Aizu Misato Town’s historic Isasumi Shrine, known as a great spot for viewing beautiful irises, holds a festival to celebrate the splendor of these flowers every year.
Isasumi Shrine's history is thought to be connected to how the Aizu region got its name - a story that has been recorded in two of Japan’s most legendary books of folklore. According to the tale, around 2000 years ago, four shogun were entrusted with uniting the four areas of land which would become Japan. Two of these shogun happened to be father and son. One was sent to the north-east, and the other to the north-west.
When the father and son had completed their work uniting the towns in their respective areas, they met in the middle. They named the area “Aizu” (会津), which can be translated as “The riverbank (津) where we met (会)”. The father and son travelled to Mt. Mikagura-dake, a mountain that borders Niigata Prefecture and Aizu, and prayed to the shinto god of pioneering new lands to protect Aizu, and the rest of Japan. Isasumi Shrine is thought to be built where they met.
In spring, the shrine grounds become decorated with the blossoms of one of the most prized cherry trees in Aizu. It is said that this tree, which is named Usuzumi Sakura (“Diluted-Ink Sakura”), has been the sacred tree of Isasumi Shrine since it was brought down from Mt. Mikagura-dake and planted in the shrine grounds as a way of commemorating the efforts of the father and son. The lovely, light scent of the cherry blossom welcomes visitors each spring.