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Yoshino-Kumano National Park

Land area: 59,793 ha
Designated on 1 Feb, 1936

Photo: Yoshino-Kumano

When entering the mountain path, one is surrounded by the pleasant scent of the forest. The Kumano Pilgrimage Routes, inscribed on the World Heritage List, is a place of pilgrimage since ancient times and also a forest road with abundant nature. The harmonization of natural beauty and high spirituality gives visitors a sense of fulfillment.

Park with Rich Pristine Nature Represented by the Natural Forest in Odaigahara

Map: Yoshino-Kumano

Yoshino-Kumano National Park is composed of mountains from the central to southern parts of the Kiihanto Peninsula and the coastal area. It contains mountainous areas which include the Ominesan Mountains running north and south along the peninsula, Odaigahara Plateau and Mt. Yoshinoyama. It also includes rivers, which originate in the mountains and flow into the Pacific Ocean, and their basins, and the coastal area from Owasewan Bay to Cape Shionomisaki, the southernmost point in the main island. It is a park with varied features of mountains, rivers and the coast.
The Ominesan Mountains, a mature mountain chain, have Mt. Hakkyogatake (1,915 m) as their highest peak and are characterized by steep mountains and deep valleys.
Odaigahara Plateau (1,695 m) is a tableland located in the east of the Ominesan Mountains and the area around its peak is a peneplain at an altitude of about 1,500 m. It has annual rainfall of as much as 4,800 mm and the plateau is mostly enveloped in mist. Osugidani Valley, which originates here, forms a magnificent gorge with a group of steep cliffs and waterfalls. While the Odaigahara area is famous for large natural forests, deterioration of the forest vegetation because of the increase of Japanese shika deer and fallen trees as the result of typhoons has been observed. Now, measures have been taken to recover the vegetation in this area.
The Kitayamagawa River, which has its riverhead in the plateau, is a tributary of the Kumanogawa River. Splendid valleys stretch along its basin. The Dorokyo Gorge, which is composed of a range of steep cliffs of 20 ? 30 m in height and deep valleys, is considered to be one of the most beautiful gorges in Japan and presents exquisite scenery.

Kumano, a World Heritage Site, and Nachi

Mt. Nachisan, located in the south of the Ominesan Mountains, has three shrines halfway up the mountain which are hallowed sites of the Kumano faith. It is the center of the ancient Kumano faith, and a long mountain path called the Kumano Pilgrimage Routes leads worshippers to the shrine. In the north of the shrine soars Nachinotaki Waterfall which is another hallowed site. It has a drop of 133 m and is admired as one of the most scenic waterfalls in Japan. The forest behind the waterfall is called the Nachi Primeval Forest and is protected as a holy precinct. This area, which includes the pilgrimage routes and the waterfalls, is listed on the World Heritage Site.
In the coastal area of the park, the coastline stretches from Owasewan Bay to Cape Shionomisaki. The shore has complex coastal landforms such as the rias coast and wave-cut terraces, and presents a fascinating view of which one never becomes tired of.

Rich Vegetation Thanks to the Abundant Rainwater

As the Kiihanto Peninsula has a mild climate and high precipitation, both natural and planted forests are well-developed. The area is one of the major forestry districts in Japan, and planted forests extend up to about an altitude of 1,000 m. In the mountainous area, the vegetation in natural forests changes as the altitude becomes higher, from broad-leaved evergreen trees to broad-leaved deciduous trees, and then coniferous trees. In the coastal area, Japanese black pines (Pinus thunbergii) and broad-leaved evergreen trees such as Japanese chinquapins and evergreen oaks grow. There are also pure forests of ubamegashi (Quercus phillyraeoides).
The cherry blossoms (Cerasus jamasakura) of Mt. Yoshinoyama, which rises at the northern end of the Ominesan Mountains, are very famous. Mt. Yoshinoyama is known as one of the best cherry blossom-viewing spots. In spring, the whole mountain looks pale pink and presents a gorgeous view. Like Kumano, the mountain has a long history and many historic sites. It captures People's cultural interests.

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