More than 150 steaming
hot springs. Lake Inawashiro-ko and Bandai-kogen - Plateau abound with
seasonal tourist attractions.
Fukushima, situated at the south of the Tohoku (northeastern)
region, is divided into three areas by three mountainous belts running
roughly parallel from south to north. It is blessed with a variety of
natural spectacles, such as spaciously undulating mountains, a
complicated volcanic topography and different sizes of lakes and
ponds. Hama-dori, located in eastern Fukushima facing the Pacific
Ocean, has a mild climate and offers a comfortable place to live,
while Naka-dori, situated in the center of Fukushima, is sandwiched by
the Abukuma Plateau on the east side and the Ou Mountain Range on the
west side and contains Bandai-Asahi National Park and Nikko National
Park. The Aizu district in the west is a basin surrounded by
Fukushima has more than 150 hot springs - Iizaka-onsen, Azuma-takayu-onsen
and Tsuchiyu-onsen, to name a few. What is more, there are Lake
Inawashiro-ko and Bandai-kogen Plateau offering an abundance of
seasonal tourist attractions including fresh greenery in spring, wild
birds, summer-time camping, water skiing, board sailing, swimming,
autumnal tints, skiing, skating and swan watching. A rice-producing
prefecture rich in spring water, Fukushima boasts the thriving sake
(rice wine) brewing industry. Apples, peaches and other fruits are
harvested all the year round. There you can also enjoy mountain-side
products including soba (backwheat) noodle, miso (soy bean paste),
shamo (game fowl) and Japanese black beef cattle and marine products
landed at the Onahama Fishing Port.
Fukushima Station is 1 hour 30 minutes from Tokyo Station by the
JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line.
Nature parks, leisure facilities and hot springs located across
the Aizu Basin
The Aizu-kogen Plateau is a resort area dotted with nature
parks, leisure facilities, and hot springs along the crystal-clear
Tadami-gawa River, which flows through Oku-Aizu in the southwestern
part of Fukushima Prefecture, and its tributaries, the Ina-gawa
River and the Hinoe-mata-gawa River. Tourists flock to this popular
resort area to enjoy outdoor activities all year round, including
sightseeing in Oze and fishing in mountain streams from spring to
autumn, as well as skiing in winter.
The Tadami-Kawa-no-Monoshiri-Kan on the Tadami-gawa River, a
fascinating museum in Tadami-cho in the northwest of Oku-Aizu, was
reopened in 2000 as Shizen-koen Kawakko Land (nature theme park).
The exhibition hall does not only explain the culture, customs and
development of the region, but also reproduces its natural
environment, allowing visitors to observe wild birds and insects at
In Hinoe-mata-mura Village on the road to Oze, one of the top scenic
spots in Japan, buckwheat for use in soba (buckwheat noodles) is
widely cultivated, and the Shin-Soba-matsuri Festival is held at the
Oze-no-Sato Exchange Center to celebrate the harvest of the
buckwheat crop in late autumn every year. The village has facilities
containing a hot spring with abundant supplies of hot water and a
swimming pool. A sauna is also available, which visitors may use in
In Ouchi-Juku, a town that once prospered as a post town connecting
Aizu-Wakamatsu and Imaichi City, a row of venerable thatch-roofed
houses still remains with an air of the Japanese post town of the
18th century. This zone has been designated an Important
Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings to enable
people today to imagine what life must have been like in earlier
An hour 20 minutes to Koriyama Station from Tokyo Station by the
JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line, and 1 hour 10 minutes to Aizu-Wakamatsu
Station from Koriyama Station by the JR Ban'etsu-saisen Line Rapid
Train. To Tadami, 2 hours 50 minutes to Tadami Station from Aizu-Wakamatsu
Station by the JR Tadami Line. To Ouchi, 41 minutes to
Nishi-Wakamatsu Station from Aizu-Wakamatsu Station by the JR Tadami
Line. Thirty minutes to Yunokami-onsen Station from Nishi-Wakamatsu
Station by the Aizu Tetsudo Line. Seventy-five minutes on foot or 10
minutes by car to Ouchi-juku.
A street plan in the shape of a lattice - Sake made with water from
Aizuwakamatsu is in the northeast of the Aizu district of
Fukushima, and is the main city of that district. At its center is
the Tsuruga Castle Tower, from which you can see the whole of the
town. The streets form a lattice structure, and many shrines and
temples surround the town, giving it the air of a castle town.
Inside the city are Oyaku-en, a garden that was built 600 years ago,
and an area of samurai houses, which were moved and rebuilt to
preserve them as historical buildings. There are also historical
sites like Mt. Iimori-yama, the scene of a battle that became a
turning point in the modernization of Japan, and Otsuka-yama-kofun,
or Otsuka Hill Ancient Tomb, one of the oldest burial mounds in the
Tohoku (northeastern) region.
Merchant houses and warehouses in the old town stand alongside
modern buildings, and the town is carrying out a renovation to make
the most of its appearance. You can also enjoy a relaxing trip in a
steam locomotive that makes the round-trip between Aizuwakamatsu
Station and Koriyama Station. Aizu Machikata Denshokan (folklore
museum) displays traditional industries and handicrafts such as
lacquer ware, picture candles and cotton cloth. The museum also has
facilities where you can try out traditional crafts yourself, such
as putting the pictures on picture candles.
Also, Aizuwakamatsu is one of Japan's main sake (rice wine) centers,
famous for the fine taste of sake made with melted snow from the
Iide-Asahi Mountain Range. There are many places where you can see
sake cellars and taste the sake. The local sake goes well with local
food such as Wappa meshi (a rice-based lunch in a round box) and
Koriyama Station is 1 hour 20 minutes from Tokyo Station by the
JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line. From Koriyama Station, it takes 1 hour 10
minutes to reach Aizuwakamatsu Station on the JR Ban'etsu Saisen
Line by Rapid Train.
An area of lakes and marshes where the water is tinged with many
The Bandai-kogen Plateau (also known as Ura-bandai) is situated
in the north of Mt. Bandai-san in the northern part of Fukushima,
and it is part of the Bandai-Asahi National Park. It contains more
than 100 lakes and marshes, which were formed when mudflows
resulting from the 1888 eruption of Mt. Bandai-san buried nearby
communities and dammed the upper reaches of the Nagase-gawa River.
Lakes and marshes exist in many sizes in the Bandai Kogen Plateau
area. Some of the best-known ones are Lake Hibara-ko, Lake Akimoto-ko,
Lake Onogawa-ko, the Goshiki-numa Pond, the Nakase-numa Pond, and
the Oguni-numa Pond. Perhaps the most fascinating part of the
plateau lies around the Goshiki-numa Pond area, where volcanic
material dissolves in the water of nearly 40 lakes and marshes
(these include Bishamon-numa, Aka-numa, Benten-numa, Ao-numa,
Ruri-numa, and Yanagi-numa Ponds), tinged with green, whitish blue,
reddish blue, and giving it an appearance that changes with time and
sunlight. A promenade allows visitors to walk around this unique
area in about an hour.
Next to the entrance of the Nakase-numa Promenade is the Sight
Station, a visitors' center that provides information on the
Ura-bandai area and on hiking routes, gives advice on related
matters, and provides guides who accompany visitors and enable them
to experience the area's natural beauty to the fullest.
Koriyama Station is 1 hour and 20 minutes from Tokyo Station on
the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line. Inawashiro Station is 40 minutes from
Koriyama Station by Express Train on the JR Ban'etsu Saisen Line.
The Onogawa-Iriguchi bus stop is 25 minutes from Inawashiro Station
by Aizu Bus.
Iwaki and Iwaki Yumoto
A former coal-mining area offering hot spring resorts that include
Japan's first hot spring leisure park
Iwaki is situated in the southeastern part of Fukushima between
the Abukuma Mountain Range to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the
east. It's the most heavily populated city in the prefecture, and in
its center is an area in which modern buildings stand together with
old storehouses and residences.
In the north of the city is the Iwaki-shi Flower Center, whose
grounds contain about 260,000 plants. The garden also contains six
green houses, where visitors can enjoy a year-round view of cattleya
and butterfly orchids. Other natural attractions include the
Setogaro Cliff and Natsui-gawa Valley, consisting of fantastically
shaped rocks and precipices. The scenery of waterfalls, deep pools,
and fast-flowing streams are fascinating. In summer, visitors to
Iwaki can enjoy watching the Jangara Nenbutsu-odori (dance)
performance, a unique festival in which young men in yukata
(informal cotton kimonos) with tucked-up sleeves, headbands and
white tabi socks dance and parade through the city chanting a
Situated in the southwest of Iwaki is the Iwaki Yumoto-onsen Hot
Spring area (also known as Mihako-no-yu). Once a thriving center of
coal mining, this area has a 1,900-year history of tradition and is
counted as one of Japan's three oldest hot springs. The sulfurous
hot water, which is said to be effective for neuralgia and women's
ailments, is drawn in huge quantities from the former Joban Coal
Mine. A noteworthy attraction in the area is the Spa Resort
Hawaiians, Japan's first spa resort, which uses the local hot-spring
water to provide visitors with herbal baths and a wide variety of
Iwaki is 2 hours and 20 minutes from Ueno Station (Tokyo) by
Limited Express on the JR Joban Line. Yumoto Station is 2 hours and
10 minutes from Iwaki Station by Limited Express on the JR Joban
storehouses, ramen noodles, and the traditional crafts of lacquer
ware and paulownia woodwork
Kitakata derives its name from its location, which is north of
Aizuwakamatsu in the northwestern part of Fukushima. (Kita is the
Japanese word for "north.") It has long been known as a center of
sake (rice wine) and miso (soy bean-paste) production, and it once
produced such an abundance that about 2,600 storehouses were built
there. Today, many of these storehouses have been transformed into
museums, galleries, and restaurants.
The city extends northward from JR Kitakata Station. Most sites of
interest to visitors are concentrated in a relatively small area, so
they can be reached easily on foot or on rented bicycles. Visitors
can also take a 90-minute sightseeing tour by horse-drawn carriage.
Although Kitakata is known largely for its storehouses, it has
various other traditional features. These include ramen noodles,
which are said to have been introduced long ago by Chinese
youngsters who sold them from open-air stalls. Fresh spring water
(also important for sake production) helps to bring out the best in
Kitakata's ramen noodles, which are served in about 100 restaurants
in the city.
Lacquer ware and paulownia woodwork represent another popular aspect
of Kitakata: The city is home to the Aizu Urushi Museum of Art
(Lacquer Art Museum), where visitors can see lacquer craftwork and
artwork and a lacquer-painted Japanese-style room; to the
Kirino-Hakubutsukan (Paulownia Museum), Japan's only museum of
paulownia; and to the Aizu-Kiri-Kogeikan (Aizu Paulownia Craft
Museum), where visitors can see how geta (clogs), furniture, and
other items are made.
In summer, Kitakata holds an energetic festival that includes a
fireworks display and Aizu-Kitakata-Shosuke-Odori dancing, a
Aizu-Kitakata-daiko (drumming) performance and the Kyodo-Geino-Festival
(other local forms of entertainment).
Koriyama Station is 1 hour and 20 minutes from Tokyo Station on
the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line. Kitakata Station is 1 hour and 30
minutes from Koriyama Station by express train on the JR Ban'etsu
Spring of verdure and wild birds, summer of lake bathing and aquatic
sports, autumn of scarlet-tinged leaves, and winter of winter sports
Lake Inawashiro-ko, located almost in the center of Fukushima
Prefecture, is the main entrance to Bandai-Asahi National Park. It
is the fourth largest lake in Japan, and is also called "Lake Tenkyo
(heaven's mirror)-ko" because it reflects the shape of Mt.
Bandai-san on the lake like a heavenly mirror. Around Nagahama on
the northern shore, you can enjoy the beauty of nature from season
to season: spring of verdure and wild birds, summer of camping,
water skiing, board-sailing, and lake bathing, autumn of
scarlet-tinged leaves, and winter of winter sports and swans. It is
frequented by visitors all the year round.
Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928), known to the world for his research into
yellow fever, was born in Inawashiro, and in his parents' house is
the Noguchi Hideyo Memorial Hall, where his favorite items and
letters are displayed. In the neighborhood are the Aizu Mingei-kan
or the Aizu Folk Museum, introducing the life and culture of the
Aizu District, the Inawashiro Jibiru-kan (locally-brewed beer hall),
and Bandai Jibiru Park, where you can drink beer brewed using the
subsoil water of Mt. Bandai-san and taste real Italian dishes.
At the foot of Mt. Bandai-san on the Inawashiro lakeside is a group
of hot springs, including Tenkyo-dai, Omote-Bandai, Ottate and
Bandai Inawashiro-Hayamana, from which you can have an expansive
bird's-eye view of beautiful Lake Inawashiro-ko.
An hour 20 minutes to Koriyama Station from Tokyo Station, and
40 minutes to Inawashiro Station from Koriyama Station by the JR
Ban'etsu-saisen Line Rapid Train.
Mt. Azuma-san and Tsuchiyu-onsen Hot Spring
Mt. Azuma-san, covered with a virgin forest and dotted with
marshes - Tsuchiyu-onsen Hot Spring with more than ten different
types of hot springs and the home of kokeshi dolls
Mt. Azuma-san is the collective term for a number of volcanoes
located near the border between Fukushima and Yamagata, and is a
part of the Bandai-Asahi National Park. The volcanoes are
concentrated in the east and west of Mt. Azuma-san. In the east, Mt.
Higashi-Azuma-san stands the highest, surrounded by Mt.
Issaikyo-yama and Mt. Azuma Kofuji that spew out volcanic smoke, and
in the west, the principal Mt. Nishi-Azuma-san stretches into gentle
rises and falls. Both volcanic ranges are covered with virgin
forests and dotted with marshes.
Mt. Azuma Kofuji is the best scenic attraction along the
Bandai-Azuma Skyline that skirts the foot of Mt. Azuma-san from
north to south. As you walk around the crater, which has a diameter
of 500 meters, you can enjoy the 360-degree panoramic view.
Jodo-daira Plateau is blessed with clean air with little disturbing
light, and thus known as the ideal spot to watch the stars.
Jodo-daira Tenmon-dai, an astronomical observatory, stands here.
Tsuchiyu-onsen Hot Spring is located along the Ara-kawa River that
runs from Mt. Azuma-san. There are more than ten different types of
hot springs, and Tsuchiyu enjoys the reputation for being one of the
best hot spring sites in the Tohoku (northeastern) region. It is
also known as the home of kokeshi, traditional simple wooden dolls.
In spring, they celebrate Tsuchiyu-onsen Kokeshi-matsuri Festival
carrying a palanquin shrine shaped like a huge kokeshi. It is one of
the three major kokeshi festivals in Tohoku, and this festival is a
symbol of the advent of spring to the people of Tsuchiyu.
Take the JR Tohoku or Yamagata Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 40
minutes from Tokyo Station to Fukushima Station. Then take the Aizu
Bus for 1 hour and 10 minutes from Fukushima Station to the
Jodo-daira Chusha-jo (parking lot) mae.
abounding in as many as 400 shallow pools - Creeping pines growing
in crowds and virgin forests of beeches
Oze, forming the boundaries among the three prefectures of Gumma,
Niigata, and Fukushima, is a generic name of the areas surrounded by
the mountains of Oze-ga-hara, Oze-numa, and other nearby mountains
such as Mt. Hiuchi-ga-take, Mt. Keizuru-yama, and Mt. Shibutsu-san.
It is one of the central parts of Nikko National Park.
Oze, set on a plateau 1400-1700 meters above sea level, is the
largest high moor in Japan, which was created by lava from Mt.
Hiuchi-ga-take that dammed up the Tadami-gawa River. About 400
shallow pools are spotted here and there. Rare bog plants such as
mizubasho (Japanese skunk cabbage) and nikko-kisuge (yellow alpine
lily) are growing in bunches, and floating islands of peat layers
are visible. Both creeping pines growing in stands and virgin
forests of beeches stretch to the nearby mountains, and all these
areas were designated as special natural monuments of Japan in 1960.
In the colonies of bog plants, trails of wooden walkways are laid
out as hiking tracks, and mountain huts are available. Lots of
travelers visit here especially when the blossoms of mizubasho are
at their best in summer and when the leaves turn red in autumn. On
the upper stream of the Kita-Tadami-gawa River, whose source is Oze,
there are scenic spots such as the grand falls of Sanjo-no-taki
Jomo-Kogen Station is 1 hour 20 minutes from Tokyo Station by
the JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line. Then take a bus from Jomo-Kogen
Station to O-shimizu, which takes 2 hours 10 minutes. Tokyo Station
is 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Tokaido