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
Cultural Experiences

Hot in Yanaizu

Yanaizu Town is best known as the birthplace of the legend of the lucky red cow Akabeko, but it is also known for its famous manju (sweet steamed buns). Hot in Yanaizu is a center with a bit of everything; it sells local products, has sightseeing information, rest areas, and an eatery. They even have an "experience area". It goes without saying that, at Hot in Yanaizu, you can paint your own Akabeko, but you can also make manju with the help of the facilities' kind staff (Read more here). Hot in Yanaizu have staff that can speak English, but please make sure to contact them in advance, as you might not be able to do the experience without placing a booking. Please take your time & enjoy the slow pace of Japanese countryside life in Yanaizu Town.

The World Glassware Hall
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Hoshino Resorts Alts Bandai Snow Park & Resort

Alts Bandai Snow Park & Resort is one of the largest ski resorts in the Tohoku Region, with 29 courses scattered along the ridges of Mt. Bandai and Mt. Nekoma. A wide variety of terrain, including gentle and steep slopes, mogul courses and courses for long cruising, offer enjoyment for skiers at all levels from beginners to advanced. Snowboarding is allowed on all slopes. Early morning and nighttime skiing are possible and ski and snowboard lessons and equipment rental are available.  

The World Glassware Hall
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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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