Walking on Drift Ice
Aizuwakamatsu flourished as a castle town in Aizu Domain, northern Japan, during the Edo Period (1603-1867). The historical events of that time have left behind the famed tourist attractions of today, such as Aizuwakamatsu Castle (also known as Tsuruga Castle) and the story of the Byakkotai ("White Tiger Force"). Aizuwakamatsu has long been a popular tourist destination. Many a legendary "daimyo" warlord ruled over the area during the Sengoku Jidai (or "Warring States Period," 1467-1603), hailing from the Date (pronounced "DAH-tay"), Uesugi and Matsudaira clans. During the Boshin War of 1868-1869, the East Army of the pro-shogunate forces resisted until the last in Aizu, which turned the area into a brutal battleground. The famed Byakkotai’s tragedy took place during this war. Today, Aizuwakamatsu is a must-visit destination for tourists with an interest in the samurai of the late Edo Period.
Rinkaku Teahouse, located in Tsuruga Castle Park, is said to have been built by Sen no Shoan, the son of famed tea master Sen no Rikyu. Fukushima Prefecture has designated the building an important cultural property.
A 15 minutes' walk east of Tsuruga Castle is Oyaku-en Garden. Walking paths wind through the carefully cultivated greenery around an intricately shaped pond in the garden's center. The name Oyaku-en refers to the many types of medicinal herbs that are grown here. A variety of flowers coming into bloom as the seasons pass, adding to the romantic flair of this garden adored by the domain lords of the past. To relieve their weariness, visitors can try the secret medicinal herb tea only available here at Oyaku-en Garden.
The SL (Steam Locomotive) Ban'etsu Monogatari is a retro train connecting Aizuwakamatsu with Niigata. It can make for a memorable travel experience, as it's not often these days that you get to ride a steam-powered train.
The variety of local foods available include: soba (buckwheat noodles) prepared in crystal-clear water; "wappameshi," a dish of rice and other ingredients steamed in a round "wappa" container fashioned from curled pieces of cedar or cypress; "sauce katsudon" (a bowl of rice topped with pork) deliberately dressed with sweet-and-sour sauce; and more. Don't miss your chance to indulge!
Address: Oute-machi 1-1, Aizuwakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture
Airport: Niigata Airport