Located in the western region of Fukushima, the Aizu area has deep samurai roots that have been kept alive in local attractions and events. The main city of the province is Aizuwakamatsu, located in the eastern part of the area on Lake Inawashiro.
Things to Do in Aizu
There is so many things to do in Aizu, it’ll be hard to get to it all in one day trip. Aizu is known two main things, its warring samurai class and sake, both of which are on full display in the area’s capital city.
Tsuruga Castle is a reconstructed Japanese castle that once was a critical stronghold for the Tokugawa Shogun.
After passing hands many times its almost 700-year life, today Tsuruga Castle holds a museum with exhibitions on the samurai that lived in the area, an observation deck that looks over the city and a tea house on the grounds that serve authentic Japanese green tea.
- Spot name: Tsuruga Castle
- Street address: 1-1 Otemachi, Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima 965-0873
- Access: A 5-minute walk from Tsurugajo Kitaguchi bus stop on the Aizu Loop Bus
In western Aizu, hidden away in the mountains is Iimoriyama, also known as Mt. Iimori. Iimoriyama is an important culture landmark for Aizu as it’s where the White Tiger Corps, or the Byakkotai committed ritual suicide, also known as seppuku, when they saw the castle attacked.
For the Aizu people, this represents everything that the samurai class stood for, even if the young boys were mistaken in what they saw.
- Spot name: Iimoriyama
- Street address: Ikkimachiyahata, Aizuwakamatsu 965-0003
- Access: A 1-minute walk from Iimoriyama-Shita bus stop on the Aizu Loop Bus
Suehiro Sake Brewery
Taste some sake at the Suehiro Sake Brewery. Known throughout Japan, Suehiro Sake is famous for its clear finish and sweet taste. The brew made here is especially popular with people in the elite, like the wife of the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.
If you understand Japanese enough, you’ll be able to take a guided 30-minute tour of the brewery and learn how Sake is made. Or you can just spend your time sampling the vast number of products they have on offer.
- Spot name: Suehiro Sake Brewery
- Street address: 12-38 Nisshinmachi, Aizuwakamatsu 965-0861
- Access: An 8-minute walk from Nanukamachi Station on the JR Tadami Line
Soak Up Nature at an Aizu Hotel
Under the watchful eye of Mt. Otakamori, a luxurious Aizu hotel with an open-air hot spring is waiting for you. Okawaso is an elegant Japanese ryokan where you can soak yourself in an open-air hot spring surrounded by the beautiful nature of Okawa Valley.
Okawaso is only a few minutes away by bus from Ashinomakionsen Station on the Aizu Mount Express line. With an onsite restaurant specializing in Japanese cuisine, events happening during the afternoons and close to Aizu’s many attractions, this ryokan makes for a good getaway.
- Spot name: Okawaso
- Street address: 984 Shimohira, Otomachi Ashinomaki, Aizuwakamatsu 969-5147
- Access: 10 minutes by bus from Ashinomakionsen Station with a minutes’ walk
Taste Local Aizu Food
Local Aizu food is immensely tasty thanks to the copious rich soil and clean water that is in the region. For those reasons, Aizu is well known for its soups and soba, both using local produce and water to create the most exquisite of dishes.
Usually containing fish and various vegetables, Kozuyu soup is popular for special celebrations. The main ingredient of the soup is dried scallop eyes. Due to the lack of fresh fish in the region before the advent of cars or trains, all fish delivered to the region was dried and transported by horse and the tradition continued.
Thanks to the abundance of water in the region, buckwheat noodles for soba are plentiful and of great quality. For hundreds of years Aizu has been the home of soba in Japan and the people of the region are proud of the different types they’ve created.
Ichiean, inside Aizuwakamatsu Station, has both these dishes on the menu along with locally brewed sake. If you’re traveling in the area, or just through it, it’d be a great idea to stop by and try some local delicacies.
- Spot name: Ichiean
- Street address: 1-1 Ekimaecho, Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima 965-0041
- Access: Inside Aizuwakamatsu Station
The Warring States of the Aizu Autumn Festival
Every year on September 22nd, 23rd and 24th, the Aizu Autumn Festival brings the area around Tsuruga Castle alive with the fun of a classic Japanese festival. To honor those who died in the Boshin Civil War, the festivals main day is the 23rd, the day Aizuwakamatsu was defeated.
Stalls line the streets around the castle and inside is where the festival truly shines. At the stalls both inside and outside the grounds, you’ll be able try local Aizu foods and other delights. In the park people dress up in samurai gear and re-enact mock battles with taiko drums playing in the background.