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  • Fukushima

  • You have probably heard of this place.

  • Most of the world learned of Fukushima

  • As the site of the nuclear accident

  • Following the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami

  • What happened here left an indelible mark.

  • But if you explore this place today

  • You might find it very different,

  • Then you tink.

  • In this video, we want to introduce you to Fukushima Prefecture,

  • the third largest prefecture in Japan.

  • Filled with amazing natural beauty,

  • A fascinating history

  • And some of the warmest hospitality in the country.

  • On this three-day road trip,

  • We travel across the entire prefecture.

  • To visit some of Fukushima's best highlights.

  • And we hope.

  • Show why this often overlooked destination

  • Is absolutely worth discovering for yourself.

  • Here is the plan.

  • From Tokyo, an 80-minute train ride on the Tohoku Shinkansen will bring us to Southern Fukushima.

  • On day one we pick up a rental car and drive through the deep mountains of the Aizu region.

  • Where we will explore a remote mountain village.

  • A storied Castletown

  • And stay in one of Japan's most atmospheric ryokan inns.

  • Day two, we hike.

  • Taking in the landscape of the spectacular volcanic mountains in the north

  • And ending the day at a remote hot spring.

  • On day 3 we explore Fukushimas rural countryside,

  • Vising everything from one of Japan's oldest cherry trees,

  • To one of its first theme parks.

  • As of 2021

  • The no-entry zone that remains of limits

  • As a result of the 2011 nuclear accident.

  • Makes up less than 3 percent of the prefecture's total area.

  • Outside of this zone, there are no travel restrictions within Fukushima prefecture.

  • My name is Joe Mignano, designer, developer, and staff writer for japan-guide.com

  • and I'll be on assignment for the next three days,

  • sharing with you the best that Fukushima Prefecture has to offer.

  • Starting at Shin-Shirakawa Station

  • We drive into the mountainous Aizu region.

  • Our first stop is the authentically preserved post town of Oujijuku.

  • From there we head north to Aizu Wakamatsu,

  • and visit the remarkable Tsurugajo Castle,

  • and the nearby Iimoriyama,

  • and visit the unique Sazaedo Pagoda.

  • And for the night in a nearby valley

  • we stay in the hot spring resort of Higashiyama Onsen,

  • at the singular, ryokan Mukaitaki.

  • Welcome to the Aizu.

  • We've just arrived in Ouchijuku,

  • one of the most interesting historical spots, in Fukushima.

  • During the Edo Period, The shogun required that every feudal lord in Japan,

  • Personally travel to Edo (now called Tokyo),

  • and alternate living one entire year in the capital, and in their own domains.

  • In order to keep them under close control.

  • So the roads that led to Edo, were really important.

  • And so it became shukuba, or postal towns that were built along the roads.

  • These towns served as postal relay stations between big cities,

  • and served as rest-stops

  • for lords, as well as common travelers alike.

  • And Ouchijuku is one of Japan's best-preserved examples.

  • This is an Ouchijuku specialty

  • Negi Soba.

  • No chopsticks needed.

  • it's really good.

  • From Ouchijuku, it's a short drive through the beautiful mountains of the Aizu region.

  • To my next stop.

  • The castle town of Aizu Wakamatsu.

  • This is Tsurugajo

  • The castle of Aizu Wakamatsu City.

  • For over a 1000 years,

  • Aizu has had a proud, prosperous history here,

  • Making itself a force-to-be-reckoned-with in northern Japan.

  • During the Edo Period, Aizu thrived.

  • Samurai values became a deep part of the culture here

  • and they built a formidable military that became so renowned

  • that it was deployed on missions all over the country.

  • Tsurugajo Castle has always been a symbol of pride for the people of Aizu.

  • Today this faithful restoration, down to the unique red roof tiles,

  • is really one of Japan's most impressive.

  • Aizu's history is long,

  • And it has seen its share of prosperity,

  • and tragedy.

  • At the edge of town overlooking the city,

  • there is a hill called Iimoriyama,

  • with a story, every person in Aizu knows well.

  • In 1868, the shogun was overthrown by the new Meiji government,

  • bringing an end to the entire feudal era.

  • All those loyal to the Shogun were stripped of their power.

  • Sometimes by force.

  • As a domain loyal to the shogun, Aizu stood its ground,

  • Men, women, and children fought back against overwhelming numbers and superior firepower for an entire month,

  • until finally, their castle fell.

  • During the siege,

  • a troop of 20 teenaged boys

  • retreated during a battle to this hill.

  • From here, they watched as smoke rose from the city

  • Thinking that the castle was burning and hope was lost,

  • they committed seppuku, ritual suicide.

  • 19 were successful.

  • Sadly, the castle hadn't yet fallen when they chose their fate.

  • These graves memorialize the boys of the Byakkotai squad

  • And their spirit of loyalty.

  • Next to the memorial,

  • you will find a 200-year-old pagoda

  • called the Sazaedo.

  • Its inner staircase is designed in a double helix structure

  • unlike any other in Japan.

  • So we've escaped the city to Higashiyama Onsen,

  • A hot spring resort just outside the city center.

  • And I'm feeling extremely lucky to be staying at the legendary

  • Mukaitaki Ryokan tonight.

  • This used to be an exclusive retreat of the Aizu lords themselves,

  • Since then,

  • It carried on as a ryokan for over 140 year

  • One of the best parts of a ryokan stay is dinner.

  • My multi-course meal included local seasonal vegetables.

  • Tempura

  • and some house specialties

  • freshwater trout sushi

  • and Koi sashimi.

  • Fukushima is well respected in Japan for its tradition of sake brewing.

  • Breweries in Aizu have even won some of Japan's highest awards.

  • Of course, I had to try some.

  • After dinner, there is no better way to end the night.

  • Then with a dip in one of the ryokans hot spring baths.

  • From Aizu Wakamatsu it's a short drive north into the spectacular landscapes,

  • surrounding, Mount Bandai.

  • Here we take a walk around the lovely Goshikinuma colored ponds.

  • And then head higher into the mountains, to mount Azuma-Kofuji

  • were will hike around the mountain volcanic cone.

  • Afterwords will head to Takayu Onsen,

  • a great nearby hot spring, where will stay the night.

  • From Aizu Wakamatsu, a short drive north

  • will lead you up into the mountains.

  • surrounding Mount Bandai.

  • It's another beautiful day in Fukushima.

  • We've traveled all the way from Aizu, up into the mountains in the north,

  • and around the volcanic peak behind me,

  • Mt. Bandai.

  • This area, appropriately, is called Urabandai,

  • literally, behind Bandai.

  • In 1888, Mt. Bandai actually had a devastating eruption that completely changed the shape of the mountain

  • and formed the region I'm standing in now.

  • This area is calledGoshikinuma,” orThe Five Colored Ponds.”

  • these ponds were formed after the eruption and took on unusual tints of blue and green thanks to the volcanic minerals in the water.

  • One of the local specialties here in this area is Sauce Katsudon

  • Or pork cutlets, covered in a sweet sauce.

  • That hits the spot!

  • From the Goshikunuma area

  • the road that climbs into the Azuma mountains

  • is one of Fukushima's most scenic drives.

  • So if you know me, you know ill love mountains.

  • which is one reason I love this prefecture.

  • Fukushima has some amazing peaks,

  • some real hidden gem skiresorts,

  • and of course, hiking

  • and it would be a shame to be surrounded by all these amazing mountains

  • and not climb one.

  • This is Azuma-Kofuji

  • literally, Azuma mountains little Mount Fuji.

  • But in real life, it is not so little.

  • Not far from the Kofuji creator,

  • a handful of hotspring towns and ryokan inns dot the mountainside

  • One of which is my stop for the night.

  • In Japan, lots of volcanoes usually mean lots of onsens.

  • We're here in the 400-year-old hot spring town of Takayu Onsen,

  • staying at Tamagoyu Ryokan. This ryokan is famous for its sulfuric milky blue water.

  • For Day 3, we head down from the mountains to eastern Fukushima

  • stopping to admire the centuries-old Miharu Takizakura cherry tree.

  • and then do a little spelunking in Abukumado Cavern.

  • Finally, we reach Iwaki city, our final destination,

  • where we'll visit the national treasure Shiramizu Amidado Temple

  • and end our journey at Spa Resort Hawaiians water park.

  • We have just come down from the mountains and are now in the small town of Miharu.

  • Home of the Miharu Takizakura

  • This weeping cherry tree is estimated to be over one thousand years old.

  • Today its looking kind of green and leafy,

  • But in mid-April, it's covered in cascades of cherry blossoms.

  • It's is ranked as one of the three great cherry trees of Japan,

  • and some people consider it to be the single most beautiful cherry tree in the country.

  • Just 30 minutes by car from Miharu,

  • my next stop is the hills of the Abukuma highlands

  • and what lies beneath them.

  • We are at Abukumdo Cave in eastern Fukushima

  • This is a cave network that was formed millions of years ago but was only discovered in 1969!

  • Its thought that this cave extends over 2.5 kilometers into the ground

  • Let's go check it out.

  • Over millions of years

  • Abukumado was carved out of limestone,

  • By flowing underground water

  • Forming unique rock features.

  • And cathedral-like halls.

  • We've just arrived in eastern Fukushima. And I am now in the city of Iwaki.

  • So when you think of ancient temples and shrines.

  • Famous places like Kyoto and Nara may come to mind

  • but northern Japan actually has some wonderful hidden gems of its own.

  • This is Shiramizu Amidado.

  • This temple said to have been built in 1160,

  • and it is one of the very few partially surviving examples of a Pure Land garden left in Japan.

  • The landscapes and serene islands are meant to evoke the Buddhist concept of the Pure Land.

  • Its been a long hot summer day

  • So I am ready for this.

  • We are at Spa Resort Hawaiians.

  • The very first theme park ever built in Japan.

  • I'm ready for a dip, let's go.

  • Thank you so much for watching.

  • We hope this video helped you see a side of Fukushima Prefecture that is vibrant,

  • and very much worth visiting,

  • We hope you'll consider exploring Fukushima for yourself in your future travels in Japan.

  • For more information about Fukushima Prefecture or to watch another video,

  • Click the links on the screen now or head over to japan-guide.com:

  • your comprehensive, up-to-date travel guide, first-hand from Japan.

  • Thanks for watching, and be sure to subscribe and click the notification bell for more videos about Japan.

  • Happy travels.

Fukushima

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The Best of Fukushima | japan-guide.com

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    Summer posted on 2021/05/31
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