Showing posts with label Japan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japan. Show all posts

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Shirakawago Village Japan

Shirakawa is a small traditional mountain village located in Ōno District, Gifu Prefecture, Japan. It is best known for being the site of Shirakawago showcasing a building style known as gasshō-zukuri. It is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites with Gokayama in Nanto, Toyama. The Shirakawa village was formed on July 1, 1897 with the establishment of the modern municipalities system. Shirakawago has population of around two thousand people as most of the population is in its river valley.  This region was cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time. The Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The villages have a strong sense of community. Their traditional social systems and lifestyle customs have sustained their associated historic environments, management systems, and the level of authenticity is high.
Shirakawago total area is 356.55 km2, bordering Ishikawa Prefecture and Toyama Prefecture on the Ryōhaku Mountains. The village's area is 95.7% mountainous forests, and its steep places are characteristic. In between the mountains flows the Shō River, which continues to the north into Nanto, Toyama. One can reached at Shirakawago within 50 minutes from Takayama by using of Hida Tunnel. Earlier it takes three hour drive, and only an hour to Nanto in Toyama. The large houses with their steeply pitched thatched roofs are the only examples of their kind in Japan. The village does not have any passenger railway service. Moreover, it has one combined public elementary/junior high school, but does not have a high school.
Shirakawago nearby Attractions
There are many natural attractions nearby. The most famous is Mount Haku, which is Japan’s Three Famous Mountains, surrounded by a virgin forest at its foot. Also three gorgeous waterfalls: Taka falls, Naka falls, and Ki falls, can be seen along the pass leading to the Amo highlands. Another waterfall, Hakusui Falls, pours from the artificial Hakusui Lake, that was formed by a dam at an elevation of 1,260 meters. To take a rest from hiking and relax a little, the area also has several hot springs, such as the Hirase hot spring bathhouse.
Shirakawago Weather
Shirakawago has a humid climate, features four distinct seasons with winter is being most recognized. Shirakawa village is one of the snowiest places in Japan, averaging snowfall amounts in excess of 10 meters with snowbanks developing well over 2 meters tall. As a consequence of the frequent heavy snow, characteristically thick thatched roofed “Gasshō-zukuri” houses were created. These sites are major tourist attractions due to Hakusan National Park mountain ranges as a background.
The seasonal tourism boosts the economy of Shrakawago. They came to see the gassho-zukuri ultimately improve the financial condition of villagers. The area has further improved once the village became a UNESCO site. The increase in traffic resulted damaging the area from pollution. Thus, local inhabitant’s life standard enhanced and they converted their homes into hostels, gift shops and parking lots. So every good thing has bad effects also. The fast growing visitors change the charm of village simplicity and fundamental Japanese scenery.
Shirakawago Accommodation
Shirakawago’s landscape is home to gassho style houses, old-style Japanese inns, and hotels to outfit any visitor. Further, there are more than forty different options for accommodation. By staying in an old-style gassho style guesthouse, guests can experience the simple practicality of ancient Japanese life. Moreover, the characteristic features include rustic roof beams, tatami flooring, and traditional sunken hearths. Also, you can relish the local specialties and exclusive dishes that make up Shirakawago’s regional cuisine. For other accommodation choices, rooms are available both without and with meals, and few guesthouses offers dormitory beds. In all cases, you have to make reservations in advance. Source - 


Saturday, 20 October 2018

Aogashima! A Volcanic Japanese Island

Aogashima is a volcanic Japanese island in the Philippine Sea, administered by Tokyo. The island's area is 8.75 km2 and, its population is about 200.  Aogashima is a volcanic island 3.5 km in length with a maximum width of 2.5 km. Aogashima is also within the boundaries of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Aogashima is approximately 358 kilometres south of Tokyo and 64 KM south of Hachijō-jima. It is the southernmost and most isolated inhabited island of the Izu archipelago. The village of Aogashima administers the island under Hachijō Subprefecture of Tokyo Metropolis. In the center of the island lies a geothermal sauna, scuba diving is popular, and the alien landscape is something you will never forget.

The island was the site of a series of earthquakes, known as an “earthquake swarm” in the 1780’s and a large eruption in 1785 that killed 130-140 people, nearly half of the island’s population. This island is formed by the overlapping remnants of at least four submarine calderas. The island is surrounded by very steep rugged cliffs of layered volcanic deposits. The southern coast also rises to a sharp ridge forming one edge of a caldera named Ikenosawa with a diameter of 1.5 km. The caldera is occupied by a secondary cone named Maruyama.

It is still considered a Class-C active volcano by the Japan Meteorological Agency. The locals don’t worry and not tries not to spend too much time worrying about the possibility of another eruption. After all, it’s been more than 230 years since the last one the odds are in his favor. During a massive eruption in 1785, some 130–140 of the population of 327 islanders perished. Aogashima has several roadways, with the majority zigzagging throughout the island’s center.

The last eruption of Aogashima was during a four-year period from 1781–1785 the deadliest event in island history. The history of human settlement on Aogashima is uncertain. Most of the people in Aogashima are Japanese. This remote island is truly a great place to relax.  The Island is blessed with hot springs and geothermal energy because of the volcano.  Despite the island’s small size, most of its residents travel by car rather than biking or walking and for good reason. People hesitate to travel by bike due to the strong winds and rainy climate.  The Tokyo city life is intimidated by the congestion there’s just too many people.

 However in Aogashima one can feel great nature that you cannot experience in big cities. This magnificent island is rich in nature and breathtaking views. Maruyama is perhaps the main attraction here to hike. This hike is short and you can expect to finish the full course in around 20 min depending on how many pictures you decide to take. You can see view seasonal flowers and trees. Wildlife is also present and birds as well as other small critters can be found here.

The natural saunas on the island are a great place to take a rest and loose yourself in the dazzling surroundings. Tourist here likes to Stargazing activity, which you won’t enjoy in any other part of the world. There are no houses or even streetlights up there, your only company will be a few cows and the stars in the sky. Not only is there an absence of light pollution, but there is no excess noise. The view from here is so beautiful that the Japanese call it “The Coliseum of the Stars”.

Access to Aogashima Island?
Aogashima is a difficult place to reach due to its extreme isolation. Only single helicopter goes to containing only 9 passengers. However the best way to go there is to take Airplane from Haneda airport to Hachijojima island and then transfer to a helicopter there. A boat journey could be risky and dangerous.


Monday, 2 July 2018

Lot’s Wife, A Dramatic Inhabited Island

Lot's Wife is also called Widow's Crag is a volcanic, deserted island located in the Philippine Sea. Lot’s Wife lies about 650 KM south off the coast of Tokyo, and 76 KM from nearby Torishima at the southernmost tip of the Izu archipelago, Japan. However Widow’s Crag Island is just 0.01 km2 in area, but it reaches almost 100 meters in height.  Its dramatic and isolated setting prompted discolored sea water was observed about 500 m north of Sofugan, and the volcano was reclassified as active by the Japan Meteorological Agency in 2003.
The Widow’s Crag island is a basalt pillar with sheer sides, the only visible portion of a submarine volcanic caldera extending 2.6 KM south-east at an average depth of 240 meters. The sea-level portion measures is about 84 meters east-west and 56 meters north-south, with a summit height of 99 meters. Lot’s Wife sides features having several geological joints facing the water's surface.
Lot’s Wife is a biblical figure who turned into a pillar of salt.  Due to its exclusive shape and heavy seas it is almost incredible to disembark on the island, though many attempts have been made by rock climbers successfully in 1972 and 2003 and several accidents have been registered. The Lot’s Wife is also known for the transparency of its surrounding waters and abundance of fish, which makes it a popular scuba diving spot. The only vegetation on the island is a few clumps of Poaceae, and the island attracts a small number of seabirds for nesting.
On April 9, 1788, British merchant sailor John Meares sighted what he came to describe as “the most marvellous thing” he had ever set his eyes on, a small island he and the ship’s crew decided to baptize as Lot's Wife, referring to the Book of Genesis 19:26. During the Pacific War, Sofu Gan was used by US Navy submariners as a reference marker for calibration of instruments as they entered Japanese waters. The uninhabited island was the currently administratively part of Tokyo Metropolis. The Japanese name Sōfu Iwa “Soufuiwa” is rather freely translated from English. This graticule is surely in the running for the smallest nonzero land fraction of any graticule in the world.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Jigokudani Monkey Park, Where Monkeys Bath in Hot Springs

Jigokudani is a valley surrounded by steep rock walls where steam can be seen rising from natural hot springs. Jigokudani Monkey Park, is famous due to massive population of wild Japanese snow monkeys, using natural spa exclusively by themselves. These are also referred to Japanese macaques “Macaca fuscata”, in Yamanouchi, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture, part of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, located in the valley of the Yokoyu-River, in the northern part of the prefecture. The name Jigokudani, meaning (Hell's Valley), famous for steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and terribly cold and intimidating forests. The heavy snowfalls, covers the area for 4months in a year, an elevation of 850 meters. The main onsen bath was constructed specifically for use by the monkeys.
The Jigokudani Monkey Park is only accessible through a 2KM footpath via forest, mostly uncrowded in spite of being relatively well-known. The monkeys descend from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of hot springs, and return to the security of the forests in the evenings. Though, monkeys are fed by park attendants, they are in the area of the hot springs all the year round, and a visit at any season will enable the tourist to observe hundreds of the macaques. This region receives heavy snowfall usually white from Dec-Mar, with January and February is the best time to visit the monkey park.
During the colder season, when food is very limited available, monkeys congregate in and around the pools for warmth and the daily supply of barley and soybeans. Further, sometimes monkeys are sighted even in the summer as they take occasional baths because they are enticed by food thrown into the pool by park wardens. Moreover, the macaques are medium sized monkeys, have stocky body with both a head and body length of approximately 500mm high. The tail length is less than a quarter of the head and body length, have grayish or brownish fur color, well-developed cheek paunches, ischial callosities and red faces. The biggest male was about 600mm, the biggest female was about 450mm, and infants were about 300mm.
In 1963, a young female monkey clambered into a hot spring to collect soybeans that were floating on the surface of the water. This unusual behavior was followed by others in the troop, and soon it became common for the monkeys to retreat to the hot pools when the harsh winter arrived. Naturally the tourists followed soon after. The wild monkeys keep their own schedules, as there are no fences or cages, and they do whatever they like. That’s the beauty of this whole park, and something that sets it apart from many of Japan’s other animal experiences.
Hence, a visit to the Nagano area would not be complete without seeing the Japan Snow Monkeys. Notwithstanding its relatively remote location, approximately 100,000 visitors trek through the woods of Nagano each year to see wild snow monkeys. Overnight visitors usually base themselves in nearby Kanbayashi Onsen, Shibu Onsen or Yudanaka Onsen. It’s definitely the most scenic, with snow-capped trees backgrounding groups of bathing Japanese macaques. Visitors can observe their natural lifestyle and numerous photos are on display at the park management building.