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Top 10 Places to See Autumn Leaves in Fukushima

Top 10 Places to See Autumn Leaves in Fukushima

Fukushima Prefecture is packed with a huge variety of amazing scenic spots. It goes without saying that there is lots to see during the momiji (autumn-leaf viewing) season! I have compiled a list of 10 of my recommended spots for autumn-leaf viewing! I hope you find it useful.

AIZU AREA

1. GOSHIKI-NUMA PONDS (KITASHIOBARA VILLAGE)

Go on a relaxing hike with friends, or rent a row-boat with that special someone! The five-coloured ponds of Goshiki-numa are some of my favourite places in Fukushima and the bright blue of their waters looks fantastic in the autumn time.

2. SHINGU KUMANO SHRINE NAGATOKO (KITAKATA CITY)

This Kumano Shrine was built over 1000 years ago, and is towered over by an absolutely breath-taking ginkgo tree. In mid-November, the leaves of this ancient ginkgo tree cover the shrine grounds, making for some absolutely beautiful scenery. I also recommend going to see the shrine when it is lit up in the evening.

3. ENZOJI TEMPLE (YANAIZU TOWN)

Enzoji Temple was constructed in the year 807 and stands on the edge of a crag overlooking the Tadami River. It is a special place for people in Fukushima, as it is where the legends surrounding the Akabeko – Fukushima’s most famous symbol – were born.

NAKA-DORI AREA

4. MT. ADATARA (NIHONMATSU CITY)

A great place to go hiking in the autumn time. You are certainly rewarded with spectacular views once you get to the peak. For those who aren’t so keen on hiking, there is a cable car which cuts out a lot of the climbing.

5. YUKIWARI BRIDGE (NISHIGO VILLAGE)

The observation point that looks over Yukiwari Bridge shouldn’t be missed this autumn!

6. BANDAI-AZUMA SKYLINE (FUKUSHIMA CITY)

The Bandai-Azuma Skyline winds from central Fukushima up to Jododaira Rest House and Mt. Azuma Ko-Fuji, before reaching all the way to the very retro Tsuchiyu Onsen town, providing drivers and passengers with brilliant views the whole way during autumn. The road get a little crowded during peak autumn leaf viewing time – so bear this in mind when planning your travels!

7. JA NO HANA JAPANESE GARDEN (MOTOMIYA CITY)

Ja no Hana is a very picturesque Japanese garden that is filled with colour and energy in late October. A great place for relaxing whilst appreciating 2 integral aspects of Japanese culture – Japanese gardens, and autumn leaf viewing!

  • Best Time to Visit: Late Oct – Mid Nov
  • Getting There
    • Public transport: a 10 min taxi ride from Motomiya Station
    • Car: 10 min drive from Motomiya I.C. exit off the Tohoku Expressway

HAMA-DORI AREA

8. NAKAKAMADO WEEPING MAPLE TREE (IWAKI CITY)

A really uniquely shaped weeping maple tree. The colours of the Nakakamado tree vary year to year, but hopefully this year the leaves will be bright orange! Located near a temple, Nakakamado is in a very scenic spot, perfect for taking photos.

  • Best time to visit: Late Nov – Early Dec
  • Getting There
    • Public transport: A 10 minute taxi ride from Izumi Station
    • Car: 15 min drive from Iwaki Yumoto I.C. exit off the Ban-etsu Expressway

9. SHIRAMIZU AMIDADO TEMPLE (IWAKI CITY)

Fukushima’s National Treasure, Shiramizu Amidado Temple! Whether lit up at night or appreciated in the middle of the day, Shiramizu Amida-do is especially beautiful during autumn.

10. NATSUIGAWA VALLEY (IWAKI CITY)

Finally, for those who feel like getting close to nature and going on a bit of an adventure, how about exploring around Natsuigawa Valley? This is another autumn leaf spot which is definitely on my to-visit list.

The map below shows all of the spots I have showcased in this article, and I will be updating it to include other spots around the prefecture in the coming weeks! Enjoy planning your trips!

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  1. Useful Information

    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

    7 Ways to Enjoy the Goshiki-numa Ponds
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    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
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    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. ( https://fukushima.travel/destination/nicchu-line-weeping-cherry-blossom/51 )     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 (https://fukushima.travel/destination/shokudo-hasegawa/286 ), 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. (https://fukushima.travel/destination/okuya-peanut-factory/287 )     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
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