Uozu (魚津) is a small beautiful city located in Toyama Prefecture (富山県), which is known for its pristine rivers and mountain ranges. It is easily accessible from Toyama City via Shinkansen (新幹線). It is also quite an international city with many foreign nationals living in harmony. The city is famous for its awesome festival, Uozu Matsuri (魚津まつり), where it gets adorned by giant floats and fireworks.
Furthermore, Uozu is well known for some unique natural phenomena that you might not come across anywhere else. The city is sometimes even called the “Mysterious City” due to its uncommon sights. Here are three major natural mysteries that are happening in Uozu which you need to know!
This museum is where the roots of very old Japanese cedar trees are preserved. The trees belong to a 2000-year-old Sugi (杉; Japanese red cedar) forest that has been buried due to climatic changes in the region. This buried forest was excavated partially and the remnants, especially their roots, have been put on display for visitors. The forest itself, although buried, is considered as a natural monument by the Japanese government as sugi forests (which are endemic to Japan) are becoming endangered.
The museum is sometimes referred to as “Nekko Land (ねっこランド)” which means “land of roots.” Not everywhere you would see a buried forest considered a monument and a unique museum to preserve its remnants. The forest is a gateway to the Jomon period (縄文時代) where major climatic changes have taken place in Japan.
If you are interested in this natural phenomenon, please visit the museum which is a major landmark in Uozu City. It is also a major spot to witness another natural phenomenon that occurs in Uozu called the “Superior Mirages” which will be discussed below.
A mirage, or “shinkirou (蜃気楼)” in Japanese, is basically a distorted illusion of something that from a distance due to the reflection of light. Mirages are common in areas such as deserts where images of pools or ponds of water appear as a reflection of the sky.
However, there are some mirages called “Superior Mirages” which are fairly less common and are seen only in some places, including seas with suitable weather conditions. These are caused mainly during the springtime where there is a right mix of warm and cold air in the atmosphere. Usually, in spring, colder air is present on the surface of the water, while warm air is above cold air. If light gets reflected exactly at the boundary that separates the warm and cold air, it can lead to some pretty awesome vertical mirages that extend like barcodes across the sky. Usually, images of ships appear like stripes that grow vertically or sometimes upside down over the object.
You can see these mirages from the observatory at the Uozu Buried Forest Museum or the Amusement Park in Uozu. Some hotels such as the Grand Mirage Hotel (ホテルグランミラージュ) in Uozu also offer some breathtaking views of these mirages.
There is a group of luminescent squids called the “firefly squid” which are seen only in the waters of the Western Pacific Ocean around Japan and other nearby islands. These squids literally glow in the dark during mating season in the spring, between March and early June. The female firefly squid goes to the surface of the ocean and emits bluish-white bioluminescent light from different areas of its body to attract its mate. The lifespan of these squids is just a year and they die after that.
If you are interested in witnessing this unique natural phenomenon, you should go to the sea early in the morning.
These are the three unique natural wonders of Uozu that you must see this spring. Do pay a visit to this beautiful city and indulge in all the interesting sightseeing!