Japanese Scenery

posted in: Japan, Nature, Photography, Travel | 3

Spring time brings beautiful Japanese Scenery

Spring is in full swing now in Togakushi Kogen Highlands. Situated within Joshinetsu National Park of Nagano Prefecture, Japan, the area is alive these days with natures gifts. Flora and fauna abounds, wild flowers are blooming, colourful species of birds are flocking here bringing with them their beautiful cantos and wild creatures big and small whether they be insects, snakes,  raccoon dogs, squirrels or brown bears all want a piece of the action.

fields of rape flowers beautiful japanese scenery
Colourful Spring Rape Fields with Takatsumayama in the background
Joshinetsu National Park (where better to view Japanese scenery in spring!) is a volcanic area situated at 1200 metres a.s.l and located at the foot of two extinct volcanoes, Mount Togakushi and Mount Iizuna. The Highlands here abound in natural beauty with a huge variety and diversity of alpine plants blooming in season. There are mountains, lakes, ponds and marshes with regard to the landscape, all of which visitors have easy access to. Crops also can be quite a spectacle when they are as vibrantly coloured as the rape seen in the picture above and cultivated on such a large scale.
skunk cabbage with mountain background
Close-up of Skunk Cabbage
The Sakura or Cherry Blossom of which Japan is renowned for during the spring season helps create beautiful and typical Japanese scenery. It can be seen growing not only around peoples properties or roadsides throughout Togakushi but also around the lakes and within the mountainous forests along with another stunning flowering tree the Magnolia.
sakura cherry blossom beautiful japanese scenery
Sakura (Cherry Blossom) at Daizahoushi Ike
There is also an extravagant display of Sakura at Chusha Jinja or shrine every year during the month of may more stunning Japanese scenery at this ancient Japanese holy place. Chusha is one of the five very ancient and sacred Shinto shrines in Togakushi and right outside the entrance at the huge Tori or Gate that beckons you into the shrine area are a number of colourful Cherry trees whose scent pervades the air on a sunlit spring day and makes one feel glad to be alive.
chusha tori gate with sakura
Sakura at Chusha Shrine Tori (Gate)
Kagami Ike or Mirror Lake is also an extremely interesting and scenic part of Togakushi which is not only reveals stunningly beautiful Japanese scenery in spring but during almost all of the seasons, even in winter when the lake itself is covered with a thick sheet of ice. Personally my favourite times to visit Kagami Ike are during spring and autumn, there are obvious reasons for visiting during autumn when the fall colours are at their best as can be seen in the picture below.
fall colors at mirror lake in japan
Kagami Ike (Mirror Pond/Lake) in Autumn
But I am digressing here, lets stick with spring and the stunning Japanese scenery. I thought I would put the above picture in of Kagami Ike in autumn so as to highlight the big contrast between the two seasons, the changing face of nature as it were.
marsh marigolds in beautiful japanese scenery
Kagami Ike in Spring and overlooked by part of Togakushi Mountain 
Kagami Ike is quite a sizeable lake and there is a well trodden path that goes all the way around this enchanting expanse of water through the forest with many spots affording excellent views. The forest itself is a mixture of bamboo, hardwood and coniferous trees along with wild flowers and something else one should be aware of, the brown bear. It’s always a good idea to carry a cow bell if doing the circuit as this lets any bears if they are in the vicinity aware of your presence and they in turn will tend to keep themselves to themselves. Better to be safe than sorry.
kagame ike mirror lake with togakushi mountain
Kagami Ike overlooked by Togakushiyama Ridge
Another lake situated not too far away from Kagami Ike and yet again in bear country is Furu Ike. Located near to Kurohimeyama or Kurohime Mountain, Furu Ike is a little higher in altitude than Kagami Ike and requires a small hike through the forest to get there from the main road, unlike Kagami Ike which you can actually drive to.
Furu Ike with a side view of Togakushiyama and Takatsumayama

Furu Ike is another great place to view the Asian Skunk Cabbage along with its loving companion plant the Marsh Marigold amidst more beautiful Japanese scenery. The walk around the lake and through the forest is interspersed with boardwalks although they are somewhat aged and decayed these days. In places it is pretty marshy but this environment proves all the more beneficial to certain species of wild flowers. And at a few spots along the walk you can also see Salamander eggs in the water at this time of year.
marsh marigolds beautiful yellow flowers
Marsh Marigolds with Takatsumayama in the Background
The lake in spring is also bustling with the sound of frogs and toads as the mating season is near at hand. At times it can be a veritable cacophony of …..love tones I guess. And if you are lucky you may actually see a couple of these ‘usually’ hidden from sight creatures. Be heard but not seen I think there motto must be!
common toad bufo bufo in a hand
Beautiful Common Toad (Bufo bufo)


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3 Responses

  1. Senad R

    Great pictures, i love flowers!
    Great job !

  2. Karen

    Hi Antony,
    I'm going to love your blog. You will take me to places I'll probably never get to see!!! And your photography is lovely. P.S. Thanks for visiting my blog. Your comments are most appreciated!

  3. Antony

    Thanks Karen for your very kind comment.
    The feeling is mutual and I can't wait to see some more great photography on your blog.

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