Summer in Fukushima

Summer in Fukushima presents a wealth of opportunities to enjoy the prefecture in its best light. The Urabandai area promises trekking and mountain climbing through an unprecedented scenic landscape. It is also the season when several of Fukushima’s fruits are ripe for harvest, with peaches and cherries being particularly famous to the region. The coastal region provides a myriad of marine sports options for active visitors.

Average temperature

  • Jun 25° / 16°
  • Jul 29° / 20°
  • Aug 30° / 21°

Itineraries in Summer

Ultimate Fukushima Prefecture Road Trip
Ultimate Fukushima Prefecture Road Trip
Ultimate Fukushima Prefecture Road Trip
Driving

Ultimate Fukushima Prefecture Road Trip

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!

Relaxation in Tsuchiyu
Relaxation in Tsuchiyu
Relaxation in Tsuchiyu
Culture

Relaxation in Tsuchiyu

You can enjoy this multi-day relaxation tour of Fukushima any time of year. But that’s not the only thing to make this trip so enticing. You’ll find something for everyone in the family or quiet spots of solitude to be enjoyed alone. Whether you’re traveling with someone or by yourself, this is the perfect way to enjoy Fukushima. Take a bus ride from Fukushima Station to Hotel Sansuiso. Enjoy a quiet room at this lovely hotel where you can soak away your worries in one of their many hot spring baths. Especially nice during winter are the outdoor baths, let the cool air wash over your exposed face while the waters keep you warm. After a day sequestered in baths, why not take a stroll about town and visit the famous shop Matsuya. See their own unique kokeshi dolls, which are popular toys around Japan with each area creating completely unique kokeshi dolls. After you’ve admired the curious little wooden dolls, try your hand at painting your own under the guidance of one of the shop’s staff. Take your very own kokeshi doll back with you as a unique souvenir and memory of your time in Fukushima Prefecture. Finally, explore the other hot spring baths that Tsuchiyu Onsen has to offer. Choose from public baths, baths in other ryokan, or a number of a foot baths dotted around the town. No matter where you turn, you’re sure to enjoy the calming and rejuvenating waters. When you’ve finished enjoying everything that the area has to offer, head back to Fukushima Station by bus.  

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. Travel by train and local bus, or taxi, to enjoy Aizu to the fullest. Begin your adventure at Aizu-Wakamatsu Station (don’t forget to snap some pics of its bowing red akabeko cow out front) and use the local bus or taxi to make your way for Tsurugajo Castle. Walk through the gardens and grounds of this magnificent castle and marvel at the red-tile roof—the only one of its kind in all of Japan. Inside you can tour the castle keep and see the artifacts of Aizu, let history come to life before your eyes. From the castle, travel to Nanokamachi-dori Street; this quaint area has preserved its early-20th century architecture and is now home to souvenir boutiques and many diners and hidden gems. With that being enough for one day’s excitement, head over to Higashiyama Onsen and soak your travel aches away in the hot springs of Harataki ryokan, which even has its own hot spring source. You’ll love taking a dip in these hot, refreshing, and soothing waters—the outside open-air bath is especially recommended. The next day, why not head over to Ouchi-juku, here you can tour an authentic preserved Aizu village and try local cuisine. The whole area gets really busy in winter and, if you’re brave enough to face the cold, the snow festival is a popular event.  

Diamond Route (4 days 3 nights)
Diamond Route (4 days 3 nights)
Diamond Route (4 days 3 nights)
Adventure

Diamond Route (4 days 3 nights)

Have you ever wanted to take a cross-prefecture tour of Japan, from Tokyo to the impeccable countryside of Fukushima? Well, now is your chance to travel from the international hub of Tokyo and see what else Japan and—especially—Fukushima have to offer. Enjoy this cross-country tour of Japan any time of the year, over the span of a few days so that you can enjoy things at your pace. You’ll find life outside of Tokyo goes at a much slower pace. Start your trip from Tokyo Station and ride a short distance to Asakusa. See one of the busiest shrine-and-temple locations in Tokyo. You’ll love the bustling atmosphere and the street stalls with their many trinkets and souvenirs. Once you’ve finished in Asakusa, head out of the city and make your way for Tochigi Prefecture’s Nikko. Nikko is perhaps most famous for the three monkey statues that people equate with “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil”. You’ll see these wonderful statues and more while you stop over in Nikko. From there, travel north to Higashiyama Onsen and enjoy the sights form the train along the way. Higashiyama Onsen is Fukushima’s home to some truly great hot springs and Japanese-style inns. Soak up the hot waters and relax your tired muscles. At Tsuruga-jo Castle, you can walk the pristine gardens and enjoy the castle grounds. Be sure to make note of the red-roof tiles of the castle as well, this is the only castle in Japan that boasts having these deep-red tiles. Inside the castle keep, discover the history of the Aizu samurai through the many exhibits and displayed artifacts. Make your way to Nanokamachi-dori Street and admire the local architecture, which is quite different than that from the rest of the area. Search out local hidden gems along the narrow streets and find the perfect souvenir to take home. Enjoy your time in Tokyo, Tochigi, and Fukushima like never before with this route.  

Related posts

  1. Destination Spotlight

    Visiting the Mitsuishi Shrine (Three Stones Shrine)

    A red Tori gate marks the forest trail that leads up through a dense forest where a shrine seems to hide among the rocks and trees. Here, in the Mitsuishi Shrine where three stones and three rituals wait for you to improve yourself and also wish for love or connection. Ichinoiwa (The First Stone) [photo id="j4xrYn89vjbJw1YsPr0EcesTfXONCFJdjB9WhSRD.jpg"] The first stone has a deep pit where, it is believed that sticking your head into the pit will actually improve your IQ! It can be a bit scary, but it’s definitely worth a try. Who knows, you might invent something spectacular with your new and improved high IQ level!  Ninoiwa (The Second Stone) [photo id="DYJbIVJulnyQ01COoF4jDiOm9Q295RXjqwYGJsNB.jpg"] A mysterious source of spring water drips down the side of this stone, making it seem as though the rock is crying real tears... Its waters have long been believed to improve eyesight. Long ago, people thought that touching the water from this stone to one’s eye would improve eye health and eyesight. However, this ritual may be best left in the past since it might not be 100% sterile. Still, it is interesting to visit, touch the water and think of the past. Saniwa (The Third Stone) [photo id="y3ki08pkIdqj7vvKSOiPr5Ys8vX8DzGO4wJG8g60.jpg"] The third and final stone is the connection or love rock. The stone is porous and full of holes; the trick is to find a set of holes that make a tunnel so that you can stick a string through. You can get strings from the visitors’ center or bring your own and try to find a place to tie up a 5-yen coin. Some single people who are looking for love or connections will come in the middle of the night with a flashlight and spend hours search for a place to tie their coin! If you are lucky you might discover an unclaimed tunnel in the stone where you can tie up a 5-yen coin for good luck in the love and connection department. Whether you are a believer or not, it’s a lot of fun to poke around looking for a place to tie your coin. If you fail to find a spot you can always tie in the same spot as someone else, or tie your coin on the shrine’s rope.  [photo id="ORKPbeWHH30tjDGSNFPBkVRjvAnbNzNnCYlTULwz.jpg"] The short hike to and from the shrine is absolutely gorgeous, but a bit steep in places. Be sure to wear shoes that are easy to walk in. Through a clearing in the tree line you can look down and see the town below. If you time your visit right, you can even watch the small local train roll by.  Mino kasa Experience [photo id="z6xUzneDMLFc9nt59Xt7m6uaxmaw7iPJfJcW5o0C.jpg"] You can hike the trail in normal clothes, but, if you are feeling adventurous… I recommend renting a mino kasa, that is an old fashioned rain coat. Mino kasa like the one I am wearing in the photo are becoming increasingly rare in Japan. As craftsmen die out and no one takes their place, fashions like this risk fading into the panels of history. So I hope that when you visit you will rent one to take photos and walk to the shrine in. The people in the area are very friendly and if they see someone walking around in a mino kasa, you are sure to bring a smile to their faces! After all, the greatest joys of traveling are connecting with the local p [photo id="wDJcFKNnG15tYyFVc3PxXGk7Nokyc08vnxjfzc5v.jpg"] Click here for more information on accessing this shrine.

    Visiting the Mitsuishi Shrine (Three Stones Shrine)
  2. Useful Information

    5 reasons to go River Trekking in Tadami Town

    1. Safely explore the river and forest with a local guide! The river and trail are unmarked, but luckily there are local guides that are affordable and available to guide you! Even if you don’t speak Japanese, guides can help you through the trail with gestures and a little bit of English. Hiring a local guide is a really great way to support the community and meet some of the interesting people that live in this area. [photo id="pGJ902ZKtwsLnTdAjDTHVsbtSI9dCYVyjQXLrA2O.jpg"] 2. Experience the Japanese tradition of forest bathing or forest therapy. The vibrant greenery, relaxing sounds of the river, and immersion and nature are sure to relax you. [photo id="zNTrPRwKvdSjlX53PYs0FL0K5IowcWyr3juhRKX5.jpg"] 3. You can see unique plants and fungi!  The forests and mountains of Tadami Town are home to an extremely diverse population of plants, animals and fungi. Some of the unique mushrooms are yet to be fully documented and studied so it is not uncommon for research group to visit this beautifully biodiverse environment! [photo id="EU7A3JrubjDe37jBuYKkfixV6hwlTSuHalNk4SZt.jpg"]  4. Search for traces of the past…  On the trees you can find some graffiti from former students of the Mori no Bunko Fuzawa forest school who carved their names into the trees! Now those kids are a lot older, and the letters have been stretched out as the trees have grown. It’s fun to search the trees for these carvings. Even if you can't spot them yourself, your guide will be sure to point the carvings out to you! [photo id="Sk2NSlb8JucCHFQO94Zf0LvOMlGx42I0fB9C69zF.jpg"] 5. Enjoy local produce cooled in the river! There are some natural pockets in the stone waterfall and river bed that are perfect for cooling a drink or snack. So, bring some local fruits or vegetables and let them cool while you take pictures, then enjoy a refreshing treat. We ate some locally grown tomatoes, they were so sweet and delicious!  [photo id="0jBGsOqS8pVAshJeWCpJaSi3maMvZPVlw6z4c73U.jpg"] You can experience river trekking by contacting the Mori no Bunko Fuzawa by phone(Japanese only) or email(Any language via Google Translate). [photo id="JLsRj9xhGkolkxBXaicAQ3taR93nOiidJlrJvM4Q.jpg"]

    5 reasons to go River Trekking in Tadami Town
  3. Useful Information

    I joined a Bicycle Race in Japan! (And You Should Too!)

    I joined a cycling event/road race in Fukushima, Japan and cycled the popular hill climb course up the Bandai-Azuma Skyline to the Jododaira Visitors Center.  I was super nervous; I have been cycling for several years but this was my first road race ever. The other cyclists were all so friendly and encouraging! Some cyclists were dressed very unique as there is a completion category specifically for “cosplayers” so I met cyclists dressed as a squid, a minion, and even a skinny sumo wrestler!  Into the Clouds... From the start of the course, we were already in the clouds. Thick fog made it difficult to see far ahead, fortunately the course is straight forward and the other cyclists helped to show me the way. The dense forest looks unreal in the mist, and it was very exciting to be traveling through the mist with a whole herd of cyclists! As challenging as the course was, whenever I felt like giving up, I would hear an encouraging voice from another cyclist that pushed me to keep going!  [photo id="KZ5kmjbFsrSUxSDGLl7ix3YxvAcUASp8xgvdjGF0.png"] Entering the Volcano-Zone! Suddenly the dense trees disappeared and through the mist I could see that the surrounding terrain changed to volcanic rocks that look pale orange and red. Turning a corner, the mist had cleared and I could see the volcano, blue sky and felt a surge of energy! Volcanic lakes and ponds scatter the are actually small crater that were formed from the impact of boulders that were blown into the sky during an eruption that took place many years ago. Although the scenery is unique and it is tempting to stop and explore, it’s best not to linger for too long! Volcanic gasses can collect here and prolonged exposure could lead to fainting. Views of Fukushima city below are beautiful, and there is a better place to stop for photos at the top of the hill, at the Jododaira Visitors Center! [photo id="Tg1vr7hnrS8oSWKskwp9aJk7PCPladrkgP93YoKr.png"] Reaching the Finish Line! Finally, we reached the Jododaira Visitors Center! There were trays or healthy snacks and food to recharge after the long climb! It was a lot of fun chatting with the other cyclists after sharing this experience together. I hope that I can join another cycling event in Fukushima soon, and I hope that hearing about my experience encourages you to try a cycling event when you visit Fukushima.  [photo id="CY7cVyRUwBUoktUMWwz02LVbb69qdFzEedTCHReH.jpg"] I raced in the 17km Hill Climb cycling event on the Bandai-Azuma Skyline.. However, if that is a bit intimidating, worry not! Fukushima has routes for cyclists of all levels!

    I joined a Bicycle Race in Japan! (And You Should Too!)
  4. Useful Information

    Cycling in Iwaki

    Cruising along the beautiful coastline of Iwaki, it’s easy to forget that this coast was once ravaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Since then, the area has been rebuilt and is once again a beautiful place to explore! The coastline of Iwaki has been fortified with sea walls that now provide an excellent course and panoramic views for cyclists. Bicycle rentals and paths are accessible with various options that will entertain beginner, intermediate, and even expert cyclists!  [photo id="qfbrnp0R7QYFYCixRw14ywOzrmg7UOlzqLTcS54c.jpg"] From long coastal stretches where cyclists can enjoy endless sea views and a refreshing sea breeze, to courses that wander inland through forested roads to beautiful natural areas, there is so much waiting to be discovered. Along the various cycling routes there are many unique places to stop including museums, hot springs, restaurants, cafes and more! When I visited we rented bicycles from the Shinmaiko Cycling Station, from there we cycled along the coast and enjoyed the sea breeze and views of the lighthouse in the distance. [photo id="EdwmtIns7W4h0SxuHXTtc753JpvfTPOBDPDv9V0l.jpg"] We stopped by the Iwaki 3.11 Memorial and Revitalization Museum to learn about how the area was affected by the 2011 disaster, it was very touching and interesting to see artifacts that were preserved since the disaster.  The Iwaki Cycling Map and other information is available in English and other languages on the PDFs that may be accessed from this link.  More information on cycling and places to visit in this area is available here (Open this link in Google chrome for automatic English translation).

    Cycling in Iwaki
  5. Destination Spotlight

    Going to See Aizu-Tajima Gion Festival

    WHY IS THERE A GION FESTIVAL IN AIZU-TAJIMA? The most famous Gion Festival takes place every year in Gion, Kyoto. Hundreds of years ago, elite families were moved to various areas around the country. One of these areas was Aizu-Tajima, in Minamia Aizu, Fukushima. The families that moved from Kyoto to Aizu-Tajima had young children who were heartbroken at having to leave their hometown and extended family. Torn about how to appease their homesick, sad children, families decided to hold a traditional Kyoto festival - the Gion festival - in their new town. Advisors were sent to Kyoto to learn the ins and outs of holding a Gion Festival (as well as to receive permission to hold it). After being granted permission and studying up, they returned to Aizu-Tajima, having been promised after Kyoto’s annual Gion Festival that real Kyoto Gion golden crowns would be brought to Aizu-Tajima for use in their own festival. [photo id="DgA1v2bppSlQm1MWUXFvrKwdBL9K7bakYt6lqL6k.jpeg" size="original"] These crowns were to be used in the Aizu-Tajima children’s procession every year. Kyoto’s Gion Festival is earlier than Aizu-Tajima’s, so there was time for the transferral of these crowns. Although not considered a particularly special item in Kyoto, for the people of Tajima, these crowns were incredibly precious, because they signified the authenticity of their festival. WHAT ARE FESTIVAL YATAI? Each of the 4 areas of Aizu-Tajima owns their own festival stall, known as yatai (屋台). The stall of the west area is the oldest, dating from earlier than the 1830s, and is the only yatai to survive terrible fires that occurred in 1772 and 1774. [photo id="ZJBkbdMhNB9xoS4GiU5paOjeDb2t6BEEsC94x1MR.jpeg" size="original"] These stalls are considered to be spiritual, having the power to bless their area during festival time. They are used as stages for kabuki performances and play an integral part in the yatai ruckuses which occur between areas on the evening of July 23. [photo id="XVTmynVosIfyhoTk3HD8kZ18hvkvLeSXz4ukDmWv.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="0bVKybdoChdyRn61OdvbaKljEZR9Rz6dG914wWTI.jpeg" size="original"] The west area’s yatai has beautiful architecture and carvings on the body of the stall. [photo id="kvVoKZl7cWzN6ElmdX9hccejTv8H2QaSDseGNmgG.jpeg" size="original"] The children of the town can ride on their own area’s yatai during the start of the festival, as their neighbours push it around. Older kids are given the responsibility of calling out festival chants from a megaphone in the back of the stall. It is a great honour for kids to be given the responsibility of shouting festival chants, and younger kids feel jealous over being too young to do this! CHANGING TRADITIONS In days gone by, girls could not touch the shrine or be involved in kabuki performances, and only local people were allowed to participate in the festival, but these rules have been relaxed over time. However one rule hasn't changed: it used to be thought of as bad luck to look down at yatai from a 2nd floor window, as this would equate to looking down on the gods. Even now, this is really frowned upon! MY FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS KID’S KABUKI BY NIGHT Children as young as elementary school year 2 perform in kabuki on top of yatai stands during the afternoon and late into the evening. Before the performances start, performers wait in the back of their respective yatai. I was amazed at how confidently the kids performed. [photo id="y0B6nUuFuk3J4qCXOcR5YjjJBXxP6LrlxHUG94Qj.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="DYGSJZLe1ZV0GLFbmGcBg282xBGWoKN68bGnyNPy.jpeg" size="original"] NANAHOKAI PROCESSION I was really excited to see this procession and it did not disappoint! [photo id="qAzNjjzqbxx1Wq1EKNEDaKEipYCIf2zZs0TGlEpY.jpeg" size="original"] The Nanahokai Procession (七行器行列) takes place early on the morning of July 23. Beautiful women dressed in kimono are accompanied by men in kamishimo. The women accompany 7 offerings to the main shrine in the town, including sake, fish and rice. [photo id="ykK6a5svrPndy75tyki6A6zDaEK8UzBQ1BMIjqgc.jpeg" size="original"] Unlike the kabuki, which is voluntary, the women to join the Nanahokai Procession are called upon in accordance with a rota of all the families in the area. Even if relatives move away, they are encouraged to return (with their spouses) to participate in the festival. Married women wear black kimono, and unmarried women have bold, bright patterned kimono. [photo id="VQaRCwNOTsNSKVnimt7rMbVgNkAfdfiuxZg1SYzv.jpeg" size="original"] It was raining when I visited, but this didn’t impact the enchanting atmosphere of the procession. In years gone by, only women from the town were allowed to join the Nanahokai Procession, but as a result of slow and steady depopulation, all are welcome to apply to walk in the procession – even English teachers who live in nearby towns! [photo id="bc0mZW3szKTaThNvt6oT7p3ftcbvTSnJUdSh27LK.jpeg" size="original"] It wasn’t just the adults who shone during this procession. Have a look at the very cute kids in the photos below! [photo id="nC0uKZMnlk4wIjhbObOEHIWTVP0sXROfi7Cw9Awy.jpeg" size="original"] There were many photo opportunities, as the women walked slowly, and posed for photos after finishing taking the offerings to the shrine. [photo id="CX84YAh8Xkt7Mdxpjnlxmi7KK9AWD6Mht3d8UE8v.jpeg" size="original"] CHILDREN’S PROCESSION As I wrote above, the children’s procession that takes place after the Nanohokai Procession includes replicas of crowns originally brought from the Kyoto Gion Festival every year for Tajima’s children to wear. [photo id="ihEQsubN12SykPk9scgNgXQR44mh5h9ouVTkm7TB.jpeg" size="original"] CHILDREN’S TAIKO DRUMMING Local children perform in front of hundreds of people that gather to see the festival. Their drumming was really good and they were all adorable! [photo id="vBZtEhVmBsiVvX3IWqVH6WfepY8nRNBBOuK9Vys7.jpeg" size="original"] VISITING THE SHRINE It is traditional to visit the shrine to pray, and drink doburoku to celebrate. Doburoku is a type of unfiltered sake, which continues to ferment upon drinking! Farming families used to make doburoku at home, but it became illegal due to taxing issues. Being able to drink it at festival festival time is an important tradition for local people! Due to driving, I couldn’t try doburoku unfortunately, but some Brits traveling through Japan really enjoyed it! [photo id="FRNHqMtMR6lxd8hqomDO99c8r2Cn9HsQ6SvcQcYH.jpeg" size="original"] MIKOSHI PROCESSION The mikoshi (portable shrine) of the town is brought out of the shrine after offerings are brought inside. This shrine blesses the areas it passes through, grants local people with good health, and wards off natural disasters. [photo id="JCnV8J366B4RSev6m874ho3ahPg3Fajbfsu74tcE.jpeg" size="original"] Aizu-Tajima’s Gion Festival was a fantastic two day trip for me! I didn’t get to see the full 3 days, but maybe I can next year! I definitely recommend it! [photo id="VtdMuZPeL3hcmZjT4wBYj1CKytRNUrGByPhmZIZs.jpeg" size="original"]

    Going to See Aizu-Tajima Gion Festival
  6. Destination Spotlight

    Tomato Heaven in Wonder Farm, Iwaki

    Peaches are the most famous produce of Fukushima, but blessed with a climate slap bang in the middle of Japan, Fukushima produces countless types of delicious fruit and veggies. At Wonder Farm, a ‘new age farm’, visitors can learn about farming and also eat lots of delicious, local food. If you like fresh fruit and veg, pizza and BBQs then Wonder Farm is definitely worth a visit. If you love tomatoes, then it's a must! [photo id="GV3m5zbZdODS1SXsCRcYbEqPiN3Aw6LRLGjVxWv6.jpeg" size="original"] Wonder Farm is split into 5 areas 1) JR TOMATO LAND Wonder Farm’s tomato farm. Visitors can pick as many tomatoes as they can fit in their allocated Tomato Land bag for only 900 yen!* *Correct as of June 2020. [photo id="lteAWKrtlgbyTyU1fHzWm52B7DRcPsx2Bakn4Mba.jpeg" size="original"] There are over 9 types of tomatoes grown at the farm – many with interesting and puzzling names such as 'Hula Girls', 'Midori Chan' and 'Carol'. Depending on the type, the colour of the ripe tomatoes vary from yellow to dark purple, and each has its own unique flavour and texture. It’s fun to try all the different types out and pick a favourite. [photo id="063IbxAue1jew22DtbhjoKY54DzXMJTAh2eIqwxH.jpeg" size="original"] See here for details on visiting. 2) MORI NO MARCHE A shop selling locally-produced food, souvenirs and tomato ice cream. So far, the farm has sold many unique products such as tomato jam, tomato curry, tomato beans and tomato dressing, as well as more standard kitchen staples like tomato ketchup, puree and sauce. [photo id="dewXVqVhpMtrSTW7ngxE6OBeWQ28NEifbWdo42gy.jpeg" size="original"] 3) MORI NO KITCHEN A buffet-style restaurant where customers can choose from around 30 different dishes, including wood-fired pizza! Of course, dishes are made with local products as much as possible. Not only this, but the menu changes daily! Take-out pizza is also available. [photo id="JIBRVNGWgenzFrrQuCCugG0f0wh0DPsQMpaUACkB.jpeg" size="original"] 4) AGRI KOBO This may sound a little sinister, but it is actually the farm’s innovation workshop, where new products are developed. Visitors can have a look inside! 5) BBQ AREA The BBQ area is available to rent (Must be reserved in advance by phone). There are many places to sit down outside and just relax – which is surprisingly rare in Japan! Wonder Farm also has its resident cat Tatsu who has a little house outside near the BBQ area. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see him! [photo id="OemnW7twbKmemCuMjiRsSKdIeg7exskXL6qJRHSB.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="jVqAfuqHR3p8hbXDRYveeYGClHoF4gfKAe3hjiEc.jpeg" size="original"] To see more photos of Wonder Farm, check out their Instagram @wonderfarmiwaki and website. ACCESS Wonder Farm is a 20-minute drive from Iwaki Station, so renting a car from outside the station or going by taxi would be easiest. To reach Iwaki from Tokyo, take the JR Hitachi-Tokiwa Limited Express train from Ueno Station to Iwaki Station, taking around 3 hours. For visitors already in Fukushima, get to Koriyama Station, then there is a direct train to Iwaki, which takes just over 1.5 hours. See below for an example 2 day trip in Iwaki, including a visit to Wonder Farm! [photo id="rr000aqur31PmanJIGbPkFJxu1pineGFeZKceYWz.png" size="original"] [photo id="uQxlMbXKLpVUrdOM6WX4cuKNLJNb5dPJnWi7r5uX.png" size="original"]

    Tomato Heaven in Wonder Farm, Iwaki
  7. Destination Spotlight

    Watching Exhilarating Samurais On Horseback – Soma Nomaoi

    The Soma Nomaoi is a 3-day festival takes place during the last weekend of July every year, and is centered around 3 main shrines in the cities of Minamisoma and Soma. [photo id="roUwIC3k87cvvWtBbEnRB3Vk4gblJNwm4RsURwFh.jpeg" size="original"] It is thought that the festival has its roots in a local tradition from the 10th century, when horses were chased and tamed as part of military exercises secretly held by the city’s samurai warriors. How amazing is it to go to a festival which has been happening in one form or another for 1000 years?! Those who take part in the festival are people from samurai or noble families, many of whom have received armour passed down from their ancestors. [photo id="TYYtEhU1YnWTevEzvK8HIKLx3SH1ZElnq2kGvz9n.jpeg" size="original"] On the first day, A ceremonial opening act called a ‘Departure Ceremony’ is held at the 3 main shrines involved in the festivals. There are also pre-event horse races, to get everyone excited for the excitement to come during the next day. There are quite a lot of websites with the details of the festival, but I’ll briefly about the festival’s schedule during this post! I actually headed to Minamisoma on the second day of the festival, and have written about the day’s events below. PROCESSIONS (GYORETSU) [photo id="M6ZOuAq0B8KBAcuyZ86xIRBEFZybMfJs0GYvSZSR.jpeg" size="original"] Those who will take part in the day’s events take part in a stunning 3 km procession through Haranomachi, to the town’s race course – bringing portable shrines and all! [photo id="gisGQUyAtGsEk3OPB9tp710qIbLAyBNBISIbtx11.jpeg" size="original"] Going to see the gyoretsu means you’ll get a chance to see cute kids wearing samurai armour – not to be missed! [photo id="DAGfjlzWuBlElRmP3cfrIsyC00RrDlssecrWjLWU.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="Sp6ltLq9fhfWYQAk98fWuB5MRSsQK7ZdWiVaSAQV.jpeg" size="original"] KACCHU KEIBA HORSE RACING 10 horse races are held at midday. All of the riders wear 'kacchu' – a type of samurai armour, which I got to try on during a previous visit to Minamisoma! [photo id="TOon18prMXXB5yvUcd224spTWLmMNNqIYR4gVRkV.jpeg" size="original"] Having had experience wearing real kacchu, I know how hot and heavy the armour is. I could only wear it for about 10 minutes before getting a bit tired, so I don’t know how everyone managed to wear them for the whole day, despite the hot midday sun! [photo id="IVYj03OjzHFLyhQX1MnzsOjcHi9szVgzFiPF63IN.jpeg" size="original"] The races were really exciting to watch. As the riders zoomed past, mud was thrown up in the air, covering a lot of them – and some members of the crowd! [photo id="KKpMVOSMZ8lCEwjF81vjZoKTtsfZAgxNvz5ac1OK.jpeg" size="original"] A number of people tumbled off their horses, many of the races were incredibly close, so I couldn’t take my eyes off of the race course. [photo id="HdYnF96K5Iew2XYKfwc4dJ2JfeO5lVI2GBwcADxl.jpeg" size="original"] SHINKI SODATSUSEN This is the part of the day that I could not pronounce no matter how many times I tried to say it! [photo id="ikBRXrd3NgV3HXI5aEGoyPwOTolRpK185tr08NO2.jpeg" size="original"] Hundreds of riders gather in the central field. Flags are shot into the sky using fireworks, and the riders must chase after them, and catch them before the others. [photo id="h5nIgy8iJ8Kf69wlxlX95kAL6rsJP6StOVMuSLgS.jpeg" size="original"] There were 2 things that surprised me about this event There were boys and girls who looked like they must be middle school kids taking part It reminded me so much of Quidditch – with flags as the Snitch, and horses instead of brooms! I spent a lot of the second festival day trying – and failing – to take good photographs, so I am jealous of the attendees who sat in the audience seats and got to watch the whole thing. I enjoyed the day a surprising amount for someone with a phobia of horses, and I would definitely like to go again! We left before evening, but if we had stayed, we would have seen a fireworks display, held in Odaka town for the first time in 7 years. [photo id="5xUHMecZ3ZRwfMjSeBiNqw6GEFYJMvp0Uh6HD1R5.jpeg" size="original"] The third day also includes important traditional events, such as Nomagake – where two brown and one white ‘wild’ horses are caught barehanded, and then taken to Odaka Shrine to be blessed. This is the part of the festival which gives it its name – which translate as 'Soma’s Wild Horse Chase'. [photo id="0mzgyalv4OUEB4d71QTlvjHn0Y4oX7TXO0iPSXem.jpeg" size="original"] It’s so exciting that Odaka has once again become able to hold an event which has been practised and celebrated among local people for a millennium. It certainly is a clear demonstration of Odaka’s revitalization progress. I’m hoping to interview somebody who participated in the festival at some point – I’m looking forward to finding out what they think about this tradition! TIPS FOR VISITING THE FESTIVAL: Bring water! And sun cream! Bring a camera with a long zoom! If you come on the second day and want a good seat for the horse race, you have to leave the street processions early. The road to the race course is just a straight line from where the processions are, so it is easy to find! ACCESS: Shuttle buses run from JR Haranomachi Station during festival time. There are also buses that leave Sendai Station.

    Watching Exhilarating Samurais On Horseback – Soma Nomaoi
  8. Destination Spotlight

    Goshiki-numa’s Breathtaking Blue Lakes

    Summer is the perfect time to take a hike around the incredible the Goshiki-numa Ponds in Urabandai. The range of colours which can be seen in the water of the picturesque lakes and ponds of this area has given it the name ‘Goshiki-numa’, meaning ‘Five Coloured Ponds’. [photo id="j05SOy1EjvCYpYBiCYjtpZku77QMuONXbNMCJh4E.jpeg" size="original"] The area is most well-known for its bright blue ponds, which contain the mineral allophane (made up of aluminium and silicic acid), which is thought to have been released into the water by the nearby Mt. Bandai after its eruption in 1887. The reddish colour of other ponds is caused by a mixture of iron oxide and algae. [photo id="5t3gHWsD6bxShF8T4i7vaEfUDGpgwoKWl4JyIygd.jpeg" size="original"] The surface of the lakes here appears to change colour depending on the time of day, and the season. Although the cobalt blue water looks amazing under a bright blue summer sky, the red maple leaves of autumn look sublime against the bluest of the lakes. [photo id="uTDKVZmRJNAKEzCUaEhZMeZjvuoXzELS2scqREdO.jpeg" size="original"] Springtime offers visitors milder temperatures, and winter allows for a very different way of experiencing the lakes: by snowshoe! I have done snowshoe trekking around the Goshiki-numa Ponds, but I think I prefer seeing it surrounded by lush greenery. [photo id="AMWKBUTUSJ4QfqTjzjFx3v5Z1nbMgfKhU1UTafMc.jpeg" size="original"] SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO AT GOSHIKI-NUMA? 1. TAKE A WALK The most well-known walking route is 3.6 km long, and takes around 70 minutes to complete. It begins from the Urabandai Visitor Information Centre, and is a course suitable for those without experience of hiking. [photo id="fJeeuHBOtOvlZ9GLA1GX6gkpx29TlzveAbhYsLaE.jpeg" size="original"] This scenic route takes you all around the main ponds and lakes of the area, including Bishamon-numa, Aka-numa (the red pond), and Yanagi-numa (especially beautiful during Autumn time). [photo id="MX1dZlzEb7eOQwJgLL8qlX0ivwYZcjOI0oxTcltL.jpeg" size="original"] The route finishes up near Urabandai Kogen Station, from where you can take a bus back to the entrance of Goshiki-numa (or walk back!!). Check out the map below for more information on the walking route. The walk begins at the right-hand side, where there is a pin labelled 'Goshiki-numa Iriguchi'. 2. RENT A BOAT [photo id="onf4m6JSQPKVZeOUY04qQ4SLLO6toQgFLJReictS.jpeg" size="original"] Boats can be rented near the Urabandai Visitor Information Centre, on the edge of Bishamon-numa. Renting a paddle boat is the perfect way to enjoy the calm atmosphere of Goshiki-numa and a great way to take in the amazing scenery. [photo id="BvUa37YBcOTCFJL8M787xp30mNKv2Iqicajlgv4i.jpeg" size="original"] 3. LOOK FOR THE HEART KOI CARP Spotting this special koi carp supposedly means that you’re lucky in love! Unlike the other kois in the Goshiki-numa Ponds, the Heart Koi has the shape of a heart on the side of its body. See if you can spot the koi during your visit! If you fancy even more of a challenge, try and take his picture! (Hint: he likes hanging around the boats at Bishamon-numa, near the start of the hiking route) [photo id="Jl3eu5N8FZJxkX6ovHRe0VGAU354fok6Wwndan1U.jpeg" size="original"] 4. CHECK OUT LAKE HIBARA Lake Hibara is a large lake very close to the Goshiki-numa Ponds. You can hire a pedalo or kayak, or stop for a bite to eat at one of the nearby restaurants. [photo id="dOe56nHDMJ8WkIY9jIW8ONof19ZCKGV9pzRXvd0c.jpeg" size="original"] VISITING THE GOSHIKI-NUMA POND See here for information about reaching the Goshiki-numa Ponds

    Goshiki-numa’s Breathtaking Blue Lakes
  9. Destination Spotlight

    Hiking Mt. Bandai

    Mt. Bandai is one of the most recognizable of Fukushima’s landmarks. It towers in the background of many scenic places and is located in a super picturesque area right next to Lake Inawashiro. [photo id="gvWDVhYCI9OH0Wzkhs41PI5NwdTYBuIiTcLjDBq8.jpeg" size="original"] Mt. Bandai is situated in Bandai-Asahi National Park, and is the focal point of the gorgeous sightseeing roads Bandai-Azuma Skyline and Bandai-Azuma Lake Line. No matter what the season, Mt. Bandai is truly a sublime sight to behold. [photo id="SjZRNGodPn0O0IZgHRqkdHBkl2fVaqGPRsCuu98Z.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="ElklLI2K1aCBJ4L2XNpG7LnKn0OUZrR3R2TDqjcy.jpeg" size="original" ] [photo id="CwALBFiGReOq4FZ5Pp0pDKnl6ZxAO14FDyG6njfS.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="c0FgrQFeCrUydryV3hFJH7sCMo8kOVsTQGjJEZq7.jpeg" size="original"] I started my climb at the Happodai Trailhead, which is the most commonly used route up Mt. Bandai and the easiest to hike! There are 2 pretty wide car parks at this trailhead so it is easy to park there even on more popular hiking days. I created a map of the hiking trail, so please make sure to check it out. I hope it’s of some help! [photo id="4Mmy4eZMetuOPee02a72U4eeYtISyQnin07hBNWb.png" size="original"] It takes around 2 hours to hike from the Happodai Trailhead to the main rest station which is situated at Koboshimizu Mountain Hut. At this rest stop, you can buy souvenirs such as Mt. Bandai pins and badges, bells to ward off bears, postcards, etc. But the thing I appreciated being able to buy at this rest stop was a cold bottle of coke. It’s a good idea to have a good rest at this stop because the final 20 minutes to the summit of Mt Bandai is pretty steep compared to the rest of the hike. I’m glad I took my time before facing the final part of the hike. [photo id="hpCXoBnWjmbxjDMs0LBXkrGjZy3UB7TXxgnASz4X.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="66impzi4EsM1qQWJaqaVsJZWVgLr9Vfglp5kYfQk.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="VFaEJ37ljRsvGbFPjIEA8CRhwPShREQe0TnG9542.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="rEHfDj4sMk19h50OIYVrMf2sS8Eb1rFr1scSu5eo.jpeg" size="original"] I was really impressed by how scenic this hike was – especially once we got to the top and the clouds started to clear up, finally letting us see amazing views all the way down to Lake Inawashiro. I’ve been to Lake Inawashiro a number of times and seen photos of the lake from lots of angles, but it was really awesome to see it from above. [photo id="VZYeYCs7G5U3zbISnjRdraVs25NLXxiprEKLQG4J.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="2pZk5eOen7Bsl3xmqR1jTXUlxW29vQArVGo1FBO4.jpeg" size="original"] Our walk back down had much clearer skies, meaning that we could take some good photographs of the views! [photo id="Kmof5YzCWKPqbPL1pkhAQ3iofepBdt9efdXQrtb8.jpeg" size="original"] We walked past a large field that becomes filled with flowers a number of times over the course of the year, so I recommend taking this route on the way back. Going back via the flower field also cuts out some of the steeper climb between the trailhead and Koboshimizu Mountain Hut. [photo id="3Ci2IXoljPGj4wTGHd7GMi6iRcCLWIkmN2U7qXiE.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="68JyAEGVIjyi2HfABdIU8APtOfO543Dg1bQF0fsb.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="uhUyQwdUef5pzvNgDOvunjYkrBoZLAkMxbNVeDbt.jpeg" size="original"] Climbing Mt. Bandai was a great experience, and definitely something I am proud to tick off my Fukushima bucket list! Make sure to try this hike if you have a chance! TIPS It is possible to get to the Happodai Trailhead by public transport, but only if you take a taxi from a nearby station, which can be pretty expensive (up to 10,000 yen from the closest train station). I recommend renting a car in the prefecture and driving to the trailhead for a relaxing start to your hike. The best and safest time of the year to hike Mt. Bandai is between late April and early November. This area has heavy snowfall in the winter though, so you can enjoy snowshoe trekking in other areas of Urabandai instead of climbing Mt. Bandai. Take walking poles to help you balance when going up or down some of the steeper areas of the route. Make sure to bring plenty of water, food, snacks, and sunscreen! Make sure to use the toilet at the Happodai Trailhead before setting off, as there isn’t a toilet on the hiking course. Before you start hiking, make sure you have a bell on your bag to scare away any bears that might be lurking around. Also, make sure that any food you carry is wrapped up nice and air-tight so as not to attract any wildlife. On your way down, you’ll come to a fork in the road at Nakanoyu Seki, from where you can choose to go to Urabandai (裏磐梯) or Happodai (八方台). Make sure you go in the direction of Happodai, as the Urabandai direction will take you all the way to Bandai Kogen Station! [photo id="Sdyt1ClvirOddrOSILJiOLZDbKUPKldZSAxEgdYv.jpeg" size="original"]

    Hiking Mt. Bandai
  10. Destination Spotlight

    Visiting Inawashiro in Summer

    Yesterday I traveled to Inawashiro Town and nearby Kitashiobara Village to check out some of the best places to visit in the area. Here is my list of recommended sightseeing spots in – and around –  Inawashiro Town. 1. TSUNODA LACQUER ART STUDIO(漆芸工房 角田) Yesterday was the first time I’d been to a lacquer art studio. As well as the typical usage of lacquer for coating and decorating wooden tableware, Tsunoda san uses lacquer to create beautiful paintings with breathtaking and contrasting colors. Not only can you view Tsunoda san’s art when you visit his studio, but you can also try out makie painting (painting with lacquerware) or chinkin painting (‘sunken gold painting’). Although there are a number of places to try makie painting on Aizu Lacquerware, this is the only place in Fukushima Prefecture I know where you can try sunken gold painting. I tried out sunken gold painting yesterday (photos below!). [photo id="fvM1GnoBUu5qAs5Nk9ubij1Z7HW5UIS1Lueun1qE.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="AxWoclIxNuqfewJjlHV3pw5WCCTJvXFkszDsU7Ex.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="AKr2ObgSsD2xkRQIGk75TFLj8OCaUa6zg9ZqXrtJ.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="GaKcILCfDxcUBcRy2P2HSfpska00MP7en1k5d8Be.jpeg" size="original"] Experience prices range from 1000 yen upwards. Check out their website for more details (Japanese language only) Reserve in advance via the online application form (You can write in English!) (お名前 = Name.  メールアドレス = Email address. メッセージ:Message) 2. HANITSU SHRINE (土津神社) A feudal lord of the Aizu Clan is thought to have been deified at this shrine. Hanitsu Shrine was opened following his death in 1672. Like much of Japan’s wooden architecture, the shrine has been badly damaged by fire. The shrine that stands here today was built in 1880. One of the highlights of the shrine is a really cool stone monument with a huge tortoise at its base. Hanitsu Shrine is also a popular place to visit in autumn, due to the bright red color of its leaves. [photo id="YAUQRx9CLOMv3qmr51kXFFuPCG46EJj9kmIxnJwP.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="PRtUvJaQYd8981yJrJtzkqMiRzt3RpjUk44HynH5.jpeg" size="original"] 3. TENKYOKAKU Tenkyokaku is a Meiji Era former villa that was opened in 1907. Tenkyokaku was built as a result of the captivation Imperial Prince Arisugawa Takehito felt regarding the beauty of Lake Inawashiro during a visit to Tohoku. The former villa got its name when Crown Prince Yoshihito described the villa as 'The Palace of Heaven’s Mirror' – referring to the beauty of the sky’s reflection on the surface of Lake Inawashiro. In 1952, Tenkyokaku was granted to Fukushima Prefecture, and it is now open for the public to visit to get a glimpse at the glitz and glamour of the villas of the Japanese elite in the Meiji Era! [photo id="YMABxVCnphcJCoVFsTACLCEsFw0f0ZMZGCfNIYHc.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="C6jzYBEPdT13rRfEM06lQHarboqP2D2GsN9W6ZkM.jpeg" size="original" ] 4. LUNCH IN INAWASHIRO Inawashiro area is well known for its delicious soba (buckwheat flour), so I recommend having soba noodles for lunch. [photo id="EmrxaGB1CjRwwuUia60UpMCCQwgk69Rz3syxsglB.jpeg" size="original"] Inawashiro area is also becoming known for its craft beer brewery! The brewery is on-site at the Inawashiro Beer Hall. You can have German-style (beer hall) lunches here and try out Inawashiro’s own beer on tap. (Please note: You can’t eat soba noodles at Inawashiro Beer Hall!) [photo id="8lmFZoVVdBBK8NEcyignGgHjUoomsl1WLP3BIKWW.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="5W37FDUhA7mLOurmmYFRplXjQRQX8qHi5iD9Wxga.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="8CAHZcB7qWwuOacOrkTIWlvbv1lApgSWkqpVgAKY.jpeg" size="original" ] 5. WORLD GLASSWARE HALL (世界のガラス館) Opened around 20 years ago, you can see an incredible variety of items and pieces of art made from glass. Most of these pieces are for sale, giving the World Glassware Hall the atmosphere of both a museum and shop! My favorite thing about the World Glassware Hall is that you can try out glass-blowing or glass-etching! The glass you personalize during the glass-etching experience can be taken home with you once you’re happy with the design! However, glass made during the glass-blowing experience can take up to one month to be completed, and needs to be sent to an address within Japan, which makes it harder for international tourists! [photo id="fEIPLC7WNU0A148JvvyEFLMSIKLyPtkT9TCu39Wh.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="Tjyn3slIp6OvJpHpnm8HLCqnEoQ22u19Q2cVx3jA.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="AxGYFsUe3DhTQJPBGRq5txnvvwlXRb5BKGshklKk.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="j2FKHvnD7ii6VxbGUqUiqrCX16apzaTbaTYrcO7Q.jpeg" size="original"] 6. SWIMMING IN LAKE INAWASHIRO, CAMPING, SIGHTSEEING DRIVE There are plenty of beautiful natural landscapes around Lake Inawashiro that visitors can enjoy without spending any money at all! These campsites often have designated areas where you can go swimming. Even if you don’t fancy camping, the scenery of the town is so beautiful, it’s worth it just to take a drive around and take in the views of the lake and the surrounding soba fields. [photo id="wKZFJ2eSiHvicf6jGZF4con4rnZWOctZ5wwiZJ2l.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="2Xv4h2QQPQKtskUzs7bYJ3xOZQugqNk3tfc8E8cY.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="zbSky6ozmoli0x5X4jSrR3ghgU5vqAJUCqVpwqhD.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="nDwI3wN1qZ1TeiuQzkB5bEtcVAHE2rSnxN2w0iJv.jpeg" size="original"] One of the places you should definitely check out if visiting Inawashiro in summer is the Nunobiki Kaze-no-Kogen Wind Farm on the outskirts of nearby Koriyama City. This area becomes packed with sunflowers in August! [photo id="o6EBhbzMhtDuwnPQOnNWVvkkAUeCpEsGRFMFm526.jpeg" size="original"] [photo id="3JOci3in8ppL3Aa0bDW9UMWdEo0MsBqIatXR7T9D.jpeg" size="original"] I hope you get a chance to visit Lake Inawashiro and the countless amazing places close by!

    Visiting Inawashiro in Summer
  11. Destination Spotlight

    Nature Lovers: 3 Day Trip

    DAY 1 FUKUSHIMA STATION Information on accessing Fukushima Station from Tokyo JODODAIRA HIKE From Jododaira Visitor Center, you can choose from a number of hikes – from the 1-hour course that circles the volcanic crater of Mt. Azuma-Kofuji, to longer courses that pass through beautiful marshes and make their way to Mt. Issaikyo. The trekking courses are well marked. Don’t forget to buy an ice cream from the rest house on the way back! [photo id="nuauIivj9KOaBTwelvfpBPvmb68klaTzIVhc54nl.jpeg" size="original"] FRUIT PICKING (IIZAKA ONSEN) There are so many orchards lining the stunning Fruit Line in Iizaka Onsen that in the spring and summer you’ll be spoilt for choice about where to visit. Many orchards offer pick-your-own experiences. The fruit available for picking depends on the season, so please check this link for more information. [photo id="BKIdAZeKyVZ8Mx4QKiqNO5uYWVKRIk6ViLoqrCYF.jpeg" size="original"] EXPLORING IIZAKA ONSEN BY FOOT A tiny, magical onsen town, filled with interesting shops, stunning architecture and amazing onsen hot spring baths, all connected together via winding streets. Especially beautiful at night time. Make sure to try the local delicacy enban gyoza! [photo id="uJnd82lHja6ew6McGjLyY3ha1bz73jTeulOG8BGH.jpeg" size="original"] ACCOMMODATION: IIZAKA ONSEN DAY 2 NAKANO FUDOSON Picturesque zen temple with over 800 years of history. There is a lot to see and do at this temple, located closed by to Iizaka Onsen town. Definitely worth stopping by. [photo id="bgsmChFooDh5ZJ0KC0BSsqeJpnEZOgpz24OxFdqN.jpeg" size="original"] MT. ADATARA HIKE Mt. Adatara is one of the Top 100 mountains in Japan. Take the rope-way up from Adatara Kogen Resort and hike your way to the peak for amazing views, and chance to see ‘the real sky’. [photo id="HAn5vd0IFSxRwfeddEuO8opK9jlWpczTXgnOCjCr.jpeg" size="original"] EXPLORING DAKE ONSEN Another very kitsch onsen town with sloping streets, nice architecture, and yummy places to stop for lunch. Definitely worth exploring. More information about Dake Onsen here. [photo id="VjrE9Lh3hsi3g43q74JgmcNcsEZ4KXqU5qs3rY6B.jpeg" size="original"] ACCOMMODATION: DAKE ONSEN DAY 3 KASUMIGAJO CASTLE PARK A beautiful, very large park with lots of walking routes to explore. Expect great views of traditional Japanese gardens, picturesque lakes and a lovely Japanese tea house – open for business during cherry blossom season and chrysanthemum season! [photo id="b5Sh2kQOCJwR1tTYzkco62wWVfp93UGWGmW9fmT6.jpeg" size="original"] TAMURA’S LIMESTONE CAVES Continue to Tamura City, home to extensive limestone caves formed over 80 million years! If visiting Fukushima in the summer, a journey south to the Abukuma Cave will definitely cool you down. There is an adventure course ('boken course') for those looking for a route with more twists, turns, and low ceilings. If you want even more of a challenge, nearby stands Irimizu Shonyudo, a cave you can look around if you’re willing to get very wet and potentially meet some bats! [photo id="g8AmoxeW16Iz8zKfMyMj3QjmLNz2ZN3LVCyKPkM7.jpeg" size="original"] KORIYAMA STATION / FUKUSHIMA STATION Finish your trip at Koriyama Station or Fukushima Station and take the Shinkansen [photo id="9Mq2hqLfAYUv5NLsrlk6KGTKzoMpD7y6vfN4JLTj.jpeg" size="original"]

    Nature Lovers: 3 Day Trip
  12. Destination Spotlight

    Hanami Day Trip from Tokyo

    Here is a step-by-step guide for visiting 3 hanami spots in Fukushima as a day trip from Tokyo, using only public transport! 1. HANAMIYAMA [photo id="tu8catWvyD2b1Q9qRxmbAL7YZJ0EqlR8W2Nv1njO.jpeg"] A beautiful park on a hill overlooking the Azuma mountain range, Hanamiyama Park is filled with a spectacular variety of blossoms every spring. TOKYO TO HANAMIYAMA PARK Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo (or Ueno) Station and get off at Fukushima Station. Seasonal buses run from Fukushima Station directly to Hanamiyama Park during the peak cherry blossom season. Buses leave regularly from Fukushima Station's East Exit. The bus takes around 15 minutes to reach the Hanamiyama bus stop. From the stop, a 10-minute walk will bring you to the park. [photo id="SEBKbMxLjq3mjulQXJQBUBdXlsG5ri7CFaM5ziHr.png" size="original"] HANAMIYAMA PARK TO FUKUSHIMA STATION Take the seasonal bus back to Fukushima Station. [photo id="u6ttJnfHlLahFgFw5KRev02MotXUAaIYkhzCj2oE.png" size="original"] -------------- 2. MIHARU TAKIZAKURA [photo id="w4EtbwB7Y0EcIEEbwJtXfiJuQb1fZUB19Q1AmnWQ.jpeg"] One of Japan’s three oldest cherry blossom trees, Miharu Takizakura is huge and magnificent. This weeping cherry tree’s name translates into English as ‘Waterfall Cherry Blossom’. FUKUSHIMA STATION TO TAKIZAKURA Take either the Shinkansen or the Tohoku Main Line local train to Koriyama Station. At Koriyama Station, transfer onto the Ban-etsu East Line, and take the train heading for Ono Niimachi. Get off at Miharu Station (The journey should take around 15 minutes). From Miharu Station, visitors can reach Takizakura by taxi, or take advantage of the Takizakura temporary bus that travels between Takizakura and Miharu Station during the spring (The bus takes 20 minutes). Tip: Trains run regularly but train services finish quite early each day, so make sure to check time tables on the day you travel. [photo id="rLpsZf96yE8bZqjiGvCLqYn2B1PHOtqCjNoEA4qv.png" size="original"] -------------- 3. KAISEIZAN PARK [photo id="KoL2W3T6z27BIiIWyNTCSCAVNs8nWvEeWjmnPJzE.jpeg"] Known as Japan’s oldest public park, Kaiseizan Park is a beautiful place to take a strong on a spring afternoon. MIHARU TAKIZAKURA TO KAISEIZAN Travel back to Miharu Station by taxi or temporary seasonal bus.  Take the Ban-etsu East Line back to Koriyama Station. From outside of Koriyama Station, catch a bus heading for the City Hall / Test Center via Shibamiya  (市役所・柴宮経由免許センター). Get off at Kaiseizan bus stop, which should be about 15 minutes into your journey! [photo id="TyZJnlx3qMDyWGoEvTtyLzeFJXQ39mBAYuzmqiny.png" size="original"] -------------- JOURNEY HOME KAISEIZAN TO TOKYO Take a train or bus back to Koriyama Station. Head to the JR Shinkansen part of Koriyama Station, and take any train heading to Tokyo. [photo id="NLoSMagH7TMaGaxZsSshOimSdkoIrMGxJHkhVUKE.png" size="original"]

    Hanami Day Trip from Tokyo
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