Lake Inawashiro Bandai-Azuma Skyline

福島

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Unique in Fukushima

Lake Inawashiro
Nature & Scenery

Lake Inawashiro

Japan's fourth-largest freshwater lake, Lake Inawashiro is situated in Bandai Asahi National Park. It is also known as the “Heavenly Mirror Lake” and has a surface area of 104 square kilometers! The combination of Lake Inawashiro and Mt. Bandai form one of Aizu's representative landscapes. And being less than three hours from Tokyo by shinkansen and local train means that you have easy access from a major transport hub. The lake offers year-round fun. Enjoy cherry blossoms in spring at Iwahashi Shrine, one of Aizu’s five famous cherry trees. Summer at Lake Inawashiro is slightly cooler than the rest of Fukushima, so take advantage of camping by the lakeshore, and a wide variety of marine sports. Colored leaves and hikes are the popular thing to do in autumn, view the fiery hues and take in the crisp air. In winter, visitors can enjoy fresh powder snow and winter thrills in the form of skiing and snowboarding; and you can even catch a glimpse of migrating swans on the shores. It’s truly a beauty no matter when you decide to visit. There are also a wide range of scenic spots from where visitors can take photographs and soak in the view. It’s a great place to escape from the stress of work and life or just to experience Japanese nature and landscapes. Lake Inawashiro's size means that it is accessible from a number of sightseeing spot, including Tenkyokaku stately house and Hideo Noguchi Memorial Museum (a museum dedicated to the life and work of a Japanese scientist famous for his research on yellow fever). There’s plenty more to do nearby: view some amazing works by international artists at the Morohashi Museum of Modern Art, or visit the rainbow-colored Goshiki-numa Ponds.

Goshiki-numa Ponds
Nature & Scenery

Goshiki-numa Ponds

The Goshiki-numa ponds of Urabandai are a cluster of five volcanic lakes at the foot of Mt. Bandai. When Mt. Bandai erupted in 1888, Goshiki-numa - which translates as "Five-Colored Ponds - were formed. In actuality dozens of lakes were created due to the 1888 eruption, but the Goshiki-numa Ponds are the most famous. It was thanks to the eruption that the lakes each took on rich color; the various minerals found in each lake give them a unique color and create a mystical aura. The colors of the Goshiki-numa Ponds also change throughout the year depending on weather and time of day, a truly mysterious phenomenon. The lakes have become a popular tourist destination. The five main lakes are Bishamon, Aka, Ao, Benten, and Midoro, and their colors range from a lime green to deep turquoise to a topaz blue. A scenic walking route guides visitors around the ponds. At 3.6 km in length, this walking route - which will take you past many of the ethereal colors - takes about 70 minutes to complete. If you’d like a view of all five lakes at once, why not take the 4 km walking trail from Bishamon-numa (largest of the five lakes) up to nearby Lake Hibara. Alternatively, if hiking is not on your itinerary, enjoy a simple rowboat out on Bishamon-numa. It’s especially lovely in autumn as the color of the autumn leaves reflects on the deep green surface of the lake. In winter, there are even snowshoe trekking tours offered. The color of the lakes looks particularly vivid in winter, seeing as the minerals in some of the lakes stop them from freezing over, meaning you can see their colors contrasted with the white of the snow. Be sure to stop by the Urabandai Visitor Center, which is a large and well-equipped facility. You can find great information here about tours as well as the various geography, wildlife, and even the history of the area. It’s a great chance to learn more about the ecosystem that makes up the Goshiki-numa Ponds.

Komine Castle
Historical Sites

Komine Castle

Shirakawa Castle (Komine Castle) was heavily damaged during the Boshin War (also known as the Meiji Restoration), and was restored in the 1990s. Komine Castle's restoration marked the first time in over 120 years that a restoration had been attempted on a triple turret (yagura) structure. Blueprints from the late Edo Period were used as references for the repair of this structure. As a result of using these blueprints, it was possible to restore the castle almost exclusively using wood construction techniques. This amazing architecture, along with the extraordinary techniques used to make the stone wall around the castle, make this castle extremely special. There is also an exhibition hall on site.

Tsurugajo Castle
Historical Sites

Tsurugajo Castle

Tsurugajo Castle allows visitors the opportunity to experience history, nature, and tradition with all five senses. Despite being mostly reconstructed, the surrounding park's stone walls remain in their original state. In 2010, for the first time since it was refurbished in 1965, the castle underwent a cosmetic restoration. Following completion in 2011, the same red-tile roofs seen by the Byakkotai (during the Boshin War and finals days of the Tokugawa shogunate) are now displayed for all to see. This castle is one of the final strongholds of samurai that remained loyal to the shogunate and today stands as a symbol of courage and faithfulness. Within the castle tower's museum, the swords and armor of the castle’s successive lords are on display. Visitors can watch a CG-enhanced theatrical video reflecting on the great history of Aizu. In addition to the historical atmosphere surrounding Tsurugajo, visitors can sense the changes that have occurred throughout history, thanks to the engaging and informative museum within the castle walls. It’s fun to gaze across Aizu from the fifth floor, like a feudal lord admiring his domain—the viewing platform up here provides panoramic views taking in Mt. Bandai and Mt. Iimoriyama. The castle is also a must-see in the springtime when approximately 1,000 cherry trees offer a magnificent display within the castle's grounds. When you’re in the mood for a rest, visit the Rinkaku Tea Rooms for some freshly-prepared matcha green tea. This tea house on the grounds of Tsurugajo was vital in the spread of this traditional art—and had it been destroyed during the Meiji Restoration, tea ceremony as it is known in Japan might have vanished. Tsurugajo Castle is truly a place where the modern visitor can slip into the past and become immersed in history.

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Trips in Fukushima

A Day of Cherry Blossoms
A Day of Cherry Blossoms
Nature

A Day of Cherry Blossoms

Enjoy this day-long magical romp through springtime while you travel by train. Leave from the charming Fukushima Station and experience what the prefecture has to offer to lovers of nature and history. Bring your camera and your walking shoes and get ready for a day amongst the flowers of Fukushima. After leaving Fukushima Station, you’ll visit Hanamiyama. This springtime park paradise of flowers will leave you breathless from its beauty. You will fall in love with the hillsides colored in shades of pink, purple, and yellow. See the cherry trees in blossom, along with plum trees and forsythia trees with snow-capped mountains in the background. After Hanamiyama, travel to Nihonmatsu Castle for a time-traveling trip to the past. See the castle grounds and learn about the history of the area all while you enjoy the splendor of spring with the almost two thousand cherry trees in bloom. When you’ve had your fill of nature and history, use the train and head back to Nihonmatsu Station.  

Ouchi-juku Gourmet Tour
Ouchi-juku Gourmet Tour
Ouchi-juku Gourmet Tour
Food

Ouchi-juku Gourmet Tour

Have a gourmet adventure in Ouchi-juku, Aizu. The Aizu area of Fukushima Prefecture is known for its eclectic and delicious foods, not to mention the absolutely fantastic scenery. Enjoy this one-day itinerary that you can do at any time of year by public transport. Walk your way through Ouchi-juku and admire the local sights and cuisine. You’ll arrive at Ouchi-juku by bus from Yunokami Onsen Station. The unique architecture will be a feast for your eyes but the real feasting will begin once you arrive at Misawaya. At Misawaya, you can experience any of the three amazing shops; take a lunch of authentic buckwheat noodles, called soba, or try some of the local Japanese sake, or if alcohol isn’t your thing, why not enjoy a refreshing cup of hot green tea? Refresh yourself at Misawaya and then venture out to Honke Kanouya. While there might not be much to munch on at Honke Kanouya, you can instead please your other senses with the local handicrafts of the area. Find some delightful souvenirs to take home. Finish off your visit just around the corner from Honke Kanouya; here you’ll find Sabo Yamadaya Café, a lovely café that fully displays the charms of the Aizu region in their décor and food. You should definitely try some of their snow-cured coffee (yukimuro coffee) while you’re there!

The Famous Sights of Aizu
The Famous Sights of Aizu
The Famous Sights of Aizu
Culture

The Famous Sights of Aizu

Spend a day traveling to the most famous sights of the Aizu region of Fukushima by train. Begin your trip in Kitakata City, famous for its delicious ramen, sake made from the best quality mountain water, and traditional Japanese crafts. Specializing in the local Kitakata-style, there are more than 100 ramen shops in the area—the most per capita in the world! Kitakata is also famous for horse-drawn carriage tours and the city center where over 4,200 traditional kurazashiki storehouses remain or have been converted into inns, shops, and breweries. You can even visit the local ramen shrine of Kitakata that doubles as a ramen museum. Learn all about this famous and much beloved food. From the Kitakata Ramen Museum travel to Tsurugajo Castle, famed for its beautiful red tiles and the tragic history of the Byakkotai samurai brigade. After a brush with history, move on to the charming shopping street of Nanokamachi-dori Street. There are plenty of wonders and shops for you to explore in the area. Take a few hours to find souvenirs and take photos. You'll be spoiled by the sights and wonder of everything that Aizu has to offer you.

Diamond Route Japan

FUKUSHIMA

Seasons on Fukushima

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