Paint Your Own Akabeko

Paint Your Own Akabeko

The akabeko legend started at Enzoji Temple in Yanaizu Town, in the Aizu region. The construction of this temple began in the year 807, but due to a huge earthquake at the end of the seventeenth century, repair work begun in 1617. It was during the reconstruction of the temple that the akabeko became a folk legend.

It is said that moving the wood and other supplies necessary for the reconstruction work was incredibly difficult, because materials had to be transported from various villages upstream of Tadami River. The materials were heavy and the journey to the temple long. Cattle were used to transport materials, but many struggled to bear their loads.

Then, out of nowhere, appeared a cow with a red coat. (It should be noted that, in the past, the word ‘red’ was used to describe the colour ‘brown’, so it is likely that it was a brown cow.) The red cow supported the other cows and helped the priests who were constructing the temple until it was completed. Then, it suddenly vanished.

A number of statues of the cow were built inside the temple grounds so that the people of Yanaizu could express their gratitude to the akabeko.

In the years following, there were a range of legends about the akabeko, with stories such as families who owned akabeko being rid of sickness upon stroking the cows. They continued to hold their status of bringers of good luck and strength. Families bought or made akabeko toys for their young children to play with.

Akabeko Painting Experiences

In recent history, the Aizu tradition of painting akabeko began. It is said that this tradition started as something to do for children visiting Aizu-Wakamatsu City as part of school trips. This was when the story of the Akabeko evolved once more, into its newest papier-mâché form. The stripes on the face and back of the papier-mâché Akabeko are said to represent strength and perseverance.

There are a number of workshops in Aizu-Wakamatsu City where you can paint your own Akabeko. Most workshops offer the standard red, white, and black paint. These talismans for good health make very cute and light-weight souvenirs to take home for family and friends – or keep for yourself! Those who prefer to buy a ready-painted Akabeko will be able to find it at most souvenir shops.

Venue Details

Venue Details
Best SeasonAll Year
Access Details
Getting there

You can try painting your own Akabeko at the following places:

- Tsurugajo Kaikan (Aizu-Wakamatsu City)
- Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan (Aizu-Wakamatsu City)
- Bansho (Aizu-Wakamatsu City)
- Hot in Yanaizu (Yanaizu Town)

Nearby

The World Glassware Hall
Outdoor Activities

Oze National Park

Oze is home to a plethora of beautiful flowers. These include the Asian skunk cabbage that blossoms in the marshes as the snow melts, and the bright yellow of the Nikko Kisuge, which is reflected in the marshes just when the surrounding mountains become green. The nature of Oze is symbolized by its beautiful flowers, and together with the mountains, lakes, marshes, rivers, forests, and wildlife that lives in this region, create a stunning sight. Chozo Hirano opened up the area around 100 years ago, and because of the protection of its magnificent nature up until now, Oze has become a symbol of nature conservation in Japan. The beautiful nature of Oze presents a different face throughout the seasons, and all continue to charm us.  Key points of the sightseeing spot/ recommended points for tours:  In order to both preserve the precious nature of Oze, and to be able to come face-to-face with its splendor, we recommend that you visit on weekdays, and take your time to encounter the nature of Oze. Oze has the Ozenuma Visitor Center and the Oze-Yamanohana Visitor Center as locations from which you can both appreciate Oze's nature, and learn about the environment. At the visitor center, you can learn from displays that explain in an easy-to-understand the formation of the nature in Oze, points to see, and the most up-to-date information about the natural environment. This lets you more fully enjoy the appeal of the nature of Oze. Visits are even more enjoyable when you know more; therefore we recommend visits with a guide who can tell you more about the nature and charm of Oze. We urge visitors to make use of the certified guides who have a wealth of knowledge about Oze's nature, culture, and history, and who can ensure your visit is safe.

The World Glassware Hall
Cultural Experiences

Mitsutaya

Mitsutaya is a speciality restaurant with roots dating back to the end of the Edo Period (around 1835). The restaurant is situated in a renovated miso storehouse. It is therefore fitting that the restaurant is famous for a local Aizu meal called 'miso dengaku'. Miso dengaku refers to skewered vegetables and meat which are topped with a miso paste before being cooked over an open flame. The skewers are cooked one by one. Skewer ingredients include konjac, deep-fried tofu, sticky, savory rice balls called 'shingoro mochi', and more. Each small dish is coated in miso for an unforgettable and savory flavor.  

The World Glassware Hall
Arts & Crafts

Makie Painting Lacquerware Experience at Suzuzen

Suzuzen was established in 1833 as a lacquerware wholesale shop. Not only can visitors see process of lacquerware being finished using gold and silver dusted designs called 'Makie', but visitors can also have the opportunity to design their own lacquered product using Makie design techniques, which is perfect to take home as a souvenir. Suzuzen is made up of 6 kura (Japanese-style warehouses), which have been renovated. The Suzuzen warehouses include a gallery featuring pieces by contemporary artists who use lacquer in their work, and a cafe which is open for lunch. English-language signs also make the history of lacquer in Aizu accessible for overseas visitors.

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The World Glassware Hall
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The World Glassware Hall

The World Glassware Hall is located at the foot of Mt. Bandai, by the side of Lake Inawashiro. About 25,000 handmade glassware items, imported directly from countries all over the world, are exhibited and sold at the World Glassware Hall the museum. You can even try your hand at glass etching, or glass blowing. Next to the Glassware Hall is a local beer brewery and a sweets shop. Local Inawashiro beer has received the gold prize in an international beer competition, and can be purchased on site. In the sweets shop, you can try a line up of famous local delicacies.

Makie Painting Lacquerware Experience at Suzuzen
Arts & Crafts

Makie Painting Lacquerware Experience at Suzuzen

Suzuzen was established in 1833 as a lacquerware wholesale shop. Not only can visitors see process of lacquerware being finished using gold and silver dusted designs called 'Makie', but visitors can also have the opportunity to design their own lacquered product using Makie design techniques, which is perfect to take home as a souvenir. Suzuzen is made up of 6 kura (Japanese-style warehouses), which have been renovated. The Suzuzen warehouses include a gallery featuring pieces by contemporary artists who use lacquer in their work, and a cafe which is open for lunch. English-language signs also make the history of lacquer in Aizu accessible for overseas visitors.

Aizu Urushi Lacquerware
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Aizu Urushi Lacquerware

Aizu Urushi Lacquerware has a very long history – predating lacquerware from Wajima or Tsushima. Aizu Lacquerware was originally produced in areas of Aizu that experience very heavy annual snowfall. The industry began to boom about 400 years ago - this development was initiated by feudal lord Gamo Ujisato’s endorsement of Aizu Lacquerware. From then onwards, techniques used in the production of Aizu Lacquerware were refined and Aizu Lacquerware became very famous in Japan.   You can make your paint your own design onto Aizu Lacquerware items, or even try painting with lacquer, in Aizu region. Makie Painting Experience Workshops Suzuzen (Aizu-Wakamatsu City) From 1,900 yen Page on Fukushima.Travel Website Suzutake (Aizu-Wakamatsu City) From 1,000 yen Must book in advance Page on Fukushima.Travel Website (Japanese) Bansho (Aizu-Wakamatsu City) From 1,200 yen  Irregular opening hours in winter Website (Japanese) Fukubun (Aizu-Wakamatsu City) From 1,600 yen Irregular opening hours Must book in advance Website (Japanese) Shitsugei Tsunoda (Urabandai Area) From 1,000 yen They also have an experience where you can paint with real lacquer (From 10,000 yen) Must book in advance Website (Japanese)

Chinkin Taiken (Sunken-Gold Design Experience)
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Chinkin Taiken (Sunken-Gold Design Experience)

The Tradition of Aizu lacquerware in Fukushima Prefecture has continued for 400 years. Try out creating a design on Aizu Lacquerware with a technique called Chinkin ("Sunken-gold") at Tsunoda Lacquer Art Studio. Sketch your design on tracing paper, and then mark it onto the lacqerware with a needle. Tsunoda san will help you fill the grooves created by your needle with gold and silver powder to create your design. Alternatively, try painting your own design on Aizu lacquerware at the studio. Either experience will create a great souvenir of your trip in Japan. These experiences take about an hour.

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