Deep in western Aizu is Iimoriyama, a mountain with a deep cultural impact for the region. Seeped in history, the mountain holds some important landmarks for the region that, if you’re in the area, you should visit.
Interesting Iimoriyama Spots
Iimoriyama, or Mount Iimori, is located just past the city of Aizu-Wakamatsu. Popular with tourists and locals alike for its interesting past and interesting spots, a half-day trip to the mountain and surroundings would let you see everything this location has to offer.
This mountain was the site for a mass suicide in 1868. When the Meiji Government rose to power, there were rebels in the area who were loyal to the disposed Tokugawa Shogun. These rebellions lead to the Boshin War which engulfed the region for many years.
As the nearby Tsuruga Castle was one of the last strongholds of the rebellion, its defeat marked the end of the war and the triumph of the Meiji Government. 20 young boys in the White Tiger Corps, or Byakkotai, stood upon Iimoriyama and watched Tsuruga Castle.
One night, when they looked upon the castle, they saw fire and fighting. This convinced them that the castle had fallen, and the war was lost. Due to this, all the boys committed an act of seppuku. Only one of the young boys survived. What they didn’t know is that, while the castle would eventually fall, this was not the case at that time.
A grave site is set up on the mountain in remembrance of these 19 young boys who died for what they believed in. A statue has been erected near the gravestones of a young Japanese boy watching over Tsuruga Castle.
Near the grave site is a very interesting historic landmark from World War II. As a sign of friendship between the Axis Powers, Nazi Germany and Italy donated two items still on showcase up the mountain. These items are a plaque and a column of Pompeii.
How to Climb Iimoriyama
The memorial for the young boys is near the top of the mountain, meaning you’ll have to climb Iimoriyama to get to it. At the base, you’ll find stalls selling local foods and the Byakkotai Memorial Hall, located next to the path to get up the hill. The Hall contains various articles and materials from the war to remind people of the suffering the Aizu people went through.
There are two ways to climb Iimoriyama. You can either take the stairs or the escalator. There are 183 steps to climb to get to the top, and while it’s free, you could get worn out by the time you get up to the summit. The escalator is located next to the stairs and costs 250 yen for an adult ticket and 150 yen for child's ticket to ride it to the top.
Public Transit from Tsuruga Castle to Iimoriyama
It’s fairly simple to use public transit from Tsuruga Castle to Iimoriyama, letting you experience both spots in a one-day tour. From the western side of Tsuruga Castle Park, hop on the Machinaka Shuyu Bus from Tsurugajosan no Maruguchi Bus Stop going towards Wakamatsu Ekimae.
Stay on the bus for 35 minutes until you reach Iimoriyama-Shita Bus Stop at the base of the mountain. The cost of a ticket from Tsuruga to Iimoriyama is only 210 yen for a one-way trip.
Alternatively, you can walk to Iimoriyama in 50 minutes from Tsuruga Castle. This 3.8 kilometer walk through Aizu-Wakamatsu will take you past the Hokkeji Buddhist temple, a quaint temple in the backstreets, and Akanumainari Shinto Shrine.
- Spot name: Iimoriyama
- Street address: Ikkimachiyahata, Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima 965-0003
- Access: A 1-minute walk from Iimoriyama-Shita bus stop on the Aizu Loop Bus