VIDEO| Virtual Vacation: Aizu in Northern Japan

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

VIDEO| Virtual Vacation: Aizu in Northern Japan

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Okinawa

Whether you’re working from home, sheltering in place or just staying home, if you’re like us, you’re probably dreaming of open skies, sandy beaches, tall mountains, or perfect powdery slopes. Our travel plans may be on hold, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream up where we’ll go next.

Welcome to virtual vacation video series where we can explore destinations from the comfort of our homes.

Join us as we take a short virtual journey to Aizu in Northern Japan.

The great thing about this destination is that it is easily accessible in about three hours from Tokyo via the Shinkansen bullet train, which runs at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. From Yokota Air Base, Aizu is a 4-hour-drive away.

Located on the western side of Fukushima Prefecture, Aizu is a wonderful region. Not only does it boast beautiful mountains, lakes and ponds, but it also has a unique samurai heritage, incredible temples, shrines, and historic sake breweries, which make Aizu a great getaway.

Some of the must-see spots in Aizu include:

  • Tsurugajo Castle  - Tsurugajo Castle is over 600 years old and is comprised of a majestic tower, lush grounds, stone walls and plenty of moats. The castle is known for having unique red tiles, the only castle in Japan to have them. The interior of the castle tower is a museum with various displays throughout its five stories where you can learn about the ground’s history, area lords and battles against Imperialism in 1868.

  • Aizu Bukeyashiki (samurai residence) - Aizu Bukeyashi is a museum park where several historical buildings of high-ranking samurai family were restored and are on display. While you learn about the lives of high-ranking samurai, the museum also features a sad history involving the tragic deaths of a samurai’s wife and children just as the enemy approached during the battle of 1868.

  • Goshikinuma (five color ponds) - Home to over 30 ponds and marshes, Goshikinuma lets you enjoy the fantastic landscape and view of Aizu’s symbol mountain, Mt. Bandai. As the name indicates, the volcanic substance in the water makes the ponds change colors depending on the season, weather, temperature and time of day. If you’re lucky, you might spot a large white carp in the water with a red heart-shaped mark on its scales. Locals believe spotting this particular carp will bring you happiness.

While you're in Aizu, don't forget to sample “wappameshi,” a popular local dish consisting of steamed rice, salmon, mushrooms, crab, egg and other ingredients that are steamed in a circular wood container. The complicated flavor of salmon and mountain vegetables is paired nicely with the flaky texture of the steamed rice.

I hope you enjoyed a look at Aizu through my travel photos and that it's inspired your next trip. Stay safe and get ready to travel with us in our next video. Thanks for watching!

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