Learn about Samurai culture, discover more the history of Sake and the stunning shrines
The often overlooked Fukushima as well as Yamagata prefectures are situated within the Tohoku region of Japan and are full of culture and landscape.
The delights of Fukushima remain hidden behind an overhang of nuclear disasters that occurred following the 2011 devastating east Japan earthquake. It’s a shame, as Japan’s third largest prefecture is awash with beautiful natural scenery, warm and welcoming, and fascinating historical sites even a decade after the event.
Yamagata is known for being the largest producer in Japan of pears and cherries. Also, it is known for its beautiful spring cherry blossoms, and the Kajo Park containing the remains of Yamagata Castle and its natural beauty.
The journey From Tokyo is simple as it’s just an hour train journey via the Tohoku Shinkansen to Southern Fukushima. From there, you’ll have the option to take a rental vehicle and travel through the mountain ranges in the Aizu region, working your journey across Fukushima and Yamagata and stopping in these famous destinations.
Find them here.
Ouchi-juku (Da Nei Su ), Fukushima
The remote mountain town of Ouchi-juku is an amongst the more fascinating places in the history of Fukushima. In the Edo period the shogun demanded that each feudal lord from Japan go to Edo (now called Tokyo) and stay every year there to ensure their control. In the end, shukuba, or postal towns, were constructed along the road to Edo and served as rest areas for merchants, lords, and travellers. Ouchi-juku is among Japan’s most well-preserved examples shukuba.
Its main road is lined by preserved homes with thatched roofs, which evoke Shirakawa-go, the famous Shirakawa-go from Hida and are not surrounded by crowds of tourists. Residents still live in them with the floors below as storefronts for selling souvenirs, local food and sake. There are some that offer the option of staying overnight.
Tsurugajo Castle, Fukushima
Tsurugajo Castle can be described as a relic of the 14th century. Aizu Wakamatsu City – a city that flourished for over 1,000 years, with an inseparable samurai culture.
The castle that you can see today is a faithful reconstruction starting with the famous white central tower to the distinctive iron roof tiles with red tints. However, there’s still enough of the original building so that you can recognize the different styles of construction, including the medieval nozura-zumi made of stones piled up to the Edo period uchikomi-hagi technique of cutting stones to create flat surfaces.
A visit to the observatory at the watchtower offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area and green mountains in the distance. Inside, the exhibit includes reproductions of numerous paintings and woodcuts of important characters and events in the history of samurai art and culture.
Okawaso (Da Chuan Zhuang ), Fukushima
Okawaso is an exquisite onsen-style resort hotel that is situated in the thermal valley Aizu in the stunning valley of the Okawa River. The grand lobby is adorned with wooden tables with balconies, lattices, staircases and running water that is centred around a small square stage. Service provided by the ladies in kimonos, also known as”nakai-san,” is attentive.
A highlight of this is a regular live show on the shamusen (a Japanese three-stringed instrument).
If you are a part of the tour on a special basis that you can take part in, you’ll have the opportunity to witness an actual samurai sword fight in the form of “Kengishu Kamui” set in the privacy of a beautifully landscaped garden. The stunning spectacle is a captivating display of traditional kenjutsu swordsmanship, as well as samura values.
Lunch is a delicious multi-course meal that includes delicious seafood that is fresh, sushiyaki brisket, and delicious desserts.
Toko Sake Museum, Tohoku
Kojima Sohonten sake brewery in Yonezawa has been producing Toko sake-grade rice wines since it was founded in 1597. for over a decade. It has been in operation since 1597, and is owned by this same family. The present director, Kojima Yazaemon, is the 23rd generation descendant of this brewery’s creator.
From 1603 to the close at the end of The end of the Edo the period ended, Kojima Sakaya was the principal brewer of sake for the samurai ruling Uesugi clan. The Uesugi clan must be very pleased at the taste of the sake.
The Toko Sake Museum was opened in 1984. It was housed within an old kura brewery from the Meiji period. It houses huge fermentation vessels made of wood and a huge cedar tank to steam rice, chambers that have been reconstructed and historic artifacts like an ancient more than 400 years old Bizen pottery vessel, which was used to brew sake. Of course you can taste Toko sake.
If you take part in on the Samurai Train Tour, you are able to watch a stunning Iaido (Ju He Dao ) demonstration in the museum. In the course of the demonstration, an instructor slashed at vertical mats to substitute for human bodies with regard to weight and density. However, the ultimate goal of iaido according to his master is to be an innately dominant sport that you are able to avoid fighting at all costs. “