2018 NO.23

Strolling JapanStrolling Japan



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Located in western Fukushima Prefecture, Aizuwakamatsu City is home to impressive historical buildings dating back to when it was a samurai warrior castle town. It also boasts stunning mountain surroundings that make it one of Japan’s top tourist destinations. Any time of year, visitors are sure to encounter the natural beauty of the season and a plethora of colorful arts and crafts.

Photos courtesy of Ito Chiharu, amanaimages

Tsuruga Castle, the seat of the Aizu clan’s feudal lord. Spring cherry blossoms in full bloom.

The iconic symbol of Aizuwakamatsu, Tsuruga Castle, was built in the late 14th century (1384) and served as the seat of the feudal lord of the Aizu clan during the Edo period (17–19th century). The original castle was demolished in 1874, but its beauty and majesty was revived when it was rebuilt in 1965. The lookout on the castle’s uppermost floor offers an exquisite view of all of Aizuwakamatsu City with its colorful hues unfolding year round: cherry blossoms blooming in the spring, the vivid greens of new leaves in summer, red and gold leaves in autumn, and snowscapes in winter.

Mt. Bandai to the northeast ranks among the “100 Famous Japanese Mountains.” With an elevation of 1,819 meters, it is a popular destination for mountain climbing in the summer and skiing in the winter. The mountain is also home to a lush array of alpine plants like Japanese azalea and to rare insects like the Bandai stag beetle.

Lake Inawashiro lies in the southern foothills of Mt. Bandai. Approximately 49 kilometers in circumference, this is the fourth-largest lake in Japan and offers great swimming, fishing, and boating. On the western bank of the lake, Sakkahama beach enjoys stunning views of Mt. Bandai looking back across the lake. Swimmers flock to the area in the summer, and they are replaced by flocks of swans from Siberia in the winter.

Sakkahama beach on the western shore of Lake Inawashiro is a great summer spot for watersports and camping.

A prosperous samurai warriors castle town at one time, Aizuwakamatsu is still home to buildings that evoke the Edo period.

Beautifully glossy Aizu lacquerware boasts a 400-year history.

Soak up the heat in outdoor hot spring baths surrounded by snowscapes, a special winter experience at Higashiyama Onsen. (Photo courtesy of Mukaitaki)