Introducing places of interest: Daisen-Oki National Park
Constituting the highest peak in the Chugoku region, Mt. Daisen reveals different aspects of itself to visitors depending on the angle from which it is seen. When seen from the west, the form of the mountain is graceful enough for it to be called Hoki-Fuji or Izumo-Fuji. When seen from the north or the south, however, one might be tempted to think that this was a different mountain altogether owing to the impact that the elements and erosion have had in transforming it into a corrupted version of its western face. Having been worshipped as a sacred mountain since days of old, Mt. Daisen is the site of historic ruins and old temples and shrines. It is a peak that is truly enchanting throughout the year thanks to the fresh verdure of spring, the appearance of mountaineers in summer, the autumnal foliage of fall, and the use of the slopes for skiing in winter. Many visitors arrive in search of notable historic sites and a rich natural environment.
Located upstream of the Kaseichi River, the Daisen-daki Falls boasts a vertical drop of 37 meters. This beautiful two-tiered waterfall has been selected one of the 100 most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. Looking striking when set against the backdrop of fresh spring verdure or the autumnal foliage of fall, this waterfall is surrounded by Ikkoganaru, an area with a campground and its own parking lot.
Mt. Senjo resembles a folding screen since it is surrounded on its eastern, western, and northern sides by steep cliffs and its summit is flat. Partway up its slope, climbers can admire a breathtaking view of a pair of waterfalls—comprising a greater waterfall and a lesser waterfall—with a vertical drop of 60 meters. Mt. Senjo is also the place to which Emperor Go-Daigo fled after his escape from exile in Oki. It is thus a place that boasts of numerous points of historic interest.
Surrounded by Mt. Giboshi, Mt. Zo-sen, and Mt. Karasugasen (known as "The Matterhorn of Daisen"), Kakagamiganaru occupies a basin-shaped landform with a rather rare example of a wetland for the Daisen area. The vicinity constitutes grassland consisting of Miscanthus sinensis plants that tinge the fields a stunning silver color in the fall. Kakagamiganaru is used by visitors as a location for recreational activities made possible by the existence of campgrounds, ski slopes, and lodging facilities.
A highland area lies at the foot of Hiruzen Sanza, a mountain range (consisting of Mt. Kamihiru, Mt. Nakahiru, and Mt. Shimuhiru) noted for the beauty of its gentle curves. Jersey cows graze leisurely in the fields. At 500 to 600 meters above sea level, Hiruzen is also referred to as the "Karuizawa of western Japan" for its bucolic atmosphere. One annual event that has been held every spring in the Hiruzen area since days of old involves setting fire to the slopes of the mountain and cultivating new grass that can be used for the local livestock industry.
Colonies of dogtooth violets grow on Mt. Kenashi while natural forests of beech and other trees flourish on the slopes surrounding nearby Mt. Asanabewashigasen. This area also affords fantastic views, such that visitors can see as far as Mt. Daisen, Hiruzen-Sanza, and the Yumigahama Peninsula on clear days.
On the western shores of Nishinoshima Island lies the Kuniga Coast, which comprises a stretch of 8 kilometers of cliffs and caverns formed by the erosion of basaltic sea cliffs exposed over time to the rough waves of the Sea of Japan. Part of this coast consists of the Matengai Cliff, which rises an impressive 257 meters above the surface of the sea below, and the arch-shaped Tsuten-bashi rock formation. Spread out above and in sharp contrast to these sheer cliffs is a pastoral grassy plain where cattle and horses graze. The green fields, blue sea, and steep cliffs come together to present an unforgettable vista.
The Akiya Coast is a coastal area situated on the eastern shores of Nishinoshima Island. It derived its name from a legend that relates how a goddess gave birth to her child at this spot. Many reddish-brown oddly shaped rocks have emerged here from the sea. Offshore lies the northernmost habitat of reef-building corals in Japan.
Tall cliffs ranging between 50 meters and 200 meters in height extend along the western seacoast of Chiburijima Island. Different parts of the rock face are tinged red, yellow, blue, and other hues according to the extent to which the constituent rocks have been weathered over time. The contrast between these colors and the black basalt comprising parts of the cliff walls is both beautiful and impressive. The centerpiece of this natural display is called Sekiheki ("Red Wall"), a formation consisting of Noboriryu-iwa and Garyu-iwa. The surface of the cliff at this spot takes on a fantastic crimson hue when it becomes enveloped in the evening glow of the setting sun.
Situated 500 meters offshore to the northeast of Ojirobana along the northwest coast of Dogo, Candle Islet is a 20-meter-high candle-shaped rock standing perpendicular to the surface of the sea. While it may not be readily apparent to an observer at sea, this islet will resemble a lit candle when the setting sun comes to rest on its summit, hence its name.
The Shirashima Coast is situated at the northernmost section of Dogo and comprises an altogether tranquil landscape with fewer sheer cliffs than are found along the Kuniga Coast. A large number of islands—including Matsushima, Okishima, and Shirashima—dot the area. In particular, Okishima has been designated a natural monument for constituting a nesting site of the streaked shearwater.
Situated in the vicinity of the northeast part of Dogo, Jodogaura refers to an area that has also been designated a Marine Park. Its name is derived from a comic tanka that was written by Ikkyu Osho of Kyoto, who proclaimed that this place was as beautiful as paradise after he had surveyed this location with his own eyes. The local coastline consists of rock formations of various colors and shapes that have emerged through the exposure of different strata and in accordance with differences in the tolerance of such strata to the elements and erosion.
Oki Back-to-nature Forest
[Suckling cedar tree]
Located across a range of peaks consisting of Mt. Daimanji, Washigamine, and Mt. Katsurao, the Oki Nature Restoration Forest is home to a broadleaf forest of primarily Quercus salicina Blume trees, a natural forest of giant cedars, and an 800-year-old suckling cedar tree with exposed mammary-shaped roots measuring 2.6 meters in length. This isolated island area also constitutes the habitat of numerous endemic species of wildlife, including Rhododendron matternichii sieb. et zucc var. brevitolium Takeda and the Oki salamander.
Izumo-Oyashiro Shrine is a shrine that embodies the Izumo area, which is the setting of a mythological tale that has been told in Japan since ancient times. The shrine is dedicated to Okuninushi-no-kami, made famous in The White Hare of Inaba. In the fall, the tenth month of the old lunar calendar is generally referred to as Kaminazuki ("godless month"). In the Izumo area, however, this month is known as Kamiarizuki since all the gods from across the country—numbering 8 million in all—are said to gather at Izumo-Oyashiro Shrine, where they are welcomed at this time. With numerous festivals and rites held over the course of a year, a steady stream of visitors arrive from across the country to this site where the gods and mortals live in harmony with one another.
Hinomisaki is an area located at the westernmost tip of the Shimane Peninsula. Here stands the Hinomisaki Lighthouse, considered one of the 100 finest lighthouses in the world, and Hinomisaki Jinja Shrine, which is intimately linked to important elements of Japanese mythology. Fumishima Island has been designated a national monument for its role as a vital rookery for the black-tailed gull.
Hinomisaki is also famous as the setting of a kunibiki myth in which the god Yatsukamizuomitsunu-no-Mikoto drew some land nearer to this place. The local coastline corresponds to a complex topography based on a protruding coast. The Izumo-Matsushima islands and Ketakake Peninsula combine to form an impressive landscape visible from the coast.
Shimane Peninsula & Kagakukedo
Kagakukedo refers to wave-eroded cave mouths. A cavern located near Kukedohana is known as Shin-kukedo while another cavern located by the shore is referred to as Kyu-Kukedo. Shin-kukedo extends for about 200 meters from the mouth of this cavern. According to legend, this is the birthplace of Sada-no-Okami, one of the four gods enshrined at Izumo-Oyashiro Shrine. The entrance to Kyu-Kukedo is narrow and the inside of this cavern extends for about 50 meters inwards. As there is an accumulation of stones found here, Kyu-Kukedo is also referred to as Sai-no-Kawara ("River of Dice").
A group of mountains—including Mt. Osanbe, Mt. Mesanbe, Mt. Kosanbe, and Mt. Magosanbe—encircle Muronouchi Pond. The constant blowing of strong winds across the summit has created a windswept grassland in which only low-lying trees and grass plants can be spotted. On clear days, the summit affords a spectacular view of distant Hinomisaki and Mt. Daisen.
Grassland fields at the foot of the mountain—namely, Kitanohara, Nishinohara, and Higashinohara—are administered by people, such as through regular felling, controlled fires, and livestock grazing, with the result that there are no forests here. Instead, a pastoral grassland environment is maintained. Fauna and flora associated with grassland environments can be seen year-round.
In the vicinity of Mt. Sanbe lies three ponds: Ukinunono, Himenoga, and Muronouchi. These ponds are closely linked to volcanic activity at Mt. Sanbe.
Measuring 2 kilometers around its circumference, Ukinunono was formed when a mountain stream was blocked by volcanic ejecta.
Fringed by protected Iris laevigata plants growing in Kitanohara, Hemenoga was created in a depression contour of volcanic ejecta and is now designated as a natural monument. Located within a Special Protection Zone, Muronouchi is a crater lake that came into being when rainwater accumulated in the lowest part of the last crater on Mt. Sanbe.