Ultimate Fukushima Prefecture Road Trip

  • 9 destinations
  • Multi day

This trip highlights some of the best Fukushima has to offer and is perfect for those looking to get the most out of the prefecture in a limited time. Take in castles, nature, traditional villages, and more as you treat yourself to local styles of soba and ramen along the way. Renting a car is a must if you want to hit all the spots on this tour. You can take it slow and complete this trip over three days, or skip out an overnight stay in Urabandai area, and do it in two days.

Start the day from Fukushima Station with a scenic drive to the the beautiful Urabandai region. We recommend taking the Bandai-Azuma Skyline road so that you can enjoy a mountain drive and check out the great sights at Mt. Azuma-Kofuji. From there, take the stunning sightseeing road Azuma-Bandai Lake Line into Urabandai. Explore the Urabandai area, have lunch, go on a walk around the five-colored ponds of Goshiki-numa, and maybe even take a dip in a hot spring or two. Choose whether take it slow and stay the night in Urabandai area, or whether to press on to Aizu-Wakamatsu City. 

Later that day - or the next morning, depending on your schedule - head into the castle town of Aizu-Wakamatsu City where samurai culture is prevalent. The majestic Tsurugajo Castle offers beautiful views of the surroundings from the keep. Check out the nearby Tsurugajo Kaikan to paint an akabeko or two and maybe have some lunch. Then explore the mysterious Sazaedo Temple and the surrounding Mt. Iimoriyama area. From here, we suggest staying overnight in the city. There are plenty of budget hotels in Aizu-Wakamatsu, but if you are looking for something traditionally Japanese, we recommend looking into lodging at the nearby Higashiyama Onsen hot springs town just east of the city.

On the next day prepare to jump into the past with a trip to the Ouchi-juku mountain village. You can spend hours here shopping and eating local foods while walking up and down the street lined with traditional thatched-roof houses. Lastly, head to the To-no-Hetsuri Crags, a natural monument filled with towering cliffs overlooking the Okawa River. Cross the nearby suspension bridge which offers breathtaking views of the surroundings. After getting fully refreshed head back to Shin-Shirakawa station by car, drop off your rental car, and connect back to Tokyo or the next stop on your journey!

Start

Fukushima Station

Mt. Azuma Kofuji is about 1 hour's drive from Fukushima Sta.

View directions

Mt. Azuma-Kofuji

  • Central Area

Mt. Azuma-Kofuji is actually an active volcano. It has an appealing symmetry to it, and a soft conical shape; it is because of these classic features that it was named Kofuji, or "little Fuji", after the iconic Japanese mountain. Thanks to the volcanic ground, the area has given birth to many nearby onsen areas which are perfect for relaxing, such as Tsuchiyu Onsen and Takayu Onsen. It’s also a great destination for those who decide to drive through the area as the Bandai-Azuma Skyline happens to pass just below the crater of Mt. Azuma-Kofuji. It’s just a short hike up to the crater and there are plenty of other great trails in the area.

Drive an additional 40 min to get on to the Bandai-Azuma Lake Line

View directions

Bandai-Azuma Lake Line

  • Central Area

Bandai-Azuma Lake Line is a sightseeing road that runs for 13.1 km, connecting Inawashiro Town and Kitashiobara Village. Outstanding backdrops of hundreds of lakes, including Lake Akimoto, Lake Onogawa, and Lake Hibara can be seen from along the road.

Drive for around 20 min to reach the Goshiki-numa Ponds.

View directions

Goshiki-numa Ponds

  • Aizu Area
  • 60

The Goshiki-numa ponds of Urabandai are a cluster of five volcanic lakes at the foot of Mt. Bandai. When Mt. Bandai erupted in 1888, Goshiki-numa - which translates as "Five-Colored Ponds - were formed. In actuality dozens of lakes were created due to the 1888 eruption, but the Goshiki-numa Ponds are the most famous. It was thanks to the eruption that the lakes each took on rich color; the various minerals found in each lake give them a unique color and create a mystical aura.

There are places to dip in an onsen / stay the night between a 5 min drive and a 15 min drive from Goshiki-numa Ponds.

Urabandai Onsen

  • Aizu Area

A hot spring region in the Urabandai area where you can intimately feel the changing of the four seasons. There are many outdoor baths and onsens with spectacular views, allowing you to wash away the fatigue of daily life and be healed amidst abundant nature. From the outdoor bath at the Grandeco Resort, you can enjoy a garden of verdant green in the summer, and a pristine landscape of snow in the winter, along with a clear, star-filled night sky.

It takes about 1 hour to reach Tsurugajo Castle from Urabandai.

View directions

Tsurugajo Castle

  • Aizu Area
  • 90

Tsurugajo Castle, also known as Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle, is arguably Tohoku’s most impressive castle. It's remembered for its role in Japan’s civil war, when it was one of the last remaining samurai strongholds. The castle was fully rebuilt in the 1960s and houses an interesting history museum within the keep. The grounds of Tsurugajo Castle are an excellent place to catch Tohoku’s cherry blossoms in mid-April, and the view from atop the outer walls is particularly impressive.

Sazaedo Temple is a 15 min drive from Tsurugajo Castle.

View directions

Sazaedo Temple

  • Aizu Area
  • 20

Sazaedo is a Buddhist temple built in 1796. Its architecture is similar in shape similar to the shell of a horned turban (‘sazae’ in Japanese) hence its name ‘Sazaedo’. The inside of the temple consists of a double-helix slope, meaning that visitors who come to pray won’t meet anybody coming from the opposite direction. This one-way system makes Sazaedo extremely unique.

Higashiyama Onsen is a 10 min drive from Sazaedo Temple.

View directions

Higashiyama Onsen

  • Aizu Area

Established over 1,300 years ago, Higashiyama Onsen is a well-known retreat area in Aizu-Wakamatsu City. The recognized historical onsen town is said to have been founded by the Buddhist priest Gyōki. According to legend, he found the area by following a bird with three legs, an auspicious and mystical omen. The area was popular with people from all over Aizu during the Edo Period and was developed as a retreat area.

Ouchi-juku is a 50 min drive from central Aizu-Wakamatsu City.

View directions

Ouchi-juku

  • Aizu Area
  • 60

Take a journey to the past in Fukushima Prefecture’s Ouchi-juku area. This isolated village boasts thatched-roof houses and natural streets making you feel at one with the people wholived here hundreds of years ago. Nestled in the southwestern mountains of Fukushima, Ouchi-juku is a great spot to visit thanks to its unique charm and history.

The To-no-hetsuri Crags are accessible by car, approximately 20 minutes from Ouchi-juku

View directions

To-no-hetsuri Crags

  • Aizu Area
  • 40

A national natural monument, To-no-hetsuri Crags consists of tower-shaped cliffs overlooking Okawa River. These strange-shaped cliffs are thought to be made of various types of rocks formed around 28 million years ago and feature deep cracks along the vertical joints. In spring and summer, the lush greens create a beautiful carpet down the rocks and in winter, the heavy snows make To-no-hetsuri Crags look otherworldly.

Returning by car to Shin-Shirakawa Sta. will take around 50 min from To-no-hetsuri Crags.

View directions
Finish

Shin-Shirakawa Station

Other Trips

Autumn Colors of Fukushima
Autumn Colors of Fukushima
Autumn Colors of Fukushima
Driving

Autumn Colors of Fukushima

Spend a couple of beautiful days admiring the colors of autumn in Fukushima from the comfort of your car. You will love zooming around the prefecture and seeing all that autumn has to offer. With some of the best autumn vistas in the prefecture right outside your window, be sure to have your came...

Ouchi-juku Gourmet Tour
Ouchi-juku Gourmet Tour
Ouchi-juku Gourmet Tour
Food

Ouchi-juku Gourmet Tour

Have a gourmet adventure in Ouchi-juku, Aizu. The Aizu area of Fukushima Prefecture is known for its eclectic and delicious foods, not to mention the absolutely fantastic scenery. Enjoy this one-day itinerary that you can do at any time of year by public transport. Walk your way through Ouchi-juk...

Onsen & Sightseeing in Aizu by Train
Onsen & Sightseeing in Aizu by Train
Onsen & Sightseeing in Aizu by Train
Nature

Onsen & Sightseeing in Aizu by Train

Jump start your vacation in Fukushima’s Aizu region with this multi-day tour, which can be enjoyed at any time of year. These ideas make for great additions to already existing plans, or as a tour of their own. No matter how you decide to use this itinerary, you won’t be disappointed....

A Summertime Traditional Experience
A Summertime Traditional Experience
Culture

A Summertime Traditional Experience

There’s no better way to celebrate summertime in Japan than with an impressive display of fireworks and masterful pyrotechnics along the riverside with a cold drink. Begin your Japanese summer adventure at Fukushima Station and travel by bus to the site of the Fukushima Fireworks Festiva...