Published: July 3rd 2006June 17th 2006
The local train destined for Aizu.
*I have more pictures to upload, so check back later in the week for additional photos*
Rusty and I spent the day in Aizu-Wakamatsu, located in the Fukushima prefecture, about 2 hours away from Fukushima City by train. The train trip there took us through the mountain area of Mt. Bandai-Asahi National Park where a mountain range comes together at the place where 3 prefectures meet.
Luckily, it was a beautiful day in Aizu and we were able to find a local tourist hop-on, hop-off bus that would take s to the local sites. Aizu is known for its samurai past and was involved in the Boshin War of 1868. One of the major sites for tourists here is a hill called Iiomoriyama where a band of teenage samurais committed mass suicide when they mistakenly thought that their castle had fallen to imperial forces trying to reinstate the emperor of Japan.
Tsuruga castle is in the centre of the city, surrounded by a moat and tree-lined area. It is a 5 storey castle and is pretty well hidden from the modern town. We went inside the castle which is now a museum and saw original works of art,
Our local tour bus which took us all around Aizu to the major sites.
samurai costumes, swords, and other artefacts. The top of the castle has a viewing platform for some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and city.
In the courtyard of the castle there is a traditional tea garden. We took a walk along the path of the garden and saw the recreations of the original structures that were on the grounds. We opted out of the tea and decided to make our way back to the tour bus to the samurai houses across town. On our way, we saw a 17th century medicinal herb garden but didn’t have time to stop.
The samurai residence is a complex village in itself with a large living quarter, rice grinding mill, shrine, and other buildings. The houses each had statues inside depicting what life was like for the samurai. Luckily enough, this was one of the few places that actually had English descriptions of things so we were able to know what was going on.
We were running out of time to catch our train back to Fukushima, so we had to skip the sake museum which also provided sake tasting. Maybe I will have to plan another trip to Aizu
The castle is surrounded by trees and a moat.
There are more photos below