Credits to Research Team Cyril Lee Shao Yu
Prefecture this week: Yamagata Prefecture!
Chōkai is 2,236 meters (7,336 Feet) above sea level, and is shared by Sakata in Yamagata, and Yurihonjō and Nikaho in Akita. While the mountain is shared by the two prefectures, the peak rests on the Yamagatan side of the border. In addition to being one of the 100 landscapes of Japan, it is also included as one of the 100 mountains of Japan, and 100 geographical features of Japan.
Chōkai is the second tallest mountain in Tohoku after Mt. Hiuchigatake in Fukushima. Although Hiuchigatake in the south is technically the taller mountain, it lies on the border of Kanto Region in Gunma, and as such, Chōkai is thought by many to be the tallest true Tohoku mountain.
Chōkai also has certain alpine plant species that can only be found on her slopes. The most common of these is the Chōkai Thistle (チョウカイアザミ). The Chōkai Thistle is a perennial plant, and is currently classified as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Near the mountain’s peak is a shrine called the Chokaisan-oomono-imi-Jinya (鳥海山大物忌神社). The shrine, which looks like an ordinary cabin with a slanted roof, is located on the Yamagata part of the mountain and is as an annexed shrine of the Association of Shinto Shrines. The kami that is enshrined is Oomono-imi-no-kami (大物忌神), a harvest god of rice which dwells in the mountain that is though to purify and protect all of Tohoku. The kami was first worshiped and ranked in the mid-800s. Tsukiyomi (The shinto god of the moon) is also worshiped at the shrine. It was thought that Chokai’s eruptions were caused by the spirit’s anger. Two branch shrines for the spirit are located in Fukaura and Warabioka. The shrine grounds were designated a historical landmark in 2008.
Three ships have been named after Mount Chōkai: Japanese gunboat Chōkai, an early steam gunboat and the Chōkai(sunk in 1944), which were both in the Japanese Imperial Navy, and the JDS Chōkai, a Kongō class guided missile destroyer currently in service in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.