Plan your trip

The following resources will assist you in planning your trip to Fukushima Prefecture. From reaching Fukushima from other parts of Japan and basic access information about moving between cities, to some cultural guides to inspire your travel plans, find what you need in this section.

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Fukushima in Detail

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Browse our selection of tourism guides and pamphlets – available in PDF format and free to download

Useful Information

  1. Useful Information

    Fukushima’s Soma Nomaoi Festival!

    Soma Nomaoi Festival is a horse centric samurai festival that dates back to over 1000 years ago! The festival honors and celebrates the tradition of raising horses for military strength and as a part of life for people in the area. Although the festival has changed over the years (for instance allowing women to participate and adding new events!), the original feeling of the festival is still strong and alive. The history and heart of the region shines through at this incredible Japanese festival that you won’t want to miss!   Day one (Saturday): The Local Favorite Day I reached out to my friend, Satou Shouko, who is from Kashima-ku, an area that is a part of the region that was ruled by the Soma clan. She offered to take me and my coworker Rin around to see the events on Saturday. Ecstatic, we gathered our cameras (and a small gift for Satou-san of course) and headed off. Satou-san was incredibly kind and explained the events that we would be seeing that day. I was surprised to hear from her that Saturday is the favorite day for most locals, so much so that many will enjoy the festival on Saturday but skip out on Sundays celebrations!   The Festival Begins! We watched as a screen showed live footage from around Soma clan. The events of the day are separate but occur simultaneously across the areas. So, depending on which town’s festivities you choose to see, you can witness a variety of events. 2022 was the first year that they were able to conduct a livestream of the event on this scale, and it was absolutely incredible. Once you finish reading, go check it out.  Thanks to the livestream we got a close look at the home of the Supreme Commander where pre-departure ceremonies were taking place. The live feed showed us as prayers and toasts at three shrines: Soma Nakamura Shrine, Soma Ota Shrine, and Soma Odaka Shrine. One toast I saw on screen was followed by a smashing of the glass sake cup, an action that is intended to bring good luck supposedly. The breaking of glass, shouting in tough sounding samurai words, and the sounding of conch shell horns is an intimidating series of sounds to take in. How terrifying it must have been to face a samurai warrior on the battle field!   Soutaishou-omukae (Reception of the Supreme Commander) Warriors on horseback marching through the town and racing down narrow paths through the rice field travel back and forth, announcing updates to the leaders who are already seated, waiting to receive the Supreme Commander. This year, the Supreme Commander role was filled by the first born grandson of the reigning Supreme Commader! At 14 he has now reached the historical age of manhood, his debut at the festival was only days after his coming of age ceremony. Next year his grandfather will return to the position where he will stay until his son will permanently take over. While waiting, there are dance performances, conch shell blowing, and warriors on horseback rushing in to provide information. There was a short break in the action, and suddenly visitors were permitted to enter the square and mingle with the Samurai leaders, warriors, conch shell horn bearers and more. Taking photos with them as they sat in character was so much fun. I turned to thank one of the leaders for the photo when he suddenly offered me some sake and a snack from his tray of traditional snacks (umeboshi and cucumbers!) which was a big surprise. It was so much fun to connect with such a high ranking warrior and glimpse behind the character and see he is actually a really nice old man! When the break time ended, the tough shouting and samurai acting began again! Suddenly the conch shell horn bearers stood to attention and sounded their horns to announce the arrival of the Supreme Commander. Flanked by more tough looking men on horses, the procession was impressive! More dancing, toasts, and speeches ensued! My favorite part? When they begin to sing the ancient anthem of the Soma clan, the same song that their ancestors sang, the crowd joined in. It was absolutely magical to be in the midst of a community that retains such strong links to their history and culture. As the group began to prepare for their march through the streets, people rushed off to find the ideal place to view the parade from. As the procession of samurais on horseback marched down the street.   Gyouretsu (Samurai Procession) We rushed down the street to a little intersection in the road and waited with others to catch a glimpse of the parade. The parade here is a small version of the parade that happens on Sunday when all the districts of the Soma Clan join together in a massive procession of roughly 350 horses! (Not including the many more people who join the procession on foot.) The ornate decorations on the horses and the beauty of each set of armor is amazing to view from up close. Various flags represent the family crests or different subgroups of the Soma clan and are carried proudly through the streets. Every once in a while you will notice the procession come to a halt, and the sounding of the conch shell horns as well as the occasional sound of a drum. The intricate historic style of the procession provides a stark contrast to the telephone lines and traffic lights that look so modern it feels almost alien. This parade really gives you a feeling of Japan’s wonderful way of preserving history so that ancient cultural traditions can exist among the modern culture, a perfect blend of the old and new.   Shinki-soudatsusen (Flag Competition) After the parade, the horses are transported to a large open field on a hill overlooking the sea. In the field samurai warriors sit with their families (who look strange in comparison in the modern clothes) to enjoy a snack and drink. Watching moms pull out homemade rice balls (onigiri) and Fukushima peaches to feed to their little warriors was extremely cute. The horses were relaxing nearby their families, munching on some tall grasses. Once all of the horses and participants have arrived, the game can begin! The sounding of the conch shell horns is followed by a loud BANG as fireworks are launched into the sky and colorful flags fall slowly dancing through the sky. The explosions sound like what I imagine a battle field may have sounded like. Some horses naturally got spooked, while other were braver, heeding the commands of the riders and rushing into the thick of battle to capture the quickly falling flag. In some cases, the spooked horses launched their riders into the air sending them tumbling across the grass. Those who were ejected from their seat seemed to be okay, however I quickly became aware of the ambulance and health professionals who were standing by onsite - just in case! What a relief. The joy on their faces as their successfully captured a flag was really beautiful, as the families of the riders cheered from the sidelines. The close & intimate setting of Saturday’s event was wonderful and there were a lot of opportunities to chat with people, take photos, and witness these incredible events up close. Sometimes too close! At one point I had to dash away from the sidelines as one nervous horse stomped a little too close. In a moment of panic, I dropped my GoPro camera a little too close, fortunately it wasn’t stomped into oblivion! So please be cautious when experiencing the event up close on Saturday and be prepared to dash away with your equipment in case a nervous horse wanders into your personal space.   Day two (Sunday): The Main Event Despite the heat and exhaustion of Saturday, I went to Sunday’s event as well! Unfortunately, Satou-san and Rin couldn’t join me, but I set out with some other friends to check it out. This is the day when all of the Soma clan gathers to compete against each other in large scale versions of events that took place on Saturday! This event is more tourist friendly with food stalls, souvenirs stands. Plus, it is pretty easy to know where to go as all you need to do is follow the crowd! A huge parade marches through the streets, this year there were around 350 horses participating- and even more human participants of course! The parade ends at a large arena and amphitheater with many seats of the horses gather at the end of the parade. Dance performances, a horse race, and a massive capture the flag event takes place here and it is absolutely incredible. Flanking either side of the seating area are shaded horse stables where horses are brought to relax and wind down if they get too hot and stressed, or if they just need a rest. I was able to chat with the owners of the horses and find out a bit more about these sweet babies. One three-year-old horse I met was going to be in the racing event later, so it was a lot of fun to meet him and then later recognize him by his flag. Like cheering for a friend, I was so happy to see him win third place in his race. What a champion! Due to the large number of horses the falls were a bit more intense on this day creating an exciting atmosphere similar to a rodeo. Everyone on the edge of their seats to see what would happen! Shocked and amazement echoes across the audience, especially in one instance where a rider was tossed off his horse but he managed to hold onto the reigns and calm the horse down all on his own! Now that is some next level horse whispering. The area is so much bigger, some spooked horses would race by at jaw dropping speeds to the edges of the area or to the area where they knew they could get water and snacks while their rider frantically held on. Fortunately, there didn’t seem to be any injuries that were too bad, but there were definitely some limping samurai warriors by the end of the day!   Day three: Nomakake (The Ancient Horse capturing ritual) I wasn’t able to make it to the third and final day of the festival but I imagine that it is smaller and more intimate like the first day. On this day the event takes place where people capture a wild horse without using any tools and then take the horse to the shrine as an offering. This event is the most ancient and traditional event of the festival, existing since ancient times. I hope that you will go experience this incredible festival for yourself! This was Reagan from the Fukushima Prefecture Tourism and Local Products Association, thank you for reading and joining along on this story. Please contact us if you want to visit or have any questions about the festival or visiting Fukushima. Want to experience a horseback ride through the region that was ruled by the mighty Soma Clan? Click here for tour information.

    Fukushima’s Soma Nomaoi Festival!
  2. Useful Information

    Visiting Marusei Orchard

    Satou Yukie, a staff member from Fukushima City’s Marusei Orchard is passionate about what she does, and it shows. Pulling up in her bright pink mini truck, wearing her bright pink staff shirt she made quite the entrance. We were ushered in to sit in her office to talk a bit about the orchard before we went to take photos and videos. The office space only had a few chairs so we sat scattered across the room. We might’ve moved the chairs closer, but one staff member was dozing off in a chair and we couldn’t disturb them. Said staff member sleeps throughout most of the work day but management lets it slide because they’re so cute. This is Umemiyatamasaburou, or Tama-chan for short, the name comes from the story of a wandering samurai of the same name. This little cat wandered up to the orchard one day a few years ago and has stuck around ever since, so now they are treated just like any other member of the staff. In the afternoons she likes to wander the orchards, and has been known to sneak onto tour busses… So keep an eye out for her mischief! Satou-san showed us a map which revealed the size of the orchard to be a total of 10 hectares! The largest in Fukushima. 5 hectares are dedicated solely to peach production, in case you didn’t know, Fukushima peaches are quite famous in Japan for being incredibly delicious. The U.S. Olympic soft ball coach, Ken Erikson, couldn’t get enough of these during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and that not only made national news but caused peaches to sell out in record time due to a record number of orders being made. “Fruit is meant to be enjoyed with your eye, and then your taste buds!” She said with a smile. So, she led us off to the orchards to enjoy some peaches with our eyes and taste buds! The peaches are beautiful bright reds and pinks, looking like beautiful decorations. She told us the peaches that get ripe and delicious sooner are those close to the trunk, next thing we know she is on a ladder and handing us a few peaches. One peach had a tiny bite mark from a bird. Satou-san said that that one would be the sweetest, the birds know these things! After washing, peeling, and cutting off the area where the tiny bite had been taken, we got our first taste. It was incredibly soft and sweet. The birds really do know what’s up! The other peaches had no tiny bite marks, but they were just as delicious! They were a bit firmer and the taste was again, incredible. When you visit Marusei orchard you can eat as many fruits as you like in the set time, I managed to eat two! I definitely could’ve eaten more, but I was saving space for something special... On site there is a little café called Mori no Garden where you can try incredible parfaits made with fresh, seasonal fruit. The peach parfait was absolutely incredible, and I now have unrealistic expectations for fruit eating. It will be hard to beat the level of amazing that is Marusei Orchard’s fruits.   Walking through the orchards, it’s fun to take a look at the fruit trees that are out of season, it’s so cute to see the tiny baby fruits that will soon grow into something delicious! The area of the orchard is designed to hard something to see no matter the season with a variety of fruits and flowers that make a visit here truly exceptional. After eating your fill of the delicious fruits, you can stroll around the grounds and relax. At the front desk were you rented your buckets and knives for fruit picking, you also need to return them. You can buy any fruits that picked but couldn’t eat, and you can also buy some already picked fruits. There are some really funny warning signs to remind you to keep your hands to yourself, but it goes without saying don’t touch or squeeze the fruits! The orchard has such a fun atmosphere where you can tell how much the staff really enjoy working there, staff members have even DIYed little fruit parfait models, and they also collect the beetles they find in the orchard and save them for children to adopt as pets. Much kinder than getting rid of bugs with pesticides that’s for sure. Click here for more information about fruit picking in Fukushima!

    Visiting Marusei Orchard
  3. Useful Information

    Hiking in Oze National Park

    The vast wild space of the national park covers vast areas of Fukushima, Gunma, Niigata, and Tochigi Prefectures. Boasting a diverse environment of marshlands, lakes and mountains where plants and wildlife can flourish. A wooden boardwalk allows you to walk through the nature without disturbing and small wildlife who may be hiding in the tall grass or harming the fragile marshlands. When to visit? Visitors primarily come from mid-May to late-October, outside of these months, the area is blanketed with deep snow. In spring and summer various wild flowers grow in the fields and the marsh, creating a lovely atmosphere of vibrant greens and bright colored flowers. In Autumn, the grass turns a golden brown and autumn flowers bloom, my favorite was a deep purple flower. Some more adventurous explorers have visited in the winter months, however I would recommend against doing so unless you have the proper skills, permit, and guide. Facilities are also closed during the winter months. Beginner friendly: Hike to Lake Ozenuma (6.4 km roundtrip) The short hike to Lake Ozenuma take you’re through a deep forest where shadows may keep pathches of snow and ice frozen even in the late spring and early summer months. The cool shade of the trees is refreshing but may be cold, so I would suggest bringing warmer layers. Once you reach the first marsh area you will be greeted with incredible views of Mt. Hiuchi (Hiuchigatake) in the distance, and as you walk you will start to see Lake Ozenuma as well. The lakeside views of the water are incredible as well as the various plants that are growing along the water. Keep an eye out for animals as you may catch a glimpse of them in and around the water. Overlooking Lake Ozenuma, you’ll find the Oze National park visitors center, as well as a shop, restaurant, and guesthouses that operate here. Snacks, souvenirs, and even alcoholic beverages can be purchased here, so while you will definitely want to pack snacks, you should be able to buy more here! It’s a very relaxing place to spend time so I would suggest planning to have time to spend here for lunch and relaxing. After which you can choose to head back, or continue hiking if you are able to spend a night or so in one of the lodges or mountain huts in the park. Stay the night! If you want to continue hiking past Lake Ozenuma, then I recommend booking a stay at one of the lodges or mountain huts. When I visited during the Autumn hiking season, I stayed a night at the Chozo Hut (built in 1915!) and had a marvelous time. The weather was much colder, but a wood burning stove kept us warm, and there were a variety of books and games to keep us entertained. This Lodge is run by the descendants of one of the first pioneers who ventured into the wilderness that is today known as Oze National Park. That pioneer, Chozo Hirano, fell in love with the incredible natural landscape and set up a small cabin along the side of Lake Ozenuma. A bit of history of conservation More than 130 years ago Chozo Hirano at 19 years old he discovered the beauty of the area. In 1890, at 20 years old, he built a small hut near the water where he would spend a lot of time basking in the natural wonder of the area. This hut was later moved and rebuilt a bit bigger in 1915, creating the modern day Chozo Hut that could accommodate more visitors, allowing Chozo to share his love of the area with more nature enthusiasts who would come to appreciate the incredible nature. Some years later a project to build a dam in the park premises was proposed. This would spoil large parts of the environment that wildlife depended on for survival. Chozo and his fellow nature enthusiast fought against this proposal. Thanks to the efforts of Chozo Hirano and the other conservationists, the Oze Conservation Association was formed in 1949. Through their efforts, the natural area was preserved and Oze National Park was created! In the 1950s the placement of wooden boardwalks began in an effort to prevent visitors from harming the soft marshland areas. Today the diverse wildlife and plant life flourish in the park as much of the national park has been left un touched by people. Geological History The geological history of Oze National park can be traced back 2 million years, when the Oze area was just a plateau. Over time, the plateau became mountainous, the highest peak Mt. Hiuchi (Hiuchigatake) is located in the portion of the park that lies within the Fukushima Prefectural border and can be seen from Lake Ozenuma. Mt. Hiuchi (Hiuchigatake) is not only the highest peak in the park today (at 2,356m), but it is also the most recent to erupt. Recent being a relative term, since we are talking about an eruption that took place some 350,000 years ago or so. Lava flow interrupted some rivers in the area which led to the formation of Lake Ozenuma! The flow of rivers in the area continued to change over time which created the unique wetland landscape that is one of the largest of its kind in Japan. Oze Marshland A layer of peat that is as thick as 5 meters in some places is thought to have formed over the course of 6000 to 8000 years! What is peat you may ask? It is essentially a mix of soil and an accumulation of plant life that never fully decomposed due to cold temperatures and humidity. If you enjoy whiskey that has a slightly smoky flavor, then you may be familiar with peat and some of its many uses. The peat as well as all other natural features of Oze National Park are protected, so don’t try to take any home with you! To avoid damaging the environment, be sure to stay on the wooden boardwalk trails. Hot Tip: The nearby Hinoemata Village is home to the incredibly unique tradition of Hinoemata Kabuki! Click here to learn more.  Oze Eats: While your in the area be sure to try some of the delicious foods you can try! The soba noodles in Hinoemata Village are incredible, and if your feeling adventurous, go try this unique ice cream topped with a local favorite: dried salamandar (at Mini Oze Park)!! Yum!  

    Hiking in Oze National Park
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