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  • - Hey, guys. How's it going?

  • It's Micaela, and today we are in Osaka.

  • Today we are starting our trip in Osaka,

  • a loud, boisterous city with flashing lights,

  • big crowds, and saucy flavorful foods.

  • This is a fun city to explore before heading towards

  • the more peaceful countryside of rural Japan.

  • Good morning. Now, we are at Itami Airport in Osaka.

  • This is actually my first time using Itami Airport.

  • I've used the Kansai International Airport before

  • and I've been there a few times for work

  • but this is my first time using Itami and it's pretty cool.

  • Like this is a lot going on here.

  • It's really cozy.

  • You may be wondering why a series

  • about Tohoku starts off in Osaka,

  • and that is because at Itami Airport,

  • there are actually 39 flights in a day

  • that head to the Tohoku region.

  • And I'm sure that you guys have heard

  • that the rail pass is gonna get more expensive

  • from the fall.

  • And if you were thinking of using the rail pass

  • to travel around Japan economically

  • it might not make sense depending on your itinerary.

  • Flying in Japan is actually a lot cheaper

  • than you would think

  • and it's really convenient and it's less time consuming.

  • So, I've checked in my luggage, I'm all good to go.

  • I have my ticket

  • and I'm about to board my flight to Fukushima.

  • (air whooshing)

  • I love it.

  • Love it, love it, love it. (groans)

  • I love propeller planes. (laughs)

  • I'm very excited right now.

  • (upbeat music)

  • Okay, so we have arrived at Fukushima Airport.

  • The airport's quite small and quiet

  • but very easy to navigate.

  • You kind of just hop off the plane and you're here.

  • So, yeah.

  • Over the next four days we'll be exploring

  • the Tohoku region and we're starting here in Fukushima.

  • I can't wait to see what's in store for me.

  • Let's go.

  • Fukushima is very green.

  • There is so much nature

  • and it's kind of interesting seeing how

  • the seasons are delayed.

  • We saw some wisteria and the wisteria have already bloomed

  • and disappeared down where I live,

  • so it's cool to see the flowers

  • that I thought I have missed seasonally

  • are like still alive and well up here.

  • Our first stop on our trip through Fukushima

  • is the Abukuma Cave, a 600 meter long walking course

  • through stalactites, underground rivers, rock towers,

  • and grottos.

  • The discovery course is a bit intense

  • and those taller than the average Japanese might struggle

  • to make it through some of the tighter squeezes.

  • You really do have to squat and you have to suck in

  • your belly, and you have to just pray

  • that you fit through the crevices

  • 'cause some of these are really, really,

  • really tight squeezes.

  • (upbeat music)

  • It definitely makes an impact to view this part of the cave.

  • It's really cool. I haven't seen a bat though.

  • I really, really, really wanna see a bat.

  • I don't know if we're gonna see any today though.

  • I guess I'll have to come again.

  • So, after visiting the cave, we got super hungry

  • and we came to get a local organic lunch

  • at Niku To Yasai No Nouka Italian Arigato.

  • And this is an Italian restaurant

  • that specializes in organic farms from the Koriyama area

  • here in Fukushima Prefecture.

  • So, eating here is a great way to support local farmers

  • and try lots of local vegetables and meats.

  • (gentle music)

  • In the afternoon, we did a deep dive

  • into Fukushima's rich history and Samurai culture,

  • touring some of the most significant spots in Aizuwakamatsu.

  • So, we have arrived at Nisshinkan, which is a replica

  • of the Samurai school that originally existed

  • here in the region.

  • The original, unfortunately burnt down,

  • but this one has been faithfully reconstructed

  • to very accurately reflect the type of school

  • that Samurai children went to back in the day,

  • and now it serves as a museum

  • and also has a lot of really interesting

  • unique hands-on experiences.

  • So, we're going to learn how to shoot

  • a bow and arrow. (laughs)

  • (Micaela speaks indistinctly)

  • Shooting a bow and arrow is something

  • that I've never tried before,

  • so I was really excited to get in there

  • and figure this out.

  • Bam.

  • - Aw. - Almost.

  • They say to make sure that the feather

  • is pointing up so that it flies nicely.

  • You wanna pinch with your thumb and your pointer finger

  • and instead of pulling, push your left hand,

  • and push the bow out with this hand

  • rather than pull with this hand.

  • One, two, three.

  • (Micaela shouting) (bow snaps)

  • (arrow thudding)

  • (Micaela exhales)

  • It's not easy being a samurai.

  • Let's just say I probably won't be graduating

  • from samurai school anytime soon.

  • (water sloshes) Whoa.

  • (upbeat music)

  • After Nisshinkan, we stopped by

  • the charming, Tsuruga-jo Castle.

  • Having recently been renovated,

  • the inside is full of interactive displays

  • giving a brief history of the region.

  • But my personal recommendation is to head to the top floor.

  • Castles were always built to have the best panoramic views

  • of the city, so if you wanna get an idea of where you are

  • it's always a good idea to head to the top.

  • (upbeat music)

  • The Akabeko or red cow is a constant recurring symbol

  • here in Aizu.

  • Beko means cow in regional dialect

  • and these paper mache Akabeko figures

  • are said to help ward off illnesses.

  • We came to Warabi so we could customize

  • our very own Akabeko.

  • Well, technically mine's orange.

  • (Micaela speaking in foreign language)

  • And no trip to Aizu is complete without visiting the onsen,

  • we checked into a gorgeous ryokan in the hills

  • of the Higashiyama Onsen region

  • which boast private open air baths

  • looking over a gorgeous green forest and river.

  • This is incredible.

  • I've never seen such a luxurious dinner.

  • We get to eat right by the river

  • and there's so many layers to this coarse meal.

  • It doesn't get any better than this.

  • This is the best.

  • This is the best meal I've had in a very long time.

  • And you can't beat the view.

  • After a busy first day.

  • It's time to sleep and get ready for day two.

  • Of course, I kept my Akabeko out for good luck.

  • (upbeat music)

  • He brought beautiful sunny weather for our second day

  • in Fukushima, which was perfect for our first stop.

  • The stunning and peaceful Sazae-do Temple

  • named after the shellfish, Sazae, or Turban Shell.

  • It is the only wooden building

  • with a double helix structure in the whole world.

  • It's not only a religious monument

  • but a truly fascinating building as well.

  • So, one of the really interesting points about the way

  • that the Sazae-do is constructed

  • is that whether you're going up or down,

  • it's designed so that you don't pass other people.

  • You won't pass people going up if you're on your way down

  • and you won't pass people going down

  • if you're on your way up.

  • At the nearby Mt. Iimori,

  • you can find a monument to a group of Samurai boys

  • who kept watch over the town who died tragically

  • by their own hands when they thought Tsuruga Castle

  • had been defeated.

  • It's a bit hard to see, but the castle is definitely