Winter in Fukushima

Fukushima’s position in southern Tohoku sees that it gets a good amount of snowfall each winter, transforming many sightseeing locations into glistening winterscapes. Recommended spots like Ouchi-juku look extra picturesque with its snow-capped thatched-roof houses, while outdoor hot springs take on extra appeal as they promise views of wintry landscapes. Fukushima Prefecture is also home to world-class ski resorts thanks to its rich, powdery snowfall—popular with skiers and snowboarders.

Average temperature

  • Dec 8° / 0°
  • Jan 5° / -2°
  • Feb 7° / -2°

Winter Attractions

Abukuma Cave
Nature & Scenery

Abukuma Cave

A world of mystical beauty created over millions of years, Abukuma Cave is said to have the greatest variety and the largest number of stalactites in the whole of Asia. It takes about an hour to explore the inner world of the cave and the terrain is easy to navigate on foot.Abukuma Cave is a limestone cave that was discovered in 1969. Inside, visitors can walk the 600-meter-long path to explore and view the beautiful cave formations. Visitors can’t help but be impressed by the beauty of these natural creations formed over the course of 80 million years. The largest hall in the cave, called Takine Goten (Takine Hall), and Tsuki no Sekai (The Moon World), is illuminated with dramatic stage lighting and is particularly impressive.Also not to be missed are the rare cave formations called boxwork, you can identify them by their unique shape; thin blades of minerals coming off the walls and ceilings forming a honeycomb or box-like pattern. Abukuma Cave is the only cave in Japan with boxwork that is open to the public. Another notable stop along the cave path is the Christmas Tree and Silver Frost; both are impressive stalagmites that resemble festive holiday trees. The Christmas Tree is over two meters tall and said to be the largest example in all of Asia.There is an additional thrilling adventure course; experience crawling through narrow passages and climbing a ladder to spectacular views over the cave! This 120-meter-long course runs parallel to the main passage, but please note that visitors may have to crawl on their hands and knees at times.When you have finished exploring the mysterious depths and come back to the surface you can find plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops. Visit from mid-June to July to see the neighbouring hillside covered in 50,000 lavender plants.

Aizu Painted Candle Festival
Events

Aizu Painted Candle Festival

Aizu Painted Candles are one of Aizu’s most well-loved traditional crafts. Aizu Painted Candle Festival was started in order to let people all over Japan (and all over the world) know about this traditional craft, and to give people an appreciation for the work that is needed to make every single candle. Take in the picturesque snowy scenery in Aizu-Wakamatsu City by candlelight this winter. Aizu Painted Candle Festival takes place at Tsurugajo Castle and Oyakuen Garden on the second Friday and Saturday of February.

Snowshoe Trekking
Snow Activities

Snowshoe Trekking

Blue sky, endlessly-fresh dancing powder snow. Come and enjoy this fascinating winter wonderland! The field covered with a marsh and bushes in summer, changes to a white snow field ideal for snowshoe trekking in winter. No skills or previous experience is necessary. You can enjoy the snow-covered world from the very day you start. Snowshoe trekking can even be enjoyed by those who are not athletic. You can walk on lakes or ponds. You can find the tracks of rabbits and squirrels in the forest. Let's enjoy a great variety of nature which can only be seen in winter in Urabandai.

Ouchi-juku Snow Festival
Events

Ouchi-juku Snow Festival

Ouchi-juku’s rows of thatched-roof houses (which date back to the Edo Period) are transformed into a winter wonderland during Ouchi-juku Snow Festival, which takes place every February. Bright white snow falls and slowly builds up, as candles burn bright in snow lanterns, bathing the old post town in warm light. Various events are held during the two-day festival, the highlight being the fireworks on the first evening.----------------------------Snow Festival Schedule for 2024Getting to Ouchi-juku BY LOCAL TRAIN & BUS 2024:Download in PDF:Ouchi-juku Snow Festival 2024 The Event Scedule & The Special Schedule for Public Transportation Note added on January 9, 2024.We checked with the bus company that operates the Saruyugo Bus to see if reservations can be made. They are accepting reservations through their reservation website or by phone. Reservations have priority. The reservation site was only in the Japanese language, so we strongly recommend that you use the translation function to make reservations.Saruyugo Bus Reservationhttp://london-taxi.jp/saruyu_reserve/

Karamushi Ori-no-Sato Snow Festival
Events

Karamushi Ori-no-Sato Snow Festival

Winter in Showa Village wouldn’t be complete without heavy snowfall – every year around 2 meters of snow piles in the village! Showa Village’s local people has adapted their way of working around the harsh conditions of winter over the generations by utilizing the long winter months to create crafts from weaving thread made of ramie (made from nettles). This photo shows an important part of this process – the bleaching of the fabric. Visitors can even experience making coasters made from ramie using traditional methods at Orihime Koryukan Building, located at Michi-no-Eki Karamushi Ori-no-Sato (Roadside Station)!The date of the 2021 Karamushi Ori-no-Sato Festival will be at the end of February 2021, and is currently being decided.

Ashinomaki Snow Park
Snow Activities

Ashinomaki Snow Park

Looking for a fun place to enjoy the snow with the whole family? Ashinomaki Snow Park is a great place to enjoy the fluffy Fukushima snow. The snow park is set in a picturesque field that is bordered by a lovely forest and river.Activities such as snowmobile driving, banana boat riding, tubing, snowball fights are all possible here! You can even hang out in Japanese igloos or “kamakura” and roast mochi over a fire. Riding in banana boats and being pulled in snow boats are especially popular activities at the snow park. The snow park is also a popular destination for snowy photoshoots!If you want to visit on a weekday, reservations must be made by 5:00 p.m. the day before. For weekend visitors no reservation is required.Dates of operation are dependent on snow fall, for the 2022 season the dates of operation at January 20 – February 28.

Snow Monsters at Mt. Nishi-Azuma
Snow Activities

Snow Monsters at Mt. Nishi-Azuma

Mt. Nishi-Azuma is a 2035m tall mountain that can be accessed from Fukushima Prefecture’s Kitashiobara Village.During the coldest points of winter, it is possible to find frozen “snow monsters” up on the mountain. Of course the snow monsters are not really monsters, these are trees that have endured blizzards and collected snow until they became covered with a thick frost!From the Grandeco Snow Resort’s Gondola Station, you transfer to a ski lift, and from there it is 3 hours on foot to reach this viewpoint. Especially in the snow, the mountains can be difficult to navigate, so you must climb together with a guide in winter. If you are interested in visiting here, please contact us!

Itineraries in Winter

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.  

Fukushima’s Revitalization Educational One-Day Trip
Fukushima’s Revitalization Educational One-Day Trip
Fukushima’s Revitalization Educational One-Day Trip
Culture

Fukushima’s Revitalization Educational One-Day Trip

This is a model itinerary for visitors who would like to learn about Fukushima’s revitalization. The coastal area of Fukushima is the only place in the world to have survived a triple disaster: an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear disaster. Following extensive decontamination efforts and a great deal of demolition and reconstruction, several areas that were once designated as ‘difficult to return’ have started welcoming both residents and visitors again, with many residents eager to share their stories with the world. This itinerary centers on the towns of Futaba and Namie, both of which were severely affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in 2011.  The first stop is Futaba station and the surrounding Futaba Art District, a mural art initiative that pays homage to the residents and folk art of the town. From there, you’ll visit the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum, which has a detailed account of the area before, during, and after the disaster. At the museum, you’ll learn about the stories and testimonies of locals, as well as the plans and ideas for the future of Fukushima. The last stop is the remains of the Ukedo Elementary School in Namie town. Although the school building, located only 300 meters from the sea, sustained great damage from the tsunami, students, teachers and staff were able to evacuate from the school safely, for which it is known as a ‘miracle’ school.  This is a one-day itinerary, but we recommend staying somewhere in the coastal area of Fukushima after your visit.  

One-Day Drive in Minamisoma City
One-Day Drive in Minamisoma City
Driving

One-Day Drive in Minamisoma City

Located in the Northeastern part of Fukushima prefecture, Minamisoma City is one of the main hubs in the prefecture’s coastal area. The city perhaps draws the most crowds in July for the Soma Nomaoi festival, an event featuring horseback riders in samurai attire, which developed from an ancient samurai practice of military drills with horses. Outside of the event times, visitors can still experience Minamisoma’s equine traditions year-long. Once a vital enclave for the Soma samurai clan, Minamisoma specialized in manufacturing and the military during the most pressing years of Japan’s modernization. Many samurai customs continued; for one, people kept breeding and caring for horses even when this practice disappeared from most other places in Japan. In 2011, the city suffered greatly from the triple disaster triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Despite difficulties, people have sought to pass on their heritage to new generations, adapting samurai traditions to modern times to continue cultivating their love for horses. The city is reachable from Tokyo in a few hours by car or public transportation, but this itinerary is designed specifically for driving. By horseback riding along the coast, having lunch at a cafe that has made a significant impact on the community after the 2011 triple disaster, and visiting a National Historical Treasure that is over 1,000 years old, you will travel through ancient history, medieval history, and modern times in Minamisoma.

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  1. Useful Information

    Meaningful Travel Experiences in Fukushima

    Apart from exploring Fukushima’s extraordinary landscapes and indulging in its cuisine, plenty of travelers seek opportunities to engage with local communities through hands-on experiences. Japan’s third-largest prefecture, Fukushima, has a diverse and rich history, which is reflected in the variety of activities that visitors can enjoy. Here are some meaningful travel experiences unique to Fukushima.1. Explore the Extreme Side of Fukushima: Ebisu Circuit Drift Taxi Experience & Extreme Onsen (available April-November)Fukushima’s central area is home to active volcanos and mind-bending cliffs that make even experienced hikers jitter with adrenaline. It is no surprise, therefore, that two of the most extreme activities in the prefecture can be enjoyed in this region.The Drift Taxi Experience at the Ebisu Circuit in Nihonmatsu is a thrilling drift ride by a seasoned driver who takes participants through several courses full of twists, turns, and speed. It is the most popular experience on our website and offers a rare opportunity to drift in Japan alongside famous drivers.The Extreme Onsen Experience at Numajiri Onsen is another unique and popular activity. Alongside a guide, you will hike through volcanic terrain to reach a wild hot springs river source where you can soak in and contemplate the surrounding mountain peaks. This experience is perfect for those looking for an adventure, as it combines outdoor sports and relaxing in wild hot springs. Additionally, participants enter the hot springs in a swimsuit (and those with tattoos are also welcome!). 2. Get Creative and Make Your Own SouvenirsBy participating in a craft workshop, you can learn about traditional crafts hands-on by making your own. This helps craftspeople continue to develop their industry while encouraging others to learn about and appreciate their work—plus, you get to take home a unique souvenir. Here are some craft workshops you can join in Fukushima: In Aizu-Wakamatsu, you can paint your own Akabeko (Fukushima’s lucky red cow) at a souvenir shop a short walk away from the Tsurugajo Castle, or paint on lacquerware using traditional techniques at Suzuzen, a lacquerware shop and museum. Takashiba Dekoyashiki, also known as Takashiba Craft Village, is a traditional crafts-making village that looks suspended in time. Here, you can paint a papier-mâché fox mask, and explore the fascinating history of its close-knit community. Even today you can make washi, traditional Japanese paper, by hand in Nihonmatsu. The area has a history of over 1,000 years producing Kami-Kawasaki Washi paper, a local variety of Washi paper. At its Washi Denshokan (Washi Traditional Crafts Gallery) you can make a postcard out of washi and decorate a lampshade. You can assemble a tatami coaster at Tatami Village in Sukagawa City. Kuboki Tatami is a centuries-old family business that has honed the skill of producing and manufacturing tatami mats.3. Pick Your Own Fruit at Japan’s ‘Fruit Kingdom’Eating locally-grown food is a great option to make your travel more sustainable, and there is a wide variety of locally sourced produce to try in Fukushima. Apart from the many restaurants that use local ingredients, several farms and orchards offer a 30-minute all-you-can-pick course in which you can taste seasonal fruit (typically available from late June to December). You can book a fruit-picking experience at Marusei Orchard, for instance, and afterward, visit their cafe to try their delicious fruit parfaits.4. Traverse the Mugenkyo Ravine by Ferry BoatMugenkyo no Watashi is a ferry boat that traverses the Tadami River in Western Fukushima Prefecture. The ride is the brainchild of a local man, Hoshi-san, whose hometown disappeared due to a landslide. Refusing to let the beauty of the area disappear forever, he decided to craft an experience for others to see the stunning natural scapes while traversing the Tadami River, which often gets misty, creating a mysterious atmosphere. During this peaceful boat ride, you can sit back and relax to the sounds of nature as Hoshi-san and/or someone from his team takes you on a relaxing ride. The experience is only offered from spring to autumn each year (roughly from April to November) due to heavy snowfall in the area during winter.5. Make the Local Noodle SpecialtiesNoodles are a key ingredient in some of the most famous dishes in Japanese cuisine, and a few signature foods in Fukushima. Kitakata ramen is considered one of Japan’s big three ramen varieties, and visitors to Kitakata City can not only taste this delicious dish but also try their hand at making it under the guidance of a local expert (and then enjoy a delicious bowl of handmade ramen complete with toppings). The city is all about ramen, to the point that they famously have a tradition of enjoying ramen for breakfast (known as asa-ra!).Also famous is Ouchi-juku’s negi-soba, a bowl of buckwheat noodles topped with grated daikon radish and eaten with a green onion as a utensil. At Ouchi-juku’s soba dojo, you can make the noodles from scratch, after which the staff will boil them for you and prepare the rest of the ingredients. Wait a few minutes, and you can enjoy a steamy bowl of negi-soba of your own making before you go back to exploring the town.Note: The Ouchi-juku buckwheat (soba) noodles are typically made using a mix of buckwheat and wheat flour, but it is possible to request an alternative version using only buckwheat flour (which would make the noodles gluten-free). Please note, however, that there may be cross-contamination, as regular noodles are prepared in the same space.More Experiences AwaitFrom learning samurai martial arts to riding a horse along the coast, there are many more activities to try in Fukushima, which you can request directly through our website. Once you place your booking, we will contact the provider and let you know within a few days whether the date and time you requested are available. If you have any questions about visiting Fukushima or booking experiences through our website, please feel free to send us a message!

    Meaningful Travel Experiences in Fukushima
  2. Destination Spotlight

    5 Things to Do in Showa Village

    ‘Showa’ in Japanese marks a historical period that spanned from 1926 to 1989. Nowadays, the term is sometimes used to describe something retro, vintage, or nostalgic. Coincidentally, there is a village called Showa in Oku-Aizu, a tranquil mountainous region in Western Fukushima Prefecture, and the name seems fitting. Driving through Showa’s winding roads and quaint traditional houses and businesses feels both nostalgic and insightful. With a population of just over a thousand people and no train lines, in this quiet village, you can experience the charm and quietness of Japanese countryside life.If you are planning a trip to the widely overlooked Oku-Aizu area and are considering spending the day in Showa, here are some of the attractions we recommend visiting:1. Visit the Historical Kuimaru Elementary SchoolKuimaru Elementary School was open from 1937 until it closed in 1980 after being replaced by a newer school building. Although no longer operating as a school, Kuimaru was preserved, along with its old desks and vintage books. Walking through the hallways, it feels as if the bell might ring and students will come into class at any moment!What is more, in front of the school stands a towering ginkgo tree that is an attraction in itself, particularly during the autumn when its leaves turn golden. There is also a cafe, 蕎麦カフェ SCHOLA, famous for its galettes made of 100% buckwheat flour. You can read more about the Kuimaru Elementary School here.2. Have Fun at Chansey’s Lucky ParkDid you know that Chansey is Fukushima Prefecture’s support Pokémon? One of the four Chansey’s lucky Parks in the prefecture can be found at the Michi-no-Eki Karamushi Ori-no-Sato (Roadside Station) in Showa Village. While the park is a little smaller than other Chansey’s Lucky Parks, it has several photogenic Pokémon-themed attractions. While you are there, we recommend looking for the unique Showa village-themed Poké Lid (utility hole) featuring Chansey!3. Try Ramie Weaving at the Michi-no-Eki Karamushi Ori-no-Sato (Roadside Station)Ranging from delicately woven shirts to sturdy mats, a wide range of items made of ramie fiber have been produced in Showa Village for around 600 years. The village prides itself in its long tradition of craftsmanship, and it is one of the few places where ramie (karamushi in Japanese) is still commercially cultivated in Japan. Apart from learning about ramie production and seeing the ramie varieties at the garden next to the roadside station, you can also weave a ramie souvenir! At the Michi-no-Eki Karamushi Ori-no-Sato (roadside station), you can make a ramie coaster to take home.On site, you will also find a restaurant offering the area’s staple lunches, like buckwheat noodles, ramen, and tonkatsu (fried pork cutlets). There is also a souvenir shop.4. Climb to a Viewpoint to See the Entire VillagePerhaps the most photogenic view of the village can be found at a viewpoint located at the Okuaizu Showa no Mori Campsite. From there, you can see just how picturesque its traditional houses look surrounded by the lush mountains. The viewpoint can be accessed after hiking up a hill from the parking lot of the campsite. If you visit during the early morning, particularly in the autumn, you might be lucky enough to see a barrage of clouds rapidly passing through the mountains, a phenomenon known as unkai, or sea of clouds.5. Relax in the Area’s Natural ReservesShowa is not densely populated, and its vast forests are lush with vegetation. A recommended spot, particularly during autumn, is the Yanohara Marsh, where the vivid colors of the leaves reflect on the marsh creating a picturesque scene. Another popular spot is the Takashimizu Nature Park in nearby Minamiaizu Town. There, you will encounter a million Himesayuri flowers, highly treasured by the locals, which bloom between mid-June to early July. Please note, however, that there are wild animals in many of the green spaces of Showa and its surroundings, so take due precautions and hike safely!Visiting Showa VillageThe best way to get to Showa is by car, as there are no trains that travel to or within Showa, and buses that connect it with nearby towns are scarce. By car, Showa is about 1 hour and 10 minutes from Aizu-Wakamatsu City, or about 45 minutes from Ouchi-juku.Related LinksChansey’s Lucky Parks and Poké Lids: Must-See Pokémon Attractions in Fukushima5 Reasons to Visit Mishima Town2 Day Road Trip to Oku-Aizu

    5 Things to Do in Showa Village
  3. Destination Spotlight

    6 Destinations to See in Fukushima With the Japan Rail Pass

    About the Japan Rail Pass & the Japan Rail Pass TohokuThe Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is a travel pass that allows foreign visitors in Japan to ride freely on JR lines, shinkansen (bullet trains), and JR buses for a set price during a fixed period.The Japan Rail Pass Tohoku (JR Pass Tohoku) is another travel pass available for both foreign visitors and foreign residents in Japan that allows for unlimited travel within a designated area comprising some parts of Kanto (Tokyo, Yokohama, Chiba, etc.) and Tohoku (Fukushima, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, and Aomori) during a set period.In this post, we introduce attractions and experiences in Fukushima Prefecture that are easily accessible for visitors both on the regular JR Pass and the JR Pass Tohoku. Trips on the JR PassAizu Area1. Immerse Yourself in Samurai History in Aizu-Wakamatsu CityIt is no wonder why Aizu-Wakamatsu is one of the main attractions in Fukushima. This historical city was one of the last strongholds of the samurai and is packed with beautiful natural attractions and historical sites, like Tsurugajo Castle or Sazaedo temple. You can reach Aizu-Wakamatsu Station from Tokyo in approx. 3 hours (bullet train + local JR line train, fully covered by either of the JR passes).ℹ️ To move comfortably around the city it is best to rent a car or buy a one-day pass for the local loop bus (600 yen, not included in the JR Pass) that will take you to the main attractions. 2 Days in Aizu-Wakamatsu  Recommended seasons:  Year-round 2. Take a scenic train ride on the JR Tadami LineSome train rides are not just a means of transport, but an attraction in themselves. That is the case of the JR Tadami Line trains that run between Aizu-Wakamatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture and Koide in Niigata Prefecture. Known for its stunning views of rural towns, rice fields, and forest-covered mountains, this is a famous scenic train ride that is growing in popularity among visitors.ℹ️JR Tadami Line trains only run a few times a day, so please check the schedule before your visit.ℹ️Note that only the stretch between Aizu-Wakamatsu Station and Tadami Station is covered by the JR Pass Tohoku.ℹ️Trains may become canceled due to heavy snowfall in the winter (December-March). Tadami Line: 5 Sights You Shouldn't Miss Recommended seasons:  Year-round Central Area3. Shirakawa: Komine Castle, Specialty Ramen & Daruma PaintingThe beautifully restored Komine Castle, with its striking black-and-white structure and lush gardens, is a powerful symbol of Shirakawa, located only a few minutes walk from the JR Shirakawa Station (only a short train ride away on the JR Tohoku Line from the Shin-Shirakawa shinkansen Station).After exploring the castle, indulge in a bowl of hearty ramen (a specialty of the area) and end your visit to Shirakawa by shopping for a Daruma lucky doll at the nearby Daruma Land. If you would like to explore more, take a local bus (not included in the JR Pass) to a very special park that looks breathtaking in the autumn and spring.  More about this route Recommended seasons:  Cherry blossom season (typically mid-April to early May) Autumn foliage season (typically late October to early November) February 11 (Shirakawa Daruma Market) 4. Nihonmatsu: Kasumigajo Castle Grounds, Sake Tasting & Drift Taxi ExperienceNihonmatsu is an area with natural features that make it perfect for the cultivation of rice and the production of sake. After arriving at the JR Nihonmatsu Station, visit the Kasumigajo Castle Grounds, and go sake tasting at a local brewery. If you are feeling adventurous, why not try the Drift Taxi Experience at the Ebisu Circuit? You will need to make a reservation beforehand and arrange how to get there in advance, but the thrill of the experience will surely be unforgettable. Recommended seasons:  Cherry blossom season (typically around mid-April). Each year there are ‘sakura matsuri’ (cherry blossom festivals) celebrated at the Kasumigajo Castle Grounds. Autumn festivals (October-mid November). The Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival is held every year on the first Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of October, while the Nihonmatsu Chrysanthemum Doll Festival (Nihonmatsu Kiku Ningyo) is held from Mid-October to Mid-November each year. The Ebisu Circuit is typically unavailable during the winter (December-April). Coastal Area5. Ride next to the seaside on the JR Joban LineThe JR Joban Line connects the Tokyo area to Sendai through Chiba, Ibaraki, and Fukushima Prefectures. You can enjoy a scenic ride along the seaside in Fukushima’s coastal area, stop by Yumoto Onsen, or visit a famous novelist’s book cafe in Odaka Station. Wherever you choose to stop, you are sure to enjoy the best views of the Pacific Ocean through the train window. Recommended seasons:  All year Two Days in Iwaki6. Learn about Fukushima’s reconstruction in FutabaFutaba town was profoundly affected by the triple disaster of 2011 and has now become a powerful symbol of Fukushima’s recovery. Although the town had to be evacuated in 2011, some of the evacuation orders were lifted, and new initiatives, such as the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum, and the Futaba Art District, revitalized the area. Visitors can walk around the town and visit the museum to learn more about Fukushima’s recent history and recovery. Recommended seasons:  All year Upon arriving, consider renting a free bicycle from the Futaba Station (100-yen deposit system), and cycle to The Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum and The Remains of Ukedo Elementary School in Namie Town (both have bicycle parking available). Check here for more details about this model route.Shinkansen and JR Trains in FukushimaFukushima has three Shinkansen Stations: Shin-Shirakawa, Koriyama, and Fukushima. To reach Fukushima from Tokyo, you can take either the JR Tohoku Shinkansen or the JR Yamagata Shinkansen from Tokyo Station or Ueno Station and get off at any of the three stations mentioned above. It is also possible to reach Fukushima by highway bus, local JR trains, and more. See our Access page for more information about getting to Fukushima.Please bear in mind that local trains and buses have fewer frequencies than in big cities like Tokyo, Osaka, etc., so we recommend checking the schedules before you travel.

    6 Destinations to See in Fukushima With the Japan Rail Pass
  4. Destination Spotlight

    Fukushima’s ‘Miracle’: A Visitor’s Guide to Ukedo Elementary School

    Step inside Ukedo Elementary School, and you’ll find dark walls, hanging cables, and rubble scattered across cracked floors. Yet, many call this place miraculous. While the building itself reflects the painful story of a disaster, it also stands as an enduring symbol of hope and unity.After a tsunami warning on March 11, 2011, teachers and principals at the Ukedo Elementary School, located 300 meters from the ocean in the coastal area of Fukushima, swiftly evacuated all students before the towering waves engulfed the area. All lives were saved. The school building sustained great damage, but it did not collapse. In the following years, residents asked for the building to be preserved as a testimony of the destructive force of the 2011 tsunami.Ukedo: A Fishing Area With Close Ties to the SeaUkedo Elementary School is located in Namie, a town in the Northern coastal area of Fukushima Prefecture. Today, the school is surrounded by flat fields and construction sites, but not long ago the area was a bubbly district made up of houses by the ocean where families enjoyed sea festivals, sailing, and going to the beach in the warmer months.The 2011 Earthquake and TsunamiStudents at Ukedo Elementary School were attending classes as usual when the earthquake hit on March 11, 2011. A few minutes later, a tsunami warning was issued for the area. The teachers and principals promptly urged everyone to evacuate to Mt. Ohira, located approx. 1.5 km away.A Hasty but Successful EvacuationStudents had no time to take their belongings, or even put on their coats. The cold wind blew strongly as they escaped inland, guided by their teachers.Once they reached the foot of the mountain, one of the students led the group, and everyone climbed to the other side toward safety. They reached a main road, where a truck driver picked them up and took them to an evacuation center.Upon arrival at the center, students and teachers could ascertain that no one was missing or had been left behind. Even though everyone from the school survived, the tragedy brought by the triple disaster changed their lives forever.The Area’s Aftermath & ReconstructionIn Ukedo, the tsunami resulted in the loss of over 120 lives, and many people went missing. A total of 402 houses in the district were destroyed. People’s hometown as they knew it was lost forever.To make matters worse, the area had to be evacuated due to the nuclear accident at the nearby TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. This meant that search parties couldn’t enter for weeks; and residents, who initially thought the evacuation would only last a few days, could not fully return home for several years.Once rescue and recovery personnel were allowed back into the area, many houses and buildings started being demolished as part of the decontamination efforts. Devoid of vitality, the wrecked town looked nothing like the cheerful locality it had been only months ago. For about six years, residents had to be granted permission to return, and could only do so for a few hours at a time due to radiation concerns. Knowing that some returning residents may also visit the school on their way to or from their houses, rescue personnel left encouraging messages and wishes for the area’s recovery on the school blackboards. Those who stopped by the school, in turn, replied. Soon, the blackboard was filled with cute drawings and kind interactions between both strangers and lifelong friends. The blackboard and the messages were preserved and are on display at the school today.When the evacuation order for the Ukedo area was lifted in 2017, the Ukedo Elementary School building was one of the few left standing, although it was utterly devastated. With time, more and more people expressed their wish to make the school building a memorial site to pass on the lessons of the tsunami, honor the Ukedo community, and let visitors see firsthand how disaster preparedness can save lives.In October 2021, the school opened for visitors and has since then become one of the flagship facilities where visitors can learn about Fukushima’s recent history and revitalization.After the disaster, a sakura tree began inexplicably growing from the asphalt by one of the old school entrances. The tree blooms beautifully each spring.Flow of the visitYou will begin your visit on the ground floor, with an exhibition showing life in Ukedo before the disaster.Next, you will enter the main school building, where you will grasp the scope of the destruction of the tsunami. You will see what the classrooms, staff rooms, kitchen, dining room, and school gymnasium look like now, alongside photographs showing what they used to look like.After walking in and around the first floor, you will head to the second floor, where you will learn more about the impact of the earthquake, the tsunami, and the nuclear accident. There is information about the area, a model of the town, as well as images of the blackboard with support messages.Advice for Visitors Scan the QR code at the entrance to access the English translation of the explanation panels. As you walk inside the school, look for the corresponding number for each panel on the website to read the explanations in English.   When looking at the building from the outside, notice the blue panels showing the height of the tsunami.   Because this area has undergone extensive reconstruction, sometimes car navigation systems cannot accurately guide you to the school. If you notice your car GPS trying to take you down a road that is no longer there, we recommend using your phone navigation system instead, which might be more updated.   There is a toilet and a vending machine at the site, but no convenience stores, supermarkets, or restaurants are nearby, so consider eating or buying snacks before your visit.   After visiting the school, we recommend walking to the Ukedo Port to see what the area looks like today.AccessBy Train, Bus & Bicycle From the JR Futaba Station (JR Joban Line), take the shuttle bus from Futaba Station to the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum. Take one of the free rental bicycles at the museum and ride to Ukedo.By Car Approx 1 h 45 min from JR Koriyama Station [郡山駅] via National Road 288. Approx 1 h 29 min from Sendai Station [仙台] via the Joban Expressway. There is a parking lot available at the site.By Train & TaxiAbout 15 min. by taxi from Namie Station [浪江駅] (JR Joban Line). Please note, though, that there are no taxis at the station, so please make your travel arrangements in advance.Useful LinksThe Remains of Ukedo Elementary School in Namie TownFukushima’s Revitalization Educational One-Day TripThe Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial MuseumNamie Roadside Station

    Fukushima’s ‘Miracle’: A Visitor’s Guide to Ukedo Elementary School
  5. Destination Spotlight

    Practicing ‘Kengido’ With Kamui Samurai Artists in Aizu

    “For many, samurai equals fight scenes in action movies, but that is not all there is to it,” says Tetsuro Shimaguchi during our kengido practice. “To me, samurai culture goes beyond fighting. It is also about the way of living that drives those battles”.His words popped back to mind as I gripped the wooden sword tightly: I inhaled, lifted it, exhaled, and wielded it down firmly with a sudden stop before it touched the ground. The samurai warriors’ graceful fighting on the battlefield was a force of habit. Through drills and practice, they studied each movement to a T, pacing their breath and training their posture. Shimaguchi’s kengido experience for visitors to Japan reveals the efforts, invisible to the untrained eye, that make samurai battles so engrossing.Shimaguchi is no stranger to samurai fight scenes in action movies, however. He choreographed the fight scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol I, and has traveled the world performing samurai fight acts with Kamui, his samurai artist collective. He is one of Japan’s top samurai performers, with over 25 years of experience. Now, he has crafted a workshop in his home country to share the values that inspire him to keep the samurai legacy alive.‘Kengido’ (剣伎道) is Shimaguchi’s samurai technique, a mix of martial arts and samurai fighting performance. The term combines three Japanese characters: ‘Ken’ (剣) stands for sword or swordsmanship. For safety, wooden swords (bokken) are used for this practice. ‘Gi’ (伎) refers to an art or method; in this case, a type of performing arts. ‘Do’ (道) is a set of practices or teachings, a process that becomes a way of life.Shimaguchi has been teaching kengido to hundreds of enthusiasts from Florence to Abu Dhabi. He has toured over 150 cities in 35 countries performing with Kamui. “I am lucky to have so many friends around the world”, he says. Anyone can participate in his kengido practice, which can be adapted to different levels of expertise. People of all fitness levels and ages are welcome. The Practice BeginsBefore getting my hands on the sword, I watched a samurai battle between Shimaguchi and another Kamui artist. Through a screen, with editing involved, a fight like this one looks impressive enough, but it is a different experience to see it live. Their movements were completely in tandem: If one turned, the other one got closer, as if they were inexplicably joined by an invisible coordinating force.We opened the practice with an initial greeting. Then, it was my turn to draw the sword. At first, it felt a bit heavy to hold, but I soon got used to its weight. Shimaguchi taught me how to grip the sword, unsheathe it properly, and place my feet as I wielded and thrust it in several directions. Other Kamui artists went over the exercises with me, allowing me to mimic their posture and movements.A vigorous performance consists of fast movements of arms and legs and sudden, firm halts. Rather than blading the sword slowly and delicately, a thrust followed by a sudden stop makes samurai fights dramatic and animated, Shimaguchi explained, as he exemplified the movements with Kazu-san.After some repetition, I gathered pace. Shimaguchi’s guidance helped me strengthen each pose, taking breaks as needed.Time to Face an Opponent (And Work As a Team)After a few drills with the Kamui team, I was comfortable blading the sword in different ways, so it was time to put my newfound skills into a team effort. We would practice fighting together.At first, I thought there would be no way I could coordinate so many steps, but after drilling each sequence a few times with them I grew in confidence.Looking at my partner in the eyes, rather than fixing the gaze on their movements, was a game changer. Soon enough, Kazu-san and I were engrossed in battle, the wooden swords clicking and our movements following a natural sequence with a shared pace.Shimaguchi is a passionate advocate of samurai history and culture, as well as a skillful teacher who inspires the same passion in his apprentices and team. During his kengido experience, you will: Watch a professional samurai fight performance.  Learn a series of sword-wielding movements and exercises. Face both Shimaguchi and other Kamui samurai artists in choreographed battles and training exercises.  Have some time after practice to talk about the experience and ask questions. Receive a video showing your performance.Booking & More InformationThe experience is held at the traditional Japanese inn Ookawaso in Ashinomaki Onsen and includes a stay at its facilities, some meals, and other options, depending on the plan. For more details about booking this experience, please check here.About the Location: Ookawaso in Ashinomaki OnsenWhen Shimaguchi decided to teach kengido in Japan, the region of Aizu was an obvious choice. Aizu was once a vital enclave for a homonymous samurai clan that fought against modernization until the very end, in a famous battle against government forces that destroyed the city’s emblematic Tsurugajo castle and ravaged the city to its core.The castle was rebuilt and visitors to the area can learn of the history of the Aizu samurai clan that ruled over the land for centuries. Nearby attractions, like the Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan (a former samurai school) and the Bukeyashiki (a historical open-air museum and former samurai residence), offer rare glimpses into the everyday life of the samurai. Ookawaso is a traditional Japanese inn in Ashinomaki Onsen, less than an hour south of Aizu-Wakamatsu City (where Tsurugajo castle is located). Guests in Ookawaso can enjoy relaxing in the hot springs, savor traditional Japanese cuisine, and watch shamisen performances on the inn’s traditional Japanese stage that resembles the one featured in the popular anime series Demon Slayer. The hotel offers both Japanese-style and Western-style rooms.This kengido practice is held at the Kamui dojo in Ookawaso, a pristine room made of sakura wood that follows the traditional Japanese aesthetics of the inn.The samurai legacy in Aizu is still very much alive. During your next visit, you can be a part of it as you embody ancient samurai precepts, guided by one of the world's leading samurai artists.Access InformationOokawaso is located 40 minutes by local bus from Aizu-Wakamatsu Station (会津若松駅), or approx. 3.5 hours by car from Tokyo Station. More information about access to Ookawaso here.LinksDiscover Samurai History6 Things to Do at the Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan Samurai SchoolHistorical Samurai Tour2 Days in Aizu-Wakamatsu

    Practicing ‘Kengido’ With Kamui Samurai Artists in Aizu
  6. Destination Spotlight

    Exploring Minka-en, Fukushima City’s Architectural Garden

    Architecture and history enthusiasts can easily spend an entire afternoon exploring Minka-en (民家園) in Fukushima City, a charming garden with traditional buildings originally built between the 18th and 20th centuries which were relocated from different parts of Northern Fukushima prefecture.A Green Realm Awaits by the CityOnly 2.5 hours from Tokyo station by shinkansen and local bus, Minka-en is located in the vast Azuma Sports Park, a former Olympic site with many sports facilities. The park, albeit a year-round attraction, sees many of its crowds in early November, when its yellow ginkgo trees make for an unforgettable sight. During spring, May’s rose festival envelopes visitors in the fragrant smell of flowers.The area has a peaceful atmosphere with spectacular views of the surrounding mountain range; its serenity is perhaps best reflected in the cats often found snuggling under the sunlight along the paths leading up to the Minka-en.What Does ‘Minka-en’ Mean?Minka (民家) means ‘people’s houses’. Minka-en has several old Japanese-style buildings known as kominka, a term used mostly to refer to former residences of farmers, artisans, and merchants built before the influence of Western architecture permeated Japan during the 19th and 20th centuries. En (園) is the term for ‘garden’. Minka-en, therefore, is a term that describes open-air architectural parks where visitors can explore traditional Japanese buildings.Basics of Traditional Kominka ArchitectureTraditional kominka epitomize the harmony with nature that Japanese architecture is famous for. Some of the distinctive features of kominka include: Locally-sourced natural materials like clay and wood. Built without nails or concrete. Thick thatched roofs. Tatami floors (tatami is a thick straw mat widely used as flooring) Slightly curved pillars that follow the natural shape of the wood. Shoji, door or window frames paneled with translucent paper. Irori, a sunken hearth used for heating and cooking that can be usually found in the center of the main room.From Humble Homes to Glamorous Stages: The Buildings of Minka-enFukushima City’s Minka-en houses a variety of buildings, from former residences of upper-class families to farmhouses, granaries, and even toilets. Visitors can freely step inside each and take a close look at the details of the construction, as well as discover the artifacts developed and used back in the day.There is also an exhibition building with plenty of household items on display, which sometimes hosts special events.The thatched-roof theater is perhaps the most spectacular building in Minka-en. Constructed in 1887, it is one of the oldest theaters of its kind in Japan and remains in strikingly good condition.There is detailed information on display in five languages (English, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese & Korean) about each building and the families who inhabited them.Here you can find a detailed account of all the buildings at Minka-en.Greenery & Events: Minka-en in Every SeasonAlthough buildings are the main attraction, there is something to be said about Minka-en’s pristine gardens.Each season brings out the beauty of the traditional buildings in a different light. Towards late October, fallen leaves make the place look like a fairytale cottage town. During cold winters, visitors get to experience the warmth of the sunken irori hearth. The park is adorned with cherry blossoms and irises in the spring, while hydrangeas bloom during Japan’s rainy summer. The spectacle of the changing seasons is not limited to nature. Minka-en celebrates different events such as Lunar New Year, rice field flooding, planting, and harvesting, an autumn festival, and more. Event updates are posted on the Minka-en website (in Japanese).Other Kominka Destinations in FukushimaOuchi-juku in Shimogo town (left) and Maezawa L-Shaped farmhouses in Minamiaizu town (right) are other popular kominka destinations in Fukushima prefecture.A big difference, however, is that Ouchi-juku and Maezawa are inhabited, and both of them are over an hour away from the closest JR or shinkansen station. Because of that, they make great destinations if you would like to take your time exploring off the beaten path and learn how locals preserve their heritage and traditions.On the other hand, because no one lives in any of the buildings at Minka-en, you can go inside each one and explore at your own pace. The open-air museum is located only 30 minutes away from the shinkansen/JR Fukushima Station, making it a good option for visitors with only a few hours to spare who want to learn about the traditional way of living in rural Northern Japan.The Leisurely Allure of Fukushima City’s Minka-enBuildings at Minka-en retain their original structures and are carefully preserved, both inside and out. Seeing how cohesive they look now, it is difficult to believe that they were originally built apart from one another.Muroishi, the cafe at Minka-en, goes in line with the traditional atmosphere of the other minka buildings. After exploring the park, it is a lovely place to wind down over lunch or coffee while contemplating the relaxing landscape outside.For information about how to access Minka-en, please see this page.

    Exploring Minka-en, Fukushima City’s Architectural Garden
  7. Useful Information

    Learn More About Fukushima as Seen in Japan’s New Blockbuster Film ‘Suzume’

    Suzume (original title in Japanese: すずめの戸締り, Suzume no Tojimari) is an animated movie and the latest blockbuster from Japanese director Makoto Shinkai and production company CoMix Wave, which also produced hit films like Weathering with You (天気の子) and Your Name (君の名は).The film tells the story of a highschooler and a young man on a mission to close doors throughout Japan to prevent natural disasters. The film is already a box office success both domestically and abroad after only a few months of screening.Suzume Official YouTube Trailer (Toho Movie Channel, 東宝MOVIEチャネル)Many areas that have been hit by disasters in the country are shown in the movie, including the Tohoku area in Northern Japan, which suffered greatly from the devastating effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear accident in 2011.At one point in the film, the characters pass through an area with “Difficult-to-return” signs reminiscent of those that had to be placed in areas where evacuation orders were enforced due to radiation in Fukushima.Although some remain today, evacuation orders have been lifted in many of the areas that were once labeled “difficult-to-return zones'' (only approx. 2.3% of Fukushima Prefecture’s territory is under evacuation order now).The Remains of Ukedo Elementary School in Namie Town is a popular destination for visitors who want to learn more about the effect of the disaster in the coastal area of Fukushima.These past years have seen people come together to rebuild these areas, taking on the challenge of rekindling a community, honoring the history of towns and villages, as well as fighting the lingering stigma and misinformation surrounding Fukushima.As ‘Suzume’ sheds light on the importance of disaster preparedness and brings attention to the devastation brought by 3.11, many young people are drawn to learn more about what happened in Fukushima and how the prefecture has sought to recover. Commutan Fukushima (Communication Building of the Centre for Environmental Creation, Fukushima prefecture) in Miharu Town has a lot of information for visitors to learn about Fukushima's environmental recovery.Fukushima remains the only place in the world to have survived an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear disaster, and by visiting Fukushima, particularly the coastal area, you can learn a lot about how disaster preparedness saves lives, see the recovery efforts for yourself, and get to know the stories behind those driving the prefecture's revitalization.If you would like to know more, please check model the model itinerary ‘Fukushima's Revitalization Educational One-Day Trip’.

    Learn More About Fukushima as Seen in Japan’s New Blockbuster Film ‘Suzume’
  8. Destination Spotlight

    Chansey’s Lucky Parks and Poké Lids: Must-See Pokémon Attractions in Fukushima

    In recent years, Pokémon fans from Japan and abroad have flocked to Fukushima prefecture to enjoy the newly built Chansey parks, snap pictures of its Instagrammable Poké Lids, and buy souvenirs from Fukushima Prefecture in collaboration with Chansey.Since Chansey was appointed Fukushima’s Support Pokémon in 2019, many parks, Poké Lids and other cute stuff that any Pokémon fan would love has been popping up in different parts of Fukushima, making it pinker and brighter!Here are some of the Pokémon-related things you can expect to see in Fukushima.Chansey as Fukushima’s Support PokémonChansey’s original Japanese name is “Lucky” (ラッキー), while “Fuku” (福) in ‘Fukushima’ means luck or happiness. This shared etymology is one reason why Chansey was chosen as Fukushima’s representative.The fact that Chansey’s pale pink color resembles that of Fukushima’s famously delicious peaches and beautiful cherry blossoms is just a lucky coincidence!Also, Chansey is said to be a kind Pokémon that lays and shares its nutritious eggs with injured Pokémon and people. Similarly, Fukushima has always been known for producing delicious produce and dairy products, which obviously includes eggs, for people to enjoy in Japan and beyond.Chansey’s Lucky Parks in FukushimaAs part of a collaborative regional revitalization effort with Fukushima Prefecture, The Pokémon Company donated four parks to Fukushima prefecture, which were opened between 2021 and 2022.All Chansey’s Lucky Parks have very similar structures and attractions. You can find things like a Happiny sandbox, Cleffa and Igglybuff swings, a Lickitung slide, and more!It’s perfectly valid to visit these parks with the sole purpose of sitting on a Pikachu bench, though.Here’s a closer look at each park.1. Chansey’s Lucky Park in Namie Town (ラッキー公園 in なみえまち)Opening Date: December 2021 (first Pokémon park in Japan)Location: Michinoeki Namie (Roadside Station)Distinctive Features: Don’t miss the cute Chansey vending machines. There’s also a ‘kid’s room’ (indoor play area) for children located right next to the park.2. Chansey’s Lucky Park in Koriyama City (ラッキー公園inこおりやまし)Opening Date: March 2022Location: Kaiseizan ParkDistinctive Features: Kaiseizan Park is home to around 1,300 cherry blossom trees, and offers wonderful views of the city. Chansey looks particularly happy when surrounded by the many beautiful cherry blossoms at Kaiseizan!The park is easily accessible by bus from Koriyama Station, which has a direct shinkansen connection with Tokyo!3. Chansey’s Lucky Park in Showa Village (ラッキー公園 in しょうわむら)Opening Date: June 2022Location: Michinoeki Karamushiori-no-sato Showa (Roadside Station)Distinctive Features: Unlike other predominantly pinkish parks, the playground equipment at this park looks beautifully blue.While you’re there, don’t miss going into the Roadside Station, where you can learn about this village’s long standing textile tradition and history.4. Chansey’s Lucky Park in Yanaizu Town (ラッキー公園 in やないづまち)Opening Date: July 2022Location: Michinoeki Yanaizu (Roadside Station)Distinctive Features: The nearby Hot in Yanaizu center has local products, a rest area and more. While you’re there, try the awamanju-making experience or painting your own akabeko!Fukushima’s Adorable Poké LidsWhile visiting Fukushima, you’ll probably notice these colorful utility hole covers. As of March 2023, there are 26 ‘Poké Lids’ (ポケふた) scattered around the entire prefecture, each showing Chansey (and other Pokémon friends!) in designs that are unique to each region.For a detailed list of the Poké Lids in Fukushima prefecture, check out this website.Finding Cute Chansey Souvenirshttps://www.tif.ne.jp/pokemon/goods.html?id=3Even if you don’t visit any of Chansey's Lucky Parks or see any Poké Lids, you can still indulge in Chansey souvenir shopping!You’ll find Chansey adorning Fukushima’s delicious fruit butter, peach jellies, puddings, curries, apple teas, and more! The array of products from Fukushima prefecture in collaboration with Chansey is wide, so you’ll have plenty to choose from to make the perfect present to the Chansey fan in your life (which, let’s face it, is most likely yourself anyways).https://www.tif.ne.jp/pokemon/goods.html?id=10Some places where you can get Chansey items include the Fukushima Prefecture Souvenir Shop as well as most michinoeki (roadside stations), like that in Namie Town.If you visit Fukushima on a Pokémon adventure, don’t forget to tag us on your social media posts! We love seeing your pictures and videos exploring Fukushima prefecture.

    Chansey’s Lucky Parks and Poké Lids: Must-See Pokémon Attractions in Fukushima
  9. Destination Spotlight

    Following Fukushima’s Footpath in Katsurao Village

    Japan is blessed with plenty of green areas where clear rivers and pristine forests are everyday sights. Such is the case of Katsurao (葛尾村), a rural mountain village, located between Namie Town and Tamura City, in the coastal area of Fukushima prefecture.Traversed by gushing rivers and gentle slopes, this village was the location of a footpath event held on a breezy day in early February, 2023. I joined the event, along with +70 participants, and I’d like to share how it went! But first…What’s a footpath event, you may ask?As part of something called the ‘Reconstruction Exploration Project’, Fukushima prefecture is developing footpaths (hiking trails) in towns and villages that were severely affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in 2011. These trails are designed alongside residents, who include some of their favorite local spots that they’d like visitors to see.By following footpaths, visitors and locals can come together to experience firsthand the reconstruction and revitalization of Fukushima, as well as discover the beautiful sights that each area has to offer!Katsurao Village’s Evacuation & RevitalizationDue to the nuclear accident, Katsurao village had to be entirely evacuated in 2011. Five years later, following decontamination work, the evacuation order was lifted for most of its districts, and in 2022, the entire village saw the end of the restrictions.As of today, over four hundred residents live in Katsurao. There is a restaurant, a convenience store, a traditional Japanese-style inn and other services, although businesses in the village remain few and far between, with dense woodlands and wide roads dominating the landscape.Katsurao’s FootpathWe began our walk under the early afternoon sun, our boots crunching on the snow-covered roads. At one point, the slope became steep and slippery, but we persisted all the way up to a beautiful shrine, which was well worth the climb. Myoken ShrineMyoken shrine's (妙見神社) light wooden structure contrasts beautifully against the dark woodlands in the background.Some participants stopped to pray at the shrine, while others rested or had some water. There was also a picnic table nearby where participants could sit and catch a break while breathing in the cool mountain air.Among the participants were some local celebrities and influencers, as well as editors from travel magazines.Katsurao Village Reconstruction Exchange Center Azalea We descended the slope and after a bit of walking came across a big, modern building that, in spite of looking strikingly new, seemed to fit its surroundings perfectly.This, I learned, is Katsurao Village’s Reconstruction Exchange Center Azalea. And it looks as beautiful and cozy inside as it does from outside!Here, you will find a souvenir shop that sells local crafts and snacks, and a cafe, as well as a vending machine for… sheep meat! (Katsurao’s specialty).That day, they were having a big Valentine’s Day sale for knitwear made in Katsurao.Lunch Time!We finally returned to the starting point, the lobby of “Midori-no-Sato Seseragi-So” (みどりの里せせらぎ荘) a Japanese-style inn and onsen resort. We were welcomed back with a warm homemade curry prepared by local chefs using herbs from the area. Needless to say, it was delicious, and the perfect way to end the hike.Itadakimasu!Shimi-Chan: The Star of the VillageI must admit that at first I thought Katsurao village’s mascot, ‘Shimi-chan’, was modeled after a peach, but it turned out I was very mistaken! (To my defense, I live in Fukushima City, and peaches are kind of a big deal here).‘Shimi-chan’, which you’ll see all over Katsurao, both in crossings, as well as in souvenirs, is modeled after...Shimi-mochi!a.k.a., the area’s delicacy. Shimi-mochi, as the name indicates, is a kind of ‘mochi’ (Japanese rice cake), but it is unique both in flavor and in the way it is prepared.  First, the mochi is hung outdoors during the winter months, so that it freezes and dries up (‘shimi-mochi’ means ‘frozen mochi’ in Japanese). The mochi is then soaked in water so that they regain moisture. The water is then drained, and the mochi rice cakes are cooked in a pan. Shimi-mochi is usually served warm and topped with a sauce. This time, we got to try shimi-mochi with a sweet soy sauce which was absolutely delicious!The texture and flavor of the mochi was unlike any other I’ve tasted before. I’d recommend trying it yourself during your next visit to Katsurao village!Participants were given this towel. This deep green shade is dubbed ‘Katsurao green’, and it has an illustration of Akabeko (Fukushima prefecture’s folk red cow) drawn by ‘Meli et Malice’, a French illustrator based in Fukushima. I was thrilled that I got to keep it as a souvenir! If you’re interested in following this footpath, check out the following link where you can find more information.If you’re interested in knowing more about Fukushima’s footpath, check out this post about hiking in the Miyakoji area of Tamura City.<iframe src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d50643.46579429731!2d140.72563751329045!3d37.50280895868981!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x60208c815aeb546d%3A0x90a44d09df53b9a6!2sKatsurao%2C%20Futaba%20District%2C%20Fukushima!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sjp!4v1692338203672!5m2!1sen!2sjp" width="600" height="450" style="border:0;" allowfullscreen="" loading="lazy" referrerpolicy="no-referrer-when-downgrade"></iframe>

    Following Fukushima’s Footpath in Katsurao Village
  10. Destination Spotlight

    Following Fukushima’s Footpath: Miyakoji Area in Tamura City

    Miyakoji (都路) is a peaceful village located in the Eastern part of Tamura City (田村市), in the central area of Fukushima prefecture. It is said that walking in nature helps you feel more relaxed, and walking around Miyakoji in early January definitely had that effect.The charms of Tamura CityOzawa Sakura in Tamura City. Photo credit: Tamura City, 田村市Once the snow melts, what is known as the ‘green season’ begins. That is when the cherry blossom trees and flower fields in Tamura City see most of their yearly visitors. Lavander in Takine area, Tamura City「Photo credit: Tamura City, 田村市」Tamura City is also home to the Abukuma Cave, said to have the greatest variety and the largest number of stalactites in the whole of Asia.The Miyakoji area in Tamura is lush with vegetation. In the past, the silkworm industry flourished in Miyakoji. As a remnant of this, mulberry trees remain.Mt. Gojyunin-yama, Miyakoji area. Photo credit: Tamura City, 田村市In Miyakoji, particularly, there’s a famous tall weeping tree called “akimoto no shidare-zakura”.Cherry blossom trees can also be found along the main street, and, in spring, visitors can enjoy both the green mulberry trees and pink cherry blossom trees.Miyakoji’s EvacuationLocated about 40 km away from the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, Miyakoji became the only area in the city of Tamura that had to be evacuated following the nuclear disaster in 2011.The evacuation order was lifted on April 1, 2014. Among the towns in Fukushima that had to be evacuated, Miyakoji is one of the few where most of the original residents have returned. Over ten years after the 2011 disaster, today Miyakoji has over two thousand residents, a convenience store, a hotel, and a few restaurants. A Picturesque Red-Roofed TownThe first thing that caught my eye about Miyakoji are its red-tiled Japanese-style houses. Is it a coincidence, I wondered, that there are so many buildings with glossy dark red-tiled roofs in Fukushima, something I had rarely seen in other areas of Japan? (By the way, Tsurugajo Castle in the Aizu area is the only red-tiled roofed castle in Japan.)Although I haven’t found a conclusive answer to the mystery of the red-tiled roofs in Fukushima, the widespread theory I found online is that the red color is due to a glaze applied on the tiles to prevent them from freezing and cracking when snow piles up during winter.Little Beautiful Sights in MiyakojiA Buddhist temple, statues and a large bell. The bell is a replica, as the original one was apparently lost during World War II.Jizo, affectionately called ‘ojizo-san’ in Japanese, are stone Buddha statues dressed in red bibs and caps. These statues are believed to be guardians of children and travelers, and can often be found even in remote rural locations.An unattended vegetable stand is one of the sights truly unique to rural Japan. You can buy local vegetables and pay the fee by leaving the money in the designated area.Miyakoji is rural and tranquil. The air is pure and the river flows bright blue.The Mysteriously Beautiful Okame ShrineJapan has countless shrines; some of them see crowds of visitors from all over the country and overseas, while others are visited mainly by locals. Okame shrine (大亀神社), despite its incredibly photogenic and mysterious appeal, falls in the latter category; it is a place of worship that remains quiet and undisturbed.The shrine is located on a hill in the heart of a forest of Japanese cypress trees called Thujopsis. Both the shrine and the trees are believed to be over 400 years old. To reach the shrine, you have to climb up the stairs and venture into the fragrant forest. You’ll notice birds chirping and beams of light coming through the tall tree trunks. The roof of Okame shrine is red but it looks beautiful covered in snow.This shrine is said to worship Princess Tamayori, the daughter of a sea goddess. Why is a sea goddess enshrined in the middle of a forest, considerably far from the ocean, you may ask?That is one of the many mysteries of this shrine.Fostering Community Bonds: Yoriai-dokoro Hana Community Center & CafeYoriai-dokoro Hana (よりあい処 華) was opened in June 2014 after the evacuation order for Miyakoji was lifted. At the time, there were no other restaurants in Miyakoji, so this cafe and community center quickly became a place for returning residents to gather and a pillar of support for the community.Yoriai-dokoro Hana is located at a traditional Japanese house, and it serves warm meals using local ingredients. This seems like a great place to bond with the locals. When I visited, there was an exhibition of handicrafts made by townspeople. Yoriai-dokoro Hana is open from 11:00 to 14:00 only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.Photo credit: Tamura City, 田村市Curious about visiting Miyakoji? Would you like to see more beautiful sights in this area?Traveling to Miyakoji by carIt takes approximately an hour to reach Miyakoji from Koriyama station (see route).Traveling to Miyakoji by public transportationFrom Koriyama Station, take the JR Ban-etsu East Line train bound for Iwaki, and get off at Funehiki Station (approx. 25 minutes). From the bus stop in front of Funehiki Station (船引駅前) take a “Furumichi” (古道) bus and get off at Miyakoji Administrative Bureau (都路行政局) (approx. 52 minutes). There are only a few buses a day, so be sure to check the bus schedule before your visit.<iframe src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d50697.2045773572!2d140.7509628626667!3d37.42351238629868!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x6020f3c6946beca7%3A0xa477d29a6d2f3782!2sMiyakojimachi%20Furumichi%2C%20Tamura%2C%20Fukushima%20963-4701%2C%20Japan!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1692338315197!5m2!1sen!2sus" width="600" height="450" style="border:0;" allowfullscreen="" loading="lazy" referrerpolicy="no-referrer-when-downgrade"></iframe>

    Following Fukushima’s Footpath: Miyakoji Area in Tamura City
  11. Useful Information

    A Complete Guide to Visiting Fukushima During Winter

    The coldest months of the year bring beautiful scenery to Fukushima Prefecture. From snow-capped mountains and thatched-roof houses in the Aizu area to the refreshing view of the sunrise over the iconic Bentenjima Shrine in the Hattachi coast, there is a wide variety of attractions and activities to enjoy during winter in Fukushima.Kaneyama Fureai Hiroba ViewpointThis is a compilation of useful information to make your winter getaway smooth and enjoyable! For recommended winter attractions, check out this post.Yanaizu TownTransportationChecking the Status of the Roads Before DepartureEspecially in the Aizu and Central areas, a snowstorm could occasionally block some roads or affect visibility (a phenomenon known as a whiteout).Checking the status of the roads makes your trip safer and can help you foresee potential delays. This webpage shows camera footage of the status of the roads (available only in Japanese).Click or tap on the camera button in the area you are planning on visiting. Select the road you would like to see on the new pop-up window.In most rent-a-car facilities, you will be asked where you are going and be given a vehicle equipped with what you need (winter tires, chains, etc.).Preparing for Longer Travel TimesBecause road conditions change unexpectedly, it is best to expect longer travel times, particularly if you are traveling by bus or car.As an example, check the following estimates: Aizu-Wakamatsu City to Ouchi-juku: normally takes around 45 min. (90 min on snow-covered roads) Ouchi-juku to Tadami: normally takes around 90 min. (150 min. on snow-covered roads) Tadami to Kaneyama Town: normally takes around 40 min. (90 min. on snow-covered roads) Kaneyama Town to Mishima Town: normally takes around 30 min. (90 min. on snow-covered roads) Mishima Town to Aizu-Wakamatsu City: normally takes around 50 min. (120 min. on snow-covered roads).Finding the Public Transportation Winter ScheduleSome buses or trains, like the Saruyuugou loop bus in Ouchi-juku, have different schedules in the winter. The service can either become reduced or extended for special events.If you will be relying on public transportation, take a close look at the time schedule for any notations of changes during the winter. If it is only in Japanese and you cannot read it, inquire at the closest station or local tourist information office (or send us a message and we will do our best to assist you).Some hotels and ski resorts offer shuttle bus services to and from the closest station, such as the Minowa Ski Resort's free shuttle bus service from Fukushima Station. Be sure to make a reservation in advance.ActivitiesWould you ride a snowmobile in the snowy hills of Tsuchiyu Onsen in Central Fukushima? Check the Snowmobile Riding Experience page for more information.Extreme Onsen ExperienceThe Extreme Onsen Experience is a popular activity during the so-called 'greens season', but, for safety reasons, it is not possible to climb Mount Adatara when it is covered with snow, so the tour becomes temporarily unavailable until the snow melts in the spring. Write us a message if you would like to be notified once the tour becomes available again!Alternatively...Soaking in the hot springs while contemplating a snowy landscape is a truly magical experience that you can enjoy in many other onsen towns, like the nostalgic Tsuchiyu Onsen Town.Tsuchiyu Onsen TownGoshiki-numa PondsIf you would like to visit the Goshiki-numa ponds during winter, we recommend booking a snowshoe tour and going with an experienced guide, as travelers are discouraged from visiting independently.Goshiki-numa Ponds Snowshoe Experience Booking & More InformationOther Places That Are or May Become Closed for the WinterHere are some sightseeing spots, experiences, and tours that are only (or mostly) available from spring to fall (usually April to November) and could thus become unavailable during the winter: Unavailable In the Winter Still available, but... The Bandai-Azuma Skyline Crossing Mugenkyo Ravine by Ferry (Mugenkyo no Watashi) Extreme Onsen Experience, Soma City Bamboo Fishing Tour, SUP Experience at Menuma Pond and the Ouchi-juku Time Slip & Soba Making Experience. Ebisu Circuit closes during most of winter due to heavy snowfall (check the live camera and contact Ebisu Circuit directly for more information). Goshiki-numa and Oze National Park are closed to individual travelers and some of their facilities become unavailable. For safety reasons, it is advised for travelers to only visit as part of a guided tour organized by a reputable company or with an appropriate permit.  Experiences that are still available during the winter months:The Ouchi-juku kimono experience,  Kitakata Ramen-Making Experience, the Minamisoma Coast Trekking and more! Finding Winter DestinationsWhile some places and experiences enter a hibernation of sorts, others take center stage. Ski slopes, with powder snow and lots of activities for the entire family, become one of the main attractions in Fukushima (access our 2-day skiing itinerary here).Winter festivals, illuminations, and other events enliven several spots around Fukushima (check our calendar for winter events in Fukushima in 2023).If You Are Planning The Ultimate Winter Road Trip...Bring snacks and drinks with you!Japanese convenience stores and vending machines are spread out in remote rural areas. It is always safer to bring snacks and drinks with you, particularly if you are traveling with children.If you would like to know where to go for pit stops, roadside stations, known in Japanese as 'Michi no eki' (道の駅) usually have local specialty foods and souvenirs.Prepare for the Unexpected—and the BeautifulWe recently visited the famous No. 1 Tadami River Bridge Viewpoint with my coworker.In the morning, we were told that the JR Tadami Line, which famously runs over the scenic bridge, had canceled operations for the day due to heavy snowfall, but we decided to go anyway. When we arrived at the viewpoint, it was snowing heavily and there was zero visibility—the iconic view was nothing but an indistinguishable mass of white and gray.We decided to drive to another scenic point (the Kaneyama Fureai Hiroba Viewpoint) hoping the sky would clear up.It finally did and we were lucky to get beautiful shots of both places.You never know when you can enjoy a snow-covered landscape with clear skies.Winter is a delightful season to travel around Fukushima and take in the views of its many scenic towns, winter festivals, and glistening lakes nested in the mountains.Miyakoji Area in Tamura City The coastal area is also worth a visit during this time; its famous sunshine and tropical feel make it a perfect getaway from the harsher cold inland.If you have any questions about traveling in Fukushima, please send them our way using the contact form you can find on our website.We hope you enjoy your stay!

    A Complete Guide to Visiting Fukushima During Winter
  12. Useful Information

    2023 Winter Festivals in Fukushima: Dates and Times

    During the first months of the year, Fukushima prefecture becomes enlivened with colorful festivals and traditional events. Craft displays in Iwaki, snow festivals in Tadami and Ouchi-juku, and one of Japan’s most famous daruma markets in Shirakawa, to name a few, are excellent ways to experience the true folk of Fukushima! Here are the dates and times for some of the winter festivals taking place in Fukushima prefecture in 2023: Tadami Snow Festival (只見雪まつり) The Tadami Snow Festival is scheduled this year after a three-year hiatus. Place: In front of Tadami Station, Tadami Town, Minamiaizu District, Fukushima Pref. 968-0421 Date: Festival eve celebration: February 10 (Friday) February 11 (Saturday) and 12 (Sunday), 2023 Time: All day during the weekend, evening on Friday More information here. Ouchi-juku Snow Festival (大内宿雪まつり) Ouchi-juku’s Snow Festival features traditional Japanese performances, an incredible firework show, and a town that feels like it still exists in the Edo Period, illuminated solely by the light of lanterns made of snow. Place: Ouchi-juku (Yamamoto, Ouchi, Shimogo Town, Minamiaizu District, Fukushima Pref. 969-5207) Time: Varies depending on the event (see event website for details) Date: February 5 (Sunday) to February 11 (Saturday) More information here. Higashiyama Onsen Candle Festival (雪見ろうそく) Every evening from Christmas until around the end of February (depending on the amount of snow), Higashiyama Onsen town is filled with the lights of candles. Place: Higashiyama Onsen, Aizu-Wakamatsu City (map) Date: From December 17, 2022 (Saturday) until February 28, 2023 (Tuesday) Time: In December and January: from 16:30 to 18:00. In February: From 17:00 to 18:30. Aizu Painted Candle Festival (会津絵ろうそくまつり) Aizu Painted Candle Festival is when Oyakuen Garden really comes into its element, as the garden becomes 1 of 2 main stages during the 2 day festival period. The other stage is at Tsuruagajo Castle. Oyakuen Garden often hosts live performances of traditional Japanese music during the evening during the festival. Tens of thousands of candles illuminate the castle and the garden over the 2 day festival period, creating absolutely stunning scenes as the sun sets. Place: Tsurugajo Castle and Oyakuen Garden Date: February 10 (Friday) and 11 (Saturday), 2023. Time: From 17:30 until 20:30 More information here.   Shirakawa Daruma Market (白河だるま市) 700 stalls selling daruma standing along a 1.5km long street in central Shirakawa City during the Shirakawa Daruma Market. There are 18 different varieties of daruma to choose from, all looking for a loving home and an owner to give them a goal or wish to look after!   Place: The main street in front of Shirakawa Station that runs parallel to the train line. Date: February 11 (Saturday), 2023. Time: Not specified. More information here. Iwaki Tsurushi-bina Matsuri (いわきつるしびな祭り) This festival was started in recent years as a way of celebrating the Nakanosaku district of Iwaki City, and rejuvenating the area. During the festival, hundreds of decorative items hand-made by local people from chirimen fabric – the fabric used to create kimonos – are displayed and sold over a period of two days. Place: Nakanosaku, Iwaki City (Map) Date: From January 28 (Saturday) to February 5 (Sunday), 2023. Time: From 10:00 to 16:00. More information here. Nanokado Hadaka Mairi Festival (七日堂裸詣り) During this traditional event - which draws many tourists every year - local men clad in loincloths make the challenging climb to the top of Enzoji Temple, in the hopes of ensuring happiness and protection from disease in the year to come. This event is celebrated every year on January 7th. It was already held in 2023. Place: Enzoji Temple, Jikemachi-ko 176, Yanaizu Town, Kawanuma District, Fukushima Pref. 969-7201 Date: January 7 (Saturday), 2023. Time: From 20:00. More information here.

    2023 Winter Festivals in Fukushima: Dates and Times
  13. Useful Information

    Guide to Visiting the Famous Tadami River Bridge Viewpoint

    Tadami Line has fully resumed operations on October 2022 after 11 years, and it’s only natural that the interest in seeing the world-famous Tadami River Bridge No. 1 Viewpoint (第一只見川橋梁ビューポイント), also known as Daiichi Tadami River Bridge Viewpoint, is rapidly increasing.Taking a look at the beautiful photographs that can be taken there, it is easy to understand why people all around the world have fallen for this picturesque area.Getting to the viewpoint can seem quite daunting, so we’ve created this guide on how and when to visit the Tadami River Bridge!VISITING VIA PUBLIC TRANSPORTThe Tadami River Bridge No. 1 Viewpoint is a few minutes’ walk from Ozekaido Mishima-juku Michi-no-Eki (道の駅尾瀬街道みしま宿), a roadside station known simply as ‘Mishima-juku’ (みしま宿), which sells omiyage  (souvenirs), snacks, and light meals. See here for a map of Mishima-juku. Mishima-juku opens daily at 8:00am.

    Guide to Visiting the Famous Tadami River Bridge Viewpoint
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    Kimono Experience in Ouchi-juku

    On a clear autumn morning, I stepped out in a bright purple kimono, tabi socks, and wooden sandals, my hair up in a pink flower kanzashi hairpin and a cloth purse in hand. The sky looked sparkling blue in the quiet town of Ouchi-juku, located between the mountains of the Japanese countryside.What happened next was unforgettable.The Start of my Ouchi-juku Kimono Experience“Kimono is for everyone”, the kimono specialist assured me. Few garments are as universal and inclusive.Sunlight was timidly spilling into the room through the translucent paper windows when my kimono experience began.We were in a wide room parched with tatami floors, warming up close to a heater. First, using a kanzashi hairpin, she quickly and effortlessly arranged my hair. Next, it was time for me to pick my kimono.Kimono means ‘a thing to wear’ in Japanese and is a timeless item of clothing adaptable to different body types and designed to last for generations. I opted for a bright purple one that matched the fuchsia flowers on my hair. I put on white tabi socks and a black cloth bag with embroidered cherry blossoms. As a cat lover, I was delighted when the staff suggested I wear a white obi with pictures of cats.That kimono must have been worn by many before me. Kimono has no sizes and is a timeless piece. In the face of ultra-fast fashion (and its subsequent toll on the environment), this sustainable and inclusive garment has stood the test of time and remains as relevant as ever.Welcoming as it is, kimono does have its intricacies—for one, you need someone to fit you into it. The kimono specialist will answer all the questions you may have, as well as teach you a few local secrets to make your visit even more memorable. Booking a kimono experience brings you closer to Japanese culture in more ways than one.Stepping into the Past: Picture-perfect Ouchi-jukuOuchi-juku is an old town preserved to look exactly the way it did 300 years ago. With rows of thatched roof handcraft shops and restaurants, no cars nor electricity poles on the streets, and little streams shushing along the road, it is a postcard-like gem hidden between the mountains of the Aizu region.Either people in Ouchi-juku are extremely welcoming or the kimono was truly special because people would go out of their way to compliment me or even ask to take my picture. Elderly ladies tending for the shops would greet me with a broad smile and a friendly “kawaii, desune!” (‘You look very cute!’).It was a lovely way to connect with everyone—the flowery kimono helped start many warm conversations.A Taste of Aizu Samurai’s Soul FoodsIt finally was time to sit down for a meal.If you visit Ouchi-juku, make sure to build up some hunger and indulge in local specialties.This is what I ordered and would recommend you try it! Takatosoba (高遠そば) is Ouchi-juku’s signature dish: buckwheat noodles served with grated radish soup and eaten with a green onion. The radish used in this dish is called azagi daikon and grows naturally in the Aizu mountains. It smells as tangy as it tastes. What makes this dish unique is that you eat it with a green onion instead of chopsticks or a spoon.     Nishin no sanshosuke (にしんの山椒漬)is pickled herring with sansho (Japanese pepper). The herring was buttery soft and marinated in soy sauce. The Japanese pepper leaves on top had a strong but refreshing taste. Kozuyu (こづゆ) is a staple dish of the region, said to have been a favorite of the Aizu samurai. It is made up of a hearty scallop broth, fish cakes, carrots, konjac noodles, and gluten croutons. This delicately presented dish is wonderful to warm up during cold days. Sweet soybean flour-flavored tochimochi (栃もち・きな粉) was my personal favorite. These two chewy, warm, and powdery mochi were perhaps the best I have had in over four years that I have been living in Japan. Each bite had just the right amount of sweetness, with the sweet soy flour kinako powder sprinkled on top leaving behind an almond-like aftertaste.  An Iconic View of Ouchi-juku The best view of Ouchi-juku can be found after a short walk through the main street towards the shrine. Climb up the stone stairs and you will find yourself in front of a famous photo spot overseeing the traditional kominka houses, mountains stretching out in the background.Despite its striking beauty, this town remains quiet and rarely sees crowds, making it perfect for visitors who enjoy taking their time to explore places off the beaten path.After looking through the pictures of that day, I noticed that the prints of kimono look even more vivid against the backdrop of Ouchi-juku’s earthy hues. Strolling through such a well-preserved historical site in a kimono was a one-in-a-lifetime experience.If you would like to wear a kimono in Ouchi-juku, read more about the Ouchi-juku Kimono Experience, which includes a two-hour stroll in a kimono, matcha, and sweets at a traditional tea house, and entry to the townscape exhibition hall where you can learn more about the way of life way back then at Ouchi-juku.

    Kimono Experience in Ouchi-juku
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    Heroes and Kaijyu Adventures in Japan

    Inside each of us, there is a struggle.Call it what you want:Light vs. Dark... Good vs. Evil... Hero vs. Kaijyu...There comes a day when you must decide, which are you?I visited Sukagawa City in Fukushima prefecture to delve into this concept a bit more.Why Sukagawa City?Sukagawa City is the hometown of Tsuburaya Eiji, the creator of Ultraman and a co-creator of Godzilla. He came to be known as the “Father of Tokusatsu,” or, the “Father of Japanese special effects.” His post-war work on the Godzilla film of 1954 brought him international success which allowed him to create more science fiction films featuring different monsters, or kaijyu, as well as the internationally popular Ultra-series!Today, Tsuburaya Eiji’s legacy lives on in his hometown where his heroes and monsters roam the streets!With this in mind, we set off on our adventure!Eating our heroes...You are what you eat? Or are you conquering the enemy by eating them? You decide…My first stop was the Tamakiya Bakery in Sukagawa City where you will find a wonderful family-owned and operated small business. Decorated with Ultraman-related memorabilia. The creativity of the (now adult) kids of the family shines through in the various Ultraman and Kaijyu-related breads and cookies! Each one is absolutely delicious.I recommend stocking up for your adventure, if there is one thing that heroes and kaijyu have in common, it is that they must eat to stay strong and battle ready!I ate a Kanegon chocolate bread, and suddenly the money in my pocket started looking like a.. snack?? Kanegon is a kaijyu who is known to eat money! Oh no, have I absorbed his powers? It’s impossible to say. Somehow, I managed to contain my dark urges. Doing some researchSuddenly it became clear that there was a lot that I still don’t know about Ultraman and Kaiju.So, I walked over to the Eiji Tsuburaya Museum to conduct some important research. The museum has a lot of interesting information about Eiji Tsuburaya’s life and accomplishments, various kaijyu, heroes, and the filming of classic sci-fi and kaijyu-related movies.There is even an original Godzilla suit on display! As you walk around the room, you may feel the eyes of Godzilla following you. Perhaps he is eyeing you up, trying to decide if you are an ally, or a delicious snack. Please tread lightly.There is a video exhibit and an interactive exhibit that turns you into various Kaijyu and heroes. There is also a station where you can create your own original Kaijyu, unfortunately this exhibit is temporarily suspended, however, it will hopefully be up and running again soon. Having important discussions with IRL heroes and KaijyuWhen you walk the streets of Sukagawa, you’ll never walk alone.Kaijyu and Heroes line the streets causing trouble and cleaning up said trouble. I recommend stopping and having a chat with these monsters and heroes to get some diverse perspectives on good and evil.I sat and spoke with Kanegon for quite a while, and we even discussed our struggles with wanting to eat money. Channeling my hero energy Next, we stopped by the Sukagawa Enobori Yoshinoya Workshop to create an Ultraman banner.It was so cool to experience the use of these traditional banner-making techniques in a place with so much historical significance.As I admired my new Ultraman banner, I thought, maybe I am a hero after all. The final testNext, we headed over to the Sukagawa Tokusatsu Archive Center!Succumbing to my true nature and terrorizing a small town.Ultimately, the sight of an unprotected town brought out my worst instincts. I almost went full KAIJYU mode. Fortunately, my coworker is a hero, and he saved the town!After our battle, we explored the various miniature exhibits and classic special effects tools on display.We were also able to watch a short film and then a video about the special effects that were used to create that short film. It was really incredible, and made me want to try to make my own miniatures at home.If you are interested in sci-fi or classic special effects, then I highly recommend checking out the Sukagawa Tokusatsu archive center! You won’t be disappointed.Contact us through email or through our social media channels if you have any questions or need help planning a trip here!©円谷プロPublished 2022/06/10

    Heroes and Kaijyu Adventures in Japan
  16. Useful Information

    5 things to do in Aizu Misato Town

    1. Try out an Aizu Hongo pottery workshop!After all, Aizu Misato Town is best known for its pottery culture!I’ve never used a pottery wheel in my life, but the kind staff at Irori Pottery House was so helpful. The way to use the wheel was not only thoroughly explained to me, but he also gave me a full demonstration!It was so much fun making a cup on the pottery wheel! The staff made it look so easy, however, it was much harder than it looks!The shop is filled with beautiful pieces. https://fukushima.travel/destination/aizu-hongo-pottery-workshops/3222. Investigate the local pottery cultureBe sure to stop by the visitors’ center to learn more about the town and admire a variety of pottery that is on display in the museum area.The town has a rich history in pottery that dates back to the Warring States Period (1467 – 1615)!Aizu Hongo pottery is a local treasure and although it may not be a household name, pieces of Aizu Hongo pottery (known in Japanese as 'Hongo-yaki') can be found in museums around the world! Some pieces are more affordable and available for sale while some pieces are priceless, however, all are beautiful.During the warring states period, the leader of the Aizu Clan, Ujisato Gamo, ordered renovations be made to the nearby Tsurugajo Castle. The need to quickly produce a large number of ceramic tiles for the castle roof led to a surge in pottery production in the area with more than 100 kilns and craftspeople producing the tiles. Along with tiles, potters also crafted a wide variety of products and wares, honing their skills after years of training.Today there are only 13 kilns left in the area, and they are still producing ceramics and porcelain products today to preserve the oldest tradition of pottery in the Tohoku region. 3. Explore the area on a free rental bike!There are actually rental bikes here that you can use for up to 4 hours, for FREE! One of the bikes is an electrical assist bike, so if you are super interested in biking but your travel buddy is less so, then you can put them on the electrical assist bike and go exploring together!The bikes can be rented at the visitors’ center. 4. Check out the the Isasumi Shrine.The history of this shrine is thought to be connected to a 2000-year-old legend, detailed on the Isasumi Shrine page.The grounds of the shrine are shaded with large trees and quiet mossy paths. When I visited, the classic wooden structure was so beautiful against the summer greenery. There is a large Koi pond nearby that is also very relaxing to visit. I had a nice time feeding the koi fish. 5. Enjoy local cuisineThe area is particularly famous for having delicious soba noodles and sauce Katsudon dishes! I ordered the sauce Katsudon at a local diner and it was absolutely delicious. 

    5 things to do in Aizu Misato Town
  17. Useful Information

    Fishing at Aquamarine Fukushima

    I know what you’re thinking... Fishing?? At an aquarium?Well, this isn’t a typical aquarium.Aquamarine Fukushima is an Environmental Aquarium focused on research and providing educational information about sustainability and conservation.The aquarium is most well-known for its triangular tunnel that separates two large tanks that represent the part of the sea where two currents meet. The Oyashio current (home to a high degree of diversity and reef environments) and the Kuroshio current (home to fast-moving fish and wide open sea environments). This was my first time seeing large schools of fish moving together, and it was really mesmerizing!After getting hypnotized by the swirling school of fish, we headed over to the fishing pond to catch some lunch!At the fishing area, I was handed a rod and some bait. You pay (1000 yen) to use the rod, and then it is a small fee (100 yen) per fish you catch.The fish in the pond were really cute, so I was nervous about eating them. I love eating sushi but when confronted with a cute little fish swimming around, I start to think less with my stomach and more with my heart.I’ve never successfully caught a fish on my own, so I was shocked when I almost instantly felt a tug on the fishing pole. I pulled the rod up and suddenly there was a flopping fish in my hands!In the same way, I was able to quickly catch two more fish. So, one for me and each of my coworkers. You aren’t allowed to return any fish to the water, so be careful not to catch more fish than you can eat.Catching the fish here is pretty easy, so I think this is a great activity to try!Most of us have very little experience with fishing or hunting. When you source all of your food from the local grocery store, it can be hard to remember or come to terms with the fact that the meat we eat was once alive. Faced with a living fish, some visitors (mostly children) have broken the rules and released what they caught once no one was looking! However, rather than feeling sad about the fish, I channeled the mindset of gratitude towards the fish for providing me with life-sustaining nourishment. Thank you, fish friend!We carried the fish friends over to the cooking area, said a little goodbye, and handed them over to the chef. Quickly, the fish were swiftly prepared in front of us and cooked. A few minutes later, we were handed a plate of hot fish fry.They smelled really good. We said a heartfelt thank you, “itadakimasu,” and ate. The taste was so fresh and delicious. I have never eaten such fresh fish before, and my coworker and I agreed that the meat almost tasted more like fried chicken than fish. It felt good to know exactly where our food had come from.In order to consume consciously, it is good to remember to value the life of the creatures that we eat.By keeping our oceans clean, we can honor the lives of sea animals. After we ate, we walked around a bit more and took a look at some of the exhibits. One had a lot of information about beach cleanups and efforts that the aquarium is making to stay environmentally conscious which I hope you will check out if you visit!It was a lot of fun visiting Aquamarine Fukushima, and I hope that you will consider visiting!

    Fishing at Aquamarine Fukushima
  18. Useful Information

    7 Ways to Enjoy the Goshiki-numa Ponds

    1. Rent a boat for a unique perspective!At one of the ponds there is a small boat house where you can rent a row boat to explore the water up close and personal! The vibrant color of the water is beautiful and so fun to paddle around. If you paddle over to the banks of the pond, you can relax on the water beneath the shade of low-hanging branches and listen to the birds singing.Please note: Boat services are not available in the winter months due to ice and snow.2. Locate the koi fish of loveLiving in the main pond is a very special koi fish, the koi fish of love? This is a special koi fish with a heart-shaped spot on its side. Some believe that if you see this fish then you will have good luck in love. So if you’re having trouble landing a date, maybe it’s time to come search for this mysterious koi fish!3. Hike the trailIf you are the adventurous type, then I recommend exploring the trail around the Goshiki-numa ponds to get a look at more of the lakes and ponds in the area. There are many dotted around the area, all formed sometime after the eruption in 1888. There is a spectacular 3.6 km walking route that takes about 70 minutes to complete and wanders through the forest, taking you to see some of the different vibrantly colored bodies of water in the area.If you are visiting in winter, you should look into a snow-shoe trekking tour. They are a lot of fun, but be sure to bring some warm clothes! 4. Ponder the Geological History of the areaIf you look in the distance your will see the back side of Mt. Bandai, however, only the trained eye will be able to notice the remaining evidence of the massive eruption that occurred in 1888. Mt. Bandai is actually a type of volcano! Prior to the eruption, the area around the Goshiki-numa ponds was an area covered with rivers and streams. The eruption greatly altered the surrounding area, including forming the Goshiki-numa lakes and ponds, as well as sinking an entire village! If you are interested in the geology of the area, I recommend a quick visit to the Mt. Bandai Eruption Memorial Museum. Thankfully various tools are used to predict volcanic eruptions here, so you don’t need to worry about that when visiting! 5. Enjoy a pond-colored ice cream!If you like weird foods, or have a sweet tooth, I recommend trying the pond-colored Goshiki-numa ice cream. The vibrant blue ice cream is made using frozen water from the ponds, the unique minerals create an interesting taste. (Just Kidding) The ice cream does not contain any water from the ponds, it is flavored like a lightly salted vanilla. It’s delicious and great for photos!6. Visit during your favorite season! Goshiki-numa has something different and special to offer depending on the season. In late April or early May you can catch a glimpse of some wild cherry blossoms. In summer the vibrant green colors will wow you! In autumn the contrast of the warm autumn leaves and the cool colored ponds is breathtaking. Finally, in winter the bright white snow makes the vibrant color of the ponds really pop!7. Take it slowIf this all sounds a bit too active for you, then I recommend grabbing some snacks or a coffee at the food stand and sitting at one of the benches to admire the scenery at a more leisurely pace. The air here is very fresh and relaxing, so it is a really great place to sit and just be calm for a little while, especially in the mornings.Published 2022/05/12

    7 Ways to Enjoy the Goshiki-numa Ponds
  19. Useful Information

    6 Things to Do at the Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan Samurai School

    I visited the Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan, originally established in 1803. This was a large and prestigious school where the children of samurai families were sent at the age of ten to learn both academics and physical discipline. Today it is a large interactive museum where you can participate in many of the activities that the students here would have practiced back in the day. So, for anyone interested in history, culture, or anything samurai, I highly recommend a visit! Even if you do not know much about the history, there are lots of interactive group activities that you can enjoy with friends and family.A school for samurai or a Japanese school for wizards? 1. Walk around the school groundsWalking through the front entryway, the beautiful architecture and vastness of the school will immediately draw your attention. The property covers something like 26,500 square meters, making it as large as some modern-day universities. It feels like a Japanese school for wizards and it is so fun to get lost in your imagination as you wander around the grounds.The architecture throughout the complex is beautiful, and there are even the remains of an astronomical observatory where students could have studied the stars.2. Check out the oldest swimming pool in Japan!The first thing that drew my attention was a large pool of water, which is actually Japan’s oldest swimming pool! Today, you can see koi fish swimming peacefully in the water, however, this was once a place when samurai-in-training would wear weighted practice armor and swim while practicing battle moves. This was to train them in the case of a mid-battle river or moat crossing. Swimming was always my favorite subject so I asked a staff member if visitors could swim here, and unfortunately the answer was no. It’s too bad, but I probably wouldn’t have lasted long trying to swim in weighted armor... Maybe it is better this way! My disappointment evaporated when we walked over to the archery course.3. Try out Japanese archery or “Kyūdō”The archery course is shaded by a classic-style wooden roof, and there are a variety of classic Japanese-style bows to practice with. There is a lot of space to sit and watch your friends and see who can hit the target the best. Even if you come alone, the male and female archery teachers are really kind and will give you lots of pointers and advice.Japanese archery is called Kyudo, and has a rich history! Archery in Japan dates back to pre-historic times with images of long-bow-wielding Japanese people first appearing in the Yayoi period which lasted between 500 BC to 300AD. Sometime during the Edo period (1603-1868) the name “Kyūdō” was coined to refer to the martial art of Japanese archery. Kyūdō was commonly used in ceremonies, competitions, and festivals. Today, you can still see Kyūdō events in festivals around Japan.It’s a lot of fun, but it’s harder than it looks! Will you impress yourself and others with unexpected talent? Pricing is very reasonable, only a couple hundred yen (a couple of dollars) for a handful of arrows.4. Decorate some traditional crafts to take homeIf you want a relaxing activity to do, I recommend trying your hand at painting a traditional craft. The open-air craft space is cool in the shade, with an occasional breeze blowing through. You can even hear the songs of birds drifting in through the large open doorways.I painted an Akabeko and a set of Okiagari Koboshi dolls. Akabeko is a good luck charm that is thought to ward off illnesses, while Okiagari Koboshi are little dolls that represent perseverance as even when they are knocked over they stand up again. Both of these crafts are symbolic of Aizu and Fukushima spirit making them a great souvenir once you finish painting them!Learn more about Fukushima Local Crafts5. Learn the history by exploring the classroomsExploring the classrooms, you can get a sense of what it must have been like to live a day in the life of a student here. Students would begin attending from age 10 and continue till age 15, after which they would study etiquette, calligraphy, martial arts, and other subjects. Top students may have gone on to university for further studies.In some classrooms, you can see classrooms recreated as they would have looked to students so many years ago. Other classrooms are left open so that you can enter and even experience some classes that students here would have experienced such as meditation and tea ceremony.6. Become a student!If you visit with a party of at least ten, you can try out Japanese classes the traditional art of Zazen (Japanese Mediation) and Sadou (Japanese Tea Ceremony) which were also traditional cultural subjects that the samurai students would have studied back in the day. Combine this with archery and painting experiences to feel like a student for the day!Learn more about the Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan Samurai SchoolContact us through email or on our social media channels if you have any questions or need help planning a trip here!Published 2022/05/11

    6 Things to Do at the Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan Samurai School
  20. Useful Information

    People of Fukushima

    People of Fukushima Over ten years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Disaster devastated people living along the coastline of the North Eastern region of Japan known as Tohoku. Despite the overwhelming love and support that poured in from around the world, the journey of grieving and overcoming this terrible set of circumstances must have been too great at the time to even imagine a brighter future. However, today when you visit Fukushima you’ll see people smiling, children laughing, and flowers blooming. The smiles on the faces of the people of Fukushima seem contrary to the hardships they’ve experienced… It makes one wonder, could this possibly be the same place? Through their smiles we can begin to understand the story of a people who have overcome difficult circumstances, and continue to stay optimistic and remain motivated to overcome anything that comes their way. In a relatively short time frame, recovery efforts have progressed greatly. This is largely thanks to the astounding motivation and hard work of local people whose love for their hometowns and communities is extremely touching. Although there is still work to be done, Fukushima is a wonderful prefecture that deserves more love and attention, so I hope that you will keep reading to learn more, and even consider visiting someday.     Tokyo Plus 90 Widely considered to be the gateway to the Tohoku region, Fukushima Prefecture is a land of rich history and abundant nature. It’s closer that you think, only 90 minutes from Tokyo! This remote prefecture may seem difficult to reach; however, you can get to Fukushima Station from Tokyo Station in only 90 minutes! From there you can access spectacular historic sights and experience the charms of rural Japan!   Time Travel? Experience the charms of ancient Japan by visiting the historic sights of Fukushima, many of which have maintained their structures for over 300 years! The Aizu region is the main sight-seeing area of Fukushima Prefecture thanks to the regions large number of preserved historical sights. There is also an abundance of hot springs, natural resources, and historical charm that draw in visitors. This is the area of Fukushima that experienced the least damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake.   Tsurugajo Castle in Aizu-Wakamatsu City The Tsurgajo Castle was burned to the ground when the age of the samurai came to a violent end after the events of the Boshin War. With great care, the castle was reconstructed from the rubble to honor the valiant warriors who gave their lives to defend the Aizu Clan and her borders. The original stone base tells stories of the past such as etchings of crosses that suggest the existence of Christian groups within the Aizu clan, a rarity at the time.   Visit the frozen castle of the Aizu samurai clan...   During the winter months, the red tinted tiles of the castle roof covered with snow combine with the striking white walls, making the castle appear to be made of ice and snow. A sight that must have been a great source of pride among the samurai citizens of Fukushima!   Ouchi-juku After vising the former castle town of Aizu-Wakamatsu city, we highly recommend a trip to the one of a kind Ouchi-juku! This beautifully preserved post town once served as a rest stop for samurai travelers who were required to make yearly pilgrimages to the capital of Edo (Modern day Tokyo) during the Edo period (1603-1868).     The town still retains its original thatched roof buildings and atmosphere. The charming local residents are friendly and love to chat with travelers! In fact, all of the inns, cafes, and restaurants are still locally owned and operated by the descendants of the people who lived here hundreds of years ago. Without the presence of modern shops and chain stores, you can feel totally immersed, making it feel as though you’ve slipped back in time.     Enjoy a cup of warm tea & a traditional snack while you soak up the atmosphere.   When you visit, be sure to try a freshly baked rice cracker as well as Ouchi-juku's specialty negi-soba! This fun noodle dish is eaten with a long green onion as a utensil. The streets are lined with different vendors serving up old fashioned Japanese snacks. With so many options, it’s tempting to try them all. Many vendors will offer you tea and a place to sit and soak in the atmosphere of the town. If they aren’t too busy they will almost certainly strike up a conversation with you, whether you speak Japanese or not. Ouchi-juku https://fukushima.travel/destination/ouchi-juku/11     The Suzuki Brewery in Namie Town Namie Town is located in the coastal area of Fukushima Prefecture known as the Hamadori area. This was one of the areas that suffered tremendous damage during the Great East Japan Earthquake. The Suzuki Sake Brewery used to operate a sake brewery in Namie Town's Ukedo district, this building was located steps from the sea and was physically destroyed by the tsunami wave.     This left the owner of the brewery without a home or a livelihood.   They managed to evacuate with the necessities of the brewery and after the disaster, the brewery was moved to Nagai City to the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture in October 2011 (the same year as the earthquake). Since then, they’ve continued to brew sake with the hope of preserving the traditional sake brewing techniques that had been developed by generations of brewers in Namie Town.     Finally, on March 20, 2021, the brewery was able to return to its hometown of Namie with the opening of a new brewery at the Namie Roadside Station. Here, visitors can watch the Suzuki brewers at work making their delicious sake. They even use locally grown rice to make some of their sake, with a focus on maintaining their hometown flavor.     At the Namie Roadside Station, you can visit the sake brewery and taste their freshly brewed sake. For visitors who don't drink sake, there is also a sake flavored soft serve ice cream that is absolutely delicious. The soft serve comes in a traditional wooden sake cup! Namie Roadside Station (https://michinoeki-namie.jp/)   Nature’s Candy These are “Anpo-gaki,” or semi-dried persimmons. This is a healthy and popular traditional sweet from Date City in Fukushima Prefecture. They are dried persimmons with a chewy outer layer and a sweet gelatinous textured interior that is absolutely incredible. The beautiful and distinct orange color (in addition to the superb taste) make it one of the most popular dried persimmon producers in Japan.     Anpo-gaki have a long history that dates back to the Edo period.   Even in ancient times Date City was widely known for its natural abundance of delicious fruits. People used to hang dried persimmons in the sun to preserve them for a longer period of time, the sight of persimmons hanging from private homes was common. However, persimmons lose their beautiful color in the intense light of the sun. So, after many years of careful research and creativity by the local people, they developed a special method of drying persimmons in shaded, open air rafters that help them to maintain their gorgeous orange color and grow in popularity.     When the disaster occurred, local farmers were unable to produce anpo-gaki for many years due to safety concerns. People were concerned that they would lose the tradition of drying persimmons. However, with time and immense efforts from local farmers, they were able to meet strict requirements that deemed the anpo-gaki safe for consumption. Even once the products were tested and found to be safe, due to rumors and fears of radiation, it was difficult to ship products. Finally, this year, we achieved our long-standing goal of exporting anpo-gaki! Anpo-gaki from Fukushima Prefecture are now available in Dubai. This is a huge achievement and mark of progress for farmers in Date city. Today, people in Date City continue to produce delicious Anpo-gaki while preserving their traditional techniques. Persimmon Paradise in Date City Blog https://fukushima.travel/blogs/persimmon-paradise-in-date-city/106   Fighting to preserve rural culture in a rapidly urbanizing Japan The man holding the camera is Mr. Hoshi Kenko. Born and raised in Kanayama Town in the Okuaizu region of Aizu Area, he spends roughly 300 days out of the year photographing his hometown. Thanks in part to his efforts, this beautiful area has become an increasingly popular spot to visit. In post-war Japan, when urban areas were expanding rapidly, many young people left their hometowns to work in bigger cities. This caused a decrease in the population of the Okuaizu region. This is something that has affected rural communities across Japan and has inspired a sense of crisis for some, including Mr. Hoshi.     Without action, there was fear that the tradition & beauty of the farming villages could be lost forever.   Using his own money, he took it upon himself to do anything he could to preserve the local traditions of coexisting with nature. Through his photography, he raised interest in the area. He also revived a once lost traditional Japanese-style river-boat ferry service known as the Mugenkyo Ferry or Mugenkyo no Watashi. Thanks to Mr. Hoshi and many other highly motivated people in the region, the culture of rural Fukushima is being preserved and the area is becoming more lively.   The Tadami Line photo by Kenko Hoshi   Still relatively undiscovered by foreign travelers, this is certainly a unique adventure. The views from the train are beautiful no matter the season, but the atmosphere is particularly romantic in winter. The Tadami Line's No.1 bridge viewpoint became famous in Taiwan and South East Asian countries when a photo of it began to circulate on social media. This incredibly scenic train line runs across the Aizu region and passes through many historic and beautiful areas.   photo by Kenko Hoshi   Part of the JR Tadami Line, which served as a lifeline for the local people was washed away by a major storm that hit the area in the summer of 2011. A bus route was established to complete the route with full restoration predicted to be completed by the end of this year, 2022.   Mugenkyo Ferry (Mugenkyo no Watashi) The ferry was named " misty gorge" or "Mugenkyo" because it was often shrouded in mist on summer mornings and evenings, creating a dream-like atmosphere. This (now restored) ferry service once connected the now abandoned village Sanzara Village in Kaneyama Town to the other side of the river some 50 years ago. Like private cars, ferry boats like these were used as a part of daily life in the area. Although the local people were very poor, they were creative & resilient. Due to volcanic activity, flooding, and landslides they had to relocate their village several times! Each time, however, they adapted and overcame their difficult situations. Continuing to choose a lifestyle that involved coexisting with nature. (https://fukushima.travel/destination/mugenkyo-no-watashi-river-crossing/96)     The mist enveloping the area is great for photographers, and visitors who want to get a glimpse back into the unique lifestyles of ancient Japan. Here you can glide across the emerald waters, and escape the noise and busyness of modern day life for a moment.   Aizu Lacquerware at Suzuzen Aizu Lacquerware is one of Japan's three major lacquerware styles. The history of Aizu Lacquerware dates back to the Muromachi period (1336-1573) when it was first used. The natural warmth of the wooden container combines with the soft texture of Aizu Lacquer to create a product that has been widely loved by people for generations.     Mr. Kosae Nakamura, pictured in the center of the photo, is a professional craftsman at Suzuzen, a lacquerware wholesale shop that was established in 1833. He creates lovely designs using “Makie” techniques that involve being finished using gold, silver, or colored dusted designs. Due to harmful rumors caused by the nuclear power plant accident, the number of tourists to Aizuwakamatsu City decreased for a while. Sales were lower, and he began to worry for his business and the preservation of Aizu Lacquerware. Despite this, Mr. Nakamura remained positive and explored new options     He thought that he could increase the awareness of maki-e and show others the value of lacquer-ware by teaching the techniques directly to the general public. So today if you visit Suzuzen, you can learn maki-e directly from a master craftsman! This is one way that the culture and traditions of Aizu are being carried into the future. Maki Painting Lacquerware Experience at Suzuzen https://fukushima.travel/destination/makie-painting-lacquerware-experience-at-suzuzen/283   These are just a few stories The Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Disaster caused enormous damage in many ways, in many areas. In the coastal areas, many lost their loved ones, their homes, and their livelihood. Despite these circumstances, the people of Fukushima Prefecture have proven to be stronger than their challenge. By working together, people have rebuilt their communities and stepped forward into a brighter future. I want people to know about the real Fukushima Prefecture. I want people to learn about the real Fukushima Prefecture from the stories of those who live here. Each of us have our own small stories, and we will continue to create new stories together in Fukushima Prefecture. Of course, there are still some areas where people can't go home, but thanks to the support and understanding from people all over the world, each one of us has hope for the future. Thank you for supporting us, and cheering us on. If you are interested in learning more or supporting the people of Fukushima, please add Fukushima to your bucket list, come and experience this unique and often misunderstood Japanese Prefecture!  

    People of Fukushima
  21. Useful Information

    The Sake Brewing Process at Niida Honke

    Niida Honke Sake BreweryFounded in 1711, Niida Honke has seen eighteen generations of master brewers, each bringing their own personality and subtle changes to the company and its sake. The current head brewer is Yasuhiko Niida, an incredibly nice person with an awe-inspiring passion for making Sake.Under Mr. Niida’s supervision, Niida Honke has seen many changes. In 2011 the brewery celebrated its 300th anniversary and the achievement of using 100% natural rice in its brewing process. Unfortunately, this was the same year as the Great East Japan Earthquake and the following nuclear disaster. Despite the difficulties, Niida Honke worked hard to return the health of the rice fields.After the fields were cleaned and returned to their healthy status, a decision was made to move the company into a more sustainable and natural direction with the goal of creating its sake with 100% natural and organic ingredients. They currently grow much of the rice used to create their sake in the fields that surround the brewery. Working with local farmers to create healthy, high-quality rice that is grown without the use of pesticides or harmful chemicals.In the future, Niida Honke aims to brew all of its sake in natural wooden tanks, switch entirely to solar power, and grow 100% of its own rice. For each bottle that you buy, Niida Honke takes one step closer to these goals.

    The Sake Brewing Process at Niida Honke
  22. Destination Spotlight

    Salvador Dali Art Museum in Stunning Japanese National Park

    When I’ve spoken to friends from around the world who have visited Fukushima about their favorite places in the prefecture, this museum’s name has been brought up time and time again. So what is so special about this museum? SALVADOR DALI GALOREThe founder of Morohashi Museum of Modern Art donated his personal art collection upon the opening of the museum in 1999, and now the museum contains almost 400 pieces of art, 332 of which are works by Salvador Dali!

    Salvador Dali Art Museum in Stunning Japanese National Park
  23. Destination Spotlight

    10 things to do at Abukuma Cave

    Formed over 80 million years by underground streams and covered with stalactites and stalagmites is the Abukuma Cave. This 3 km-long limestone cave network was discovered in 1969, and 600m of it has been opened to the public to date.Abukuma Cave is said to hold the biggest variety and number of stalactites in Asia. Each area of the cave network has a different name depending on the shape of the rock formations it contains. Many individual rocks also have their own name.

    10 things to do at Abukuma Cave
  24. Useful Information

    6 Reasons To Go Skiing In Fukushima (& Where To Go)

    I’m going to jump right into it: 6 Reasons to Go Skiing in Fukushima this winter!1) ACCESS FROM TOKYOSome of Fukushima main ski resorts can be reached in just 2.5 hours by train (shinkansen and local) & bus2) LONG SKI SEASONBeing the third largest prefecture in Japan makes for a varied climate across Fukushima Prefecture – this means Fukushima Prefecture’s ski season is comparitively long, lasting up to the end of April in some regions!3) POWDER SNOWSheltered by mountains, Aizu region’s inland location blesses its ski slopes with low humidity and a high snow quality that is fine and dry, which is comparable to that of the top-class snow in Hokkaido.4) HAVE THE SLOPES TO YOURSELFFukushima’s ski resorts are yet to be widely discovered by international tourists. You can enjoy skiing in Aizu without feelings like you’re at just another international tourist resort.5) CLOSE TO SIGHTSEEING DESTINATIONSMany ski resorts are located in or near Bandai, Inawashiro, Oku-Aizu and Minamiaizu Areas, which are close to some of Fukushima’s most impressive sightseeing spots including Tsurugajo Castle and Tadami River No.1 Bridge Viewpoint.6) GOOD DEALS FOR INTERNATIONAL TOURISTSGreat deals (such as cheap ski passes and car rentals) are often available to international tourists. See Aizu Ski Japan's website for more information. FUKUSHIMA’S SKI RESORTSHoshino Resorts’ Alts Bandai, Hoshino Resorts’ Nekoma, and Grandeco Resort are 3 of Fukushima’s most popular ski resorts amongst international tourists. They each have their own English websites, but here’s a little summary:HOSHINO RESORTS’ ALTS BANDAI

    6 Reasons To Go Skiing In Fukushima (& Where To Go)
  25. Destination Spotlight

    Spending A Winter Day In Tsuchiyu Onsen

    Tsuchiyu Onsen has been a well-loved kokeshi-producing onsen town for over 170 years. Kokeshi are painted wooden dolls, which have been produced in Japan since the late 18th century in onsen towns in Tohoku (the eastern region of Japan).Kokeshi were originally made and sold in onsen towns as souvenirs for visiting guests to take home to their friends and families. Throughout the 6 prefectures that make up Tohoku, there are 11 distinctive styles of kokeshi. This being said, the Tsuchiyu Kokeshi is ranked among the ‘top 3’ of the Tohoku Kokeshi.

    Spending A Winter Day In Tsuchiyu Onsen
  26. Destination Spotlight

    5 Reasons To Visit Tadami Line’s Yanaizu Town

    Yanaizu Town lies west of the historic city of Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture. It’s a perfect destination to include in a day trip from Aizu-Wakamatsu City, or as part of the journey to Kaneyama or Miyashita, where you can stay the night before venturing out to see the No. 1 Tadami River Bridge View Spot in the morning! The best part? The scenic JR Tadami Line local railway line connects all of these places! Here are some of my favourite things about visiting Yanaizu during the winter months. 1) ENZOJI TEMPLE Originally constructed in the year 807, Enzoji Temple is a remarkable and historic temple in Yanaizu Town. Although damaged heavily and repaired in the 17th century, the temple still feels extremely old, and bears the scars of historic events such as damage to the wood caused by the fighting that took place during the Meiji Restoration. This temple looks absolutely magical in winter time, as there is heavy snowfall in Aizu area each year. The temple is just a 9 minute walk from Aizu Yanaizu Station on the JR Tadami Line, or you can drive here easily from Aizu-Wakamatsu City. Enzoji Temple is most famous for being the birthplace of the legend of the lucky red cow of Fukushima known as the ‘Akabeko’. This cow supposedly played a vital role in the construction of the temple nearly a millennium ago. 2) THIS VIEW I never get over how beautiful the view from the steps leading up to Enzoji Temple is. Every time I drive past here, no matter the season, I can’t help but park my car and snap a photo or two. 3) STEAMED BUNS Yanaizu Town is known within Fukushima Prefecture for its really tasty sweet steamed buns known as ‘Awa Manju’, which are filled with a variety of flavours. Made from millet and pounded mochi rice, and filled with red bean paste, these buns have been loved in this town for almost 200 years. They’re especially delicious enjoyed with hot green tea! There are a number of shops that sell them along the quaint roads that surround Enzoji, so please take a walk around and choose your favourite! I’ve included the main manju shops in the map to the top of this post. 4) KIYOSHI SAITO MUSEUM OF ART, YANAIZU Just a 12 minute (1 km) walk from Enzoji Temple, this museum of art displays the work of Kiyoshi Saito, an internationally famous artist who was born in nearby Aizu-Bange Town. Inspired by traditional woodblock print, Saito produced many beautiful block prints during his life which have been exhibited in countries including the US, Australia, India and Czechoslovakia. Over the decades, the subject of Saito’s prints developed and changed, and range from animals and vegetable motifs to landscapes and portraits. For the town of Yanaizu, arguably the most important prints produced by Saito were his Aizu Series, made in 1940. Saito left Aizu in 1911 when he was 4-years-old to move to Hokkaido due to his father’s job transfer. He returned to Aizu for the first time in 1937 to visit his Aunt in Yanaizu Town. He was really moved by the beautiful scenery and created prints to capture the atmosphere and magic of rural life. He became a honorary citizen of Yanaizu Town years later and retired there at the age of 80. The museum has a great English website so please check it out here. The museum is located close to Michi-no-Eki Yanaizu (Roadside Station) and Hot in Yanaizu, where you can buy souvenirs and local food (and even a steamed bun or two if you get there before they all run out!) so be sure to check these shops out too. Images ©Hisako Watanabe 5) NAKED MAN FESTIVAL This festival is officially known as ‘Nanokado Hadaka Mairi‘, which translates as ‘Naked Temple Visit’. On the evening of January 7th every year, crowds of men dressed in fundoshi loincloths (which you read about last week!), get ready for this festival, which takes place in Enzoji Temple. Participants cleanse their bodies, and march through the streets of Yanaizu to Enzoji Temple, almost completely exposed to the elements.

    5 Reasons To Visit Tadami Line’s Yanaizu Town
  27. Destination Spotlight

    Snowy Drive Along Bandai-Azuma Skyline

    Bandai-Azuma Skyline, the stunning sightseeing road that runs through the Azuma mountain range, is closed for almost 5 months of every year, from mid-November to early-April. I took a drive in early April to celebrate the reopening of the road, and got to take in my first views from Skyline of the year. It was kind of amazing to compare central Fukushima City – where spring flowers are beginning to blossom – with the snowy scenes of Bandai-Azuma Skyline, despite the fact that the two are only around a 40-minute drive from each other. Popular as a sightseeing spot among drivers, motorcyclists, and cyclists with strong thighs alike, the winding mountain road Bandai-Azuma Skyline offers spectacular views regardless of the season. When spring arrives, visitors can take a short hike to the top of Mt. Azuma-Kofuji (“little Mt Fuji”) to see a huge, striking crater, climb Mt. Issaikyo, or take a walk around the various marshes reaching off of the central area, known as Jododaira. There is also a ‘Rest House’, where visitors can have a drink and a snack. I love Skyline, and have visited during the summer and autumn, so I was very excited to see the surrounding mountains covered in snow for the first time, and I wasn’t disappointed. There was such a huge amount of snow at the top, I was having flashbacks to the Ouchi-juku Snow Festival in February! I arrived at the Jododaira peak from the direction of central Fukushima City, and we descended the mountain in the direction of Tsuchiyu Onsen, a nearby onsen town. On the way to Tsuchiyu Onsen, I couldn’t help but notice that the snow that lined either side of the road was gradually stretching higher and higher until our car was completely surrounded on both sides by huge walls of snow. Apparently these walls can reach up to 4m high, but the year I visited (2017) they were a little shorter than that. Even so, it was fun to visit!

    Snowy Drive Along Bandai-Azuma Skyline
  28. Destination Spotlight

    Tadami Line: 5 Sights You Shouldn't Miss

    The Tadami Line is an incredibly scenic railway that runs across Aizu.Connecting the bustling samurai city of Aizu-Wakamatsu with the serene, gorgeous countryside of Oku-Aizu, this route is definitely one to try out if you want a chance to see rural Japan at its best.The Tadami Line is great because it provides a way for visitors to see areas of this beautiful prefecture basically undiscovered by tourists. Riding the train is a fun experience in itself, as is the fact you can hop off and on at any stations you’re interested in visiting.While being a passenger on the train means you’ll be provided with fantastic, panoramic views of the historic towns which lie on the Tadami Line, getting off at Aizu Miyashita Station, and catching the bus to Mishima Town’s observation points means you can see the train in action, passing over the stunning No. 1 Tadami River Bridge.No matter what the season, the views along the Tadami Line are absolutely breathtaking. TOP SIGHTSEEING SPOTS ON THE TADAMI LINE1. AIZU WAKAMATSU: TSURUGAJO CASTLE

    Tadami Line: 5 Sights You Shouldn't Miss
  29. Destination Spotlight

    Feel the Samurai Spirit at Nisshinkan & Aizu Bukeyashiki

    Experience for yourself what the training of real samurai was like in Fukushima.During 1868, the Aizu region of Fukushima was the site of the final prolonged battle of the Boshin Civil War, which was held between the supporters of the shogunate, and the newly formed government forces. Aizu was home to the Bushido spirit of loyalty to one’s lord without fear of death despite assured defeat. For this reason, the culture and spirit of the samurai still deeply color the region to this day.Visit the study halls where samurai gathered and the homes where they lived, and become a modern-day samurai yourself.Aizu NisshinkanFrom the age of ten, boys of Aizu’s samurai families would attend Nisshinkan, a school for cultivating their minds and bodies through academic and martial studies. Countless Nisshinkan graduates became important figures in Japan.You can visit the Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan, a faithful recreation of the original facility, which is still used as a place for educational activities, including martial arts. Entering through the impressive gate, you will be greeted by a magnificent example of Edo period architecture which recreates scenes of students carrying out their studies. Take a tour around Nisshinkan to learn about the training required to become a samurai and try your hand at archery and Zen meditation too – both of which were practiced by samurai-in-the-making.Aizu BukeyashikiAs you learn about the samurai lifestyle, be sure not to miss the Aizu Bukeyashiki (Samurai Residence) collection of historical buildings. This is an outdoor museum lined with structures of great importance in describing the history of the region. At the center is the residence of Saigo Tanomo, chief senior councilor of the Aizu clan during the Edo period, which features 38 rooms. Mannequins are used to recreate scenes from the lives of the family members. You will also find exhibits of actual weapons, kimonos, and other items used by the samurai in their daily lives, giving you an even more direct sense of their lives.Experiences at Nisshinkan and BukeyashikiThe Japanese archery which you can try at Nisshinkan is a martial art requiring concentration and willpower. While similar in appearance to Western archery, it uses a unique style in which a large bow is held to the right of the body. The arrows are small, making it possible for even children to try. There are instructors standing by at each location, so you can try even if it is your first time. If you release the arrow with controlled breath and the correct posture, you will enjoy a sense of having taken a step closer to becoming a samurai yourself. If booking as part of a group day tour, you may also experience Zen meditation at Nisshinkan. Here, you can hear lectures on basic methods and even how to live one’s life from the standpoint of Zen meditation. Try to grasp a sense of the state of mind valued by the Samurai. Please bear in mind that this activity is conducted in Japanese, so you need to book as part of a tour to ensure English support.After immersing yourself in the samurai spirit through Japanese archery and Zen meditation, why not try dressing up like a samurai too? Change into period garb at Aizu Bukeyashiki’s photo corner and have your picture taken. Pick out the costume you like and remember to strike a samurai pose for your photograph! Participatory samurai activities tend to be popular, so it is recommended that you contact the facilities in advance with the size of your group and your arrival time. Aizu Bukeyashiki (Samurai Residence) also features a restaurant where you can dine on local cuisine. Tasting the local cuisine which samurai likely enjoyed will perfectly complete the experience.Read more about the samurai spirit on our blog here.

    Feel the Samurai Spirit at Nisshinkan & Aizu Bukeyashiki
  30. Useful Information

    Fun in the Powder Snow in Japan

    The silvery world of snow-covered ski slopes and mountains sparkling in reflected light is a typical sight in Fukushima Prefecture during winter. The altitude is high in the western part of Fukushima, which includes the areas of Inawashiro, Aizu, and Adatara Kogen, and the snow is deep during winter months from December through March. The many ski resorts in these areas are recommended for first-time visitors experiencing snow for the first time because, in addition to winter sports such as skiing, these resorts are great places for sledding, making snowmen, and snowball fights.Reaching FukushimaEase of access and the unstinting hospitality unique to Japan are among the many reasons why Fukushima Prefecture’s ski resorts are so popular. These features make these resorts of particular interest to families with children. Koriyama, which serves as the main transportation hub for Fukushima Prefecture, is only 90 minutes from Tokyo on the Tohoku Shinkansen. Travelers will arrive in Koriyama before they know it, entertained en route by the views of mountains adorned in snow juxtaposed with the speed of the shinkansen itself which particularly fascinates children.Numerous shuttle buses operate between the ski slopes and stations including Koriyama. There are also shuttle buses that run between ski resorts and other facilities. This means driving the unfamiliar snowy roads won’t be necessary.Getting to FukushimaGear & ClothingWhile the temperature here is typically near freezing in winter, it’s possible to rent all manner of cold weather clothing and gear, from jackets and pants, to accessory items such as gloves, all available in sizes from child to adult. Staff will pick out the right outfit for your planned snow activities. Perhaps one of the greatest appeals of Fukushima is that it’s possible to come to our snow-covered mountains on a whim any time you feel the urge to play in the snow during winter time in Japan.Photo: Urabandai Tourism Association https://www.urabandai-inf.com/en/Let’s hit the ski slopes!Go ahead and dive right into the snow. The soft snow will take you in and wrap you in its gently chilly sensation. Fukushima is known for its powder snow, which is low in water content. Powder snow does not melt right away when you touch it, but rather falls away like a dry powder. The sensation of this dry powdery snow that can only be enjoyed in the winter mountains is itself more than enough reason to visit.The various ski resorts each provide open areas where it is safe for children to play in the snow, and where there is no need to be concerned about being crashed into by skiers.First, why not try sledding across the surface of the snow? The sleds are ridden in a seated position, and the sense of acceleration is very exciting. You can even experience a sensation of floating as you zip across the surface of the powder snow.Next, try making snow balls. Here, snowball fights are never painful due to the fluffy nature of the powder snow. The photos you take of your family covered in snow after everyone has had their fill will likely provide fond memories for years to come.Finally, don’t miss the chance to make a snowman. Starting with a small ball of snow, you can create a surprisingly large ball simply by rolling it around to collect more snow. For a Japanese style snowman, you need only make two large balls of snow, one for the body and one for the head, to complete the snowman. You can then try decorating it with small branches and other objects. Perhaps you can make a face that looks just like someone in your family.Tips1) Don’t overdo it if you get cold If you start to feel tired, why not head back indoors and lazily enjoy the snowy vistas from a comfy warm room? Another way you can enjoy the Fukushima with your family is to warm up at one of the many hot springs after playing in the snow together.2) Always watch your feet as you move aboutPowder snow is ideal for winter sports, but it also makes the ground very slippery. Make sure to wear waterproof shoes with non-slip soles.3) Bring appropriate clothing.We also recommend bringing ample changes of undergarments for your children. The temperature is typically below freezing, so you will become cold quickly when you sweat.Ski resorts are located in high-altitude mountainous areas, and there are times even in April when the cold weather begins to thaw when the sudden arrival of a blizzard can quickly drop the temperature and change the climate at short notice. Thus it is important to be ready for the cold weather even at the end of the season.Useful Links6 Reasons To Go Skiing In Fukushima (& Where To Go)Yuki-Matsuri: Fukushima’s Snow FestivalsJapan's Lesser-Known Ski Resorts

    Fun in the Powder Snow in Japan
  31. Useful Information

    Yuki-Matsuri: Fukushima’s Snow Festivals

    In the Aizu region located in the mountainous part of Fukushima, many festivals are held weaving together the beautiful contrasts of fire and snow during the coldest part of the winter season. The snow serves as a pure white molding material that projects the feelings of the people of Aizu, themselves shaped by the beauty and severity of winter. The shimmering flames that decorate the tranquil frozen towns gently warm hearts and bodies while bringing a deep sense of mystery to the wintery night. Together with the crisp winter air, this otherworldly scene of wonder will form an indelible memory for couples for many years to come.The people of the Aizu region spend much of the winter in a deep layer of snow. While they are snowed in, they wait for the distant arrival of spring engaged in crafts such as basket and textile weaving and candle making. The simplicity of the diverse handiwork speaks of the overflowing vitality of the people. That spirit is very much alive today and deeply colors the mood of the festivals that continue to be celebrated in the towns of Aizu. Through these festivals that pray for good health and abundant harvests, you will experience a sense of the spirit of Japanese culture that has long respected the power of nature and given thanks for the changes of the seasons.

    Yuki-Matsuri: Fukushima’s Snow Festivals
  32. Useful Information

    Japan's Lesser-Known Ski Resorts

    The number one reason why the ski resorts of Fukushima are popular with skiers throughout the world is, without a doubt, the quality of the snow itself. The ski resorts featuring Fukushima’s quality powder snow, which is silky and dry due to the low water content, are magnets for the snow connoisseur.Just as an example, the snow quality in Australia during the peak ski season is only at about the level of Fukushima’s snow at the very end of the season. The sense of floating one gets while skiing on powder snow can become addictive to any skier visiting Fukushima for the first time.SKI SEASONThe winter sports season in Fukushima Prefecture lasts from December through the following April. There are numerous ski resorts in the western part of the prefecture in areas such as Urabandai and Minamiaizu, and each resort has unique characteristics to enjoy. The diversity of slopes with access to the ultimate quality snow is another feature of Fukushima’s ski resorts.The heights can often be reached easily via chair lifts and roofed gondolas, making it easy to access the numerous courses available. Fukushima's ski resorts feature long courses for beginners with gentle grade slopes, mogul courses featuring well-groomed (compacted) snow, and natural courses for advanced skiers with obstacles such as rocks and trees. Furthermore, the Minamiaizu area has a long history of being open to snowboarders from early in the season, so many resorts include halfpipes, rails, and kickers to satisfy the most active snowboarders. Night-time skiing is also possible at a number of them, allowing you to keep skiing long after the sun goes down.ACCESSIn order to enjoy the Fukushima ski resorts, there is no need to prepare equipment to deal with winter mountains at a 2,000-meter altitude, or to rent a car to travel over long distances. Instead, shuttle buses run between the ski resorts and train stations including Koriyama Station, the transportation hub of the prefecture. This means visitors from Tokyo can be skiing down the slopes before noon if they take an early shinkansen.How To Access FukushimaThere are also numerous options available depending on schedule and group size for those travelers wishing to enjoy skiing for several days. Ski resorts have on-site hotels for those wishing to focus their time on skiing and snowboarding, while large groups or those looking to stay for longer periods can try a cottage or private inn.The hot springs located near the resorts are recommended for those wishing to experience a taste of Japan. When it comes to local cuisine we recommend ramen, a soul food that warms both body and mind, and the sake of Fukushima which is ranked high in quality nationally, for a fully satisfying and relaxing winter experience.Things to keep in mindIn recent years, so-called backcountry skiing, or skiing on new snow outside established courses and in untouched forests, is growing in popularity, and many from inside and outside Japan also come to Fukushima for this reason. However, due to the high frequency of accidents, such as collisions with trees or getting lost, the number of places in Fukushima where this is allowed is very limited. In order to enjoy backcountry skiing, it is absolutely essential for you to take precautions for safety by employing a guide, bringing the right equipment, and keeping aware of the weather.While Western culture typically places responsibility for behavior on the individual, in Japan, facility managers and communities are typically held responsible for any accidents that happen nearby. Therefore, skiers are asked to adhere to the local manners and rules so that they can continue to come back and enjoy Fukushima’s world-class quality powder snow in the future.For more information, check out our page on ski resorts, or the Aizu Ski Japan website.Useful LinksIdeas for Winter Trips in FukushimaYuki-Matsuri: Fukushima’s Snow FestivalsA Complete Guide to Visiting Fukushima During Winter

    Japan's Lesser-Known Ski Resorts
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