Akita.
The waterfall lies within the Chokai quasi-national park on the Naso River, whose water flows down from the nearby Mount Chokai.  With its abundance of water and natural environment, it was designated as a national scenic beauty spot in 1932.
At the entrance to the waterfall is Kinpou shrine, which has a large collection of cultural objects from the Heian Period of Japanese history (AD 794-1185).
After entering the precinct of this shrine, a stone path leads down to the river through old cedar trees and large rocks.  These rocks are thought to have been formed by lava after a volcanic eruption of Mount Chokai.
At the bottom of these steps the view opens up to reveal the cascading waterfall surrounded by trees.
You can gain a real sense of the energy and coolness of the waterfall near the basin.

keywords:  nature, waterfall
features:  full of water, negative ion

written by M. Takahashi