IN JAPAN, NATURE IS DIVINE. GET OUT OF THE URBAN JUNGLE AND SEE THESE NATURAL WONDERS.
For a country with a landmass one twentieth the size of Australia and a population five times larger, Japan has a fascinating relationship with nature.
This relationship dates back centuries to Japan’s indigenous religion, Shintoism. At the heart of Shinto are Kami, powerful spirits that bring nature to life. In Japan, nature is divine, and in its simplest form the Shinto faith cherishes and worships nature.
From the majestic waters of the Fuji Five Lakes, to Snow Monkeys in Takayama – Japan offers the opportunity to appreciate her quiet, beautiful secrets.
MT MISEN, MIYAJIMA
The picturesque island of Miyajima, south of Hiroshima is home to gods and deer as well as the leafy Mt. Misen. Boasting one of the best-preserved forests in Japan, the islands tallest mountain is a vibrant habitat. Here you may spot Japanese Macaques, Deer and Tanuki (an adorable Raccoon/dog hybrid) unique to Japan. The ecology of this island, from the surrounding ocean to its mountain tops, is regarded as an archetypal model of Japan.
Leisurely strolling the island is the best way to take in the stunning natural beauty. To top it off, Miyajima is home to the famous floating Tori shrine.
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SIKA DEER, NARA
Founded in 1880 at the base of Mount Wakaksu is the 1200-hectare Nara Park. More than 1200 wild Sika deer roam freely.
For the Shinto faith, Nara Park has long been an important place of worship. Todai-ji, Kofuku-ji and Kasuga shrines are the key places of note for the Shinto faith. Even today, deer have free reign over the city and are very comfortable among humans. As a result, the deer have a lasting bond with the park. They are deeply revered in Japanese culture making them classified officially as a national treasure.
See them on: A WEEK IN JAPAN, 9 DAYS
On the outskirts of Kyoto lies the glorious Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.
Bordering the historic town of Arashiyama, this dense bamboo forest sits against a backdrop of Arashiyama Mountain, and has a habitat of more than 170 Japanese macaques. Here you can feel an intimate connection with the surrounding environment as the forest walkways create a surreal atmosphere. Earning a spiritual function; the bamboo grove is considered sacred, protecting the Shinto shrines nearby from evil spirits.
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FUJI FIVE LAKES
As the name suggests, the area at the base of Mount Fuji contains five breath-taking lakes formed by previous Mount Fuji eruptions. Fuji Five Lakes area is a popular weekend getaway for people from the big cities. It’s renowned for its natural beauty, its popular hot springs and many outdoor activities.
Cruise along the Fuji Five Lakes and soak up the serenity of the mountainscape, visit Oshino Hakkai to see a collection of eight crystal clear ponds formed by the melting snow of Mount Fuji. In the Fuji Five Lakes region the water is so pristine that you can see a reflection of Mount Fuji and the surrounding landscape on it’s surface.
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SNOW MONKEYS, JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK
Located north from Tokyo in Joshinetsu-Kogen National Park is a snow monkey’s paradise. With it’s unforgiving landscapes ‘Hell Valley’, as it’s known by ancient Japanese, is almost always covered with snow throughout the year.
Jigokudani sits eight hundred and fifty metres above sea level, and the snow falls over one metre thick. Jigokudani valley is one of the few places in the world where visitors can observe these social animals in their natural environment. Walking through a picturesque forested valley, you will reach the steaming hot pools where the beautiful Japanese Macaques, or snow monkeys bathe and play in the waters.
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LAKE ASHI, HAKONE
Lake Ashi is in Hakone National Park, the most visited national park in Japan, only a short distance from Tokyo. Formed three-thousand years ago from the last eruption of Mount Fuji, Lake Ashi has since become an iconic symbol of Hakone.
Whilst there are several towns and villages along Lake Ashi’s banks, this area is mostly undeveloped. Highlights of Lake Ashi include the spectacular panoramic views of Mount Fuji and the volcanic, gaseous Owakudani Valley, where locals boil black eggs in the sulphuric naturally hot springs. Interestingly, of you eat one of these eggs they will extend your lifespan!
See it on: JAPAN UNCOVERED, 18 DAYS.
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