5 Must-Visit Spots That Perfectly Showcase the Natural Beauty of Japan

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  • There are so many beautiful things which remain undiscovered in Japan. Some are brought by men, while others are simply formed by the passing of time. Others become stunning works of nature revealing a surprising natural wonder. If you want to discover some magnificent geo spots worth visiting in the country, here are 5 beautiful places to explore.

    1. Onioshidashi Park (鬼押出し園)

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    The Onioshidashi Park or Onioshidashien in Gunma Prefecture (群馬県) presents a formation of rocks brought about by the 1783 eruption of Mt. Asama (浅間山), an active complex volcano in Central Honshu (本州中部). Its name was taken from the impression of people in the past thinking that the rocks were pushed out by a devil encircling the crater. But it is actually a result of the flowing lava which spread throughout the northern sides going down the base of the mountain. Its solidification only took a short time. This resulted in the different rock shapes and sizes present in the mountain today.

    Currently, it is considered part of the Joshin’etsu-kogen National Park (上信越高原国立公園) in which it is maintained by a private hotel company. Admission fee depends on the season. Usually, it is 650 yen for junior high school students and older, and 450 yen for elementary students. There’s a huge free parking area for 750 cars and 35 buses so you can definitely bring your car along. Opening time is 8:00 a.m. while closing time is 5:00 p.m and may also change depending on the season. The place is reachable by bus from the Manza-Kazawaguchi Station (万座鹿沢口駅) on the JR Agatsuma Line (吾妻線) for 25 minutes.

    Onioshidashi Park Information
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    2. Okama (御釜)

    okama-crater-lake

    A beautiful crater lake located on the top of Mt. Zao (蔵王連峰), a prominent mountain in Tohoku Region (東北地方), is Okama. It was created by an eruption in 1182. It has been dubbed as the “Lake of Five Colors” (五色沼) because of the different colors of the water in the crater during varying seasons. Most of the time the color is green. It is regarded as a lake with a strong acid water thus no living organism can be found in it. You can stroll on the eastern or western side of the lake to see the crater at different angles but you have to take precautionary measures as it is still considered an active volcano. You cannot approach the lake but you can view it from a distance.

    Parking is located near the lake and it takes just 2 or 3 minutes to reach the viewpoint of Okama. It is also accessible to a restroom and a gift shop. You can access the place from JR Shiroishi-Zao Station (白石蔵王駅) by using the local bus to Okama. If you want to view the whole place, you can opt to follow the Zao Echo Line (蔵王エコーライン) road which leads to Kattadake (刈田岳) where you can view the crater without much effort.

    Okama Information
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    3. Tojinbo (東尋坊)

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    Tojinbo is a series of basaltic cliffs in the Fukui Prefecture (福井県) formed by various volcanic activities from 12 to 13 million years ago. It stretches to a distance of 1 km along the Sea of Japan (日本海). The rock formation is unique in nature as it looks like bundles of hexagonal and pentagonal rods. The place can be explored by its trails where visitors can walk right up unmarked edges. It is very important to take precautionary measures as it can be slippery at times.

    Legend has it that a monk named Tojinbo fell to his untimely death along the cliffs, thus the name of the place. He was actually considered as a corrupt Buddhist priest from a local temple that people got so furious with him and decided to throw him into the sea. His ghost is believed to haunt the cliffs where he tries to pull down unlucky souls of humans.

    If you want to visit the place, you can choose to ride a 30-minute long pleasure boat cruise as long as the weather is not bad.

    Tojinbo Information
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    4. Oboke Gorge (大歩危峡)

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    Oboke Gorge is a steep-sided gorge near the entrance to Iya Valley (祖谷渓), a mountainous valley in Tokushima Prefecture (徳島県). It is popular for pleasure boat travels along Yoshino River (吉野川) where huge rocks are continuously spotted. Going down the river while watching the grandeur of nature’s handwork is an exciting adventure which most tourists come for. The gorge can also be enjoyed during the changing seasons with a fresh green color in summer, colorful leaves in autumn, and porcelain white trees during winter.

    The Oboke Sightseeing Boat Cruise is available at 1,080 yen per person for 30 minutes. Some of the interesting rocks you can find along the way resembles animals which you will find attractive. If you feel like resting during the travel, you may do so at the rest area called Michino-eki Oboke (道の駅 大歩危) where you can find a lot of tourist information as well as a restaurant and shop. River rafting is available from April to November, too. Guided rafting tours are done either half or full day. You can also do other outdoor activities such as canyoning and river boarding (hydrospeed). This is definitely a paradise of natural scenery coupled with a variety of outdoor enjoyment.

    Oboke Gorge Website
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    5. Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park (秋吉台国定公園)

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    The Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park in Yamaguchi Prefecture (山口県) is formed by about 200 caves including Japan’s largest limestone cave called Akiyoshido (秋芳洞) and a plateau called Akiyoshidai (秋吉台).

    Akiyoshidai Plateau’s topographic formation was created through the process of displacement. A coral reef which existed over 300 million years ago was pushed up to the surface. Later on, with the eroding brought by wind and rain, it became a mountain. It is at this point where innumerable varieties of limestone were formed on the green plateau.

    The Akiyoshido Cave was designated as a natural monument in 1952 and is located 100 meters underground. This cave was named by Emperor Hirohito (昭和天皇) in 1926 when he explored the place. At the moment, a part of the cave is open to the public where they can enjoy fantastic sights of the rock formation. It is quite chilly inside the cave so you have to make sure to wear long sleeves even during hot days.

    Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park Website
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    Discover the unique side of Japan through these 5 geo spots that will surely surprise you. Make the most of these scenic places before nature changes them completely.

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