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Hokkaido (北海道)

Mount Usu / Sarobetsu post-mined peatland
From left: Crater basin in 1986 and 2006. Cottongrass / Daylily

Area: 83,453.57 km²
Flower: Hamanasu (ハマナス, Rosa rugosa)
Tree: Ezomatsu (エゾマツ, Picea jezoensis)
Bird: Tancho (タンチョウ, Grus japonensis)

[ Sapporo ]

Cool temperate zone
Many active volcanoes
Wetlands, such as Sarobetsu

coalfield (炭鉱)
skislopes (スキー場)
soil (土壌)
vertical distribution of vegetation (植生垂直分布)
volcanoes (火山)
wetland (湿原)

Mount Yotei (羊蹄山)

1898 m elevation (also called shiribeshi-yama or ezo-fuji → assigned as 100 nice mountains in Japan
southern Shiribeshi District (northwestern Iburi Province)
confical stratovolcano

2003 designated to active volcano (Meteorological Agency of Japan)

Yotei1 Yotei2 Yotei3
[1] long-distance view. [2] close to the summit. [3] the crater. [1-3] on June 28 2014.

Mount Apoi (アポイ岳)

810.5 m elevation Characteristics:

Horoman peridotite (幌満橄欖岩)
→ many endemic and/or endangered species
alpine plants

2008 Japanese Geopark
2015 Global Geopark

Mt. Apoi GeoPark

Erman's birches above dwarf stone pines:

vertical distribution turned upside-down

When you climb Mt. Apoi, from around the seventh stage, you will reach the forest limit and gain views of the surroundings. However, the summit is in the middle of a forest of Erman's birch trees, and does not offer any view. This is another of Mt. Apoi's riddles. Normally, with increasing altitude, mountain vegetation changes from broadleaf to coniferous forest zones and then to an Erman's birch forest zone. The end of this zone is also the forest limit, and above the Erman's birch zone, there is a dwarf stone pine zone. On Mt. Apoi, however, the vertical distribution of the vegetation is upside-down: the Erman's birch forest zone is above he dwarf stone pine zone.

Alternate Layers of Gabbro and Peridolite

Sixth to seventh stages

Mt. Apoi reaches the forest line around here. Beyond this line is the dwarf pine zone. The horizontal layers beyond the sign consist of alternating rugged gabbro and receding brown peridotite. The Horoman peridotite complex from which Mt. Apoi is formed has a massive layered structure made up of varied types of peridotite and smaller amounts of mafic rock.

Why do endemic alpine plants bloom on a low-altitude mountain?

Alpine plants on a low-altitude mountains and an abundance of flowers that bloom only here. These are the two greatest attractions and the most intriguing features of Mt. Apoi. There are believed to be three reasons for two mysterious phenomena.
  1. Peridotite
    The soil of Mt. Apoi consists of peridotite, a type of rock of which the mountain itself is also constituted, and this type of soil contains many components that hinder the growth of plants. Also, as peridotite does not easily crumble, it takes time for soil to accumulate, and the accumulated soil is easily removed by wind and rain. Therefore, the layer of soil covering Mt. Apoi is thin, dries easily and offers poor only nutrition.
  2. Climate
    Mt. Apoi is only three kilometers away from the Pacific Coast, and so the entire mountain is frequently enveloped in sea fog during the summer. The fog obstructs the light from the sun and brings down the temperature. For this reason, summer on Mt. Apoi is cool, but like the summer on a high-altitude mountain. Moreover, the snow cover in winter is thin and the ground temperature low. Due to these meteorological conditions, the environment on Mt. Apoi is similar to that on a high-altitude mountain.
  3. Geological history
    Ever since it was formed, Mt. Apoi has always been a land mountain. For this reason, it has protected the flora from the time of its formation. Moreover, plants from northern regions that moved southward to Japan during the glacial period, when Japan was still connected to continental Asia, escaped to mountains including Mt. Apoi during the warm interglacial period.
    The plants that remained on or escaped to Mt. Apoi in this way underwent evolution while adapting to the special peridotite soil, and became endemic plants that can be found only here.
This is how the complex interaction of three factors, namely, peridotite, meteorological conditions and geological history, led to endemic alpine flowers blooming on 810-meter Mt. Apoi.

Sapporo (札幌)


Location: the southwest part of Ishikari Plain and the alluvial fan of the Toyohira River, a tributary stream of the Ishikari River (the capital of Hokkaido)
Climate: humid continental climate (Dfa)
Tree = lilac (Convallaria majalis L.)
Flower: lily of the valley (Syringa vulgaris L.)
Bird: common cuckoo


Conspicuous to exotic species (Tsuyuzaki et al. 2011)

Mount Moiwa (藻岩山)

South Ward, Sapporo (43°01'05''N, 141°19'31.9''E, 531 m a.s.l.)

1960 Ski liftts on moiwa skislope


primeval forest (nickname) → non-primeval forest, in a precise sense

Takeshiro Matsuura "The Diary in Shiribeshi" Feb. 11 1858 (lunar calendar)

"... a small mountain covered by needle-leaved trees on the west bank, that is Mount Moiwa ..."
→ mixed forest dominated by Picea jezoensis and Abies sachalinensis by the end of the Meiji Era

Plants and forests

→ Table. Common seed plants on Mount Moiwa (in Japanese).

Moiwa skislope (藻岩山スキー場)
landscape on skislopes (スキー場景観)