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Fukushima's Top Cherry Blossom Spots

Fukushima's Top Cherry Blossom Spots

Fukushima Prefecture is blessed with lush nature and dramatic scenery. As the third-largest prefecture in Japan, the climate, seasons and landscapes differ vastly by area. However, there is one season that is spectacular no matter where you may be in Fukushima – spring! Blossoms start to bloom from the south-east of Fukushima, where the temperature is warmest, and flower the latest in the west. This means that if visitors come to Fukushima during April and May, it is very likely that cherry blossom will be in full bloom somewhere in the prefecture!

OGAWASUWA SHRINE

The beautiful weeping cherry blossom tree at Ogawasuwa Shrine has been standing strong in Iwaki City for over 500 years. The branches gracefully stretch across the main area of the shrine, providing a stunning foreground against the red torii gates. The blossom is illuminated by traditional Japanese campfires every night of the cherry blossom season. 

See here for information on visiting Ogawasuwa Shrine

NATSUI SENBON-ZAKURA

'Senbon-zakura' translates as '1000 cherry trees'. As its name suggests, this area is well known for the 1000 Yoshino cherry blossom trees that line both sides of the river. Natsuigawa River is a wonderful location for taking photos or going on a peaceful walk. 

See here for information on visiting the Natsui Senbon-Zakura

HANAMIYAMA AREA

The Abe family opened their stunning garden to the public as a park in 1959 to allow visitors to enjoy their flowers. In the springtime, over ten types of blossom bloom together, enveloping the park in bright, beautiful colours. The white of the often snow-clad Azuma mountains contrasts sublimely with the flowers, giving visitors the impression of having accidentally wandered into paradise.

When I visited Abe-san, he spoke about how Hanamiyama Park can be enjoyed with all five senses – the sound of water from rock garden, the feel of the breeze on your skin, the sight and sweet smell of the flowers, and the taste of the fresh spring air. When I asked him where his favourite spot in the park was, he told me that he had too many to count, and it depended on the weather, the season and the time of day.

Visitors can enjoy finding their own favourite spot or ask for suggestions from the volunteer guides, who can guide visitors in English, Chinese and Korean.

See here for information on visiting Hanamiyama.

MIHARU TAKIZAKURA

One of the three great weeping cherry trees in Japan, the Takizakura tree in Miharu is truly breathtaking. It is estimated to be around 1000 years old and has been designated as a national treasure. Around 12 metres high, the flowers of the cherry blossom cascade down for metres around the magnificent tree, enveloping visitors in bright flowers. It’s no wonder that its name translates into English as ‘Cherry Blossom Waterfall’. 

See here for information on visiting the Miharu Takizakura.

TSURUGAJO CASTLE

The light colours of the castle walls are complemented by around 1000 cherry blossom trees that decorate the castle and its surrounding park in the springtime. The blossoms can be appreciated from up close, or from above – a sight you can gain access to from the viewing platforms at the top of Tsurugajo Castle. Relax at the traditional Japanese tea house inside the castle walls, or take a walk through the picturesque park before entering the castle and learning about Aizu-Wakamatsu City’s rich and interesting samurai history. Free English guided tours are available at the castle if booked 2 weeks in advance through the Aizu-Wakamatsu City International Association (Website here). You can also rent bicycles at the castle. 

See here for information on visiting Tsurugajo Castle.

NICCHU LINE

Nicchu Line is the name of the train line that used to run at this site. The train tracks have been closed and converted into 3 km long cycling paths, but you can still see the steam train which used to run on this line. 1000 weeping cherry trees stand tall along the Nicchu Line, their branches stretching as far down as the feet of visitors that pass by. There are 'cherry blossom walks' held along the Nicchu Line in late April.

See here for information on visiting the Nicchu Line.

KANNONJI-GAWA RIVER

During springtime, a 1 km path along the banks of the Kannonji-gawa river becomes lined with Yoshino and weeping cherry tree blossom. Visitors walking along the river banks may feel like they are passing through a tunnel of blossom. On a bright and sunny day, a visit to Kannonji-gawa River is a must. That being said, it is worth it to hang around until the evening, when the branches and flowers are lit up with the setting sun, and later with stunning light displays.

See here for information on visiting Kanonji-gawa River

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    Heroes and Kaijyu Adventures in Japan

    Inside each of us there is a struggle. Call it what you want: Light vs. Dark... Good vs. Evil... Hero vs. Kaijyu... There comes a day when you must decide, which are you? I visited Sukagawa City in Fukushima prefecture to delve into this concept a bit more. Why Sukagawa City? Sukagawa City is the home town of Tsuburaya Eiji, the creator of Ultraman and a co-creator of Godzilla. He came to be known at the “Father of Tokusatsu,” or, the “Father of Japanese special effects.” His post war work on the Godzilla film of 1954 brought him international success which allowed him to create more science fiction films featuring different monsters, or kaijyu, as well as the internationally popular Ultra-series! Today, Tsuburaya Eiji’s legacy lives on in his hometown where his heroes and monsters roam the streets! With this in mind we set off on our adventure! Eating our heroes... You are what you eat? Or are you conquering the enemy by eating them? You decide… My first stop was the Tamakiya Bakery in Sukagawa City where you will find a wonderful family owned and operated small business. Decorated with Ultraman related memorabilia. The creativity of the (now adult) kids of the family shines through in the various Ultraman and Kaijyu related breads and cookies! Each one is absolutely delicious. I recommend stocking up for your adventure, if there is one thing that heroes and kaijyu have in common, it is that they must eat to stay strong and battle ready! I ate a Kanegon chocolate bread, and suddenly the money in my pocket started looking like a.. snack?? Kanegon is a kaijyu who is known to eat money! Oh no, have I absorbed his powers? It’s impossible to say. Somehow, I managed to contain my dark urges.   Doing some research Suddenly it became clear that there was a lot that I still don’t know about Ultraman and Kaiju. So, I walked over to the Eiji Tsuburaya Museum to conduct some important research.  The museum has a lot of interesting information about Eiji Tsuburaya’s life and accomplishments, various kaijyu, heroes, and the filming of classic sci-fi and kaijyu related movies. There is even an original Godzilla suit on display! As you walk around the room, you may feel the eyes of Godzilla following you. Perhaps he is eyeing you up, trying to decide if you are an ally, or a delicious snack. Please tread lightly. There is a video exhibit and an interactive exhibit that turns you into various Kaijyu and heroes. There is also a station where you can create your own original Kaijyu, unfortunately this exhibit is temporarily suspended, however, it will hopefully be up and running again soon.   Having important discussions with IRL heroes and Kaijyu When you walk the streets of Sukagawa, you’ll never walk alone. Kaijyu and Heroes line the streets causing trouble and cleaning up said trouble. I recommend stopping and having a chat with these monsters and heroes to get some diverse perspectives on good and evil. I sat and spoke with Kanegon for quite a while, and we even discussed our struggles with wanting to eat money.   Channeling my hero energy Next we stopped by the Sukagawa Enobori Yoshinoya Workshop to create an Ultraman banner. It was so cool to experience the use of these traditional banner making techniques in a place with so much historical significance. As I admired my new Ultraman banner, I thought, maybe I am a hero after all.   The final test Next we headed over to the Sukagawa Tokusatsu Archive Center! Succumbing to my true nature and terrorizing a small town. Ultimately, the sight of an unprotected town brought out my worst instincts. I almost went full KAIJYU mode. Fortunately, my coworker is a hero, and he saved the town! After our battle, we explored the various miniature exhibits and classic special effects tools on display. We were also able to watch a short film and then a video about the special effects that were used to create that short film. It was really incredible, and made me want to try to make my own miniatures at home. If you are interested in sci-fi or classic special effects, then I highly recommend checking out the Sukagawa Tokusatsu archive center! You won’t be disappointed. Contact us through email or through our social media channels if you have any questions or need help planning a trip here! ©円谷プロ Published 2022/06/10

    Heroes and Kaijyu Adventures in Japan
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    5 things to do in Aizu Misato Town

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    5 things to do in Aizu Misato Town
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    Fishing at Aquamarine Fukushima

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    Fishing at Aquamarine Fukushima
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