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7 Ways to Enjoy the Goshiki-numa Ponds

7 Ways to Enjoy the Goshiki-numa Ponds

1. Rent a boat for a unique perspective!

At one of the ponds there is a small boat house where you can rent a row boat to explore the water up close and personal! The vibrant color of the water is beautiful and so fun to paddle around. If you paddle over to the banks of the pond, you can relax on the water beneath the shade of low hanging branches and listen to the birds singing.

Please note: Boat services are not available in the winter months due to ice and snow.

2. Locate the koi fish of love

Living in the main pond is a very special koi fish, the koi fish of love? This is a special koi fish with a heart shaped spot on its side. Some believe that if you see this fish then you will have good luck in love. So if you’re having trouble landing a date, maybe it’s time to come search for this mysterious koi fish!

3. Hike the trail

If you are the adventurous type, then I recommend exploring the trail around the Goshiki-numa ponds to get a look at more of the lakes and ponds in the area. There are many dotted around the area, all formed some time after the eruption in 1888. There is a spectacular 3.6 km walking route that takes about 70 minutes to complete and wanders through the forest, taking you to see some of the different vibrantly colored bodies of water in the area.

If you are visiting in winter, you should look into a snow-shoe trekking tour. They are a lot of fun, but be sure to bring some warm clothes! 

4. Ponder the Geological History of the area

If you look in the distance your will see the back side of Mt. Bandai, however, only the trained eye will be able to notice the remaining evidence of the massive eruption that occurred in 1888. Mt. Bandai is actually a type of volcano! Prior to the eruption, the area around the Goshiki-numa ponds was an area covered with rivers and streams. The eruption greatly altered the surround area, including forming the Goshiki-numa lakes and ponds, and well as sinking an entire village! If you are interested in the geology of the area, I recommend a quick visit to the Mt. Bandai Eruption Memorial Museum. Thankfully there are various tools that are used to predict volcanic eruptions here, so you don’t need to worry about that when visiting! 

5. Enjoy a pond-colored ice cream!

If you like weird foods, or have a sweet tooth, I recommend trying the pond-colored Goshiki-numa ice cream. The vibrant blue ice cream is made using frozen water from the ponds, the unique minerals create an interesting taste. (Just Kidding) The ice cream does not contain any water from the ponds, it is flavored like a lightly salted vanilla. It’s delicious and great for photos!

6. Visit during your favorite season!

Goshiki-numa has something different and special to offer depending on the season. In late April or early May you can catch a glimpse of some wild cherry blossoms. In summer the vibrant green colors will wow you! In autumn the contrast of the warm autumn leaves and the cool colored ponds is breathtaking. Finally, in winter the bright white snow makes the vibrant color of the ponds really pop!

7. Take it slow

If this all sounds a bit too active for you. Then I recommend grabbing some snacks or a coffee at the food stand here, and sitting at one of the benches to admire the scenery at a more leisurely pace. The air here is very fresh and relaxing, so it is a really great place to sit and just be calm for a little while, especially in the mornings.

Published 2022/05/12

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  1. Useful Information

    6 Things to do at the Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan Samurai School

    I visited the Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan, originally established in 1803. This was a large and prestigious school where the children of samurai families were sent at the age of ten to learn both academics and physical discipline. Today it is a large interactive museum where you can participate in many of the activities that the students here would have practiced back in the day. So anyone who is interested in history, culture, or anything samurai, I highly recommend a visit! Even if you’re not a big , there are lots of interactive group activities that you can enjoy with friends and family. A school for samurai or a Japanese school for wizards?   1. Walk around the school grounds Walking through the front entry way, the beautiful architecture and vastness of the school will immediately draw your attention. The property covers something like 26,500 square meters, making it as large as some modern day universities. It feels like a Japanese school for wizards and it’s so fun to get lost in your imagination as you wander around the grounds. The architecture throughout the complex is beautiful, and there are even the remains of an astronomical observatory where students could have studied the stars. 2. Check out the oldest swimming pool in Japan! The first things that drew my attention was a large pool of water, which is actually Japan’s oldest swimming pool! Today, you can see koi fish swimming peacefully in the water, however, this was once a place when samurai-in-training would wear weighted practice armor and swim while practicing battle moves. This was to train them in the case of a mid-battle river or moat crossing. Swimming was always my favorite subject so I asked a staff member if visitors can swim here, and unfortunately the answer was no. It’s too bad, but I probably wouldn’t have lasted long trying to swim in weighted armor... Maybe it’s better that this isn’t an option! My disappointment evaporated when we walked over to the archery course. 3. Try out Japanese archery or “Kyūdō” The archery course is shaded be a classic style wooden roof, and there are a variety of classic Japanese style bows to practice with. There is a lot of space to sit and watch your friends and see who can hit the target the best. Even if you come alone, the male and female archery teachers are really kind and will give you lots of pointers and advice. Japanese archery is called Kyudo, and has a rich history! Archery in Japan dates back to pre-historic times with images of long-bow wielding Japanese people first appearing in Yayoi period which lasted between 500BC to 300AD. Sometime during the Edo period (1603-1868) the name “Kyūdō” was coined to refer to the martial art of Japanese archery. Kyūdō was commonly used in ceremonies, competitions, and festivals. Today, you can still see Kyūdō events in festivals around Japan. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s harder than it looks! Will you impress yourself and others with unexpected talent? Pricing is very reasonably, only a couple hundred yen (a couple of dollars) for a handful of arrows. 4. Decorate some traditional crafts to take home If you want a relaxing activity to do, I recommend trying your hand at painting a traditional craft. The open air craft space is cool in the shade, with an occasional breeze blowing through. You can even hear the songs of birds drifting in through the large open doorways. I painted an Akabeko and a set of Okiagari Koboshi dolls. Akabeko are a good luck charm that is thought to ward off illnesses, while Okiagari Koboshi are little dolls that represent perseverance as even when they are knocked over they stand up again. Both of these crafts are symbolic of Aizu and Fukushima spirit making them a great souvenir once you finish painting them! Learn more about Fukushima Local Crafts 5. Learn the history by exploring the classrooms Exploring the classrooms, you can get a sense of what it must have been like to live a day in the life of a student here. Students would begin attending from age 10 and continue till age 15, after which they would study etiquette, calligraphy, martial arts, and other subjects. Top students may have gone onto university for further studies. In some classrooms you can see classrooms recreated as they would have looked to students so many years ago. Other classrooms are left open so that you can enter and even experience some classes that students here would have experienced such as meditation and tea ceremony. 6. Become a student! If you visit with a party of at least ten, you can try out Japanese classes the traditional art of Zazen (Japanese Mediation) and Sadou (Japanese Tea Ceremony) which were also traditional cultural subjects that the samurai students would have studied back in the day. Combine this with archery and painting experiences to feel like a student for the day! Learn more about the Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan Samurai School Contact us through email or through our social media channels if you have any questions or need help planning a trip here!   Published 2022/05/11

    6 Things to do at the Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan Samurai School
  2. Useful Information

    Cycling in Kitakata City

    1. Renting a Bicycle in Kitakata City Kitakata is a small city full of hidden gems and local secrets! Wandering the streets of the city you will discover traces of the city’s history as a Japanese warehouse or “Kura” town. You will see many unique and distinctive buildings around town. These unique gems are dotted around a large area that is difficult to fully experience in a day on foot or by car, so I highly recommend renting a bike to get the most out of your trip! Option 1: Garden Hotel Kitakata This is a hotel that offers bicycle rentals to guests for free and non-guests for a small fee, the hotel is a short walk from Kitakata Station. A typical bike rental will cost 1000 yen, while an electric assist bike will run you 1500 yen. There are 3 electric assist bikes and 5 regular bikes. During the spring season, bicycle reservations are not accepted in order to give hotel guests priority, however, the bikes are first come first serve, so arriving early in the morning will give you a better chance of securing a bicycle. Staying the night here is another great way to help you secure your chances of renting a bike.If you are arriving by car, the hotel has a free parking lot for guests, so, if there is space available, bicycle renters can request permission to park here.     Option 2: Akutagawa This is a small local business/gift shop that also rents out bicycles. Located immediately in front of Kitakata Station, this a very convenient place to rent. There are only “mamachari” style bicycles (no electric assist bicycles) and the number of bikes is roughly seven, however the cost of daily rental is only 500 yen making it a great deal. Reservations are accepted over the phone in any bicycle friendly season, however staff only speak Japanese so it may be a good idea to ask for help from a Japanese speaker when making a reservation.     2. Cycling the Nicchu Line Weeping Cherry Blossoms path The Nicchu Line is a gorgeous 3km long stretch of path that is lined with weeping cherry blossoms. Roundtrip, the journey can be as long as 6km! So, most people only manage to see half of the cherry blossoms before they turn around, or exhaust themselves from walking. However, if you are cycling you will be able to maintain your energy so can enjoy a full day in Kitakata and see all that the city has to offer!! Cycling through the trees, you will need to watch out for low hanging branches and also pedestrians. The middle kilometer or the trail tends to be really crowded with people taking photos, Fortunately, there are parallel streets so that if you want to go fast you can and enjoy the cherry blossoms while you zoom by the crowds to stop at your favorite trees. The first and third kilometers are much less crowded so you should be able to cycle between the trees without worrying about a crowd. Click here for more information about the Nicchu Line Weeping Cherry Blossoms. ( )     3. Grab a snack from a street vendor As you zoom along the trail you are sure to notice various street vendors. Food trucks, local famers’ stalls, festival style food, and more! At one point of the trail I even spotted an older couple who had a long extension cord coming from their garage so that they could sell cold drinks from their fridge to people on the street. We love to see the hustle! But seriously, I hope that you will check out some of these little street vendors and chat with the local people. I stopped at an asparagus farmers stall and bought some of her locally grow asparagus to take home and cook. They were SO delicious. Then I stopped at another stall to buy some sakura flavored “Karintou” snacks. Also, delicious! Finally, my coworker and I spotted a place with mini daifuku (rice cakes) and tea, so we stopped to sit and drink some tea have a sweet snack and people watch in front of the cherry blossoms. Although a quick snack will help you find the energy to cycle up and back the entire path, make sure you take the time to enjoy a proper lunch!     4. Kitakata Ramen for Lunch We chose to try the local specialty, Kitakata Ramen! One of the top three ramen varieties of Japan, you can hardly say you’ve been to Kitakata City if you haven’t tried a delicious bowl of Kitakata Ramen! We went to Bannai Shokudo and had zero regrets! The ramen here is absolutely delicious, however sometimes there can be long lines. So I would also recommend Shokudo Hasegawa ( ), or discover your own hole in the wall ramen restaurant. Although this is a relatively small city, there are over 100 ramen shops, this is a town that takes ramen seriously. If you choose to stay the night, I recommend trying the local culture of “Asa-Ra” which involves eating ramen for breakfast!     5. Makie Painting at the Kinomoto Lacquerware Store After filling up on a big bowl of ramen, I recommend relaxing with a calming indoor activity such as trying your hand at a makie painting experience at the Kinomoto Lacquerware Store. The Kinomoto Lacquerware Store is full of various pieces of lacquerware that are beautiful and long lasting. The tradition of makie painted lacquerware in Kitakata City has a rich history that goes back some 400 years! To draw attention to this local art form, the shop began offering painting experiences, so visitors can experience this beautiful and relaxing art form by painting designs and then dusting pigments onto the pieces. This is a fun activity and a great souvenir from your trip to Kitakata City. After you finish your masterpiece, I highly recommend taking a look at the “Cats School” diorama upstairs which features lots of cute animal figures (mostly cats!) that are handmade from Paulownia wood and posed doing various cute things. The figures recreate nostalgic scenes of Japanese school life in a large model of a traditional Japanese school. The details are incredible and you can spend a good bit of time taking in each scene of little cat dolls enjoying a day at school. There is even a festival scene that is very cute! Photography is prohibited, so you have to see it to believe it. The display is free to see, so I highly recommend checking it out if you are nearby.     6. Okuya Peanut Factory for desert After trying your hand at painting, you may want something sweet, conveniently located just across the street from Kinomoto is the Okuya Peanut Factory. The shop makes a variety of sweets using Aizu-grown peanuts, my favorite is the peanut soft serve icecream. The chocolate covered version was absolutely fantastic, but of course, you can also get it without the chocolate topping in either a cup or a cone. I highly recommend visiting here if you’re craving a sweet treat! Click here for more information about the Okuya Peanut Factory. ( )     Cycling around Kitakata city was so much fun! This is a pretty jam packed adventure day, but I hope this will inspire you to take a trip to Kitakata City and try exploring this unique city by bike! Thank you for reading, please contact us through our social media accounts or website if you have any questions while planning your next trip.

    Cycling in Kitakata City
  3. Destination Spotlight

    Visiting the Mitsuishi Shrine (Three Stones Shrine)

    A red Tori gate marks the forest trail that leads up through a dense forest where a shrine seems to hide among the rocks and trees. Here, in the Mitsuishi Shrine where three stones and three rituals wait for you to improve yourself and also wish for love or connection. Ichinoiwa (The First Stone) The first stone has a deep pit where, it is believed that sticking your head into the pit will actually improve your IQ! It can be a bit scary, but it’s definitely worth a try. Who knows, you might invent something spectacular with your new and improved high IQ level!  Ninoiwa (The Second Stone) A mysterious source of spring water drips down the side of this stone, making it seem as though the rock is crying real tears... Its waters have long been believed to improve eyesight. Long ago, people thought that touching the water from this stone to one’s eye would improve eye health and eyesight. However, this ritual may be best left in the past since it might not be 100% sterile. Still, it is interesting to visit, touch the water and think of the past. Saniwa (The Third Stone) The third and final stone is the connection or love rock. The stone is porous and full of holes; the trick is to find a set of holes that make a tunnel so that you can stick a string through. You can get strings from the visitors’ center or bring your own and try to find a place to tie up a 5-yen coin. Some single people who are looking for love or connections will come in the middle of the night with a flashlight and spend hours search for a place to tie their coin! If you are lucky you might discover an unclaimed tunnel in the stone where you can tie up a 5-yen coin for good luck in the love and connection department. Whether you are a believer or not, it’s a lot of fun to poke around looking for a place to tie your coin. If you fail to find a spot you can always tie in the same spot as someone else, or tie your coin on the shrine’s rope.  The short hike to and from the shrine is absolutely gorgeous, but a bit steep in places. Be sure to wear shoes that are easy to walk in. Through a clearing in the tree line you can look down and see the town below. If you time your visit right, you can even watch the small local train roll by.  Mino kasa Experience You can hike the trail in normal clothes, but, if you are feeling adventurous… I recommend renting a mino kasa, that is an old fashioned rain coat. Mino kasa like the one I am wearing in the photo are becoming increasingly rare in Japan. As craftsmen die out and no one takes their place, fashions like this risk fading into the panels of history. So I hope that when you visit you will rent one to take photos and walk to the shrine in. The people in the area are very friendly and if they see someone walking around in a mino kasa, you are sure to bring a smile to their faces! After all, the greatest joys of traveling are connecting with the local people. Click here for more information on accessing this shrine.

    Visiting the Mitsuishi Shrine (Three Stones Shrine)