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
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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

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Mori no Bunko Fuzawa

Mori no Bunko Fuzawa is a mountain village life workshop facility where guests can experience the lifestyle, nature, and charms of living in a Japanese rural mountain village. [photo id="wedA3wsHghGka5MbrORGYjRkj8BGAinlLCOG5O0L.jpg"] This building was a working school up to 40 years ago, the black board in one classroom where all of the students wrote their goodbye messages on the last day of school has been preserved as is. (If you visit, please be sure to avoid touching, erasing, or writing on the black board.) [photo id="fNNbYszCkKk3qvw1ozp5lY5yn8UDJPkrsrHf05Jf.jpg"] All three classrooms are available to stay the night in! Guests are charged per person, not per room, so if your group are the only ones staying the night then you are free to spread out into all three of the rooms. This is the kind of lodging that Japanese students would stay in on overnight school trips, so there is a sense of nostalgia when staying here.  There are also many different activities that you can experience when staying here, such as local and traditional craft making and even river trekking with local guides! Read more about river trekking experiences here. [photo id="YrRrT5cHuDe3wK75RWrxgat8d8JPQP9P7bQgJwuY.jpg"]

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Mitsuishi Shrine (Three Stones Shrine)

The Mitsuishi Shrine (Three Stones Shrine) is located a short 10-minute walk from Tadami Station in Tadami Town. Ichinoiwa, Ninoiwa and Saniwa are the three large stones that have spritual significance.  Ichinoiwa (the first stone) is thought to improve intelligence, Ninoiwa (the second stone) is thought to improve eyesight, and Saniwa (the third stone) is thought to improve connections with others, particularly romantic love. The Saniwa is a popular place to visit for those who are hoping to get married someday. To reach the shrine there is a short hike through dense forest, so it is recommended that visitors wear shoes that are easy to walk in.

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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.  

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