With the theme of rediscovering the attractions of Japan, this campaign by the "JTB Group" aims to contribute to the revitalization of regions for domestic tourism by unearthing the seasonal attractions of each region and communicating them to as many customers at possible through travel. In this episode, we put the spotlight on Kyoto, Lake Biwa and the Nara area.
Having rained the previous day, a sea of clouds, appearing only when various weather conditions coincide. The sea of clouds alone make for a mystical scene, but the contrast with the cherryblossoms deepen the impact of this breathtaking view.
This beautiful scene of cherryblossoms covering the mountainside in spring has continued to enthrall hearts and minds from the Heian era to the present. Mt Yoshino, covered by 200 cherryblossom varieties and 30,000 trees, is gradually covered in the colors of the blossoms over a period of a month.
In the quiet countryside of Asuka stands what is said to be the final resting place of Soga-no Umako, an ancient tomb famous for its unique shape, with one of Japan's largest horizontal stone chambers exposed. One of many stone structures suggesting its former grandeur.
The sakura of Kaizu Osaki, chosen amongst "Japan's 100 best sites for cherryblossoms". A tunnel of cherryblossoms stretching around 4km on the edge of Lake Biwa is made up of approximately 800 elegant Yoshino cherry trees. One can also enjoy splendid views from Lake Biwa itself.
"Ninna-ji", registered as a World Heritage Site. The area west of the central gate inside the grounds contains a copse of "Omuro Sakura", known for blossoming late, and a five layered pagoda, both designated Sites of Scenic Beauty by the government. It remains in many "waka" (traditional songs); why not enjoy the view together with the songs?
The Yoshino cherry trees stand proudly, towering over the canals of Lake Biwa. The area has many modern pieces of architecture built from the Meiji to Showa eras, creating an enjoyable, retro atmosphere. You can walk on the tracks on the 582m long remains of the world's longest inclined railway, enjoying the blossoms.
Over the 1.5km long path from Wakaoji bridge to Ginkaku-ji, beautiful cherryblossoms, like the Yoshino cherry, come into full bloom following the lines of the canals of Lake Biwa. In June, fireflies are seen in flight ? the spot is rich in natural scenery.
The festival of Nagahama Hatimangu, held every April. Designated a national Important Intangible Folk Cultural Asset, its highlight is the "Kodomo Kabuki", acted out every day by 5?12 year old boys.
With a shout of "Yoiyasa!", this event colorfully heralds the coming of spring in Gion's regular spring fixture. The geiko and maiko of the Gion Kobu put on a traditional dance performance, polished to a degree worthy of this fine tradition.
On the pure flow of water out of Takao, the Kiyotaki river, Kajika frogs are heard croaking and the Genji firefly, designated a Natural Monument, are seen dancing on the river surface. Come out of the cities, and enjoy a world of dreams on a Kawadoko-seki (waterside seat).
This long, straight path, surrounded by tall roadside trees, stretches approximately 2.4km. These magnificent metasequoias are over 20m tall, and the sight of their leaves in May, June, full of sunlight, is a source of enjoyment for all who visit.
Mimuroto-ji, so famous for its hydrangeas that it is also known as the "Ajisai-dera (hydrangea temple)". With over 50 varieties and 10,000 bulbs of Western and French hydrangeas, the sight of them in bloom amongst the Japanese cedar trees makes for a spectacular scene, like seeing a purple picture scroll.
The Gion Festival is the sacred festival of Yasaka Shrine, and together with the Tenjin Festival in Osaka and the Kanda Festival in Tokyo, is counted amongst the three great festivals of Japan. Its long history, splendor, as well as its scale, lasting around a month, all make it very famous.
Tofuku-ji, one of Kyoto's Gozan temples. It is full of greenery, with corridors and a grand sanmon (main temple gate). Its garden contains both Japanese rock garden designs and modern, checkerboard patterns, making for fulfilling, beautiful scenery.
On Japan's biggest lake, Lake Biwa, we find Japan's largest growth of lotus flowers. These colorful lotuses fill the lake surface, giving it spectacular color.
Prosperous as Japan's capital 1300 years ago, and now a World Heritage Site, there's a somehow nostalgic feel that makes this event just right for Nara. The gentle light of the lanterns envelopes the grandeur of this historical, natural space.
Along with the Gion Festival, this is a favorite seasonal fixture of Kyoto's summer, lighting up the night sky. You can also enjoy the scenery from "Kyoto Tower", a symbol of Kyoto standing in front of Kyoto Station.
Enjoy a 360 degree view from the lake of Mt Hiei, Mr Hira, Mt Mikami, and the great Biwako Ohashi bridge. The ship interior has a sense of depth, and the somehow nostalgic name of the ship, Michigan, matches its four storey build.
Inside the grounds of Shirahige Shrine, there are engravings of songs by Matsuo Basho and Murasaki Shikibu, proof that spectacular scenery transcends the bounds of time and has been loved by many artists over the years. It is truly stunning to see the beautiful radiance of the morning sun off the lake surface, giving a mystical splendor to the great torii (shrine gateway), with Oki Island in the background.
Kyoto is full of the ingenuity of predecessors for surviving the summer heat. The yuka (wooden platforms) over Kamogawa, loved by the people of Kyoto as a place to gather, and the wind-bells, combining bamboo baskets with traditional Kyoto arts and crafts, both give off a feeling of coolness in the summer.
Amanohashidate, known as one of Japan's three great sights together with Miyajima in Hiroshima and Matsushima in Miyagi. Also experience "mata nozoki" (looking out between ones own legs, giving an upside down view) from Kasamatsu Park at an altitude of 130m, said to be where "mata nozoki" comes from.