CultureExperience the Dynamism of the Earth at GeoparksⅠ

att.JAPAN Issue 61, Autumn/2012

A geopark is a place where people can learn about how the earth was formed and works by coming into contact with “geological heritages” (geosites), which include peculiar geological features and conditions, such as volcanoes and rocks. Geoparks allow people to think about how the earth has been affecting the ecosystem and human life. Geoparks promote an experienced-based tourism style where visitors walk around to learn about the history of the earth and enjoy looking at dynamic scenery as well as tasting the locally harvested food.
The Japanese archipelago encompasses highly diverse landforms with rare geological features in the world. Five locations in Japan (as of August, 2012) that have been considered to have a particularly high quality of land diversity, including Lake Toya and Mount Usu, the Itoi River, the San-in coasts, the Shimabara Peninsula, and Muroto, are designated as global geoparks by the Global Geoparks Network (an UNESCO program established in 2004). In addition, there are about 20 other geoparks that have been developing various original experience-based programs. Since Japan has many active volcanoes, there are various measures against eruption disaster, while at the same people enjoy the blessings of the volcanoes, such as hot springs. Geoparks in Japan have many interesting attractions, where people can experience dynamic crustal movements, see fossils over 100 million years old, and so on. Please enjoy Japan’s geoparks with guided tours, hot springs, distinct local cuisine, and varieties of local sake.

Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano Global Geopark

Living with volcanoes on shaking ground
Mount Usu is one of the most active volcanoes in Japan, erupting four times in the 20th century. The walking paths lead you to the crater that was formed by an eruption in 2000. This geopark has a variety of exhibition facilities, including a volcano science museum. A hot spring was discovered after an eruption in 1910, offering visitors a relaxing time in a hot spring gazing out at Toya Caldera. The land formed by the series of eruptions produces abundant food. The locally produced ingredients served at the G8 Summit held here in 2008 were highly praised for their superior quality.
Sapporo Sta -> Toya Sta: 1 h 37 min by limited express on the JR Muroran Line

Itoigawa Global Geopark

Nature and culture on a tectonic fault line
This geopark includes Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Fault Line (the fault where the Pacific Plate and Eurasian Plate meet), which allows us to learn how the Japanese archipelago was formed, as well as 24 geosites, including Jade Coast, where jade pieces have washed up since ancient times, creating the world’s oldest jade culture. There are two national parks in the city, where visitors can enjoy trekking, hot springs amidst the great nature, and local seafood from the Sea of Japan.
Tokyo Sta -> Itoigawa Sta: 2 h 40 min by bullet train on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line and (limited express Hakutaka on the Hokuhoku Line (change at Echigo-Yuzawa Sta)

San’in Kaigan Geopark

Beautiful coastlines created by diverse geological conditions
San’in Kaigan Geopark has an extensive area encompassing a variety of geological features, such as ria coasts, dunes, volcanic landforms, and waterfalls. Gembudo, a cave with variously curved beautiful columnar joints, is globally known as the place where the phenomenon of magnetic reversal was first discovered. This geopark offers a variety of activities, including sea bathing, sightseeing, boat riding, mountain climbing, skiing, and hot spring tours, as well as local gourmet delicacies, such as snow crab, Japanese black beef, and various kinds of fruit.
Osaka Sta -> Tottori Sta: 2 h 30 min by JR limited express train
Osaka Sta -> Toyooka Sta: 2h 40 min by JR limited express train
Osaka Sta -> Amino Sta: 2h 50 min by JR limited express train

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