Aizu-wakamatsu Castle (Tsurugajo Castle)
The castle looks like an elegantly flying crane and is called “Tsuru-ga-jo.” (Tsuru means “crane” in Japanese.) The castle also has a beautiful five-story tower. The tower was reconstructed and displays approximately 200 relics of previous lords of the castle. Cherry blossoms in spring and the snowy castle in winter are a must-see.
Aizu Matsudaira Oyakuen
Oyakuen is a circuit style garden. It was originally built as a villa for the lord of the castle in the 15th century. In the early Edo era (1603-1867), it was used as a garden. The name “Oyakuen” (herb garden) comes from the fact that various medical herbs were cultivated in the garden.
Iimoriyama is the location of Byakkotai’s tragedy that occurred during the Boshin War (1868-1869), which was a war between the old Tokugawa government and the new Meiji government. The summit commands a view of Tsurugajo Castle and the town of Aizu-wakamatsu.
Aizu Buke Yashiki
The warrior residences and a magistrate’s office are reconstructed on the site and simulate the atmosphere of that time.
Aizu Hanko Nisshinkan
Nisshinkan, which was a school of the Aizu domain, was built in 1803 and was one of the finest schools in Japan in terms of the scale and the quality of education, out of over 300 competing schools located all over Japan. Besides martial arts, reading and writing, astronomy, medicine, science and manners were taught. It was originally located adjacent to the Tsurugajo Castle but burned down during the Boshin War. The buildings were later reconstructed where they stand now. Visitors can experience Japanese archery, the tea ceremony, zazen (seated meditation) and painting on an akabeko (a small cow-shaped toy). Advanced bookings are necessary for all activities, except Japanese archery.
Walking in Aizu-wakamatsu
Aizu-wakamatsu developed as Lord Matsudaira’s castle town and yielded 230,000 goku of rice. If you walk around the town, you can see historical sites and cherished old shops. There are galleries, lacquerware shops and e-rosoku (picture candle) shops around Nanokamachi-dori street. Aizu Shuzo Hakubutsukan (Aizu Sake Brewery Museum) houses tools for the sake brewer of the Aizu domain. The “Haikara-san” bus is convenient for touring the town.
Higashiyama Onsen hot spring resort has a 1250-year history and continues to be popular, especially among cultural icons. Yosano Akiko (tanka poet, 1878-1942) and Takehisa Yumeji (poet and painter, 1884-1934) both loved this onsen. Hotels are dotted along the river, surrounded by mountains.
Ouchi-juku prospered during the Edo era (1603-1867) as a post station on Aizu-nishi-kaido street that connected Aizu-wakamatsu and Imaichi in Nikko (Tochigi Prefecture). About 40 thatched-roof houses re-create the atmosphere of the time.