Aizu Glossary

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ADATARAYAMA Mountain (Inawashiro)
Height: 1700m
Time needed: 4 hours
Open season: From the beginning of May to the middle of November
Access: 35 minutes by bus from Inawashiro Station
Contact: Inawashiro Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0242-62-2048, Fax: 0242-62-2939

AIKAWA ONSEN Hot Spring (Yamato)
Access: 15 minutes by bus from Yamato Station, get off at Aikawa
Contact: Takitomi Tel: 0241-38-2151

AIZU Name of this area
* AIZU is written with two Japanese characters, one meaning "meet" and the other meaning "haven" (in this case the meaning is stretched to take on the sense of "river"). The Aizu area got its name from two gods meeting by a river in Aizu Takada.
* The Aizu area takes up about one third of the space in Fukushima Prefecture. (The other two areas are Nakadori and Hamadori). There are 2 cities, 15 towns, and 11 villages in the Aizu area. The towns, and villages are divided into the following counties: Kawanuma, Kita Aizu, Minamiaizu, Onuma, and Yama.

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AIZU ASAHIDAKE Mountain (Tadami)
Height: 1624m
Time needed: 4 hours
Open season: From the second Sunday in June
Access: 30 minutes by car from Tadami Station
Contact: Tadami-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-82-5250, Fax: 0241-82-2845

* This is a famous song about a local mountain. You will hear this song in Aizu during O-bon, while visiting local karaoke shops, and during the yearly "Folk Song Contest". Here are the lyrics in Japanese followed by a rough translation.

Iya, Aizu Bandai-san wa
Takara no yama yo
Sasa ni kogane ga
Ee mata narisagaru

Choisa, Choisa!

Iya, Higashiyama kara
Hinichi no tayori
Ikaza narumai
Ee mata kao mise ni

Ohara Shosuke-san
Nande shinshou tsubushita
Asane, asazake, asayu ga
Daisuki de
Sore de shinshou tsubushita
Ha! Mottomo da, mottomo da!

Mt. Bandai is the treasure of Aizu. The bamboo grass (nature's gold) is leaning over.
Choisa, Choisa! (Festival cheer)
A letter comes from Higashiyama every day. I have to go and visit.
Why did Shosuke Ohara lose his fortune? Because he loved to sleep in, drink sake, and take a bath in the morning. That's why he lost his fortune. Indeed, Indeed!
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* You will hear locals refering to the "Aizu Bonchi" when they are trying to describe both the geological and sociological features of the area. The bonchi, or basin, is the large flat area between the mountains of Aizu and is where the largest part of the city of Aizu Wakamatsu is found. It is 200 metres above sea level. It is blamed for the hot, musty weather in the summer. It also plays a part in the character of longtime Aizu residents. You will have to decide for yourself whether that is actually true or not!
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AIZU DAIGAKU University of Aizu (Aizu Wakamatsu)
* In April 1993, Fukushima Prefecture opened a new university in Aizu Wakamatsu. In an effort to keep pace with today's ever-changing technology and to help propel Fukushima into the 21st century, the university is one step in the prefecture's determination to build a bright future.
* The realization of a prefectural university that is highly regarded both in Japan and in the international community was the main goal of the founders. To this end, five basic objectives were established:
1. To foster creativity.
2. To contribute to the industries and culture of Fukushima Prefecture.
3. To facilitate high quality education and research.
4. To establish an education and research institution that revitalizes the special features of the region.
5. To contribute to the international community.
* The university stands on 20.5 hectares of land in the Ikkimachi, Tsuruga area of Aizu Wakamatsu. In total, there are 45,000 square meters of facilities surrounded by landscaped areas of trees and open spaces. Although the latest technology in architecture was used to design the building, the main aim, according to planners, was to create a community that facilitates interpersonal contact, while remaining close to nature.
* The curriculum of the new university will focus on information systems, engineering, and computer science with an emphasis on establishing a broad scientific foundation that can be easily built upon and allowing for flexible study methods. The university was built to accommodate about 1380 undergraduate and graduate students.
* Although the university mainly emphasizes the sciences, the concept of internationalization that has been sweeping Japan in recent years has also had an influence on the plans. As a consequence, English is also taught, and foreign professors and exchange students give the university an international flavour.
* The new institution has been dubbed an "open university" and a constant flow of mutual exchange between the university and the people of Fukushima is considered essential. Because it is a prefectural institution, the management and policies of the university reflect the opinions, thoughts, and values of the residents of the prefecture. An information and consulting organization will be established to facilitate this. It is also expected that close ties will develop between local industries that will stimulate and make possible the exchange of information and technology.
* This kind of high quality education and research, in co-operation with local residents and industries, is considered by many to be a significant and positive step toward realizing Fukushima's potential and helping the prefecture meet the challenges of the future.
[This information appeared in the November 1991 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Mark Crowther.]

* The University of Aizu opened the doors to its new graduate school on April 1st, the beginning of the new academic year. An ambitious step for so young a university, the Graduate School of Computer Science and Engineering offers two-year master's programme.
* This has been something of an annus mirablis for the university, with its first class graduating in late March. Of the 197 graduates, 116 found employment in private industry, while almost all of the remainder found roles in the public sector, or are continuing their studies at the newly-opened graduate school. It is a very rare feat indeed for a newly-established institution such as the University of Aizu to be able to boast a graduate placement of nearly 100% so soon after the graduation ceremony of the very first class.
* Construction of the university itself began in late 1991, and the doors of the university were opened to the institution's first undergraduates (the graduating class of March 1997) at the beginning of April 1993.
* Hailed as the first university in Japan to concentrate on the teaching of information systems and computer science and engineering, the university has again taken an unprecedented step in quickly establishing a graduate school for men and women from all over Japan to come and study for two years towards a master's degree.
* The curriculum consists of two courses. Of the 58 graduates to enroll with the master's programme, 29 opted to specialize in Information Systems, the remaining 29 preferring to concentrate on Computer Systems. Whilst several of the post-graduate students come from distant prefectures such as Hiroshima and Gifu, it should be of no surprise that the largest single group (28 students) hail from Fukushima.
* In the longer term, the University of Aizu has appointed several members of staff to research and plan the additional establishment of a three-year Ph.D. course. The planning has to be meticulous, as the academic credentials of the proposed Ph.D. curriculum have to be approved by Monbusho, the Ministry of Education, if the doctorate is to be recognized nationally as a qualification.
* On a demographic level, it is encouraging to see that the university is stimulating a trend away from rural depopulation, the drift of young people to the metropolitan areas, away from their birthplaces that has so decimated small communities in recent decades. The master's course and the proposed Ph.D. would, along with the initial four gakushi (Bachelor's Degree), keep a student in Fukushima for a total of ten years.
* As with the undergraduates, the master's courses are taught in English, so the students receive a rounded education that encompasses language skills as well as computer expertise.
* As the costs of living and studying in Japan can be prohibitively high, a limited number of teaching and research-assistant posts are available to post-graduate students. In addition to helping under-graduates work their way towards their eventual graduation, the funds generated also go a long way to alleviating the financial burden associated with tertiary education.
* Applications for the Graduate School of Computer Science and Engineering are welcome from Japan and beyond. The faculty can be contacted at TEL: +81-242-37-2511, FAX: +81-242-37-2546, EMAIL:, HOMEPAGE:
[This information appeared in the Summer 1997 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

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AIZU DAIGAKU - MULTIMEDIA CENTRE University of Aizu - Multimedia Centre
* The University of Aizu was founded by Fukushima Prefecture in April 1993 to open a new era for the advancement of computer science. It is the first university in Japan devoted to research and education in computer science, with positions open to a world-class faculty. In fact, about 60% of the faculty members are non-Japanese coming from 13 countries: Brazil, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Germany, India, Korea, Poland, Russia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tunisia, and the United States. Now the university is paving the way towards the establishment of a graduate school. [This article was written in 1995. The composition of the faculty has since changed and the graduate school has been started.]
* Now that the multimedia field has become recognized as a key technology for the 21st century, the University of Aizu's Multimedia Centre has recently been opened as one of six such information centres in Japan. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry subsidized the Fukushima Prefectural Government in the construction of this public facility to promote regional development through popularizing the use of multimedia technology and propagating information on local areas to the world. Furthermore, this new multimedia technology will hopefully lead to the actualization of a highly information-oriented society in these local areas.
* The centre is composed of nine systems: the HDTV (high-definition television) Screen System, the Multimedia Groupware System, the Multi-modal Human Interface System, the Multimedia Development Support System, the Synthetic World Construction System, the Virtual Shop and Shopping Sytem, the Multimedia Works Database System, the Multimedia Information Network System, and the Human Performance Analysis System. These systems provide an opportunity for the public as well as faculty members to experience the world of virtual reality with three dimensional images and acoustics, which will undoubtedly aid tremendously in research and development. At the same time, the Multimedia Centre provides lecture programmes on the authoring and editing of multimedia software as part of a continuous education programme for the public. An area for private companies to carry out research and development is also available.
* All prefectural policies related to the establishment of the university and the Multimedia Centre are derived from the recognition that the culture of the 21st century will be based upon computer technology. This computer culture is the result of the computer being the first intellectual automated processing machine that extends human brain power. The computer world is gradually and yet steadfastly shifting to a multimedia era which provides user-friendly human-machine interfaces that can process characters, sounds, graphics, photographs, and movies. Existing media, if not replaced, will at least be supplemented, creating an information revolution. In such an information oriented society, individuals can afford and enjoy communication in various forms beyond communities and even beyond borders. This kind of change in the flow of information across the world will be made possible when a "Global Information Infrastructure" (GII) is created. Even in a small area like Fukushima Prefecture, inter-governmental negotiations on the planning for the GII have a great impact due to the existence of the university and its multimedia focus in Aizu.
* The Multimedia Centre is the first step by Fukushima Prefecture to ignite key technologies for the public and for local industries to prepare for the coming information-oriented society.
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1995 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Shuji Meike.]

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AIZU FUDOKI Book about the natural features of Aizu, written in 1666
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AIZU HAN Aizu Clan
* Katamori Matsudaira [1834-1893] was the lord (daimyo) of the Aizu Clan.
* The clan was opposed to the Meiji Restoration and fought against the emperor's forces in the Boshin Civil War.
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AIZU HONGOU ONSEN Hot Spring (Aizu Hongou)
Access: 20 minutes walk from Aizu Hongou Station
Contact: Aizu Hongou Shinkou Kousha Tel: 0242-56-4364

AIZU KAWAGUCHI ONSEN Hot Spring (Kaneyama)
Access: 5 minutes walk from Aizu Kawaguchi Station
Contact: Kaneyama-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-54-2311, Fax: 0241-54-2848

AIZU KOMAGATAKE Mountain (Hinoemata)
Height: 2133m
Time needed: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Open season: From the third Sunday in May
Access: By bus from Aizu Kougen Station, get off at Takizawa Touzanguchi
Contact: Oze Hinoemata Onsen Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-75-2432, Fax: 0241-75-2336

Height: 1000m
Time needed: 40 minutes
Open season: From the second Sunday in June
Access: By bus from Aizu Kougen Station
Contact: Mura Kikaku Kankou Ka Tel: 0241-78-3330, Fax: 0241-78-3008

Access: 5 minutes by bus from Nozawa Station, then 3 minutes walk
Contact: Kua Hotel Tenju no Yu Tel: 0241-45-4126, Fax: 0241-45-3350

AIZU SHUZOU HAKUBUTSUKAN Aizu Sake Brewing Museum (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access:
Cost: Adults 300 yen, High School Students 250 yen, Junior High and Elementary Students 150 yen
Contact Information: 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Zaimoku-chou 1-8-1
TEL: 0242-28-0150, FAX: 0242-29-9252
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AIZU SHUZOU REKISHIKAN Aizu Sake History Museum (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access
Cost: Adults 300 yen, High School Students 200 yen, Junior High and Elementary Students 150 yen
Contact Information: 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Higashi Sakae-machi 8-7
TEL: 0242-26-0031, FAX: 0242-27-0032
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AKI MATSURI Autumn Festival (Aizu Wakamatsu)
* Of Aizu Wakamatsu's four seasonal festivals, the Autumn Festival is the most popular. It is a time for celebrating the Aizu region's rich samurai culture, while remembering those who gave their lives during the Boshin Civil War. Held from September 22nd to 24th, the festival features a number of events that attract visitors from all over Northern Japan.
* (Note: This article was written in 1993.) This year's festival began on the morning of the 22nd with a drum and fife parade of 2500 local elementary students. Lantern processions followed later in the day, along with a contest to see who could make the best lantern. Locals and tourists were encouraged to join in the Bon dancing. Officially, the events were scheduled to end at 9:30, but the party continued well into the night.
* The following day began with the highlight of the Autumn Festival, the samurai parade. This is a procession of about 500 people clad in traditional costumes from many periods in Aizu's history. The event began on the grounds of Tsurugajou, with demonstrations involving cannons, swords, muskets, and martial arts. Local men dressed as the successive Aizu daimyo (feudal lords) watched the proceedings from a stage above the crowd. The parade included groups of different male and female warriors, interspersed with the occasional daimyo on horseback.
* Equally as interesting as the parade itself is the history surrounding this event. Long ago, Tsurugajou was the Aizu clan's seat of power in the region that is now known as Fukushima Prefecture. With the decline of the Tokugawa Shogunate's power in the mid 1800s, clans in the southwestern part of Japan struggled to re-establish a national government which would be ruled by the emperor. Clans from north-eastern Japan opposed the restoration of the emperor. This clash culminated in the Boshin Civil War. The Aizu clan, having strong connections to the Tokugawa Shogunate, had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Under the leadership of the daimyo, Matsudaira Katamori, the clan battled the attackers from the south-west (known as the Western Forces).
* Among the castle's defenders were the Byakkotai, a corps of boys under the age of eighteen. From nearby Iimoriyama, the Byakkotai watched the battle rage, and mistakenly believed that the castle had been set aflame. Despondent over the apparent defeat of the Aizu clan, nineteen of the boys committed ritual suicide according to the code of the samurai (bushido) and out of loyalty to their daimyo. This is why the parade is always completed with a procession of local boys representing the Byakkotai.
* The parade is also remarkable for the costumes of the participants. Representing different periods in history, each group has a different style of dress with the fierce weaponry and armour of the samurai giving way to the brightly patterned silks of the daimyo of more peaceful times.
* While Aizu Wakamatsu is always an interesting and historic place to visit, it is even more fascinating during its Autumn Festival, which reveals the rich culture and tradition of the region. Held every year during the week of the autumnal equinox, the festival never fails to delight the 20,000 or so visitors who come out to see it.
[This information appeared in the December 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

* The annual Aizu Autumn Festival takes place in Aizu Wakamatsu on September 23. The celebrations in 1999 had an added edge with the recreation of an Edo period village within the grounds of Tsurugajou where many of the festival attractions take place.
* Stalls featuring traditional local food and souvenirs proved popular, and the sight of people bustling about in traditional Edo period dress added to the "olden day" atmosphere of the castle grounds. A pavilion dedicated to the history of Aizu also offered visitors a more detailed look at the Aizu of the past.
* The fall festival is notorious for attracting the rain, but this year the sun smiled on the celebrations, with several thousand people turning out to enjoy the event. As is the festival's tradition, the main attraction was the Byakko Parade including approximately five hundred people attired in traditional costumes from different periods in Aizu history. Other events included sword demonstrations and traditional dancing.
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1999 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

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* AKA means "red" and BEKO is the local word for "cow" (usually a cow is called "ushi" in Japanese). The akabeko is a famous souvenir of Aizu. Red is believed to be a lucky colour. The idea apparently came from the "red cows" that were needed to move the big stones to make the castle (Tsurugajou).
* Akabeko literally means red cow in the Aizu dialect, but it refers to a red cow-shaped souvenir that is made of papier mache. It is one of the few Fukushima folk crafts to be well known throughout Japan. Akabeko, with their free-swinging head that bobs up and down with any movement, make people smile.
* The origin of the akabeko can be traced back to the year 807. At that time, a monk named Tokuichi was building Enzoji in Yanaizu. Many oxen were used to haul the lumber and among them was a large sturdy red cow. According to legend, one day after the completion of the temple, this red cow offered its soul to Buddha and its body turned to stone right on the spot. Another version, which is probably more believable, says that the cow refused to leave the site of the temple after its completion and became somewhat of a permanent fixture. To the people of the area, the cow became a religious symbol of earnest devotion to Buddha and they created a legend around her.
* Akabeko came on the scene around 400 years ago, largely due to the efforts of a man named Ujisato Gamo. Gamo became the ruling lord of Aizu in 1590 when he was granted the land by Hideyoshi Toyotomi upon the latter's rise to power. On hearing the folk story of the red cow, Gamo ordered some of the many artisans that came with him from the Kyoto area to make a toy based on the legend, in a venture to increase his own fortunes. They came up with the antecedent of today's akabeko, and although the first ones were somewhat different from the one's of today, the basic characteristics are the same.
* Not long after coming into existence, in interesting superstition began to evolve around the akabeko. The local people began to consider it a talisman to ward off smallpox. This idea came about because, around the same time as the akabeko first came on the scene, a plague of small pox was ravaging Japan. It was noticed, however, that children who had an akabeko didn't seem to fall prey to the disease. Thus, people rushed to buy them, and the akabeko grew from being a simple toy to being a charm against sickness.
* Today there are about ten households involved in the production of akabeko, and most of them have been doing so for generations. Although each household produces akabeko in the same basic style, each establishment paints their own distinct design in black and white on their products. For example, Igarashi Folkcrafts paints a half moon and a sun on the side and the Japanese character "kotobuki" (longevity and good luck) on the back of their akabeko.
* Akabeko are made by first wrapping a few layers of moistened Japanese paper (washi) around a block of wood fashioned in the shape of a cow's trunk - in most cases is is the same block that has been used for generations. Once dried, the wash is cut in half lengthwise and the block removed. The two halves are put back together and then more layers of the fine paper are repeatedly applied and allowed to dry until the toy becomes sturdy. The same method is used for the head and neck portion. The akabeko is then ready to be painted. Interestingly, the black paint is applied first, then the whole thing is painted red. As the red paint dries, the black portions begin to appear. The white parts are then painted in. The final step is the application of a thin layer of lacquer. The entire process take about ten days.
* The akabeko's playful appearance, along with its connection to the Buddha and its reputation as an effective defence against small pox, make it a very likable, popular toy. It will probably remain so for many years to come.
[This information appeared in the May 1992 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

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ARAKAISAN Mountain (Tajima)
Height: 1581m
Time needed: Around 4 hours
Open season: From the middle of May to the beginning of November
Access: 30 minutes walk from Aizu Kougen Station
Contact: Tajima-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-62-6210, Fax: 0241-62-1288

ASAKUSADAKE Mountain (Tadami)
Height: 1586m
Time needed: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Open season: From the fourth Sunday in July
Access: 5 minutes walk from Tagokura Station
Contact: Tadami-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-82-5250, Fax: 0241-82-2845

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* The original castle in Aizu Wakamatsu (Tsurugajou) was built by Ashina in 1384.
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ASHINOMAKI ONSEN Hot Spring (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Access: Get off at Ashinomaki Onsen Station
Contact: Ashinomaki Onsen Ryokan Kyoudou Kumiai Tel: 0242-92-2336

ATSUSHIO ONSEN Hot Spring (Atsushiokanou)
Access: 20 minutes by bus from Kitakata Station
Contact: Atsushio Onsen Ryokan Kumiai Tel: 0241-36-3138

Access: 1 hour by bus from Aizu Kougen Station
Contact: Azuki Onsen Madoake no Yu Tel: 0241-76-3112

* Using the blue autumn sky as a canvas, the participating teams in the Shiokawa Balloon Festival paint a vibrantly coloured picture in October. Slowly, from lifeless lengths of cloth, the balloons rise and take to the air, splashing colour in the sky over the Aizu region town of Shiokawa.
* Starting alarmingly early in the morning on a day in mid October, the festival brings together about thirty teams from around the world to compete in three different tests of skill. The first contest was the popular chase game known as "Hare and Hound", which is followed later in the day with a "Fly-in". The next day sees a "Minimum Distance" contest that tests a pilot's skills in maintaining a certain position. This final challenge proves very popular with onlookers because of the rainbow of balloons constantly hovering over the launch site. The size of the balloons range from large ones able to carry four people to one-person airships that have no basket at all, just a chair-like seat that the pilot steers from.
* Early morning balloon flights are preferable, it seems because the winds are weaker as the day begins. This can be seen in the afternoons, when sometimes the balloons fail to approach the goal in the Fly-in competition due to strong winds swirling in the Aizu basin.
* Although an early morning start is necessary for the best views of the day, the Shiokawa festival is worth the loss of a few hours sleep to enjoy the fantastic colour of a balloon filled sky.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1994 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

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BANDAI HIBARAKO HAN ONSEN Hot Spring (Kitashiobara)
Access: 30 minutes by car from the Inawashiro Bandai Kougen interchange on the Bandai Highway
Contact: Bandai Hibarako Han Hotel Tel: 0241-33-2341

Access: 10 minutes by car from Inawashiro Station
Contact: Hotel New Bandai Tel: 0242-62-2649

BANDAI KOUGEN Bandai Highlands
* The Bandai Highlands were formed over one hundred years ago as the result of a sudden, violent volcanic eruption. On July 15, 1888 one of Mt. Bandai's peaks literally blew its top, devastating the area to the north of the mountain. Destroying several villages and claiming five hundred lives, the eruption changed Ura-Bandai (literally, the back of Bandai) forever. Today, the two kilometre U-shaped caldera carved into the mountain by the explosion is clearly visible, and serves as a backdrop for the beautiful scenery of the Bandai Highlands.
* Part of the Bandai-Asahi National Park (the second largest national park in the country) that straddles three prefectures, the highlands attract visitors throughout the year. Mudflows triggered by the 1888 eruption dammed several rivers in the area, creating a scenic myriad of lakes, ponds, and marshes. Hibarako is the largest lake on the highlands, and derives its name from the village that lies flooded under its waters, where it has remained since the eruption. Lake Onogawa was formed at the same time and is noted for the many islets and rocks that jut out from its surface. Nearby stone steps lead up to the Fudo falls.
* One of the best ways to experience the breathtaking beauty of the Bandai Highlands is to hike some of its many trails and nature walks. A very popular walk is the Goshikinuma trail that meanders by several lakes and marshes. Goshikinuma, or the five-coloured lakes, are well known throughout the country for their mysterious changes in hue. Minerals and micro-organisms in the water are responsible for the variations in colour, from emerald to cobalt blue (depending on the weather and season), in the ten lakes. The 3.7 kilometre nature trail winds its way between the lakes, connecting Bandai-Kougen station with the Goshikinuma bus stop. The walk takes about an hour from one end to the other, and can be quite crowded on weekends and holidays. The most popular destination for hikers is Mt. Bandai itself, which opens for hiking in May. One well-used trail starts at the Ura-Bandai ski area and loops around the mountain to the top, with a return trip taking about six hours. A shorter, four-hour course to the top starts at the Nekoma Happo dai on the Bandai Gold Line scenic route. It is highly recommended to go on a clear day and an get an early start when hiking Bandai. Scores of other trails exist, such as one along the southern shoreline of Hibarako, and they are well worth checking out.
* While hiking is the most popular warm weather pastime in the Ura-Bandai region, there are lots of other opportunities for outdoor activities. Cycling, for example, is popular in the highlands, with several ski rental shops renting out bikes in the summer. Some cycling routes have been laid out, but mostly on high-traffic roads. It is probably better to chart your own course. There are also plenty of tennis courts in the area and canoe rentals are also available. Swimming in the many lakes on the highlands, however, is forbidden. Hot springs about in the Bandai Highlands, due mostly to fact that Mt. Bandai is still classified as an active volcano.
* The most popular winter activity, unsurprisingly, is skiing. There are three resorts in the highlands, Nekoma, Gran Deco, and Ura-Bandai, all of which are quite popular. If downhill is not your thing, there are several cross-country ski trails to be found at the southern end of Soharako. These trails are the site of an annual cross-country ski event on the first Sunday in March that attracts several hundred teams. Or for a change of pace, you could try ice-fishing on Hibarako.
* There are a variety of places to stay in the Bandai Highlands, from hotels to pensions to traditional Japanese inns (minshuku) to campsites. All of the above are quite busy during the peak season (mid-August) when reservations are often required. One night at a Japanese inn or pension will probably cost about 6,500 yen, while a bungalow at a campsite is considerably less (and less comfortable). Bringing a tent is probably the best alternative. There are many sites to be found in the Ura-Bandai area; some campsites (such as those located at the south end of Hibarako) are located away from the roads and they require a short hike in. Owners of campsites and inns in the highlands have gotten together and formed associations that offer information on prices, reservations, and advice to make your search a little easier.
* Beautiful throughout the year, the highlands are well known for their lush spring greens and colourful deciduous "fireworks" in the autumn. The area's dense forests provide an important natural sanctuary for birds and other wildlife. The only thing lacking in Bandai is a cohesive environmental policy to maintain the nature that exists today. Get the most out of a visit to the area by first contacting the local tourism association for up-to-date information on bookings, hiking conditions, and cycling routes. Best results from the Ura-Bandai Tourism Association can be had by telephoning in Japanese or faxing them in English.
[This information appeared in the Summer 1995 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

Contact Information:
Ura-Bandai Tourism Hotline TEL:0241-32-3333
Ura-Bandai Tourism Association FAX:0241-32-3152
Ura-Bandai Youth Hostel TEL:0241-32-2811
Ura-Bandai Ryokan Association TEL:0241-32-2635
Ura-Bandai Campsite Associatoin TEL:0241-32-2247
Ura-Bandai Highlands Pension Village TEL:0241-32-2004
Ura-Bandai Pension Club TEL:0241-32-2007
Lake Hibarako Minshuku Association TEL:0241-34-2127
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BANDAISAN Mountain (Bandai, Inawashiro, Kitashiobara)
* On the morning of July 15, 1888, Mt. Bandai exploded in a fierce eruption that claimed nearly 500 lives, caused tremendous damage to eleven hamlets in five villages, and drastically altered the landscape forever.
* A part of the Bandai-Asahi National Park, Mt. Bandai is one of three active volcanoes in Fukushima Prefecture. The other two are Mt. Azuma and Mt. Adatara. (There are about 80 active volcanoes in Japan, nearly 10% of the total in the world.) Towering into the sky on the north shore of Lake Inawashiro, the mountain is actually made up of several peaks. The central and tallest peak is Mt. Bandai at 1819 meters above sea level. To the east is Mt. Akahaniyama (1427m) and to the north is Mt. Kushigamine (1636m).
* The Japanese characters in the name Bandai mean "stone" and "ladder". The name is often interpreted to mean stone ladder to heaven (or to the sky). Mt. Bandai is also sometimes referred to as treasure mountain.
* In the past, the mountain was known as Byounouzan, which means "mountain that suffers an illness". Bandai erupted or released steam with enough regularity to be thought of as sick. In the beginning of the 9th century, a temple, Enichiji, was built at the foot of the mountain in order to soothe the mountain's illness and suppress any further eruptions.
* The eruption of 1888 produced an avalanche of debris that rapidly rushed down into nearby rivers to form mudflows. Most of Kobandai, one of the four peaks that once made up the summit, collapsed and formed a U-shaped caldera approximately two kilometers in diameter. The debris avalanche and mudflows dammed up the Nagase River and its branches, forming about 300 lakes and ponds, including Hibarako and Goshikinuma (the five-coloured lakes).
* A village called Hibara once stood where Hibarako is now. The lake, which reached its present size about two years after Bandai's eruption, is the largest body of water in the Ura-Bandai Highlands that was created by the eruption.
* Goshikinuma, the five-coloured lakes, are considered gems in the natural scenic landscape of Fukushima. Consisting of several lakes of various sizes, they are famous for the various colours they display due to their chemical compositions and plant life.
* The only other recorded eruption of Mt. Bandai occurred in 806 AD and is said to have also caused great damage. According to legend, Lake Inawashiro was created by this eruption. This has not been scientifically verified, however, and many experts consider the lake to be much older than this legend would allow.
* Many songs and poems have been written about Mt. Bandai, reflecting the significance the mountain has had on the lives of those who have dwelled in its shadows. Mt. Bandai is even mentioned in Manyoushuu, Japan's oldest anthology of poems compiled over a period of approximately 350 years (ending in 759).
* In 1988, to mark the centennial of the devastating eruption, the Museum of the Mt. Bandai Eruption was completed near Hibarako. There are many displays and photographs about the 1888 eruption and its effect on the area, as well as information about volcaneos in general. (The museum is open daily from 8am to 5pm.)
* Today, although it only ranks as the 25th highest peak in the prefecture, Mt. Bandai is by far the most famous mountain in Fukushima.
[This information appeared in the August 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

BANDAISAN Mountain (Bandai)
Height: 1819m
Time needed: Around 4 to 5 hours, return
Open season: From the second Sunday in May
Access: 10 by car from Nekoma Happodai Touzanguchi or Bandai Kougen, or 20 minutes by taxi from Bandai-machi Station, or 20 minutes by car from Kawahigashi Interchange
Contact: Bandai-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-73-2111, Fax: 0241-73-2115

BANDAISAN (AIZUFUJI) Mountain (Inawashiro)
Height: 1819m
Time needed: 3 to 6 hours
Open season: From the beginning of May to the beginning of November
Access: 10 minutes by car from Inawashiro Station
Contact: Inawashiro Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0242-62-2048, Fax: 0242-62-2939

BANDAISAN Mountain (Kitashiobara)
Height: 1819m
Time needed: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Open season: From the beginning of May to the beginning of November
Access: 30 minutes by bus from Inawashiro Station
Contact: Ura Bandai Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-32-2349
* See Also:

BANETSU Banetsu toll highway
* The first of October saw the long awaited opening of the Banetsu Highway in its entirety, following the completion of the last remaining 22 kilometre section between Fukushima's Nishiaizu and Tsukawa in Niigata. The 213 kilometre long highway, which horizontally links Fukushima's Iwaki on Japan's east coast with Niigata on the west coast, was officially opened in a ceremony in Niigata's Kamikawa, with Fukushima's Governor Sato and Niigata's Governor Hirayama doing the honours. Following the cutting of the tape, a convoy made its way to Nishiaizu, where the highway was officially opened to traffic.
* The opening signalled the end of twelve years of construction, and slices the travelling time from coast to coast by more than two hours. (Using the old, winding route of highway 49, it took about five hours; now it takes about three hours.) As a result, a one-day trip to Niigata is now possible for people living in the Nakadori and Hamadori regions. The Banetsu highway crosses with the Joban highway in Iwaki, the Tohoku highway in Koriyama, and the Hokuriku highway in Niigata, creating a network which enables easy access to destinations in Tohoku and Hokuriku, in addition to the Tokyo metropolis. It is anticipated that this will result in an increase in industrial, economic and cultural activity and exchange between these regions. The highway also makes Fukushima's famous Aizu-Bandai sightseeing region more easily accessible to tourists and it is hoped that this will have a positive effect on the area's economy.
* The importance of the highway can also be appreciated when considering the effects of the major earthquake in Kobe three years ago, when the city was cut off from the rest of Japan as a result of the damage to its transport routes. The existence of the highway network in Fukushima Prefecture in addition to its bullet train (shinkansen) and local train lines means that even if a major earthquake should strike the region, emergency services will not be cut off from the area, through lack of transport routes.
* More than 150 kilometres of the highway runs through Fukushima Prefecture and within that distance, there are no less than ten interchanges. Between Iwaki and Koriyama cities, there are exits at Iwaki Miwa, Ono, Funehiki, and East Koriyama. For those wishing to visit sightseeing spots in the beautiful Aizu district, an exit can be made from any one of six interchanges from Bandai Atami to Nishiaizu. The toll charge for a trip from Iwaki to Aizu Wakamatsu is 3,150 yen, while from Iwaki to Niigata, the charge is 5,000 yen.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1998 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* See Also:

BANKOYAKI Pottery (Tajima)
* Bankoyaki is a special kind of pottery made from clay from the area surrounding Tajima in southern Aizu. Bankoyaki has a rustic appearance and a coarse texture that is highly valued. The pottery is all handmade and remains unglazed. The workshop in Tajima produces tea cups, tea pots, flower pots, sake cups, and sake bottles.
* The tradition of bankoyaki goes back over 120 years. It is said that bankoyaki first starting being produced in Tajima in the early 1870s. The origin of bankoyaki can be traced to Mie Prefecture where it was promoted as an industry to occupy the many samurai who had been displaced after the Meiji Restoration of 1868. From Mie, the craft made its way to Nihonmatsu in central Fukushima, and finally ended up in Tajima, where it took on its own, unique characteristics.
* According to Katsuzo Muroi, a potter who has been making bankoyaki all his life, there are five special features that make the pottery so special:
1. The more you use the pottery, the more lustrous and glossy it becomes.
2. Tea tastes better when it is made in bankoyaki vessels.
3. Sake tastes more full-bodied and robust.
4. Flowers last longer and keep well.
5. The more you use it, the more you become attached to the piece. You will never grow tired of it.
* The most conspicuous feature of bankoyaki is its patent lucky charm that is attached to every piece of pottery: a little brown frog. Frogs have long been a sign of good luck in Japan. The word "kaeru" means frog in Japanese, but it also means "to return, to come back". Because of this coincidence, the frog has come to be a lucky charm which promises safe passage home or the reappearance of favourable conditions or enjoyable items.
* The production of bankoyaki was discontinued during World War 2 and there was concern that it would disappear entirely. Fortunately, it re-surfaced to become one of the most unique and well-loved styles of pottery in the prefecture.
[This information appeared in the August 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

BOSHIN SENSOU Boshin Civil War [1868-1869]
* In the late 1800's, Japan was ruled by a military leader called a Shogun. The emperor was theoretically above the Shogun, but since he had so few powers, he was basically not involved in major political decisions. In fact, many people didn't even realize that there was an emperor. At the end of the Edo period, certain factions decided that the Meiji emperor should have more control and that a Japan under Imperial rule would be more united. This started the Meiji restoration, meaning that the Meiji Emperor would be restored to power. Many parts of Japan agreed that this should be done, but some parts, particularly the parts that were in favour with the Shogun (Tokugawa), did not like the idea. This started the Boshin Civil War which lasted from January 27 1868 to June 27 1869 (when the last stronghold of the Shogun's supporters fell in Hakodate, Hokkaido). Aizu was strongly in favour of keeping the status quo, as the Aizu clan had close ties with the shogun. However, Aizu fell on November 6, 1868. The fact that Aizu was on the losing side of the war is still a sore point in the eyes of many proud Aizuites. The samurai spirit was strong in this area, so the shame was deep.
* After the war, the people of Aizu were forced to give up the clan system and follow the orders of the Meiji government. The ruling class was given two options: stay in Aizu and become a farmer (which was the lowest class under the shougun system, and not particularly appealing to the aristocrats) or move north to try to regain influence. About 4000 people decided to move north. They travelled to Misawa in Aomori Prefecture. The conditions were extremely difficult and farming was almost impossible. Many former samurai became poor (hatozamurai) and had to live on food that was normally used for animals.
* The word "Boshin" is taken from the Chinese reading of the cyclic characters of the year 1868: EARTH + DRAGON.
* See Also:

BUKEYASHIKI Samurai Residence (Aizu Wakamatsu)
* The samurai of the Edo period (17th to 19th century) lived in large residences called bukeyashiki. This particular bukeyashiki is built on seven acres and includes 38 rooms. The original buildings were burned 130 years ago during the Boshin Civil War. They were restored about 20 years ago and took two years to rebuild. The rooms have been decorated in Edo period style.
* [LAVATORY] The lavatory has a surface area of close to 55 square feet.
* [RICE MILL] The rice cleaning mill is 180 years old. It was originally from Shirakawa. It is water- powered, has 16 stone mills, and it can pound 960kg of rice per day.
[MONEY AT THE RICE MILL] Japanese people have a habit of making a monetary offering at shrines for good luck. People visiting here offer money to pray for a good harvest.
* [KITCHEN] The kitchen has strong cross beams to support heavy snowfall.
* [UPSIDE-DOWN SCREEN PAINTING] The byobu (or screen painting) is placed upside-down to show that their has been a death in the family. This is called gyakubyobu (gyaku means reverse).
* [SCENE OF YOUNG WOMEN] While one retainer (Saigo Tanomo) went to battle, his wife and children killed themselves.
* [PAPERS ON WALLS AND PILLARS] When people come here for sightseeing, they put papers bearing their names on the walls as a good luck charm or just in memory.
* [INRO] An Inro is a case to keep an Inkan (stamp) or medicine. Rich people used to keep it in their pocket, and usually they had a stopper called " ".
* [NAKAHATA JINJA] This shrine was moved from Nakahata village. Gunjiro Matsudaira (judge) lived there. It has been designated as important piece of cultural property.
* [TEA CEREMONY] Chanoyu, or the tea ceremony, is not a hobby, but an aesthetic ritual. It follows rules set by Sen-no-Rikyu. His son, Shoan, introduced the tea ceremony to Aizu. Shoan built the tearoom, Rinkaku, at Tsurugajo.
* Samurai were the warrior elite of the feudalistic society that existed in Japan for hundreds of years. Samurai first appeared about one thousand years ago, and survived as a class until the Meiji Restoration of the late 1800s. At the local level, many samurai assumed administrative responsibilities in addition to their duties as warriors, which added to their power. In the Aizu region, military power was concentrated in the castle city of Aizu Wakamatsu, with many samurai being loyal to the local feudal lord (daimyo) who resided there. A reproduction of an important old samurai residence is one of a group of Edo era buildings known as bukeyashiki. The buildings are open to the public and they provide the visitor with a closer look into the lives of these warriors and their families.
* Of the Aizu samurai, the most important was the chief retainer or karou. Accordingly, this influential warrior's residence reflected the importance of his position. Bukeyashiki is modelled after a karou's residence. The grounds include 38 rooms which contain a number of artifacts such as ceremonial clothing and the traditional weapons of the Edo era. One large elaborate room was reserved for the sole purpose of receiving the daimyo himself. The kitchen, however, has no ceiling, revealing the huge pillars and beams which were necessary to support the roof under the heavy weight of the Aizu snowfall. The original building was burned down during the Boshin Civil War of 1868, the conflict that saw the end of the ruling samurai class.
* Another interesting building near the samurai residence is an old Aizu clan outpost. It was first constructed in 1837 and served as the administrative headquarters for the clan's holdings in what is today the town of Yabuki, south of Koriyama. A representative of the clan would use the building as an office of sorts, from which local affairs were looked after and taxes collected. It is the last remaining building of its type in the Tohoku region and has been designated an "Important Cultural Asset" by the prefecture.
* Bukeyashiki also boasts a chashitsu, or tea room, modeled on one that existed near Tsurugajou in the heart of Aizu Wakamatsu. A good example of the sparse, unadorned constructions popular for tea ceremony during the Edo era, the building is small and unassuming. Samurai, trained to value spartan simplicity over luxury, found these tea rooms quite appealing, it seems.
* The "Warrior History" building was first constructed in the early 1800s in the city of Fukushima to be used in the production of silk. In has since been moved to its present site at bukeyashiki, where it now houses a collection of armour and weapons such as swords, muskets, and spears. The armour worn by the Edo era warriors is quite interesting, albeit surprisingly small by today's standards.
* Besides the numerous buildings of bygone days, a number of small shrines and statues have been brought to the site as well, including the image of a frog that, it is said, will provide safe passage home to those who honour it. Other areas of bukeyashiki are devoted to the display of traditional crafts and industries of the Aizu region.
* All in all, bukeyashiki is an interesting and informative destination, providing insight into the spirit of bushido (literally, the way of the warrior), the strict moral code followed by the samurai. Additionally, it promotes understanding of the Aizu area's rich cultural heritage while giving visitors a better idea of lifestyles in feudal Japan. When climbing the stairs of bukeyashiki to the beat of the drums that greet new visitors, one cannot help but feel transported back to another day and age.
[This information appeared in the June 1994 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

Bus Access: Platform 4 or 5 at the Aizu Wakamatsu Station, In Front of the Post Office
Cost: Adults 850 yen, Junior and High School Students 550 yen, Elementary Students 450 yen
Contact Information: 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Higashiyama-machi, Innai
TEL: 0242-28-2525, FAX: 0242-28-2515
* See Also:

BUSHIDOU Way of the Warrior
* Bushido was developed during the Edo period, which was largely a time of peace. There were many warriors, but there was not a lot for them to do. During this lull, bushido was brought into vogue. The idea was that even during times of peace, a warrior had his duties to fulfill and his spirit to improve. Warriors were encouraged to improve their dexterity with weapons, show absolute fealty to superiors, devote themselves to duty, and maintain a sense of honour. In times of war, they were to display good fighting spirit. Finally, they were required to know when their time had come to die, whether in battle or in a ceremonial ritual disembowelment. Bushido played a large role in the Boshin Civil War in Aizu, particularly in the story of the Byakkotai. Bushido was popularized during the Second World War, but fell out of favour shortly after the war was lost.
* See Also:

BUTSUDAN Small Buddhist temple inside for one's house
* Anyone fortunate enough to have participated in a homestay in Japan may well have seen a miniature Buddhist temple in one of the rooms of the house. This ornate cabinet is known as a butsudan, and is much more than a decorative article.
* Japanese have butsudan in their homes to honour members of their family who have passed away. Icons to represent the departed family members are placed on either side of the Buddha image. These icons are known as ihai. The surviving members of the family pray in front of the butsudan twice daily; once in the morning to ensure good fortune for the coming day, and once in the evening to give thanks that no catastrophe befell the family during the daylight hours. Therefore, the butsudan fulfills two roles; as a focus for ancestor worship, and as a medium for daily prayer.
* The butsudan is a particularly Japanese phenomenon. The reasons why are unclear, but it is believed that as Buddhism spread across the Asian continent towards Japan, worship remained contained in the temple. When Buddhism eventually made the short hop over the Japan Sea, the mountainous nature of Japan's topography made access to isolated temples difficult, so the Japanese began a custom of having Buddhist temples in the house.
* The symbolism in the butsudan is stong. It is closed during the night, and the outside of the cabinet is traditionally fashioned from plain black or dark brown wood. In stark contrast, the interior is colourful and striking, illustrating the difference between the kingdom of the gods and this mortal realm. The upper half of the butsudan symbolizes heaven. The pedestal upon which the Buddha sits is, for some, a metaphor for a holy mountain one must ascend to attain paradise.
* Fukushima Prefecture, and Aizu Wakamatsu in particular, is richly blessed with folkcrafts, and butsudan manufacture is no exception. The Onoya Butsudan outlet can be found in the city centre, and its peaceful facade belies a successful business responsible for 5% of Japan's butsudan sales, and 20% of the nation's ihai retail. As with many other companies, the collapse of the bubble economy damaged sales, especially as prices can reach the hundred million yen mark. Fortunately (or was it divine intervention?), the slump coincided with the increased popularity of religious corporations, whose members are required to possess their own butsudan.
* The size and style of butsudan depend largely on one's location. People who live in the city, where space is at a premium, tend to opt for a compact model. Those from the rural areas sometimes devote an entire room to the butsudan. Japanese families living along the Japan Sea coastline have indulged in kinbutsudan (golden butsudan) for several generations. To the trained eye, these differences in style are as distinctive as regional dialects.
[This information appeared in the Summer 1996 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

* See Also:

BYAKKOTAI White Tiger Brigade, fought during Boshin Civil War
* Young boys studied bushido at Aizu Nisshinkan. They were trained to be good, faithful warriors who knew their place and their duties (see Bushido above). During the Boshin Civil War, many of the students participated actively in the fight to help the Shogun and his forces against the Meiji Emperor. The irony is that the boys learned loyalty to superiors at Nisshinkan, yet they were participating in a civil war, which is the very opposite of obedient behaviour.
* Some of these young men (who were around 15 to 16 years old) called themselves the "Byakkotai" or "White Tiger Brigade". They fought along with their elders to save the Aizu clan, which was being attacked by the Emperor's forces.
* The Byakkotai gathered at Takizawa village which was a stronghold for the forces of Aizu. From this point, they began their journey toward the battlefield in Tonokuchi to support their fellow troops. As the members of the Byakkotai approached Tonokuchi village, they sensed that they were heading into an ambush. They scattered into the forest and when the signal was given, began a volley of gunfire. However, they were gradually surrounded and overwhelmed by the Emperor's forces. The Byakkotai withdrew while tending to their wounded and avoiding the enemy troops. Twenty of the boys escaped through a tunnel that runs from Inawashiro to Iimoriyama. They knew about the tunnel because they had played near it when they were young.
* [BENTENDOU] This tunnel was built to bring water to the Aizu basin from Lake Inawashiro. It is 200 metres long and it was made around 1935. If you entered this tunnel from the Aizu Wakamatsu side now, you would come out in Takizawa village. The Byakkotai, knew that they would be captured and defeated if they used the main roads between Inawashiro and Aizu. To avoid that, they used the tunnel as a secret passage. It was Autumn, so the water level was low, probably coming up to their knees. They fought hard on the Inawashiro side and helped each other escape through the tunnel. In total, twenty boys made it through to the other side.
* When they arrived safely on hill in Iimoriyama, they looked over the city to see what was happening. They spotted the castle, Tsurugajou, in flames. The boys knew that if the castle was taken by the enemy, the Aizu clan had been defeated. Rather than risk having to humble themselves before a new master, which was unthinkable due to their loyalty to the Aizu clan, they killed themselves by ritual disembowelment (seppuku or harakiri)
* Unfortunately, the castle was not burning. No one knows for sure what they saw that day, but the generally accepted theory is that one of the samurai residences (bukeyashiki) near the castle was on fire. The result of their brave but hasty decision was that the war raged on for a few more months until the Emperor's forces finally gained control of the castle.
* [SADAKICHI IINUMA] It was discovered later that one boy survived the ceremonial suicide. His name was Sadakichi Iinuma and his hand was too badly wounded to complete the ritual. A woman named Hatsu found him. Her son was also a member of the Byakkotai, and she was worried about him. She came to Iimoriyama to see what was happening and found Iinuma. Because of his shame in not completing the process, he didn't mention the episode to anyone for several years. (During the war, his mother had sent him a note that read "Do not withdraw, even when under the fierce attack of the arrow. This is the way of the Bishido.") After the war, he changed his name to Iinuma Sadao, moved to Sendai and settled in Teishinkyoku, where he died on February 2, 1931 at the age of 79. During the 90th anniversary of the fall of the Byakkotai, some of Iinuma's ashes were brought to Iimoriyama from the Rinnoji Temple in Sendai. This fulfilled Iinuma's dying wish to be buried along with his soulmates.
* [NAMES OF THE BYAKKOTAI] Touzaburou Adachi, Orinosuke Ariga, Shintaro Ikegami, Wasuke Ishida, Toranosuke Ishiyama, Teijirou Itou, Toshihiko Itou, Motarou Ibuka, Gisaburou Shinoda, Genkichi Suzuki, Kiyomi Tsugawa, Sutezou Tsuda, Yuuji Nagase, Katsutarou Nishikawa, Komashirou Nomura, Yasouji Hayashi, Genshichirou Mase, Katsuzaburou Yanase, Takeji Yanase, Sadakichi Iinuma
* [IIMORIYAMA] During the war, the soldiers of the Aizu Clan were divided into four groups, namely Genbu, Suzaku, Seiryu, and Byakko. In total, 343 men from the Byakkotai died in the war. At Iimoriyama, the graves of the nineteen boys who killed themselves on September 23, 1868 (during the Boshin Civil War) are prominently displayed. After the boys bodies were found, the Emperor's soldiers ordered the people of Aizu Wakamatsu not to touch the bodies. Three months later, the townspeople secretly buried the bodies at Myoukoku Temple. Later, the bodies were moved to the present location. The grave markers that you see today were erected in 1890. The area has been expanded twice since then. On the right hand side of those markers, you can see the tombstones of 31 other Byakkotai members. The monument on the left of the 19 markers is a stone with a poem about the brave young men engraved on it. The poem can be translated as: "However many people shed tears on the stone, the names of the defeated boys will never vanish."
* [ROMAN MONUMENT] This monument was a present from the city of Rome in 1928. The column of this monument was unearthed from the ruins of Pompeii. The passage on the monument reads: "City of Rome, Mother of Culture presents the Fascist Emblem to commemorate the eternal glory of the Byakko warriors." On the back, it used to say "Dedicated to the Spirit of Bushidou". This comment was removed by the American Occupational Forces after the Second World War. Also, the eagle on the monument used to hold an axe, but that too was taken down by the American Forces as it was a symbol of aggression.
* [GERMAN MONUMENT] This monument was a present from Germany in 1935. There used to be a Swastika engraved here, but it was erased during the American Occupation of Japan in 1953.
* [VIEW OF AIZU WAKAMATSU FROM IIMORIYAMA] The castle can be seen from this spot.
* [MONUMENT FOR WOMEN WHO DIED DURING THE BOSHIN CIVIL WAR] On April 1, 1928, a monument was erected to the approximately 200 women and children who lost their lives because of the Boshin Civil War. It was erected with the kind help of Kenjirou Yamakawa (President of Tokyo University) and other volunteers.
* [PICTURES OF THE BYAKKOTAI] There is a famous painting of the Byakkotai. In it, the boys are wearing western-style trousers and Japanese-style clothes on top. Standing in front is the leader of the Byakkotai, Gisaburou Shinoda. There is also a photograph of Sadakichi Iinuma.
* [MARKERS AT THE BASE OF IIMORIYAMA] There are several small stone markers at the base of Iimoriyama. These were used to tie up horses.
* [HIYOUGURUMA] If you turn this wheel, you will hear it squeek. That sound will be sent to calm the spirits of the Byakkotai. Also, according to Chinese tradition, if you stand on the head of the turtle while you do it, the turtle will eat up your bad dreams.
* For information about Sazaedou (Spiral Temple) please see SAZAEDOU.
* The Boshin War ravaged across Japan in 1868. A momentous turning point in modern Japanese history, the war paved the way for the restoration of the emperor to power after more than 250 years of military rule. Claiming numerous lives and leaving scores of towns burning in its wake, the war had a major impact on countless communities throughout Japan. Aizu Wakamatsu is a prime example of one such place. It was also the stage of one of the most tragic episodes of the Boshin War: the sad tale of the Byakkotai.
* Pitting distant fiefs against each other, the Boshin War was a struggle for supremacy between powerful clans based in western Japan and the many clans loyal to the Tokugawa Shogunate.
* The Western forces, led by the Satsuma Clan (Kagoshima Prefecture), the Choshu Clan (Yamaguchi Prefecture), and the Tosa Clan (Kochi Prefecture), had many allies across the land. Their goal was to overthrow the shogunate and restore power to the emperor because they were dissatisfied with many of the shogun's policies.
* The Shogun had many supporters too. The Aizu Clan, one of the most powerful, became the target of a furious Western assault. Originally, the western clans wanted to avoid attacking Aizu directly. Their strategy was to first subdue the Sendai and Yonezawa clans, two less powerful families to the north, and isolate the Aizu clan. But that strategy abruptly changed in August 1868, when the Western forces began a full-scale attack on Aizu.
* The suddenness and fierceness of the attack caught the Aizu troops off guard, and after only a few days the Western forces were occupying outlying areas of the Aizu fiefdom. Then then began their long march on the castle, Tsurugajou, in Aizu Wakamatsu. Starting to feel the overwhelming pressure from the onslaught, the samurai of Aizu were becoming increasingly desperate. Yet, they were not prepared to surrender and many readied themselves to fight to the end.
* This is the backdrop for the tragic story of the Byakkotai of Aizu. Literally meaning "White Tiger Corps", the Byakkotai was made up of over 300 teenage boys ranging in age from 16 to 17. Most of them had never experienced battle before. The tale of the Byakkotai that everyone remembers, however, centres around the twenty members of the corps' No. 2 fighting unit.
* On August 21, 1868 the Western forces broke through the Bonari Pass, about 30 kilometres east of Aizu Wakamatsu on the outskirts of the Aizu fiefdom (on the boundary of present-day Inawashiro and Koriyama), thus initiating the assault on Aizu. The next day, Katamori Matsudaira, the feudal lord of Aizu, ordered the Byakkotai No. 2 troop to Tonokuchihara, an area east of Aizu Wakamatsu, as reinforcements. This being their first order into battle, the Byakkotai were full of fighting spirit. When they arrived at their destination, however, they found that the Western forces had already broken through and Aizu troops were retreating in disarray.
* The Byakkotai members retreated as well and, in a driving rain, ended up at Takizawa Pass in the hills just east of Aizu Wakamatsu. Here too, however, they were astonished to see that the Western forces were already occupying the streets below. In desperation, they ducked into the Tonokuchihara Sosui, a canal/cave that ran underneath Iimoriyama carrying water from Lake Inawashiro to Aizu Wakamatsu, and fled to the other side.
* When they arrived on the south side of Iimoriyama, however, they saw plumes of smoke billowing into the sky from the direction of Tsurugajou. Although the fire actually came from some samurai estates near the castle, the Byakkotai immediately assumed that the castle itself was on fire and that the entire city had been captured by the enemy. To the young, exhausted warriors, the thought of their lord dying at the hands of the enemy instilled in them an intense sense of loyalty. Too proud to surrender, they decided to take their own lives in honour and allegiance to their fallen lord. One by one, with a burning Aizu Wakamatsu below them in the distance, the brave, young warriors ripped open their bellies, committing ritual suicide in typical samurai fashion.
* The Aizu clan continued fighting for another month. Finally, however, on September 23, 1868, Lord Matsudaira decided to surrender, lest history judge the rebels as being nothing more than traitorous rebels. More than 2,800 people from Aizu died in the Boshin War. The Aizu clan, its wealth confiscated, was forced to disband.
* Miraculously, one Byakkotai member survived the mass suicide. Sixteen year old Sadakichi Iinuma, found by a passing peasant woman, became the sole survivor of a tragedy that claimed nineteen young lives. Iinuma lived to the ripe old age of 78 and it is through his recollections that the tragic details of the Byakkotai on Iimoriyama are so well-known today.
* The Byakkotai are remembered through countless songs and legends depicting their plight and the site of their graves on Iimoriyama is now a popular tourist spot. In both the spring and autumn, a memorial service is held in memory of the Byakkotai. In 1956, the Byakkotai Memorial Hall was erected. The hall, also on Iimoriyama, was established to honour the noble spirit of the Byakkotai and help the world appreciated the importance of peace.
* Although the story of the Byakkotai is a tragic and sorrowful one, today the young samurai are respected and admired throughout Japan as an embodiment of the nobility of the samurai spirit.
[This information appeared in the April 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

Bus Access Platform 5 at the Aizu Wakamatsu Station, In front of the post office
Cost Slope Conveyor: Adults 250 yen, Children 150 yen
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Ikkimachi, Iimoriyama
TEL: 0242-22-9586 (Slope Conveyor)
* See Also:

BYAKKOTAI DENSHOU SHIGAKUKAN Byakkotai Traditional History Museum (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Ikkimachi, Iimoriyama
TEL: 0242-26-1022
* See Also:

BYAKKOTAI KINENKAN Byakkotai Memorial Museum (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access Platform 5 at the Aizu Wakamatsu Station, in front of the post office
Cost Adults 400 yen, High School Students 300 yen, Junior High and Elementary Students 200 yen
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Ikki-machi, Iimoriyama
TEL: 0242-24-9170, FAX: 0242-24-9090
* See Also:

BYRD, ISABELLA British woman who travelled through Japan
* Byrd was the eldest daughter in her family. She was born in Yorkshire and her father was a pastor. As a child, she was quite sick with a spinal disease, so she spent most of her adolescent years convalescing. In 1854, when she was 23, she decided to travel abroad in order to improve her health. She visited Canada and the United States. In the Spring of 1878, she set sail from San Francisco, and arrived at the Port of Yokohama. She stayed with Dr. Hepburn, an American missionary in Yokohama. She didn't like Yokohama very much, so she decided to travel into the interior even though it was not necessarily safe. She hired a guide, an 18 year old boy named "Ito". They left Tokyo on horseback, with Isabella in the lead.
* Together they explored Nikko, then headed further along the Kinugawa route (Aizu Highway). They visited Ikari, Yokokawa, Itosawa, Kawashima, Tajima, Toyonari, Atomi, Ouchijuku, Ichikawa, Takada, Bange, Katakado, Nozawa, Najiri, Kuruma-toge, Hosaka, Torii, Eizan, and Tsugawa. When they reached Niigata, they had travelled 246 miles from Tokyo. They continued to travel to Aomori via Yamagata, Shinjo, Yokote, and Kubota - covering 373 miles. They visited villages of Ainu, where she closely observed the aborigines life and customs. They took a ship called the Hyogo-maru back to Yokohama. The whole journey lasted three months. She wrote a book - "A Trip to Japan's Hinterland", in which she described her visits to small towns, etc. She visited Japan 5 more times between 1894 and 1896
* In the library at the Aizu Wakamatsu International Association, there is a biography about Byrd's travels in the United States by Evelyn Kaye.
* See Also:

CHASHITSU RINKAKU Rinkaku Teahouse (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access Platform 5 at the Aizu Wakamatsu Station, In front of the post office
Cost Adults 200 yen, Junior High and Elementary Students free
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Ote-machi
TEL: 0242-27-4005, FAX: 0242-27-4012 (These are the numbers for Tsurugajou.)
* See Also:

DAIBUTSUYAMA Mountain (Kitakata)
Height: 708m
Time needed: Around 1 and a half hours
Open season: From April 29 (Spring to Fall)
Access: 15 minutes by bus from Kitakata Station
Contact: Shi Shoukou Kankou Ka Tel: 0241-24-5200

DAIMYOU Leader of the clan in a local area
* List of the Clan Leaders in Aizu 1384-1868
* [ASHINA] 1384-1589
Sawara Yoshitsura, Ashina Moritsura, Ashina Mitsumori, Ashina Yasumori, Ashina Morimune, Ashina Morikazu, Ashina Naomori, Ashina Akimori, Ashina Morimasa, Ashina Morihisa, Ashina Morinobu, Ashina Moriaki, Ashina Moritaka, Ashina Morishige, Ashina Morikiyo, Ashina Moriuji, Ashina Morioki, Ashina Moritaka (different from above), Ashina Kameoumaru, Ashina Yoshihiro
* [DATE] 1589-1590
Date Masamune
* [GAMOU] 1590-1598
Gamou Ujisato, Gamou Hideyuki
* [UESUGI] 1598-1601
Uesugi Kagekatsu
* [GAMOU] 1601-1627
Gamou Hideyuki (same as above), Gamou Tadasato
* [KATOU] 1627-1643
Katou Yoshiaki, Katou Akinari
* [HOSHINA & MATSUDAIRA] 1643-1868
Hoshina Masayuki, Hoshina Masatsune, Matsudaira Masakata, Matsudaira Katasada, Matsudaira Katanobu, Matsudaira Kataoki, Matsudaira Katahiro, Matsudaira Katataka, Matsudaira Katamori
* The daimyou of the Aizu Clan during the Boshin Civil War was Katamori Matsudaira.
* See Also:

EDO JIDAI Edo period [1603-1867]
* See Also:

E ROSOKU Painted Candles
* E-rosoku are handmade candles with brightly coloured sketches of flowers and flowering plants painted on the sides. They are one of Aizu Wakamatsu's more unique folk crafts. Although they can be found throughout Japan, Aizu Wakamatsu's e-rosoku are the only ones to be made and painted entirely by hand. With their brilliant depictions of chrysanthemums, peonies, and plum blossoms,etc., they are valued for their uniqueness and exceptional beauty. They are bought for such occasions as wedding ceremonies, Buddhist services, and Christmas.
* E-rosoku got their start in the Aizu area around 1450 when Morinobu Ashina, the feudal lord of the time, began to encourage the production of various arts and crafts. The following generations of feudal lords maintained this stance. Around 1592 the feudal lord Ujisato Gamo invited artisans from the Lake Biwa area (Shiga Prefecture) to come to Aizu in order to help improve the quality of the e-rosoku. They succeeded in creating a unique and elegant candle and established a reputation of very high quality that still exists today.
* During the Edo period (1603-1867), e-rosoku were highly prized by the lords of the Aizu domain as perfect gifts of appreciation and loyalty to the leaders of the Shogunate in Edo (Tokyo). They also became a significant source of revenue in the Aizu region as the candles became very popular among the feudal lords of other fiefs throughout the country.
* During the Meiji period (1868-1912), with the advent and diffusion of electricity, there was a decrease in demand for e-rosoku. In recent years, however, there has been a boom of interest in folk crafts and this has brought a resurgence of sorts to the production of Aizu's e-rosoku. In 1954, Bernard Rich, an English artist, visited Japan and was greatly impressed with their beauty and quality. He brought their existence to the attention of the international community. Because of his great admiration, the candles became more well-known than they had ever been before.
* Today there are three households in the Aizu area producing e-rosoku. Because the candles are produced entirely by hand, the daily output of each household is only about 100 candles. Being individually designed is what makes them so highly valued. Most of Aizu's e-rosoku are sold as souvenirs to tourists, but they are recognized throughout Japan as an excellent example of folk craft.
[This information appeared in the May 1992 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* Hundreds of years ago in Edo Period Japan, before electricity had even been imagined, people's worlds were illuminated by pine or rape-seed oil lamps. Unimaginable as it may be to people today, candles were very expensive items in the Edo period, and were therefore only used by the samurai in times of celebration, such as weddings, or displayed on Buddhist altars. The candles, decorated with beautiful painted flowers, were considered something of a luxury campared to the oil lamps used in daily life.
* The craft of handpainted candles, or erosoku, is though to have originated from China, and was supposedly brought over to Japan by priests. As people travelled throughout the country, this knowledge was transmitted to a number of regions. Today, the art is mainly centred in the Iwate, Kyushu, Kagoshima, and Aizu districts, although it is also experiencing something of a revival in southern Japan. Although the colour, shape, and design of erosoku differ from region to region, the characteristic they all share is the brightly coloured flowers which are delicately painted onto the surface of each candle. Decorated with seasonal blooms such as plum blossoms, tree peonies, chrysanthemums and camellias, the candles enabled the Edo period upper class to enjoy flowers all year round.
* In Fukushima Prefecture, the making of hand-painted candles commenced in Aizu some five hundred years ago, during the time of Aizu clan leader Ujisato Gamo. Aizu candles are characterised by their elegant, curved shape and bright flowers painted on a white background. Once a booming business, today there are only three erosoku-making establishments remaining in the region. One of these is owned by Tetsuji Ozawa, who represents the seventh generation of candle-makers in his family. With thirty years of experience behind him, Mr. Ozawa is one of the few artisans left in the region with the skills to keep the art of erosoku alive.
* As a child, Mr. Ozawa would watch family members making candles at home. Although never taught formally, he was given the responsibility of carrying on the family tradition soon after graduating from high school, when his father passed away. Recalling his childhood observations, he soon mastered the complicated art, and continued producing the hand-made, hand-painted candles which are the trademark of the Ozawa Candle Shop. The candles can vary from 15 to 36 centimetres in length, with a batch of 200 to 300 small candles generally taking ten days to make. Throughout the years, Mr. Ozawa has passed on his skills to his assistants, but stresses that the art of making erosoku cannot be learned from a book. Each step of the process, from the winding of the wicks to the temperature of the wax must be determined by the season and the materials used. As the variables change from day to day, the judgement of the craftsman is paramount.
* Today, these beautiful and unique hand-painted candles are no longer out of the price range of the common folk, and are often bought as souvenirs by people visiting the Aizu region. Thanks to artisans like Tetsuji Ozawa, who are fighting to save Aizu's local traditional arts, the colourful Aizu erosoku will continue to burn on for some time yet.
[This information appeared in the Summer 2000 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* Since February 2000 there has been a e-rousoku matsuri - Decorated Candle Festival - held in the castle grounds and the botanical gardens to celebrate the craft. The oyakuen display is particularly worth a visit next time.
* See Also:

FUJINBUTAI Group of female fighters during Boshin Civil War
* Takeko Nakano was a member of this female group of fighters (also called JOUSHIGUN).
* See Also:

FUKAZAWA ONSEN Hot Spring (Tadami)
Access: 15 minutes by car from Tadami Station
Contact: Fukazawa Onsen Toki no Sato Yurari Tel: 0241-84-2888, Fax: 0241-84-3005

Bus Access
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Oomachi 1-7-3
TEL: 0242-24-5757
* See Also:

FUKUSHIMA KENRITSU HAKUBUTSUKAN Fukushima Prefectural Museum (Aizu Wakamatsu)
* Fukushima's Prefectural Museum has been displaying the area's rich cultural and historical heritage since 1986. Housed in a building reminiscent of the local kura architectural style in Aizu Wakamatsu, the museum has a total of four thousand items on display.
* Two large exhibits in the museum's entrance hall are especially interesting. A large float, used every autumn in Nihonmatsu's Lantern Festival is displayed, along with a reproduction of one of Fukushima's National Treasurers, the Shiramizu Amida Hall in Iwaki.
* Another interesting exhibit focuses on actual contact with artifacts instead of the usual passive role of viewing only. You can feel the texture of traditional costumes and centuries old ceramics. About twenty different outfits, including armour, are displayed and visitors are allowed to try them on.
* Other exhibits range from reconstructions of ancient dwellings to feudal armour to a charcoal driven bus that was used during gasoline shortages that occured during and after the war.
* The general exhibition section introduces the prefecture's history era by era, and there is also a section with exhibits on specific themes. Special exhibits are also held regularly.
* The museum is about three kilometres from Aizu Wakamatsu station and is located next to Tsurugajou. It is closed on Mondays and holidays.
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1994 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

* The history of the Fukushima region dates back several hundreds of thousands of years, with evidence showing that the first known inhabitants of Fukushima resided in the area over 200,000 years ago. However, although remains dating over thirty thousand years old have been uncovered at approximately forty locations throughout the prefecture, not enough evidence has been found to satisfactorily deduce what life was like all those hundreds of thousands of years ago. In fact, one must fast forward 190,000 years to the Stone Age period 100,000 years ago to find the first conclusive remains of life in the primitive age in Fukushima.
* Fifteen thousand years ago, when the earth was in the midst of an Ice Age, stone age humans lived a transient lifestyle as hunters and gatherers. In Fukushima, they lived along the banks of the Aga river which runs from the Aizu mountains through Niigata to the sea of Japan. Several sites have been uncovered in this area which have produced a collection of crude stone knives and other instruments thought to have been used in the hunting of large beasts. Also found were collections of scorched stones, evidence of the cooking methods of the time. It is believed that these large stones were a primitive oven, first heated by fire and then used to bury food wrapped in leaves or animal hide which was then left to bake. The Ice Age environment was harsh, with temperatures averaging five to seven degrees lower than those experienced in Fukushima today. Co-existing with humans in this environment were Naumann elephants and other large animals. They originally came into Japan Japan via the Korean peninsula and were hunted for food. Naumann elephant teeth dating approximately 100,000 years have been uncovered in Koriyama.
* Ten thousand years ago, when the Ice Age ended, lifestyles changed as rising sea levels separated the Japan archipelago from the Asian continent and giant animals such as the Naumann elephant became extinct. People ended their transient lifestyles, settling in villages. With the advent of warmer temperatures, broadleaf forests flourished throughout the Fukushima region and medium sized and smaller animals such as deer and rabbits grew in population. To facilitate the hunting of these quicker animals, the bow and arrow was designed. The art of fishing also progressed greatly, with a variety of hooks, harpoons, and fishing spears developing. Pottery also began to appear around this time, and was often characterized by Jomon decorations where knotted rope was pressed into the clay to make patterns. As a result, the period from the end of the Ice Age to approximately 100AD was called the Jomon Period. Remains dating from this period are widespread throughout the prefecture, and include shell and burial mounds and remnants of houses.
* Jomon dwellings were characterized by their sunken floors, dug up to a metre into the ground. As the temperature of soil remains fairly constant whatever the season, this had the effect of regulating the temperature inside the hut, keeping it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. A distinguishing characteristic of these houses was the "kitchen" area which featured a duel fireplace. These fireplaces differed in design from region to region, and those found in Fukushima were unique in that they featured not only stones that were set into the ground which could be heated, but also two embedded clay pots which were used as both ovens and fireplaces.
* The third century BC saw what would be one of the most significant events to influence the lifestyle of Japanese today - the introduction of rice farming. The tradition spread to the Kyushu area of Japan through the Korean peninsula around this time and quickly caught on throughout the country. This happening signalled the beginning of the Yayoi period, when the focus of the Japanese way of life changed from hunting and gathering to agriculture. The inhabitants of the Tohoku region began growing rice relatively early in the Yayoi period, and remnants from this era show that a variety of new instruments and techniques, including the use of metals, were introduced to facilitate this evolution. Farming tools such as stone knives (which were used to cut the heads off the rice plants), bronzeware, ironware, and stone axes are all representative of this period. Many of these tools have been found throughout the prefecture and are particularly numerous around the Hamadori region.
* In this time of agricultural development, co-operative work was necessary to develop and maintain rice paddies. This soon brought about changes in the societal structure of villages, with the emergence of local clans ruled by individuals who had gained authority and influence. Before long, areas began to resemble small "countries", each self-contained and self-governed. This change was to be a great influence on the lifestyle, customs, and rituals of the Ancient period which was to follow.
* [CLAY FIGURINES] One of the clay figurines displayed in the museum is well-known due to its unusual pose. The statue is of a squatting pregnant woman, right arm crossed over the left, with her cheek resting on her left hand.
* [JADE] Jade was a precious stone in Jomon Japan just as it is today. Despite the fact that jade deposits did not exist in the Fukushima region, pendants and other accessories have been found scattered around the area. The small number of items found indicates that these accessories were only worn by people of high standing within each community. As jade can only be found in Niigata, this shows that there was exchange between the two regions at this time.
* [SHELL MOUND] The shell mound found in Iwaki contains remains collected over several hundred years including pottery from different areas of the Jomon period, oyster and clam shells, as well as fish, animal, and human bones. Other shell mounds have revealed instruments such as knives, harpoons, and fish spears made of deer antlers and ornaments such as hair pins.
[This information appeared in the Summer 1998 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* The period between the fourth and tenth centuries was a time of considerable change for Japan. At the beginning of the Ancient Age, as the economy was reorganized around rice agriculture, the class society firmly established, and the first unified state in Japan was created in the Yamato area (now Nara Prefecture), which subsequently became the country's cultural and political centre. The first half of this period (300-710) is called the Kofun period, because of the large burial mounds (kofun) scattered around the country which date back to this time.
* The tombs of the Kofun period reveal the rise of social stratification in Japanese communities. Ranging in size from 15 metres in diameter to an astounding 32.2 hectares in area, the tombs were mainly keyhole-shaped or round and were built as proof of a person's power. The most famous in Fukushima is the Aizu Otsukayama Kofun in Aizu Wakamatsu which measures 100 metres long. The tombs were primarily built for area chiefs, but in the late Kofun period (6th and 7th centuries), influential farmers also started the practice. Clusters of small tombs made for such farmers have been found around the prefecture. In addition, tombs which have been made from hollowed out cliffs are widely distributed around Fukushima, centring in the Hamadori area. Examples include Iwaki's Nakada and Kiyotosaku Caves, which have primitive drawings on their walls.
* Around the burial sites were placed many pottery figures called haniwa. These figures are thought to have marked the site as an important place, in addition to offering protection to the deceased. Funerals are the time when a person crosses into the next world and becomes a god, therefore haniwa were of great importance. A keyhole-shaped kofun in Izumizaki has revealed a collection of such figures lined up at the neck of the keyhole, including a woman playing a koto, a woman sitting, a man dancing, and a man wearing a crown. It is thought that the figures represent musicians and dancers who attended the funeral. At the circular end of the keyhole was found a shield bearing a soldier and a sumo wrestler, which are presumed to have been placed to there to protect the grave from the outside. Only half of the haniwa surrounding the Izumizaki ruins have been uncovered, with the remainder to be left untouched.
* In the Kofun period, the practice of burying lavish accessories with the body commenced, and many such treasures have been discovered in tombs throughout Fukushima. This period saw the arrival of metal-making techniques, and as a result, swords, steel mirrors, and belt buckles are among some of the artifacts which have been uncovered. Jewellery, including necklaces, bracelets, and jade beads, as well as bridles and other horse accessories were also buried with the deceased, although the contents of the tombs differed depending on the social standing of their occupants.
* Another social change in the Ancient period was the implementation of the centralized systems for administration, taxation, and census, which occurred after the Taika Reform in 645. Japan was not yet fully unified, although there were many areas of the country which were controlled by the Yamato Court. For administration purposes, public offices were established in each couny affiliated with the court. At this time, Fukushima belonged to a province called Mutsunokuni, which also included what are now Miyagi, Aomori, and Iwate prefectures and a small area of Akita. Mutsunokuni was divided into several counties or "gun", with the provincial office situated in Tagajo in Miyagi. The Sekiwaku ruins, which lie on the bank of the Abukuma River in Izumizaki, are believed to be the county office for the Shirakawa area. Nearby, the remains of wooden storehouses were found. These buildings were used for keeping the rice which had been collected as taxes. The buildings were elevated off the ground in order to keep the rice dry and prevent mould, in addition to making the rice inaccessible to rodents. On the opposite bank of the river lies the Kariyadohai Temple, which was also part of the county office, and was where the peace and security of the county was prayed for.
* China was a great cultural influence at this time, with the assimilation of the Chinese writing system a major development. It is believed that a person could not become an employee of the county offices unless he knew how to write. Each worker had his own set of writing instruments and notes were written on strips of wood with a knife used to slice off any mistakes. Several examples of writing sets and written memos have been found around the prefecture, as well as hanko (personal seals), which were thought to prevent corruption among greedy county employees notorious for stealing rice from the storehouses.
* Another Chinese influence was Buddhism, which was promoted as the state religion by the Yamato court during the Nara period (710-794) and the Heian period (794-1185). Official temples were built in each province and the religion spread throughout the localities. Buddhist activity was particularly strong in the Fukushima region, with many important temples, such as Enichiji and Shojoji in the Aizu region and Shiramizu Amidado in Iwaki, dating from this era.
* The Ancient period was the golden era of imperial rule, with the influence of the court being revealed through the flourishing of Buddhism and the centralization of administration. However, the power of the imperial government was to wane in the years to come, with the dawning of the Medieval period, when the influence and power of the shogun came to the fore.
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1998 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* Known as the era of the bushi (warrior), the medieval period was fraught with struggles for power and, as a result, civil war. The imperial court, which had been dominant during the Heian period, found itself gradually losing power as it was overthrown by Minamoto no Yoritomo, a military aristocrat, in 1185. Yoritomo was given the title of shogun, and chose Kamakura to be the base of his military government, which took over the administration of the country. The Kamakura shogunate was the first of a succession of military governments that would rule Japan over the next seven centuries.
* On establishing himself as the head of the government, Yoritomo then sought to consolidate his rule, and sent his armies north, where in 1189 they battled the Fujiwara clan, who held great influence in north-eastern Japan. The centre of combat was Atsukashiyama in Kunimi, located near the Fukushima-Miyagi border. In order to assist their defence, the Fujiwara clan tried an innovative ploy to slow down their enemies. Called a futaebori (two stage ditch), the trap consisted of two parallel ditches, measuring over two metres deep and fifteen metres wide, dug into the hillside. The defence troops were stationed at the top of the hill to fire at the approaching enemy, many of whom were on horseback. While the horsemen successfully navigated the first ditch, the second caught them unawares, and the fallen soldiers succumbed to the arrows of the Fujiwara troops. However, despite the success of this tactic, the Fujiwara clan was eventually defeated by the shogun's forces, who gained control of the region. Yoritomo rewarded his lords for their loyalty in battle with land, with the lords Date, Ashina, Soma, and Yuki settling in the region that is now Fukushima Prefecture.
* In 1337, the country was again thrown into civil war by the splitting of the imperial line into two rival factions. The next fifty-five years of conflict would be called the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Nanbokuchou Jidai), the northern based in Kyoto and the southern in Nara. The lords of Fukushima prefecture were also divided by their loyalties to the opposing factions. The lords Yuki, Tamura, and Date were supporters of the southern court, while the remainder supported the northern court. There was, therefore, frequent warring between regions. The turning point was in 1343 when Lord Yuki changed allegiance to the northern court, resulting in the fall of two southern strongholds, Ryozen and Uzumine. The conflict eventually ended in 1392, with the northern court recommencing their rule.
* Vestiges of the bushi era are scattered throughout the prefecture. Probably the most representative of the period is the yoroi, or suit of armour. Square in shape, they were made of cow or horse hide and reinforced with metal panels, and weighed up to twenty kilogrammes. They were mainly worn by horsemen, and their design allowed mounted archers to move freely while protecting them against swords. Exquisite in appearance, the many sections of armour were sewn together by brightly coloured threads, the hides were hand-painted with detailed designs, and the finished product was adorned with gold and silver ornaments. An iron helmet decorated with raised rivets and hand-painted hide helmet flaps completed the ensemble. Yoroi can still be seen within the prefecture at the Soma Noma Oi festival, where they are worn by the horse riders during their parade.
* Also found within the prefecture were itabi, gravestone-like memorials which were common during the era of the Northern and Southern Courts, when the civil wars were at their peak. Made to ensure the deceased's happiness in the next world, these stone tablets differ from gravestones in that they do not bear inscriptions, but rather designs and Indian style characters. Rectangular in shape with a triangular tip, they were originally made for bushi and other people of importance, but this trend soon became widespread among the common folk as well. Itabi are believed to have originated in the Kanto region, and although they number few within Fukushima, they have been foudn at the Momiyama ruins in Sukagawa.
* Documents dating back to the medieval period are also plentiful, and many have been discovered around the Iwaki region. Many of these are administrative documents such as pledges of allegiance signed by local lords to guarantee that in the event of an invasion by a bigger clan, all groups in the area would unite in defence. These contracts, which date back to the early 14th century, were characterised by the fact that they were signed in a circular pattern, so that on one lord would appear to be superior to another. Another point of interest is that the individual bushi left their mark with a signature -- although hanko, or name seals, were used in town halls at this time, they did not come into personal use until the Edo period (1600-1868). Defence agreements of this kind were signed by the lords in both the Nakadori and Hamadori regions.
* Other documents uncovered include letters and building plans, including the plans for Iinohachiman Jinja, the biggest shrine in the Iwaki region. The shrine lost its main building to fire in 1614, was rebuilt in 1615, and still stands to this day. An interesting feature of the shrine complex is that it also features a Buddhist temple, illustrating the co-existence of both Shintoism and Buddhism in the beliefs of the people of the time. Buddhist temples were being built on temple grounds as early as the 8th century, but it was in the medieval period that the syncretism of the two religions was formalized. Artifacts such as bronze wall plaques and mirrors found in various shrines around the prefecture also bear images from both religions. The plaques, which feature a Buddha in the centre surrounded by Shinto Gods, came in many sizes, the larger ones found in shrines, while the smaller ones were displayed in homes.
* The medieval period also saw the importation of ceramics from China. Remains found at both Shinobuyama in Fukushima City and in Yanagawa, at the site where the Lord of Date's castle once stood (now Yanagawa Elementary School), include porcelain plates and dishes glazed with different coloured dyes and hand-painted with designs. As the technology for making porcelain and painting onto it was not available in Japan until the Edo period, these ceramics could only be afforded by the rich. They were imported from China and brought to Fukushima via southern prefectures such as Aichi.
* The medieval period drew to a close after a tumultuous five centuries of civil unrest. The rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate to power in the 15th century brought with it the dawning of the Early Modern period, and a movement towards national reunification and peace.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1999 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* The Early Modern period comprises the majority of the Edo period (1600-1868), one of Japanese history's great periods, where Japan employed a policy of national seclusion, shutting itself off from the rest of the world. Despite the authoritarian rule which resulted, the country basked in an era of cultural and economic growth, as well as marked social and political change. The internal warfare so dominant in the periods preceding the Edo period also disappeared, as Japan experienced over two hundred years without war.
* Politically, Japan was now under the rule of the Tokugawa family, who exercised their shogunal authority through han, domains ruled by samurai, which acted as provisional governments. In what is now Fukushima Prefecture, there were as many as fourteen han which were governed by samurai handpicked by the Edo shogunate. As Fukushima was an important region due to its proximity to the potentially troublesome area of Sendai, which was ruled by a headstrong samurai, its most trusted lords were assigned to the region. The lords founded shogunate schools in each area, where they taught the sons of local samurai martial arts, art, and literature.
* At the common level, scholastic pursuits were also widespread, with farmers and townspeople developing calculation and surveying techniques as well as practical skills. Evidence of this growing interest in study can be found in documents such as the Aizu Nosho (Aizu Book of Agriculture), which described in detail methods of rice cultivation and new technology which would ensure farmers and abundant harvest, and therefore social stability. Around this time, the practice of displaying scholastic works in shrines was also widespread. It is thought that in much the same way as weapons were displayed in shrines to show the gods one's fighting ability, displaying a written problem and its answer illustrated to the gods one's intellectual ability.
* As the samurai moved away from their military duties to civil service roles, the people who worked under them became increasingly urbanized, resulting in the rise of the merchant and artisan classes. However, despite the fact that many of these people became very wealthy, they were ranked at the bottom of the social scale by the shogunate. As the commercial class grew, in castle towns and post towns, signboards advertising goods and services offered by locals were a common sight on the roadside. These boards also displayed orders from the shogunate which ranged from the banning of Christianity to the Confucian rule, "Be good to your parents." One such signboard, which dates back to 1839, still exists in the Aizu town of Yamato. Within the towns, storefront signs were also common in order to distinguish one establishment from another, and local merchants used inventive ways to draw attention to their stores with signs of all shapes, sizes, and colours. A collection of such signs is on display at the Fukushima Prefectural Museum in Aizu Wakamatsu.
* Gaudy festivals were a sign of townspeople's prosperity, and it is during this period that performing arts, such as kabuki, rose to prominence. Hinoemata in the south of Aizu is one of the few places left in the country where locals still present annual kabuki performances on an authentic Edo period stage. The performances are held every May, August, and September.
* Commercialization spread to farming communities as well, and in order to receive a cash income, farmers looked to combine their agricultural work with the making of craft goods. This resulted in the rise of a variety of specialized industries, which in Fukushima included raw silk, silk cloth, candles, washi paper, konnyaku, chinaware, lacquerware, and tobacco. Most of these arts are still alive in the prefecture today, and many. like Aizu lacquerware and Aizu Hongo-yaki pottery, are famous throughout Japan.
* Aside from the merchants and farmers, there were still people who made their living by utilizing the resources of the mountains and the sea. The people of the mountains used wood to make goods to sell and hunted for food, while those who lived on the coast fished for a living in small boats designed for one or two. Fishing was a dangerous profession, and was not a stable source of income, so people in fishing villages held frequent events where they would pray for the safety of the fishermen and an abundant catch. Dolls were also placed at the bows of fishing boats as good luck charms in a bid to protect the fishermen against harm.
* Despite the growth of the nation's economy in the Edo period, life was still tough for a large percentage of the population. People devoted themselves to the gods and Buddha in the hope that their lives would be blessed with good fortune and that they would enjoy a peaceful death. Priests were asked to perform incantations and prayers, and festivals such as the shishimai (lion dance) were held to ward off bad fortune and disaster. The shishimai came into being through the folk belief that the lion was a mountain god who would occasionally come down to the villages to play before returning to the mountains. The festilval, which is still held today, involves a dance performed by people wearing lion masks, and is thought to have occured in Fukushima Prefecture as early as the mid 1600s, since masks dating back to 1631 have been found in Iwaki.
* The last decade of the Edo period saw major social change, as the feudal system was overthrown due to the reversal of the economic positions of the samurai and merchants. Samurai increased land tax and wrote off loans to curb their increasing debt, and hungry farmers rioted, weakening, and then finally pulling down the shogunate and the samurai class. The Modern Period, which would see the end of the Edo period, would start with a social and political revolution in which Japan opened up to the world.
[This information appeared in the Spring 1999 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* The Modern period saw Japan rudely awakened from its Rip Van Winkle-like two hundred year seclusion from the world, as foreign pressure forced the bakufu (shogunate) to open the country's doors. There was much opposition to this decision from conservatives, who coined the phrase "sonnojoi", or "Revere the emperor, expel the barbarians," which summarized their solution to the foreign threat. The arrival of a US naval fleet in 1852-1853 led by Commander Matthew Perry, was the key event that ended Japan's self-imposed isolation and created a backlash against the Tokugawa shogunate.
* By 1867, the anti-shogunate movement was gaining momentum, led by samurai from the Satsuma and Choshu domains. Declaring themselves an imperial army, soldiers from the two domains battled against Tokugawa troops in Kyoto in 1868, and upon emerging victorious, began their march north. This started what would become the Boshin Civil War. The fighting spread through Fukushima in August of the same year, with Aizu being the bloodiest battle ground. The shogunate-affiliated Aizu domain, led by Matsudaira Katamori, based their defence at Tsurugajou.
* Among the defenders were the Byakkotai, or "White Tiger Brigade", a group of approximately three hundred young men aged sixteen and seventeen. They had been studying and training at the Aizu domain school, Nisshinkan. Although the boys fought valiantly, their inexperience gave them a great disadvantage and the imperial troops invaded Aizu. In the disarray that resulted, a group of twenty Byakkotai members retreated to Iimoriyama where they saw plumes of smoke rising from the direction of the castle, Tsurugajou. Thinking the castle had fallen to the enemy, the young soldiers pledged allegiance to their lord, then one by one committed seppuku, or ritual suicide. The biggest tragedy of the story is that the castle had not been captured by the imperial forces and it was not even on fire. It seems that one of the samurai estates near the castle was the actual source of the smoke. The castle finally fell about one month later. The young boys who died on Iimoriyama are still remembered today through the Byakkotai Sword Dance Festival held every April and September in Aizu Wakamatsu.
* The Boshin War was won by the imperial forces in just over a year, with the shogunate being toppled and the emperor restored to rule. The victorious Satsuma and Choshu domains formed the Meiji government, and in 1871, the prefectures were established from the complicated network of domains and bakufu territories that existed. Within the region that is now Fukushima Prefecture, there were originally twenty one prefectures. The number soon dwindled down to ten: Fukushima, Wakamatsu, Shirakawa, Nihonmatsu, Tanagura, Miharu, Iwaki Taira, Izumi, Nakamura, and Yunagaya. These were later combined into the three prefectures of Wakamatsu, Nihonmatsu, and Taira, with Nihonmatsu later being renamed Fukushima and Taira becoming Iwasaki. In 1876, the three prefectures became one and the functions of the Fukushima Prefectural Government were based in Fukushima City, as they still are today.
* One of the priorities of the Meiji government was to import the ideas and technology of other countries into Japan. This led to an influx of foreign educational texts and the creation of a telephone network, a postal system, a rail system, and a national bank, the Bank of Japan. Western influence can also be seen in architecture of the time, for example, the Date Town Hall in Kori, built in 1883, and the old Asaka High School building, constructed in 1899.
* The nation's military structure was also westernized, with a conscription system formalized in order to create a centralized army. This replaced the fragmented, samurai-centred system of the past, effectively putting the samurai out of work. These samurai became a part of land development projects, and within Fukushima Prefecture, many move to the unsettled region of Asaka in central Fukushima (now Koriyama). Although many of the settlers were from areas within the prefecture such as Nihonmatsu and Aizu, others came from as far as Okayama, Tottori, Kochi, and Kyushu. The migration was only possible due to the construction of the Asaka Canal, which supplied water to the region from Lake Inawashiro. The canal was one of the government's most important projects at the time, with a total of 850,000 workers involved, and was completed in 1882.
* By the beginning of the twentieth century, Japan's industries had grown to the point that they were overtaking farming as the country's main money earner. One of the most affluent industries was silk, especially in northern towns such as Yanagawa, Kori, and Kawamata. The townspeople's team effort ensured success in these areas, even with the local craftsmen contributing by making looms and other equipment for the factories. Silk made in the prefecture was exported all over the world. However, upon entering the Showa period (1926-1989), exports slumped and many silk-makers returned to farming. Today, Kawamata is the main silk-making district in the prefecture.
* The end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century was a time of war for Japan, as they battled first China, the Russia, then entered World War Two. Photographs of soldiers were displayed in shrines, and the young men were given amulets for protection. One type of charm was the senninbari (one thousand needles). As its name suggests, it was made by one thousand people, each of whom contributed one stitch to the charm to wish the recipient good luck in the war. The design would usually feature a phrase of encouragement or a picture of a tiger.
* Like the rest of the country, Fukushima was hit hard by bombing during the war, especially in Koriyama which had over 550 casualties from 200 bombs. The location of a factory making vital engine parts in the centre of the city made Koriyama an obvious target. The factory itself was hit 160 times. The prefecture was also a target for propaganda pamphlets dropped by the Americans, which called for citizens to reform their country. The pamphlets, which were written in Japanese, also contained a list of future bombing targets, included to warn innocent civilians to take steps to prevent being injured. Locals who found these pamphlets were under strict orders not to show them to anyone, and hand them in to the police immediately.
* On August 15, 1949, peace returned to Japan and a new country was built out of the ashes of defeat. Government, economic, educational, and democratic reforms were carried out, a new constitution was written and the Japanese people used their originality and resourcefulness to turn their country around. From this grew the Fukushima we see today - a centre of industry, agriculture, and forestry, with a rich and varied culture and tradition.
[This information appeared in the Summer 1999 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

Bus Access Platform 5 at the Aizu Wakamatsu Station, In front of the post office
Cost Adults 260 yen, High School Students 150 yen, Junior High and Elementary Students 100 yen
There are sometimes extra fees for special exhibitions.
Contact Information 965-0807 Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Joutou-machi 1-25
TEL: 0242-28-6000, FAX: 0242-28-5986
* See Also:

FUREAI LAND TAKASATO Hot Spring (Takasato)
Access: 15 minutes by car from Ogino Station, welcome bus also available
Contact: Aizu Takasato Shinkou Kousha Tel: 0241-44-2888, Fax: 0241-44-2890

Access: 16 minutes by bus from Kitakata Station
Contact: Kura no Yu Tel: 0241-21-1526, Fax: 0241-21-1527

Access: 1 hour by bus from Tajima Station
Contact: Furumachi Onsen Akaiwasou Tel: 0241-76-2833

GAMOU Feudal Lord
* See Also:

* Gamou was ordered by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (shougun) to move to Aizu, rebuild the castle, and re-organize the city. He protected the area from Date, who was Toyotomi's enemy in Sendai. He introduced lacquerware and decorated candles to the Aizu area. He rebuilt the castle as a seven storey building which resembled a crane in flight (the current castle is 5 storeys).
* See Also:

GAMOUDAKE Mountain (Tadami)
Height: 828m
Time needed: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Open season: June to October
Access: From Gamou Station
Contact: Tadami-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-82-5250, Fax: 0241-82-2845

GIONSAI Gion Festival (Tajima)
* Every July, Tajima in southern Aizu comes to life with a popular celebration known as the Tajima Gionsai (Tajima Gion Festival). July 22nd, 23rd, and 24th are the dates of this famous festival which can trace its history back over 800 years.
* The Tajima Gion Festival centres around two shrines in Tajima, the Tadeuga Shrine and the Kumano Shrine. They are both located in the same precincts, in fact, they are in the same building, a most unusual arrangement for shrines.
* Although the actual festival takes place in July, preparation for the event begins way back in January, with an ablution ceremony known as sendo mairi. Then, beginning in early July, all the days leading up to the festival are filled with preparations for the event. This includes making special dishes and doburoku, a type of sweet, milky sake that is made specifically for the festival.
* On the evening of the first day of the festival, the streets of the town become filled with street stalls selling assorted goods and large floats carrying musicians and children who perform kabuki.
* The main part of the celebration, a colourful event called Nanahokai, takes place on the second day. It involves a procession of men dressed in kamishimo (old, ceremonial costumes for men) and young women dressed in bridal kimono. Seven people at the front of the procession carry specially made dishes to be offered to the gods of the shrine. The offerings include sekihan (rice boiled together with beans), doburoku, and mackerel. The final day of the festival is filled with music and dancing.
* The festival is organized through a unique system known as Otoya. Every year, the residents of one area in Tajima are in charge of overseeing the many festivities and rituals. There are twelve such areas and they rotate the responsibilities every year. Most residents consider it an honour to be a part of this Otoya system, although it is very hard work.
* The Gion Festival is, indeed, a source of pride for the residents of Tajima. An important tradition in the community for centuries, the festival seems likely to continue as such far into the future.
[This information appeared in the August 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* The elegant Gion Festival is held in Tajima in southern Aizu every July 22nd to 24th. With a history of more than 800 years, the festival's main attraction is the procession held on July 23 in which rows of young women dressed in exquisite bridal kimonos and men in ceremonial dress carry offerings of food to the local shrines.
* See Also:

GOSHIKI ONSEN Hot Spring (Kitashiobara)
Access: 30 minutes by bus from Inawashiro Station, get off at Goshikinuma Iriguchi
Contact: Urabandai Royal Hotel Tel: 0241-32-3111

GOZENGATAKE Mountain (Shouwa)
Height: 1234m
Time needed: 3 hours
Open season: From June to the beginning of November
Access: 1 hour by car form Aizu Kawaguchi Station
Contact: Mura Kikaku Ka Tel: 0241-57-2116, Fax: 0241-57-3044

HADAKA MAIRI Naked Temple Visit (Yanaizu)
* January 7th each year usually finds Yanaizu, a town of 5,300 people about 20km west of Aizu Wakamatsu, suddenly full of people come to celebrate the famous Hadaka Mairi. This year, though, the bad weather kept the usual out-of-town onlookers away. A conspicuous silence had sat upon Yanaizu throughout the day, as snow fell monotonously on the town, only lifting around 7:00pm as the first spectators began to file into Enzoji to ring the temple bell for good luck. A bus, labelled Old World Japan Tour, emptied a number of people carrying cameras into the entrance to the steps which, lined with large paper lanterns, led away up to the main temple. In another half hour, the crowd was already spilling out of the temple doors onto the snow, while people sill commented on the lack of spectators this year.
* Everyone had come to watch the men of the town, whether 6 or 6 years old, fight to be the first to climb the temple bell rope. At 8:30pm, encircled by a battery of cameramen and photographers, the townsmen, clad only in fundoshi, burst into the temple and began a fervent, even violent battle to scramble up the thick bell rope into the temple rafters. Some would make it halfway only to run out of strength and slide back down to earth with a thud, while others would be thrown off into the crowd of spectators as their opponents swung the rope beneath them.
* Local legend has it that around a thousand years ago a plague fell upon the region. A rumour spread among the people that a dragon woman who lived deep beyond the Tadami River possessed valuable jewels, which had the power to drive out the sickness. A beautiful, young princess was dispatched on the seventh day of the new year to steal the jewels, a feat, which after much tribulation and danger, she finally achieved, bring the jewels back as an offering to Enzoji. The shadow of sickness soon began to fade, but news then spread that the dragon woman would appear on the following 7th of January to snatch back the stolen jewels. Determined to resist, all the village folk donned their loincloths and gathered in the temple. The dragon woman arrived in the hours just after midnight, but frightened at the sight of so many villagers fled, vowing to return every year until she got back her jewels. A thousand years later, the festival is still impressive, with its strong and unaffected community atmosphere.
[This information appeared in the February 1991 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Mark Crowther.]

* As the clock strikes 8:30 in the north-central Aizu town of Yanaizu, the stillness of the snowy winter's night is pierced by the muffled ring of a temple bell. Spectators huddle in the cold, as faintly heard shouts from the distance break the silence. A few minutes pass, and as the voices get closer, the rhythmic chant of "Wasshoi! Wasshoi!" becomes distinguishable. Finally, men come into view, wearing nothing but shitaobi (loincloths), their skin pink from the cold and liberal amounts of sake, panting heavily as they jog in unison up the steep stone steps leading to the temple.
* The night has just begun for participants in the Yanaizu Hadaka Mairi (Naked Temple Visit). The festival is held at one of the coldest times of the year, occurring annually on the evening of January 7th, and tests the endurance of its two-hundred-odd participants to the maximum. The 113 snow-covered stone steps negotiated by the hoardes of shitaobi-clad men lead to Fukuman Kokuzon Enzoji, the temple that serves as a symbol of the town. The temple is the centre of the proceedings, and its bell serves as the signal for the event to begin.
* On reaching the top of the steps, the men, without pausing for breath, head towards the suiden - the small trough found at all temples which holds purified water - and begin dousing themselves and each other with the ice cold water. Many of the participants have written their wishs on their arms and backs, much of it making for interesting reading as they pass by. While some simply hope to pass their school and university exams, others were more inventive, with wishes as varied as victory for the Tokyo Giants baseball team this season, continued good business for Yamato soba, and success in collecting girlfriends over the coming year.
* Having covered themselves with water, the participants then head for the Kikkodo, the temple's main building. Jostling each other and the hundreds of cheering onlookers in order to get in first, one by one they fling themselves at the uchizuna, a solitary rope hanging down from the roof of the building, usually used to song the gong when praying. Mustering up all their strength, the men climb up to the rafters, where they wait and give vocal encouragement to those who follow. Making it to the gong at the top of the slippery five metre rope is the participants' aim, as it is said that those who successfully manage the feat will enjoy good fortune, happiness, and good health in the coming year.
* The Hadaka Mairi has its origins in an ancient folk legend, in which the Yanaizu townsfolk had to unite to drive away the dragon god, who lived in the Tadami River, and who had entered the town in odrder to steal the treasure of Enzoji Temple. Famous throughout Japan, this quirky festival has been an annual tradition for more than a thousand years, drawing both participants and spectators who want to be a part of the fun from all over the prefecture. And despite the sub-zero temperatures, the red hot atmosphere of the Hadaka Mairi never fails to please the crowds.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1999 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* See Also:

HAKASEYAMA Mountain (Aizu Takada,Shouwa, Yanaizu)

HAKASEYAMA Mountain (Aizu Takada)
Height: 1482m
Time needed: 3 hours from the parking lot
Open season: From April to November
Access: 40 minutes by car from Aizu Takada Station
Contact: Aizu Takada-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0242-55-1121, Fax: 0242-55-1139

HAKASEYAMA Mountain (Shouwa)
Height: 1482m
Time needed: 4 hours
Open season: From June to the beginning of November
Access: 50 minutes by car from Aizu Kawaguchi Station
Contact: Mura Kikaku Ka Tel: 0241-57-2116, Fax: 0241-57-3044

HAKASEYAMA Mountain (Yanaizu)
Height: 1482m
Time needed: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Open season: The third Sunday in May
Access: 40 minutes from Takiya Station
Contact: Machi Kikaku Kaihatsu Ka Tel: 0241-42-2114, Fax: 0241-42-3470

* Every year in late autumn, thousands of swans descend on Fukushima Prefecture. They are a common sight along the shores of Lake Inawashiro and the Abukuma River. The swans, who spend their summers in eastern Siberia, begin flying into Japan around November to escape the cold of the Siberian winter.
* Lake Inawashiro is an ideal spot for the birds because, although it is located 514 metres above sea level, it does not freeze over in the winter. It is estimated that approximately 1,000 swans make the lake their home during the winter months. They have become quite popular with the local residents and are quite a significant tourist attraction. In fact, some believe the number of swans has actually increased in recent years due to the popular custom of feeding the birds.
* The swans have been making this journey for hundreds of years. Their arrival on Lake Inawashiro is even mentioned in the Aizu Fudoki, a book written in 1666 about the natural features of Aizu. The swans are also a common subject in the many poems that have been written through the ages about winter in Fukushima.
* A popular place to see and feed the swans of Lake Inawashiro is Hakuchouhama (literally, Swan Beach), about five minutes by bus from Inawashiro station. The area is equipped with a restaurant and coffee shop and is considered a perfect spot to view the swans against the deep blue of the lake and pristine white of the snow-covered mountains in the distance.
* To the residents of Fukushima Prefecture, the arrival of the swans in November signifies that winter is once again approaching, and their departure at the end of April indicates warmer months ahead.
* As regular as snow in the Fukushima winter, the swans are warmly welcomed by many as a consistent indication of the changing seasons.
[This information appeared in the April 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

HANKA MATSURI Hanka Festival (Shimogo)
* Onlookers enter a time warp when they visit the old post town of Ouchijuku in Shimogo, and the feeling is even stronger when the Hanka Festival, held every July 2, is in progress. A procession of locals attired in Edo period costumes parades amid rows of 17th century houses with thatched kayabuki rooves to the nearby shrine where they pray for a bountiful harvest.
* See Also:

HAYATO ONSEN Hot Spring (Mishima)
Access: 10 minutes walk from Hayato Station
Contact: Mishima-machi Kikaku Ka Tel: 0241-48-5533

HIBARAKO Lake (Kitashiobara)
* Maintained in part by the Urabandai Branch of the Kita Shiobara Village Office, Lake Hibara is one of the many beautiful creations of the violent eruption of Mount Bandai in 1888. Second only in size to Lake Inawashiro, its waters play host to a wide variety of fish that come and go using the rivers and streams that feed the lake all year round.
* Despite its impressive size, the lake freezes over every year without fail. This year's relatively mild winter meant that Hibara did not completely freeze until mid-January. Normally, the chilly climate that characterizes the region would herald in the New Year by turning the lake into a sheet of ice. In late February, following a spell of unseasonably fine weather, the ice was 60 to 70 cm thick. The lake remains frozen until the end of March.
* Once the lake has frozen, the official declaration from the village office sparks a frenzied rush to pitch tents on the top of Hibara. The lake's considerable length and width are no obstacle for the powerful snowmobiles which the visitors use to move around the frozen surface. The multi-coloured tents are quite a surreal sight against the backdrop provided by the snow-covered mountains.
* As to why anyone would want to pitch a tent on a frozen lake, one must look towards the allure of a fish that grows no more than ten centimetres in length. The wakasagi is a perennial visitor to Hibara, but fishing for this particular tasty little morsel is limited to the months when one can walk on the lake.
* The other, larger fish that inhabit the lake during the more temperate months travel upstream to wait out the winter, so January to March is the wakasagi's time to rule the roost. Unfortunately for the wakasagi, it also means that any bait normally reserved for the bigger fish catches the attention of the small fry.
* The intrepid few who venture out onto the lake drill holes in the ice. Using line with up to six hooks on it, the fishermen try to tempt the wakasagi with live maggots impaled on the sharp little barbs. During the house of five to seven in the morning and evening, experienced fishermen have been known to bring in a haul that exceeds three figures. Recent fishing innovations have even allowed a lone fisherman to control a series of rods through automation.
* The fish that are unlucky enough to experience "dry" land, however briefly, are often covered in a light batter and fried as tempura on the spot. The fish is eaten whole, and many regulars swear by the freshness of this dish. The lake even boasts an enkaijo, or party venue, where tired visitors can rest their weary fishing arms and tell tales of the ones that got away.
* All the equipment needed can be rented from various companies. Permission must be obtained before fishing can commence. Visitors are also strongly advised to exercise caution and common sense, as recent seasons have been punctuated with a number of tragedies involving inexperienced or foolhardy visitors.
[This information appeared in the Spring 1997 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

* See Also:

HIGANJISHI Local Folkdance
* This is a folk dance with a long history in this area. According to the history books, this Lion Dance goes back over 1000 years. It was performed to give soldiers courage in the face of their enemies during battle.
* Around three hundred years ago, there was a serious illness that plagued many of the residents of the Aizu area. At that time, the Lion Dance was performed as a special gift to a local temple. Shortly after this gift was made, the illness subsided and people slowly regained their health. The dancing at the temple happened to coincide with a local Spring festival called "Higan". Thus the name "Higanjishi" was born. Higan is the festival's name and shishi means lion.
* Another famous story of the Higanjishi happened during the Boshin Civil War in the late 1800's. Daizo Yamakawa, a famous samurai was trying desperately to get into the castle. He was unable to do so because the castle was surrounded by the enemy. In order to trick the enemy, Yamakawa dressed up in the "shishi" costume and started dancing the Higanjishi. He was so good at it that he tricked the enemy and was able to slip into the castle undetected.
* There are three characters in the Higanjishi. There is a lion, a lioness, and a main lion. You can distinguish the three characters by their costumes and by the strings they carry.

* A full performance of the Higanjishi involves 8 different dances and lasts for about 2 hours.
* The Japanese word higan is replete with meaning. Depending on the situation, it can mean "week of the equinox", "Buddhist service", or "other shore". Although these meanings seem quite different, they are connected. Higan is written with Japanese characters that have the literal meaning of "yonder shore". In the Buddhist tradition, however, they have a metaphorical meaning of someone who has succeeded in leaving the shore of worldly life and has arrived on the opposite shore of enlightenment. The equinox is probably taken from the idea of moving from one seasonal shore to the next.
* Every year, the week surrounding the vernal and autumnal equinoxes is a time for recognition of those who have received enlightenment and a time of repose for the dead. In the past it was a time when children returned to their parents' home to present offerings to the family Buddhist altar where the souls of the departed relatives rest.
* "Shishi" (which become "jishi" when it comes after higan) means lion and it is an abbreviation of "shishimai" which means lion dance. There are many different varieties of lion dances, but the basic dance involves people wearing frightful lion masks and colourful traditional clothing. They dance to the music of small drums and bamboo flutes. The drums are played by both musicians and the dancers themselves, who carry small drums strapped around their waist. The beat of the drums and the melody of the flute produces a trance-like song. This, when combined with the dancers movement, sometimes fluid, sometimes rigid, generates an atmosphere that can be quite mesmerizing.
* The tradition of lion dancing is believed to be descended from the ancient court dance, music, and mask shows (known as bugaku, sangaku, or gigaku) that came to Japan from the Asian continent. In Japan, the dance has taken on a meaning all its own. From ancient times, shishimai was performed as a type of exorcism to rid places of evil spirits. It is said that shishimai was performed at sacred shrines before a kagura (Shinto performance), in order to purify the grounds. Today, shishimai is an integral part of festivals throughout Japan. Similar dances using the masks of wild boars, deer, or dragons also exist.
* Aizu's Higanjishi is performed several times during a weeklong celebration revolving around the Spring equinox. It is sometimes referred to as Sanbiki Shishimai, or the dance of three lions, because it includes three lions, two male and one female.
* The earliest record mentioning the Sanbiki Shishimai in the Aizu region is a personal letter addressed to a resident of Aizu Wakamatsu, dated June 1628. It is generally believed, however, that Sanbiki Shishimai originated in the northern Kanto region (Tochigi Prefecture) sometime in the tenth century, and first made its way into Fukushima around 1574, when it was introduced in an area called Shimoshiba, part of what is now Kitakata. It then spread through the Aizu region.
* The number of areas in Aizu where Higanjishi is performed is now only about ten, down from more than thirty at one point. The most famous among these are the ones performed in Aizu Wakamatsu, Bandai, Kitakata, and Tajima. In some areas, such as Bandai, the performers go through town stopping at every household to perform their purifying dance.
* Although today's Higanjishi is celebrated for a multitude of reasons (praying for good crops, protection from fire), it is generally performed in celebration and in recognition of the vernal equinox and Buddhist tradition. In this light, the various definitions of higan do not seem so far apart after all.
[This information appeared in the May 1992 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

HIGASHIYAMA ONSEN Higashiyama Hot Spring Area (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access Platform 4 at the Aizu Wakamatsu Station, In Front of the Post Office
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi
* See Also:

HIGASHIYAMA ONSEN Hot Spring (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Access: 20 minutes by bus from Aizu Wakamatsu Station (Platform 4) or in front of the Post Office
Contact: Higashiyama Onsen Ryokan Kyoudou Kumiai Tel: 0242-27-7051

HINOEMATA ONSEN Hot Spring (Hinoemata)
Access: 1 hour and 30 minutes by bus from Aizu Kougen Station
Contact: Oze Hinoemata Onsen Kankou Annaijo Tel: 0241-75-2432, Fax: 0241-75-2336

HIUCHIGATAKE Mountain (Hinoemata)
Height: 2356m
Time needed: 4 hours
Open season: From the beginning of June to the middle of October
Access: 2 hours by bus from Aizu Kougen Station, get off at Oze Miike
Contact: Oze Hinoemata Onsen Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-75-2432, Fax: 0241-75-2336

HONGOYAKI Pottery (Aizu Hongo)
* Ryoichi Munakata is the seventh generation in his family to work as a potter in Hongo-machi, Aizu. Among the 17 family kilns in Hongo that presently produce Hongo-yaki pottery and chinaware, the Munakata kiln boasts one of the longest histories, stretching back to the latter years of the Edo period, when Mr. Munakata's ancestor Hidenobu Hachiro came from Kyushu to build the Munakata Shrine in Hongo (now next door to the Munakata workshop). Bringing with him his love of the potter's wheel, Hachiro was able to supplement his apparently deficient income earned as a chief priest of the shrine. Although by the mid-Meiji years over 40 families had kilns and were producing pottery for the local market, with the advent of rail, the market, flooded with new and novel pottery from all corners of Japan, soon had no room for local varieties, and all but 5 or 6 of the Hongo kilns were forced to close down. The Munakata kiln, still only a form of supplementary income for the local priest, continued to supply what the market would accept. However, the boom which followed the war as general interest in folk craft was revived and Aizu experienced an influx of tourists, persuaded the present Mr. Munakata's father to leave the priesthood and concentrate on his craft.
* Despite his original wishes to strike out on his own and try something new, Mr. Munakata says that he was naturally drawn to follow the family craft, as he helped his father in the workshop during school holidays. He talks now of the conflict between the desire to produce something new and original, and the need to perfect his traditional skills on the wheel. "Producing something new," he says does not necessarily mean artistic development." On occasion, he has produced a novel pot only to find it lacking when compared with earlier work of a more traditional strain. "It's better," he continues, "to develop that earlier style and concentrate on your technical skill... You can picture a new idea in your head or draw it countless times, but you can't achieve that image without first perfecting your technical skill." He goes on to say that no matter how many times he repeats the same style of work, each pot has its own originality, depending on the shape achieved on the wheel and the different glazes and their application.
* Some years ago, he relates, the prefecture suggested that he become one of the designated industries of the prefecture and produce enough work to meet the ensuing demand. After some consideration, he turned the offer down saying that he couldn't maintain the same standard of work using large-scale production techniques, since the potter's wheel is central to his work. "Under factory-style conditions, the features particular to Munakata pottery would disappear."
* Mr. Munakata still takes the basic material for his pots from the adjacent Mt. Hakuho, on whose slopes is built the kiln used by all his family before him. Indeed, he insists if he cannot make his pottery from Mt. Hakuho clay, "it's not Hongo-yaki," because his colours and finish are dependent on this clay. On the other hand, most other producers of Hongo-yaki tend to rely on "a quick phonecall" and instant delivery for their materials. Moreover, since the town designated the mountain as a public park hoping to increase the number of tourists visiting Hongo, he complains that it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain suitable material. Formerly Mr. Munakata would search for good quality clay by hand, but worries now that people "with no experience" take good and bad material in large quantities, mixing it and causing it to be useless to him. "It's a terrible waste," he says, insisting that better care should be taken to protect the basic materials for Hongo-yaki. "There are wonderful national parks around Inawashiro and Mt. Bandai. Hongo has copied the idea on this mountain hoping to develop tourism. But because Hongo is a pottery town, pottery should come before tourism."
* Apart from this worry, he insists that he is lucky to be in a profession that allows him such freedom. He also expresses his gratitude that, unlike many people who must suffer the boredom of sudden inactivity thrust upon them by retirement, he can continue working as long as he remains in good health.
* The Munakata Workshop in the Hongo Town Centre is open to the public. Besides being able to buy Munakata pottery, visitors may watch the potters at work and try their hand themselves.
[This information appeared in the November 1990 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Mark Crowther.]

IIDE KOUSEN Hot Spring (Yamato)
Access: 50 minutes by bus from Yamato Station (from the middle of July to the end of August)
Contact: Iide Kousen Tel: 0241-39-2331

IIDESAN Mountain (Atsushiokano, Yamato, Nishiaizu)
* The Iide Mountain Range is a magnificent string of peaks stradling the border of three prefectures: Fukushima, Niigata, and Yamagata. The peaks, part of the Bandai-Asahi National Park, figure prominently in the local folklore of the area and are considered a paradise for mountain climbers and serious hikers because of their remoteness and beauty.
* Using the Iide Mountain Range as a symbol, five towns and villages in northwestern Aizu have formed a union that they call "the United States of Iide" or U.S.I. Established in 1990, USI was created in an attempt to promote the appealing qualities of the area and curtail its depleting population.
* For a long time, the towns had been promoting their respective areas individually but with little success. They decided to pool their resources and try their luck together. Their plan, reflected in the motto "Not a third rate city, but a first rate countryside", is to enrich the lives of the residents by promoting the area as one of the few areas where traditional Japanese lifestyles still prevail.
* Today, USI has as its president Junko Tabei, the famous mountain climber who became well known internationally for being the first woman to scale Mt. Everest. Under her leadership, USI has sponsored a number of events and projects in order to accomplish their goals. Among these include Mt. Iide summer hikes, publication of a newsletter, a music festival, an annual harvest festival, and presentations of locally made products such as food and crafts throughout the prefecture.
* The biggest undertaking by USI to date, however, was the cultural delegation they sent to Bhutan in April 1992. On Ms. Tabei's recommendation, and in order to give USI an international flavour, six members toured the Himalayan kingdom. They met with dignitaries and experienced the customs of the Himalayan people. They also shared some of the customs of Japan such as how to make and eat Japanese noodles.
* Bhutan was chosen because of the many similarities between that nationa and the area covered by the USI. Bhutan is a small, mountainous region that still adheres to its age-old customs. According to Kimio Hirata, director of USI in Nishiaizu, these old customs resemble those of old Japan. This has instilled a sense of affinity toward the small Himalayan kingdom among the people of USI and now they hope to establish some kind of sister-state relationship with Bhutan in order to facilitate a constant flow of international exchange.
* Although it is still too early to measure the effectiveness of USI's efforts, they have big plans for the future. According to Mr. Hirata, USI would like to include the areas of Yamagata and Niigata Prefectures that also border on the Iide Mountain Range. "If all goes well," says Mr. Hirata, "USI will encompass the whole area surrounding Mt. Iide and be committed to preserving its scenic environment while at the same time promoting the attractiveness of its remoteness and countrified way of life."
[This information appeared in the July 1992 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

IIDESAN Mountain (Atsushiokanou)
Height: 2105m
Time needed: About 10 hours
Open season: From the end of June to the beginning of October
Access: 1 hour by taxi from Kitakata Station
Contact: Mura Sangyou Ka Tel: 0241-36-2111 (ext.19), Fax: 0241-36-2191

Height: 2105m
Time needed: 8 hours (summer)
Open season: From the end of July to September
Access: 50 minutes by bus from Yamato Station
Contact: Yamato-machi Kikaku Ka Tel: 0241-38-3835, Fax: 0241-38-3899

Height: 2105m
Time needed: Around 8 hours
Open season: From the end of June to the beginning of October
Access: 50 minutes by bus from Tokusawa Station
Contact: Nishiaizu-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-45-2211, Fax: 0241-45-4199
* See Also:

IIDESOU Hot Spring (Yamato)
Access: 5 minutes by car from Yamato Station
Contact: Iidesou Tel: 0241-38-3111, Fax: 0241-38-3112

IIMORIYAMA Byakkotai Gravesight (Aizu Wakamatsu)
* See Also:

IINUMA SADAKICHI Sadakichi Iinuma, sole survivor of Byakkotai suicide [1853-1931]
* See Also:

INASAKU Rice Cultivation
* Japan as a whole, and Fukushima Prefecture in particular, has a proud agricultural tradition that continues to this day. The Japanese hold agriculturalists and their produce in high esteem due to the sparsity of land in this island nation. One cannot mention agriculture without due regard being paid to the Japanese dietary staple, rice, which has become as much a cultural icon as a stomach-filler.
* This most important of grains is harvested in the months of September and October - a time of countless festivals and the drawing together of many a rural community, all in the hopes of a good crop. A poor yield can have an effect on dining tables the length and breadth of the country for the coming year, not to mention the more devastating consequences for the agricultural community concerned. Therefore it is vital for the community to harvest and store their crops in the most waste-free, cost-efficient manner.
* The area around Inawashiro has long been associated with rice cultivation, and local farmers have kept apace with advances in irrigation and grain storage. A good example of this is the new grain silo in Inawashiro. Constructed and maintained by financial support from Inawashiro, the Fukushima government, the national government, and the Inawashiro Agricultural Co-operative, the rice silo with the rather nondescript name of "Country Elevator 2" is somewhat different from the other silos dotted around the prefecture.
* The exterior is a conservative dark brown hue, and is adorned with no gaudy signs screaming its existence, in accordance with prefectural government ordinances governing the beautification of the natural environment. Country Elevator 2 is situated at the base of Mt. Bandai, and the colouring is said to deflect any violent clashes of colour that you might find with the more common white silos that stretch into the sky -- surreal lighthouses in an ocean of rice paddies. The height of Country Elevator 2 was also regulated with Mt. Bandai in mind. Motorists can still enjoy an uninterrupted view of the peak from the expressway as they pass the silo.
* The ten members of staff are responsible for the care and storage of popular types of rice such as Hitomebore (love at first sight) and hatsuboshi. The silo itself holds three-thousand tonnes of rice in ten tanks. Upon receipt, the rice is tested for water content and the farmer is paid an amount determined by the net weight of the yeild. The rice is then dried and stored for up to six months.
* If your travels take you along the Banetsu expressway near Inawashiro, do not expect to see too much in the foreground as your eyes take in the splendour of Mt. Bandai.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1996 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

* See Also:

ISASUMI JINJA Shrine (Takada)
* Located in a grove of trees in the centre of Aizu Takada is Isasumi Shrine, one of the oldest and most well-known shrines in the Tohoku region and definitely the most important for the people of Aizu.
* Legend has it that the shrine was originally founded in the fourth century when the god who developed the Hokurikudo (road) met his son, the god who built the Tokaido (road), in Aizu Takada. Isasumi shrine, according to the legend, was constructed to commemorate the joy the two deities shared at seeing one another again. It is said that it was from this meeting that the name Aizu originated, as it came into use at about the same time. For these reasons, Isasumi shrine is very significant in the culture, identity, and spirit of the people of Aizu.
* Originally built on Mt. Takase, which overlooks Aizu Takada, the shrine was moved to its present site, which is much flatter and accessible, in about 552. Another legend says that the cherry tree within the main compound of the current site dates from this time, though that would make it one very old tree! The entrance to the shrine is domated by the large, very beautiful Sakura gate that was rebuilt a few years ago. The garden inside the shrine has many large cherry trees which make the shrine one of the better places in Aizu to enjoy cherry blossom viewing (hanami) in the spring. Hens roam freely in the grounds of the shrine and seem to be very happy there as there is nothing to stop them from wandering off.
* Isasumi shrine's most famous festival, Otaue, is held on July 12 every year. The purpose of this festival is to protect the crops from animals as well as evil or mischievous spirits, while praying for a good harvest. This festival is one of the three big Otaue celebrations in Japan, the others being in Ise (Mie Prefecture) and Atsuta (Aichi Prefecture). The three festivals are held at different times on the same day, starting with Ise in the morning, Isasumi during the day, and Atsuta in the evening. One of the main attractions of the festival is the saotome, or the dance of the rice planting girls. Probably the main reason why the dance is so popular is that it is not actually performed by young women, but by fully grown men dressed up as girls!
* Another festival that attracts many visitors from far and wide is the Ayame or Iris Festival held from June 15 to July 5. At this time the area in front of the shrine explodes with purple as 100,000 irises of 150 different varieties come into bloom.
* If you find yourself in Aizu, Isasumi shrine is well worth the trip away from the well-touristed sites of Aizu Wakamatsu. If you are travelling by car, head for Aizu Wakamatsu, then follow the signs for Aizu Takada. Once in town, just follow the signs. By train, Aizu Takada is 20 minutes from Aizu Wakamatsu on the Tadami line, and Isasumi shrine is a fifteen minute walk from the station.
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1995 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Tony McDaid.]

* See Also:

INAWASHIRO ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 10 minutes by car from the Inawashiro Bandai Kougen interchange on the Bandai highway
Contact: Hotel Listel Inawashiro Tel: 0242-66-2233, Fax: 0242-66-2633

JIBIIRUKAN Microbrewery (Inawashiro)
* Commanding a spectacular view of Mt. Bandai, Inawashiro is the fortunate location for the prefecture's first microbrewery, which opened its doors for the first time on March 1st. The brewery cost 500 million yen and took a year to build.
* Under the direction of a German braumeister, the brewery produces three types of beer, a Pilsner, a Weizen, and a dark Rauch beer. Production is limited due to the size of the plant and the scarcity of high quality raw materials -- with the exception of water. The water is provided from a pure spring located in the foothills of Mt. Bandai, but all the malt and hops are imported from Germany.
* This insistence on the highest standards results in an excellent product. Unfortunately, the cost of this excellence is borne by the consumer in the relatively high price of the beer - the sight of punters drinking all they call is noticeable in its absence here.
* Costumers can buy by the glass. For 360cc of the Pilsner or Weizen, it will set you back 650 yen, and a sup of the dark Rauch will cost you an additional 150 yen. Bringing the beer back to impress your friends will also prove a little costly. A souvenir 1.5 litre bottle costs 3,500 yen (4,100 yen for you luxury Rauch drinkers).
* The beer hall seats 360 indoors and when the sun eventually triumphs over the long Tohoku winter, there is seating for 400 on benches outside. The cuisine is a mixture of local dishes and the traditional German accompaniment to beer - sausages.
* The brewery is operated and maintained by the Narui Corporation, as is the adjacent Glass Emporium (Sekai no Garasukan). Glass goblets and tankards blown by experts at the emporium can be used for quaffing the brewery's product.
* Due to the purity of the beer, and its proximity to source, heavy drinkers will be pleased to discover that hangovers are rare. The quality of the product is its selling point. Customers from far-flung locations have become so enamoured of the beer that they order bottles by express delivery (takkyubin). The distance record is held by one dedicated quaffer residing in Hiroshima.
* The hall itself is proving to be a popular attraction, with an average of 700 visitors on weekdays, and 1500 drinkers crowding in on the weekends. The beer hall is open all year round, from 11:00am to last orders at 6:00pm.
[This information appeared in the Summer 1997 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

* See Also:

JINBO SHUURI Shuuri Jinbo, warrior [1838-1868]
* Jinbo was a samurai during the Boshin Civil War. He opposed Matsudaira's plan to fight on the side of the Tokugawa shogunate. For this, he was told to kill himself for disgracing the clan.
* See Also:

JOUSHIGUN Troop of female warriors during the Boshin Civil War
* See Also:

KABUKI Kabuki, Japanese theatre (Hinoemata)
* Hinoemata is a small village nestled in the mountains of southwest Aizu. Approximately 96% of its land is covered by forest and, with 728 people, is by far the least populous area in Fukushima Prefecture. In fact, three surnames (Hoshi, Hirano, Tachibana) are virtually the only ones to be found in the village.
* Although Hinoemata is small and out of the way for most people, one of its main industries is tourism. The Oze Marsh and Grassland (1665 m above sea level), part of the Nikko National Park, is a common destination for people visiting this area. It is a haven for nature lovers; activities such as hiking, fishing, and mushroom hunting are quite popular.
* Legend has it that the people who established the village of Hinoemata were supporters of the Taira family living in Kyoto, who fled to various parts of Japan after being defeated by the Minamoto family in 1185. (The Taira and Minamoto families were two of the strongest warrior clans during this period. They were constantly battling each other for supremacy and the right to rule Japan.) Because of their remote location, the mountains of southwest Aizu were a perfect refuge for fugitives of the time. As the story goes, they remained undiscovered until after the danger blew over. This legend is supported by certain linguistic peculiarities in Hinoemata. The way that they speak is similar to certain dialects that are found in the Kyoto area. Many scholars, however, argue that this is a mere coincidence. Nonetheless, it is an intriguing story and it adds to the sense of mystery that is often associated with Hinoemata.
* Another feature of Hinoemata is its twice annual Kabuki Festival. Every year, on May 12 and August 18 (corresponding with the Atago Shrine Festival and the Chinju Shrine Festival respectively), Hinoemata becomes the centre of attention in Minami Aizu as people from all over come to the village to witness its famous kabuki performances. Hinoemata's kabuki theatre, with a history of over 200 years, is well known for its tradition and adherence to the classical style of kabuki. It is performed entirely by local residents, and although they are strictly amateurs, they have quite a reputation for consistently putting on professional-like performances.
* For the residents of Hinoemata, kabuki is also a source of pride. It has been recognized by numerous local and national organizations as an outstanding performing folk art. Recently, they held their first performance outside of the village, when they performed at the Aoyama Theatre in Tokyo on September 30, 1991.
* According to history, kabuki first made its way into the Tohoku region during the Genroku period (1688-1703) of the Edo era, a time of artistic and cultural prosperity. Matsudaira Yamato-no-Kami, a sincere supporter and lover of the art, brought it with him when he became feudal lord of the Shirakawa fief in south-central Fukushima. Its popularity soon spread through the prefecture and many local areas built stages and held their own kabuki performances.
* Today, Hinoemata's kabuki is the most well-known in Fukushima and serves as a source of traditional continuation for its residents. It has been an integral part of the village, virtually unchanged, for a long time and is likely to remain a local tradition for many more years to come.
[This information appeared in the November 1991 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

KAISHUUICHI ZOUHINKAN Kaishuuichi Brewery and Art Museum (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access
Cost Adults 300 yen, High School Students 200 yen, Junior High and Elementary Students 150 yen
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Aioi-machi 7-17
TEL: 0242-25-0055, FAX: 0242-24-0055
* See Also:

KANNON Kannon, Buddhist goddess of mercy
* Kannon is the goddess of mercy. In Japan, it is believed that Kannon is able to save all living things from evil and just the utterance of her name will bring salvation.
* Although Kannon is referred to as a goddess, she is actually a bodhisattva. Bodhisattva comes from Sanskrit and literally means "one whose essence is enlightenment." In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, it refers to a divine being worth of nirvana, who remains on the human plane to help mankind to salvation. Although she is just one of a plethora of Buddhist deities, her reputation for great mercy and compassion are surpassed by none. Kannon is often compared to the Virgin Mary and the role she plays in the Christian tradition.
* Belief in Kannon developed hundreds of years ago in northwestern India where she is called "Avalokitesvara." The belief gradually made its way into China, where she is known as Kuan-Yin, and came to Japan sometime around the end of the sixth century.
* It is not uncommon for deities to experience transformations as they are introduced to new people and cultures. Kannon is no exception. There are some who theorize that Avalokitesvara began as a male deity whose gender changed during the long migration across the continent. In Japan, Kannon can be found in a variety of different forms. Some of the more popular images of Kannon are the eleven-faced Kannon, the thousand-handed Kannon, and the Bato Kannon, an image which depicts Kannon as a human body with the head of a horse.
* Another feature associated with Kannon is what is known as Sanjusan Kannon, or thirty three temples sacred to Kannon. Sanjusan Kannon can be found all through Japan; the most famous being on the island of Shikoku. People make pilgrimages devoted to Kannon by visiting thirty three different temples of the bodhisattva scattered throughout an area. Worshippers trek the course to pray and express their adoration and faithfulness to Kannon at each stop.
* One such pilgrimage can be done in the Aizu region. The temples of Aizu's Sanjusan Kannon, each hundreds of years old, are scattered throughout the Aizu basin. They are all unique in their architecture and style but have one thing in common: they were all built in devotion to Kannon.
* The most famous temple of Aizu's Sanjusan Kannon is Keiryuji in Aizu Bange. It is the 31st temple to be visited during the pilgrimage. Inside is an impressive statue of Kannon known as the Tachiki Kannon, literally the "Standing tree Kannon", that stands over eight meters in height. The statue, which is a thousand-handed Kannon, was carved sometime in the early eighth century by the famous artist-monk Kukai. It is said that, guided and inspired by his adoration for Kannon, he trimmed the branches, stripped off the bark, and carved the huge tree with the roots still in the ground. In actuality, only the trunk and head are carved from the trees trunk. The arms are from separate blocks of wood that were attached later.
* Keiryuji was built around the statue sometime during Japan's Kamakura age (1185-1333). Some thirty smaller statues are also present at Keiryuji and worship of them is said to save one from being consumed by such passions as jealousy, anger, and covetousness. Keiryuji and the Tachiki Kannon have both been designated National Treasures and the thirty smaller statues of the temple have been designated Prefectural Cultural Treasures.
* A pilgrimage that can be done in Aizu is called the Three Korori Kannon. The word korori means "easy" or "quick" and it is believed that if one makes a pilgrimage to these particular Kannon, they will avoid any lingering illnesses in their old age and die a quick, quiet, and easy death, and thus avoid being a burden on their family. The three Kannon of the Korori pilgrimage are the Tachiki Kannon of Aizu Bange, the Nakada Kannon of Niitsuru, and the Torioi Kannon of Nishiaizu. (The Nakada Kannon is also a part of the Sanjusan Kannon in Aizu.)
* The worship of Kannon has a rich and varied history. The Kannon of Aizu represent but a few of the forms that she can be worshipped in. No matter what form she takes, however, she is known by all as the goddess of mercy, and even today, countless people put their faith in her for protection from evil and salvation from the uncertainties of the hereafter.
[This information appeared in the May 1992 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

KARAKURAYAMA Mountain (Nangou)
Height: 1176m
Time needed: 6 hours
Open season: From the end of May to the beginning of November
Access: 1 hour by bus from Tajima Station, get off at Aoyagi Iriguchi
Contact: Nangou-mura Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-72-2112, Fax: 0241-72-2002

KARAMUSHI ORI Weaving with plant fibers (Shouwa)
* Karamushi, a kind of ramie, whose long stem yields a flax-like fibre to be woven into a light cloth, is produced in only two places in Japan. One is Miyako-jima in Okinawa. The other is Showa-mura, a quiet village comprising a few small hamlets tucked away around 65km southwest of Aizu Wakamatsu.
* Records dating back to 917, which carry descriptions of various karamushi products, bear witness to Showa's long connection to the karamushi trade. Each year, after the autumn harvest was over and the long Aizu winter had set in, the women of the area would spend their time spinning and weaving karamushi, largely for their own use. By the 15th century, karamushi production was already playing a major role in the development of the village, as traders from Niigata (which is closer to Showa than most places in Fukushima) travelled frequently to buy karamushi. In its most prosperous days around 1890, the village was turning out 6 tonnes a year, even sending two of its weavers as technical advisors to Imperial Russia for 5 years in 1895. When war broke out in the Pacific and food supplies ran out, all of the fields used to grow karamushi were turned over to rice production. Although the karamushi industry was subsequently revived in the postwar years, its popularity, faced with competition from cheaply available synthetic fibres was fading. The laborious production process from planting to weaving had ensured that high costs prevented anyone from pursuing karamushi weaving as a serious trade.
* Although the village promotes the old image of weaving on the traditional hand-operated loom for advertising purposes, only 3 or 4 people can still operate these machines. Satomi Yamaguchi, one of the few, explains, "Every home used to make karamushi. When winter came, we couldn't work in the fields anymore, so all the women would make karamushi indoors. Now, nobody makes it at home anymore." Instead, the village has embarked upon a plan to breathe new life into its oldest industry by builing a karamushi centre and investing in several industrial looms in order to increase production to a realistic rate and to bring younger people back to the trade.
* The overall process is still a time consuming one, however. After the karamushi has been picked stem by stem, it must first be soaked, then have the pulp separated from the outer skin. It must then be shaved carefully to obtain the long, thin fibres and finally spun into thread before it is ready for the loom. The length of this process probably accounts for the high cost of karamushi products. A tie would set you back 12,000 yen, an order-made shirt 54,000 yen, a simple yukata 330,000 yen, while something more elaborate, like a more ornate yukata, is a major investment at 960,000 yen.
* Despite the expense, sales have picked up recently to between 70 million and 80 million yen per year, thanks to customers in the Kansai region of Japan. This puts Showa (population 2,167) just one step ahead of so many other towns and villages also seeking new ways of stemming the continuing flow of people into the cities.
* (Note: Since this article was written, Showa has introduced several new programmes to develop interest in both the village and karamushi. They run a "Weaver Princess" programme where women are invited to live in the village for a year and learn the entire process, from planting the seeds to the final woven product. They also run several karamushi experience courses that last a few days each during the warmer months. If you are interested in learning how to weave, please contact the Aizu Wakamatsu International Association. There are probably no English speakers available to teach the course, so your Japanese level should be fairly high if you want to participate.)
[This information appeared in the May 1991 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Mark Crowther.]

* See Also:

KARATE Karate (Shimogo)
* Deep in the mountains of Aizu lies a small karate dojo run by a little old karate sensei... Well, that was what vision I had when I heard abou Mr. Sumio Yuda's karate club in the town of Shimogo in Aizu. Being a keen karate student myself, I jumped at the chance to visit this dojo, which has recently risen to prominence with the victory of one of its students at the national championships. On arriving at the dojo, I found that although it was set deep in the Aizu mountains, the instructor was anything but little and old. Mr. Yuda is one of only a few people with a sixth dan black belt and has won and placed highly in several international karate competitions.
* There are several different schools of karate, with each dojo usually being affilitated with one style. However, Mr. Yuda's dojo is unusual in that it is independent, and not confined to the instruction of one form of karate only. The training session I attended featured two black belts who were both training in different styles. Mr. Yuda believes that each form of karate has its merits and so people should not necessarily be confined to the one school.
* Naturally, one does not become a sixth dan black belt without practice and Mr. Yuda is no exception. In addition to teaching in the evenings, he religiously trains for three hours every morning, 365 days a year without fail. However, his philosophy is that while physical fitness and strength are necessary to advance in the art of karate, mental strength and alertness are the most important abilities to possess. It is easy to become a black belt and even a national champion, he says, but when you compete internationally, the difference between the competitors is not their physical strength, but the strength of their minds.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1998 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* See Also:

KAROU Advisor to the daimyou, elder in the clan
* During the Boshin Civil War, there were two karou: Tanomo Saigou and Gonbei Kayano.
* See Also:

KAWAGETAYAMA Mountain (Inawashiro)
Height: 1413m
Time needed: 4 hours
Open season: From the middle of May to the middle of November
Access: 15 minutes walk from Kawageta Station
Contact: Inawashiro Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0242-62-2048, Fax: 0242-62-2939

KAWAKAMI ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 25 minutes by bus from Inawashiro Station, gett of at Kawakami Onsen
Contact: Kawakami Onsen Ryokan Kumiai (Hotel Ju) Tel: 0241-32-2130, Fax: 0241-32-2641

KAYANO GONBEI Gonbei Kayano, Aizu Clan Elder Advisor [1830-1869]
* Gonbei followed Tanomo Saigou as elder advisor of the Aizu Clan. He was much younger than Saigou and was as strongly for participating in the Boshin Civil War as Saigou had been against it.
* After the war, in 1869, he was executed in Tokyo, taking full responsibility for bringing Aizu into the war. Unfortunately, his son Nagamasu Kouri also killed himself in Toyotsu, Kyushu, because of the shame his father brought upon the family.
* See Also:

KENGAMINE GENSEN Hot Spring (Kitashiobara)
Access: 25 minutes by bus from Inawashiro Station, get off at Goshikinuma Iriguchi
Contact: Pension Rave Tel: 0241-32-2381

KIRI Paulownia Tree, also known as Empress Tree
* Artisans in Fukushima are renowned in Japan for their skilled creations using kiri or paulownia wood. The wood of the paulownia tree is extremely valuable, as it is soft, light, and has a beautiful grain. Wooden clogs, chests of drawers, small boxes, and other traditional Japanese items are fashioned from this prized wood here in Fukushima, and in particular in Mishima, a quiet town in Aizu.
* High quality geta, the traditional clogs worn in the summer, are made with paulownia in Fukushima. However, the best known paulownia wood product is the tansu, or chest of drawers. The manufacturing process for these items is a labour of love for the artists at the Mishima factory. The process begins as the paulownia are cut down between the fall and spring months. The wood is left as raw logs for about six months. They are then cut into carious widths of rough board and aged in the open air for roughly two years. During this aging process, the boards are turned every so often so that each side is weathered equally. After weathering, the boards are planed down to set sizes. The wood used for the front, sides, and top is cut into thin strips and pressed into a frame to ensure straightness. Once all the pieces have been made, the dresser is assembled, planed, and sanded by hand. The overall process takes just over two years, on average. The result is a truly beautiful piece of furniture that is also very practical for storing clothes in Japan's humid climate.
* Until recently, it has been a tradition in Japan for a family to pass on its furniture from generation to generation. These days, however, a lot of modern furnishings wind up on the garbage heap. One kind of contemporary furniture that does not meet such an end is the paulownia chest of drawers. Due to their high value, many older pieces are refinished by the artisans in Mishima instead of being replaced. Most of the original wood is retained, with the veneer on the sides and front being replaced. Only wooden nails are used in the construction of Mishima tansu in order to aid future refinishing.
* As wedding presents or as family heirlooms, Mishima's tansu are quite popular, even though their pricetags can be a little shocking. The quality of the construction and materials, however, make them worth the price for a piece of furniture that, with proper care, can last forever.
[This information appeared in the December 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

* See Also:

KITA NO SATO (Kitakata)
* Just to the north of Kitakata lies a quaint development maintained by the city authorities. Kita no Sato is primarily an attraction to showcase the culture of Kitakata and the surrounding areas. The visitors centre doles out comprehensive tourist information, the toilet facilities are second to none and there is the ubiquitous restaurant for the lunchtime stopover. The white building set a distance away from the main road warrants further attention. The exterior looks reasonably innocuous. It is only upon venturing inside that a surreal world of sound is revealed to the visitor. The Gaia Sound Museum is a permanent exhibition showcasing world music, its main feature being a bizarre aural exhibit housed in a Daliesque room.
* The first thing that catches the eye is the ceiling, imaginatively adorned with what, at first glance, appears to be an oversized windsock. Connected to this wealth of fabric are several murals depicting striking images. Two bucket seats are set at opposite ends of the long room. These seats are for relaxation purposes. One selects a soundtrack from a small selection that varies according to your needs and mood. The recordings range from ripples gently lapping the banks of a brook to what sounds like a full offshore hurricane. The interior lighting in the hall flickers in time to the frequency of the waves, and the seat is fitted with small rollers to stimulate your back and posterior to the rhythm of the breakers. Quite an experience, especially on the hurricane setting, but relaxing nonetheless.
* The room also features a rusted xylophone that emits any number of unworldly noises upon being struck. When the guest eventually finds the exit, the next destination is an audio-visual presentation centering on traditional music from the four corners of the world. The exhibits are informative and interesting and one need not have any specialist knowledge to enjoy the displays.
* There are plans to accommodate campers in the future, as Kita no Sato has a fortunate location in terms of available land area.
[This information appeared in the Spring 1996 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

* See Also:

KITAKATA ONSEN Hot Spring (Kitakata)
Access: 15 minutes by car from Kitakata Station
Contact: Osaragi no Yado Tel: 0241-23-1126

KOGURIYAMA ONSEN Hot Spring (Kaneyama)
Access: 10 minutes by car from Aizu Kawaguchi Station
Contact: Kaneyama-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-54-2311, Fax: 0241-54-2848

KOKESHI Wooden doll
* The kokeshi is a traditional wooden doll, usually with a round head and a narrow cylindrical body with no arms or legs, painted with naive designs in traditional dyes.
* [KIJIYA] Kokeshi craftspeople are called "kijiya".
* [HISTORY] Kokeshi-making originated in Shiga Prefecture around 1800 when the local lord encouraged his farmers to supplement their income by making wooden items for daily use in the home. Along with earning extra felling rights for the lord, it also ensured the survival of a few more farmers through the cold winters. About 180 years ago, this practice had spread to Fukushima. Kokeshi, probably created as a children's toy, were really only a side-product of this money-making process, although they later developed other uses.
* [USES] Until the Meiji era (1868), the Japanese practised mabiki, which literally means "thinning out" and refers to the selective killing of babies when the family in question was very poor and too large to support. In this case, kokeshi were used in two ways: the family would place a kokeshi on the family shrine to remind them of their dead child, or they would bury a kokeshi along with the child as company for the child's lonely spirit. Another use, which in part also grew from the abject poverty of many families, was for parents to use the kokeshi as a good luck charm for their children's health. With infant mortality rates running high, they would have a kokeshi blessed each year at a local shrine or temple, and if the child survived the year, they would take another kokeshi to be blessed for the following year.
* [PRESENT] These days, traditional kokeshi are made only in the Tohoku area and are mainly seen as souvenirs. They are made by hand, using a lathe. Around 400 people in Tohoku make traditional kokeshi, but of those only around 100 are full-time kokeshi craftsmen. Kokeshi-making may find itself in a state of crisis soon, as finding successors to work at the lathe and learn how to make the various kokeshi is very difficult. Traditionally, the father passes the craft onto his son, but lately this pattern does not seem to be common. Training to become a "kijiya" is a very long and difficult process and the short-term rewards are few.
* [FUTURE] With this in mind, one of the local governments instigated a plan to introduce potential successors to the kokeshi trade. Many people applied. Believing that a fast profit can be made when each kokeshi costs between 3000 and 10,000 yen, many people became interested quickly, until they realize the long process involved. A trainee can achieve the basic kokeshi shape after about three months, but learning how to make one's own tools takes much longer. During this period, the student receives no money. After the training is finished, the student is expected to work for free for one year, in gratitude to the kijiya for having passed on his or her personal style. Therefore, a minimum of four years will pass before the new recruits can start making kokeshi on their own. However, four years is not enough to guarantee the new kijiya's skill or artistic ability. Often, kijiya need to supplement their income with their spouse's income. With the advent of the mass-produced, modern kokeshi and their elaborate computer-controlled designs, one wonders what the future holds for the slower, less economical, albeit more aesthetically pleasing method of crafting kokeshi by hand.
* You can watch kokeshi being made at Tonohetsuri in Shimogo-machi.
[This information appeared in the December 1989 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Mark Crowther.]

* See Also:

KOKUSAI YACHT RACE TAIKAI International Yacht Race (Inawashiro)
* The graceful spectacle of a multitude of white silhouettes gliding across the water greeted visitors to Lake Inawashiro in late August. The figures were not the famous swans which attract sightseers to the prefecture's largest lake every winter, but the billowing sails of yachts. More than one hundred competitors from all over Japan enjoyed perfect sailing conditions on August 21st and 22nd as they competed in the 15th Inawashiro International Yacht Race, a major occasion on the town's events calendar.
* The Inawashiro regatta was first held in 1983, and over the years, has attracted competitors from as far away as the United States, England, Canada, Australia, and China, not to mention the elite of Japanese sailing. Jointly hosted by the Inawashiro, Fukushima, and Koriyama Yacht Clubs in association with the Japan International 14-Footer Association, the regatta is a regular fixture on the national competitive yachting circuit.
* Every August, Okinajima Harbour, a quiet inlet on Lake Inawashiro, takes on a festive atmosphere as boats and buoys are prepared for racing and suntanned yachties, eager to get onto the water, make final adjustments to their boats. This year, one hundred and thirty sailors competed under Inawashiro's glorious summer skies, and organizers hope for a similar turnout at next year's event, scheduled for August 19 and 20, 2000. Planning is also currently in progress for 2001, when the race's profile will be boosted even further by being featured as an event in the Utsukushima Fukushima Future Expo.
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1999 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* See Also:

KOMADO KOUGEN Mountain (Tajima)
Height: 1135m
Time needed: Around 3 hours
Open season: May to October
Access: 40 minutes by taxi from Tajima Station
Contact: Tajima-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-62-6210, Fax: 0241-62-1288

KOMEI TENNOU Emperor Komei [ ]
* Emperor before Meiji
* See Also:

KOWASHIMIZU Spring (Kawahigashi)
* A long time ago, near Lake Inawashiro, in present day Kawahigashi-machi, there lived a father and son. The father was an honest, hard-working man, while the son was a corrupt sot, constantly absorbed in liquor and gambling.
* Around this time, a long drought was afflicting the area which caused the making of sake to be ceased all together. The father, however, who practically never drank, began coming home tipsy with the aroma of high-quality sake on his breath. Thinking something was up and wanting to get a hold of some sake himself, the son secretly followed his father around the next day.
* Nothing was unusual until the father began to return home in the evening. Instead of going straight home, the father took a short detour into the woods where he took a drink from a small spring gushing forth from between a cleft in the rocks. The father then continued on his way. By the time he returned home, however, he was once again in high spirits and smelling of sake.
* Since the father didn't stop anywhere else on his way home, the son concluded that the small spring must be a magical well of sake. He rushed back to the place in the woods and gulped down handfuls of the clear water. But it had no effect on him and he was left wondering how it had intoxicated his father.
* That night, the son had a dream where a spirit, wearing a white snake as a crown, appeared before him. The spirit admonished him for the way he was living his life and told him that the reason the spring's water was sake for his father was because he was an honest, hard-working man.
* Soon after, the son had a change of heart and decided to begin mending his ways. He started being dutiful to his father and working diligently instead of drinking and gambling. Eventually, he built a small shrine next to the small spring and dedicated it to Bentensama, the Goddess of Fortune. The son spent his remaining years dutifully dedicated to the upkeep of the shrine, which became a symbol of the virtue of a good, honest life.
* Today, the spring, known as Kowashimizu, is still trickling forth fresh water. Located just off Route 49, many passersby stop there to quench their thirst - and perhaps hope for a little magic too.
[This information appeared in the June 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

KURA Storehouses (Kitakata)
* Kura, or storehouses, are a common sight in Fukushima Prefecture's Aizu region; their traditional chalk-white mud walls, heavy doors and small-paned windows are easy to spot. No place has a greater collection than Kitakata, the quiet Aizu city which bills itself as "kura no machi" or the town of storehouses. A walk down Kitakata's streets gives the visitor a chance to experience the area's tradition and history through closer inspection of these fascinating old storehouses.
* The Aizu region is known for its cold winters and hot summers. Accordingly, many of Kitakata's kura were built with heavy mud walls and thick thatched rooves to protect goods such as rice, silk, coal, and fertilizer from the temperature extremes. Through the years, the people of Kitakata began using their kura in more creative ways. Today, they are used as museums, houses, shops, and even temples. Because of their importance to Kitakata's heritage, most kura have been preserved and refinished with modern tiles and rooves.
* One of the reasons Kitakata has an uncommonly large number of kura is because of the area's history as a commercial centre. The Aizu clan, the region's ruling family in the Edo period, promoted the growth of traditional industries and commerce in Kitakata while consolidating their military power in the Aizu Wakamatsu area. Accordingly, many kura were built in Kitakata for use in the growing sake and lacquer industries, not only for use as storehouses, but as factories as well.
* Another reason for the popularity of the kura as a factory an storehouse was their resistance to fire, proven in a blaze that engulfed the city in 1880. Over three hundred houses burned to the ground while the kura in the area were left standing.
* The kura in Kitakata were also popular for their importance as a status symbol. A local expression held that the sign of a man's success was the ability to build a kura for his family by the age of forty. Becase the kura became the mark of a resourceful and able family provider, a competition of sorts arose between families to see who had the most luxurious one.
* There are several places where visitors can take a closer look at Kitakata's famous storehouses. For example, several buildings have been moved from local sites to the "kura-no-sato" or storehouse village. This venue offers the best chance to explore several refinished kura at once, all of which are kept in excellent condition. A temple in Kitakata, Anshouji, is another interesting building constructed in the kura style. Built in 1422 as a Buddhist temple by the Soto sect, it was used as a field hospital during the Boshin Civil War (1868). The Shimashin Kura is a complex of adjoining buildings including a store selling household goods, an eighty metre long warehouse, and an antique museum.
* Many of Kitakata's museums are also housed in kura, such as the sake, lacquerware, kiri (paulownia wood), and art museums. Besides its many kura, Kitakata is also a popular tourist destination because of its delicious ramen noodles. Capitalizing on both trends, several of the area's entrepreneurs have opened noodle restaurants in kura style buildings, allowing visitors a chance to enjoy both of Kitakata's main attractions at once.
* The fact that many of Kitakata's kura built generations ago have survived to this day is truly a testament to their durability and the craftsmanship of their construction. Although they are no longer being built regularly, they are sure to be around for many more generations to come.
[This information appeared in the March 1994 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

* See Also:

KUROIWAYAMA Mountain (Nangou)
Height: 1130m
Time needed: 3 hours
Open season: When there is no snow
Access: By bus to Nangou (Yamaguchi) from Aizu Tajima Station, change to Tadami bus and get off at Inagawayamae, then walk for 4 hours
Contact: Nangou-mura Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-72-2112, Fax: 0241-72-2002

Bus Access
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Oomachi 1-2-21
TEL: 0242-39-2020
* See Also:

MACHIKATA DENSHOUKAN Machikata History Museum (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access
Contact Information
* See Also:

MADOAKEYAMA Mountain (Ina)
Height: 1842m
Time needed: 4 hours
Open season:
Access: 1 hour and 15 minutes by bus from Aizu Kougen Station, get off at Azuki Onsen Touzanguchi
Contact: Ina-mura Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-76-2214, Fax: 0241-76-2215

MAITAKE Maitake mushroom (Minami Aizu area)
* The maitake, which literally means "dancing mushroom" because it is said that people begin to dance upon finding it, is an edible fungus that grows wild in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere. In Japan, however, because of urban development spreading into the maitake's environment, it is becoming more and more difficult to find. For this reason, many maitake cultivation farms have sprung up recently, especially in the Tohoku region where it is considered a delicacy.
* One such farm is the Ina Forestry Co-op Mushroom Centre, a farm in Ina devoted to the production of maitake. The centre, established in 1988 has a staff of three and is currently producing about 12 to 13 tons of maitake a year. As Yasuichi Ogura, manager of the centre, points out, "It doesn't take a whole lot of people to produce a whole lot of mushrooms."
* For the maitake to go from spore to the dinner table takes approximately 60 days. First, small blocks made up of a mixture of saw dust, wheat bran, crushed corn kernels, leaves, and bacteria killer are left overnight in a refrigerator after being heated in an oven for two hours to kill any germs that might have been present. Maitake spores are then inserted into these blocks and placed in a dimly lit room for about 40 days until the blocks have turned white because of the maturing mushroom. The blocks are then put in a lighted room for about two weeks where the maitake fills out and becomes ready for harvest. They are then dried and packaged before being distributed.
* Almost all of the maitake produced at the centre are sold within the Minami Aizu region, mostly to restaurants, hotels and ski resorts, where they are sold as gifts. But, according to Mr. Ogura, the O-bon and New Year's holidays are the best times for the centre because many people from out of town come to the area and want maitake as gifts to take back with them.
* The maitake industry in Minami Aizu is still in its early stages, but it seems to have a promising future.
[This information appeared in the November 1991 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

* See Also:

MATSUDAIRA KATAMORI Feudal lord during Boshin Civil War [1834-1893]
* Matsudaira was the daimyou of the Aizu clan. His clan had strongly supported the Tokugawa shogunate in the past, so it was not an option to go against the shougun in the Boshin Civil War. He trusted that his men would fight for their positions, and he was right. Aizu's warriors were indeed strong, but not strong enough to hold back the Emperor's army.
* Katamori married one of the daughters of the Matsudaira family and was adopted by that family. The Matsudaira family had only daughters, so they had to find someone to take over the family and the clan.
* See Also:

MATSUZAWA NO YU KOUSEN Hot Spring (Aizu Takada)
Access: 15 minutes by car from Aizu Takada Station
Contact: Matsuzawasou Tel: 0242-54-2819, Matsuzawa no Yu Tel: 0242-54-2949

MAYASAN Mountain (Bandai)
Height: 1261m
Time needed: 2 hours
Open season: From May to the beginning of November
Access: 15 minutes by car from Bandai-machi Station, then 2 hours walk
Contact: Bandai-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-73-2111, Fax: 0241-73-2115

MEIJI ISHIN Meiji Restoration [1868-1912]
* After the Edo period, people were getting tired of submitting to Shougun. Some of the Meiji Emperor's forces convinced the emperor to try to win back power. This started the Meji Restoration (from January 3, 1868) and the Boshin Civil War (from January 27, 1868). Meiji's forces won the civil war in 1869, and the emperor ruled until July 30 1912.
* The restoration to the throne of the Meiji emperor in 1868 signalled the beginning of sweeping changes across Japan. One of the most far-reaching changes was the dissolution of the han system of domains and the implementation of the prefectural, or ken, system. This policy was rushed through in 1871 with very little resistance from the feudal lords (daimyo). Along with the abolition of domains, the domain armies were dissolved, and the formerly hereditary post of daimyo was replaced by a centrally appointed prefectural governor.
* Initially, there were 3 municipalities and 302 prefectures, compared with today's 43 prefectures, 1 "to" (Tokyo), 2 "fu" (Kyoto, Osaka), and one "do" (Hokkaido). A gradual reduction in the administrative units took many years.
* What we now know as Fukushima came into existence in the ninth year of the Meiji era, or 1877. Fukushima was originally made up of over 20 han (clans) which had become three prefectures by 1872. These three, namely Wakamatsu, Nihonmatsu, and Taira joined together to form Fukushima Prefecture 5 years later.
* Fukushima is the third biggest prefecture in the country, but it actually lost some land with the establishment of the prefectural government in Fukushima city. A region to the far west of the Aizu district called Higashi Kanbara complained that it was too far from the prefectural offices and became a part of Niigata prefecture ten years later. Also, a substantial tract of land to the north of the prefecture became a part of Miyagi in 1877.
[This information appeared in the Spring 1996 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

* See Also:

MEIJI JIDAI Meiji period [1867-1912]
* See Also:

MEIJI TENNOU Emperor Meiji [1852-1912]
* Emperor Meiji was the central figurehead in the Meiji restoration, in which power was returned to the emperor. For a very long time, Japan's fate rested in the hands of the shogunate. Tokugawa,the shougun at the beginning of the Meiji era, was handling the country's affairs poorly, and many people in positions of power decided that something needed to be done. The two factions started a civil war which had drastic consequences for Aizu.
* See Also:

MIKAGURADAKE Mountain (Kaneyama)
Height: 1386m
Time needed: Around four hours from Sanjou
Open season: from the end of June to the end of October
Access: 1 hour and 30 minutes walk from Honna Station
Contact: Machi Kikaku Kankou Ka Tel: 0241-54-5222, Fax: 0241-54-2117

MINWA Folktales
* A long, long time ago, it never snowed in Aizu and was always quite warm, even in the winter.
* One year, in the first weeks of the winter season, an old monk with a walking stick wandered into Aizu from the direction of Echigo (Niigata). He was tired, so he stopped at a little roadside tea house for a rest. In the back of the tea house, many people were gathered around a table discussing something that seemed quite serious. Their faces were full of worry. When the old monk saw this, he felt an urge to help them, even though they were strangers to him.
* "You all look so worried. What's the problem?"
* "Actually," one man spoke up, "the feudal lord is making a sudden inspection of our village tomorrow, and he is very strict. We received an ordinance which said the road to the village and every corner of the village must be cleaned of every single piece of dust. Anything unpleasant to the eye must be put out of sight."
* "In the villages around here," said another man, "those who have ignored the Lord's orders have had their taxes doubled, been thrown in prison, or even been put to death."
* "It's such a sudden inspection that we are not prepared at all," piped in another.
* The old monk sat silently as he listened to the villagers' woeful story. Then, he finally said, "Hmmm. That's a shocking tale. I see why you're troubled."
* After thinking for a while, he said, "Yes, I have a plan. First, tomorrow it will be very cold. It will be so cold that your lord will shrink into his palanquin and not be able to look outside. And even if he does, he will only see... Well, you have probably never heard of it, but is called 'snow'. It gets cold and everything turns white. It's a great thing. The whole village, the mountains, fields, rice paddies, everything will be covered in white. You will be surrounded by beautiful white and your stubborn lord will not be able to see any unpleasant sights. So, don't worry about a thing."
* The villagers were struck by the old monk's confidence and they were moved by his empathy. They returned home and thought about his words, trying to imagine what this thing called snow was.
* The next morning, the villagers woke up especially early. As they got up off the floor it was so cold that it seemed their arms and legs would fall off. They went outside, and sure enough, just as the old monk had promised, the thing called snow was all around. The mountains, fields, rice paddies, the road, trees, houses, everything was covered in white. What's more, it was falling from the sky like cotton thrown in the wind. They were so amazed at this wonderful sight that they paid no attention to the cold. Everyone, young and old, was outside prancing around in amazement.
* Then, from the feudal lord's encampment came a decree saying that the inspection had been cancelled. The villagers went to the head villager's house where the old monk was staying to thank him, but it was quite empty. they searched everywhere, but never found him.
* This is how the first snowfall came to Aizu, and snow has been falling in this region every winter since, according to the folk tale.
[This information appeared in the February 1992 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* A long time ago, a very poor man lived in a small village deep in the heart of Aizu. This man worked very hard every day, but he was still very poor. One day, the man went to the local temple to ask the gods for a favour.
* "I would like my life to become easier. At the very least, I would like to eat three times a day. Can you help me?" the man asked.
* The man was praying very hard when the temple door slowly opened. From inside, an old priest with a white beard appeared. "Because you have a very kind spirit, I will give you strength and courage. Walk from here, but first, you must take something with you for the journey," the old priest said. After saying this, the priest disappeared.
* As he was walking, and daydreaming, the man suddenly became entangled in something and fell to the ground. "What is this?" he thought. "I see. A piece of straw. Maybe this is what I should take with me," the man thought. So he picked up the stalk of straw and continued on his way.
* After going for a while, the man met a young woman who had broken the strap on her wooden sandal. It was very troublesome for the young woman. The man said, "If it would be all right, please use this straw to fix your sandal."
* So the man gave the young woman his piece of straw and used it to fix her broken sandal. The young woman was very happy and gave the man some oranges for his kindness. These oranges were ripe and juicy, and the man realized he was fortunate to have received them.
* "Wonderful, wonderful!" the man thought as he continued on his way.
* Soon the man came upon a carriage that was stopped in the middle of the road. As he was walking past, a voice said, "If that is a young person on the road, my throat hurts very much. Do you have anything for this painful, dry throat of mine?"
* "If it is all right, please eat these oranges," said the man.
* The man inside the carriage ate the oranges and was very happy. "I want to thank you," said the voice from the carriage. For his kindness, the man received three bolts of beautiful silk from the man.
* "Wonderful, wonderful!" the man thought as he continued on his way.
* Soon after that, the man came upon a very large house. A young woman with a sad face came out to meet the young man.
* "What's wrong?" asked the man.
* "I would very much like some silk for a kimono, but we don't have any in the house," the sad young woman said.
* "Madam, if it would be all right, please use this silk to make a kimono," the man said.
* So the man gave the sad young woman his bolts of silk. This made the young woman smile and she became very happy. For his kindness, the man received a fine horse from the young woman.
* As the man was riding his horse, he thought, "One stalk of straw has become this beautiful horse." Soon the man found himself at another large house at the side of the road. A man who seemed very confused and worried came rushing out of the house to meet the man.
* "Sir, what is the matter?" the man riding the horse asked.
* "I must go quickly to my master's house, but I have no way to get there. This is very troublesome."
* "If it is all right, please use this horse to go to your master's house," the man on the horse said. He then dismounted and offered his horse to the worried man.
* "I want to thank you. This is truly a gift from heaven. However, I won't be returning to this place again. Therefore, please accept this house, this land, and the fields surrounding this property as a token of my gratitude," the man from the house said.
* After saying this, the hurried man got on his new horse and rode off to his master's house, taking his retainers and helpers with him.
* Finally, the poor man had become master of a large house deep in the heart of Aizu. From one piece of straw, this man gained material wealth equal to his own wealth of kindness. Therefore, perhaps if you are more like this man, you too will be more wealthy.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1994 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Bob Bowley.]

* Once, long, long ago, three foxes gathered in the hills of Aizu. They had come together to talk about finding something to eat. the New Year holiday was fast approaching, so the foxes were having a lively debate on finding some delicious food to celebrate with.
* "Hey, you!" said one fox to the others, "Can you take any other forms, besides that of a fox, I mean?"
* "I can change into a person," came the boasted reply. "What about you?"
* "Me, I can turn into a horse."
* "Wow," replied the first fox, "that's pretty amazing. I bet we could find someone with a lot of money who might be interested in buying a horse, and then we could use the money for a big feast."
* Suddenly, one of the foxes transformed into a human. The animal completed the transformation marvellously, and appeared to be a man of fine stature. The man then set off in search of someone of wealth. Finally, he came upon a rich area and met the master of a local household. The fox exclaimed, "I am selling a very good horse, and I have come all this way thinking you might be interested in buying it."
* The gentleman replied, "Oh, really? I love horses. The more one has the better. If you have a truly good horse, I will surely purchase it."
* When he was shown the horse, the gentleman thought it was indeed a good horse, albeit a little on the small side, and became very interested in making a deal. "Right," he said to the fox, "I will buy it."
* "All right," said the fox after some bargaining, "just for you, I will let you have it at this special price." The fox collected his money and was soon on his way.
* The gentleman then set off with his new purchase. He returned home, put the animal in his stable, and offered it lots of grass, hoping the little horse would eat and grow bigger. But the horse did not eat the grass, because in reality it was a fox who had changed itself to look like a horse. The gentleman did not realize this, so he went happily off to bed, thinking about what a good deal he had made. The fox bided his time, then checked to see if the coast was clear before changing back to his original form and escaping from the stable.
* The gentleman, upon waking and remembering the previous day, again congratulated himself on the bargain he had found. He left his house and went out to the stable. But the grass he had left was untouched and the horse was gone. "What? The horse has escaped! But a horse could never get over the fence," he thought. "I doubt it was stolen. It must be in the fields nearby; I had better go looking for it," decided the gentleman, and began his search. He looked near and far and surrounding fields, but could not find the beast. this was as the foxes had planned from the beginning; to dupe the rich man into buying a horse that would later disappear without a trace. But the gentleman was never to know the foxes devious plan, and simply blamed himself for not taking care of his horses properly.
* The foxes, on the other hand, were quite happy with their new-found wealth, and bought the makings of a splendid feast for the New Year celebration.
[This information appeared in the Spring 1995 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

* (A dango is a traditional rice dumpling on a stick.)
* Dango Chobee was a rich man. Moreover, the dango which he ate three times a day without fail were made from powdered "waste" rice, for despite his wealth, Dango Chobee was possessed of a most miserly disposition. The good, whole grain rice he grew, he sold at the market, thus adding to his coveted wealth.
* Despite his riches, Dango Chobee remained unmarried. Several potential brides had come to visit him, but having endured his unusual behaviour for a maximum of ten days, they could stand no more, and promptly left. You see, like many rich men, Dango Chobee had a strict routine.
* Upon rising in the darkest, earliest hours of the dawn, he would hurriedly build a fire from noisy kindling wood that, once lit, would wake anyone sleeping nearby, depriving them of their rest. Oblivious to it all, Dango Chobee would sit happily cooking his beloved rice dumplings over the fire.
* So it continued, until one day the eighth potential bride, whose beauty belied her cunning, decided to teach Dango a lesson. She climbed Mt. Ura and collected some of the noisy kindling wood, and in the dead of the night, lit a large fire near where Dango was sleeping. Scared out of his wits, he lept out of bed, shouting, "FIRE!! FIRE!!", upon which the clever lady calmly replied: "Oh, be quiet, it's only the wood you use to wake me up."
* It just so happened that this lady also had a fondness for dango dumplings. However, she pretended to be even more mercenary than he, by telling him that she not only sold the whole grain rice, but also the powdered waste rice, leaving only the tasteless husks to eat. She forced the unpleasant dango upon him. Finally, he could take no more, and in his tired and nauseous state, suddenly realized the extent of his selfish behaviour. To the joy of all gathered around, he declared, "I will cease to be so miserly and selfish, and henceforth I shall use the good, whole rice to make my precious dango!"
[This information appeared in the Winter 1995 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

* A long time ago, a tiny village in the Aizu region was home to a pair of farmers, one named Tenpuku (Fortune from Heaven) and the other named Chifuku (Fortune from the Soil). Like chalk and cheese, the two went about their daily business in mutually different fashions.
* Tenpuku was a good upstanding pillar of the community, who could be found in wind or rain tending his fields from dawn til dusk. Chifuku, on the other hand, was a lazy good-for-nothing who sought to profit from the misfortune of others, and very seldom dirtied his own hands through any honest endeavour.
* However, Tenpuku and Chifuku shared a common trait. Both firm believers in deities, they would pray:
* "Oh God, oh Buddha, won't you please let something good happen to me?"
* Tenpuku would face the sky and chant his wish, while Chifuku would grovel in the dirt and mumble his desires.
* One evening, after yet another day of back-breaking toil, Tenpuku took to his bed and dreamt. This was no ordinary dream made up of disjointed images, but a vivid encounter with a powerful spirit who declared:
* "Tenpuku, you are an honest and hard-working young man. It is time you were blessed with a reward, and what better reward is there than money?"
* For want of a good reply, Tenpuku remained silent.
* "When you wake tomorrow, make your way to the lonely pine tree behind the mountain. A large pot will be protruding out of the ground. Open it and you will find riches beyond your wildest dreams."
* Upon waking, Tenpuku recalled his nocturnal adventure, resolving to set off for the lone pine behind the mountain immediately after breakfast. Sure enough, as he approached the tree, he could see a large vessel protruding from the ground. With a swift tug, Tenpuku pried off the lid and the sight of far too much money overwhelmed him.
* As previously mentioned, Tenpuku was a good man who prided himself on doing the right thing. Taking after his name, Tenpuku firmly believed that should fortune choose to smile on him, the benefits, whatever they may be, would come from heaven, or at least skyward. As much as he would have loved to take the riches presented before him, he chose the narrow path of the righteous man and left the vessel half buried in the ground. He knew that fortune buried in the ground should only belong to one man, however inappropriate.
* Tenpuku called at Chifuku's house later that day to tell him the news. Chifuku went from bewilderment to downright amazement as Tenpuku related his bizarre story. As Chifuku rushed to the lone pine, he couldn't help but feel a little concern for the mental welfare of the poor messenger he had left in a cloud of dust not seconds before.
* Sprinting towards the pot, Chifuku began to giggle, a laugh which became a hysterical shriek as he struggled to remove the lid from the recepticle. Finally, the lid came off with a pop and Chifuku reached his arm in to pull out...a handful of snakes. Chifuku, a coward at the best of times, became almost delirious in terror. After finally calming down, he resolved to teach Tenpuku a lesson he would never forget.
* Chifuku waited until the cover of night, then nimbly scaled Tenpuku's roof, to the window above his bed. With the patience of an avenger, Chifuku waited until Tenpuku retired for the evening, and when he thought Tenfuku was fast asleep, he emptied the contents of the pot over the sleeping man's body.
* Tenpuku, rapidly becoming accustomed to unusual happenings in the wee hours, was awakened by an increasing frequency of sharp blows to the head, not unlike heavy rain. Tenpuku sat bolt upright in bed and found the entire room deluged in gold and silver coins, falling from the ceiling, from a most importantly skyward direction.
* The hard-working Tenpuku could finally claim his reward, and cried his salutations to the rafters, where a disbelieving Chifuku sat, mouth agape, countless gold pieces spewing from the pot he held in his numb arms.
[This information appeared in the Spring 1997 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

* Long, long ago, there lived an elderly man and his wife who were very happy together. One day, they found a little girl wandering in the fields close to their home. They were not sure where she had come from, but she was as pretty as a pincess, so they took her home and cared for her. The couple named the girl Melon Princess, as she was found in the middle of a filed of melons and was very beautiful. The man and his wife were very happy, as they did not have any children, so they brought up the girl with a lot of love.
* When she reached marriageable age, Melon Princess learned how to weave and she worked at her loom every day. The elderly couple were very protective of her and always worried about her because of her extraordinary beauty. One day, the couple had to go and work in the fields. As they were both going, the old man said, "Melon Princess, there is a devil called Amanjaku in this area who eats people, especially young ladies like yourself, so when we are away, don't open the door to anybody." In saying that, the elderly couple set off to work in the fields. Left alone in the house, Melon Princess busied herself at the loom. While she was working, Amanjaku passed by the house and knocked on the door.
* "Melon Princess, open the door! Melon Princess, open the door!" he called.
* Melon Princess remembered the warning her father had given to her before he left for work in the fields and called back, "I can't open the door. Mother and Father told me never to open the door when they were away," and went back to work in the fields at the loom. Hearing this, Amanjaku started yelling, "Melon Princess, just open the door a little! Just a little!" He was making so much noise that Melon Princess, without thinking, opened the door a fraction.
* Quick as a flash, Amanjaku put his hand through the gap in the door and pulled it wide open. He stormed into the house and ate Melon Princess in one gulp. He then disguised himself as Melon Princess, turning himself into a beautiful woman and, as though nothing had happened, went to work at the loom.
* That evening, the elderly couple, who of course knew nothing of the events of earlier in the day, returned from the fields. "Melon Princess, we're home!" They entered the house to find Melon Princess dressed the same as usual and looking the same as usual with nothing to suggest anything different from the norm.
* "Melon Princess, did Amanjaku come?"
* "No, he didn't," replied Amanjaku disguised as Melon Princess, and returned to the loom.
* Soon after, Melon Princess, being the beautiful woman that she was, received an offer of marriage from a wealthy family and so the couple made preparations for her to be sent away as a bride. When the time came for her to leave, a beautiful palanquin was sent for her. (Of course, Melon Princess was still Amanjaku in disguise.) The elderly couple, who still did not realize their beloved daughter had been replaced by a devil in disguise, sobbed and cried at the prospect of being separated from her.
* The time for departure arrived, and the couple saw Melon Princess to her palanquin. "Melon Princess! Melon Princess! Melon Princess!" they cried, their voices growing hoarse.
* At that moment, out of nowhere, a beautiful bird flew into a tree nearby.
* "That's not Melon Princess, it's Amanjaku!" it sang.
* The elderly couple and the servants carrying the palanquin looked at each other saying, "What a strange bird. This is a bad omen -- maybe we should catch it." They pursued the bird which returned to the same spot and sang again, "That's not Melon Princess in the palanquin, it's Amanjaku!"
* This time, the elderly couple finally realized that the person in the palanquin was not their daughter but the devil Amanjaku. Fuming at the knowledge that their beloved daughter was dead, they chased him down and caught him, and so restored peace to the village.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1998 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* A frog from Edo (Tokyo) had set out on a trip to see the sights of Osaka. On reaching the Hakone Pass, he stopped for a breather. "Aah, I've made it this far, but it's still a long, long way to Osaka," he thought as he rested his legs.
* Just then, another frog came hopping along from the other direction. "Aah" he sighed, "I've made it this far, but I wonder how much further it is to Edo? It must be a long way." Overhearing this, the Edo frog surmised that this frog must be on his way to Edo for some sightseeing and went up to say hello. After chatting for a while, he learned that this frog was from Osaka, and had heard that Edo was a big, grand town, and was on his way to have a look. On hearing this, the Edo frog started talking of his plans to visit Osaka, leading the two frogs to start telling each other of the wonderful things about their hometowns. Both described their towns as having many people and houses and being close to the ocean, and it didn't take long for them to realise that Edo and Osaka had a lot in common.
* Now, the Hakone Pass was said to be the highest point between the two towns, so the frogs decided to see if they could see their destinations. Rising up on their hind legs, they looked down from the hilltop. However, because frog's eyes are on the tops of their heads, when they stood up on their hind legs, they were effectively looking backwards, not forward. So the Edo frog thought he was looking at Osaka but was in fact looking at Edo. He exclaimed, "Ooh! I can see Osaka! I can see Osaka! What?!? It looks just like Edo!" And the Osaka frog, who was actually looking at Osaka, cried, "Aah, I can see Edo! I can see Edo!" all the while thinking how much it looked like Osaka.
* Slightly disappointed, the Edo frog decided that, because Edo and Osaka were so similar, it wasn't worth his while to make the trip. "Well, I'm going home," he told the Osaka frog, who replied, "Me, too." The two frogs, saying "I'm going home, I'm going home," to each other, parted ways, each hopping off in the direction from which they had come. And this is why the Japanese word for frog is "kaeru".
* (Note: KAERU means both "frog" and "to return home".)
[This information appeared in the Winter 1999 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* Long, long ago, in the mountains of Aizu, there lived an elderly couple who, although penniless, were honest, hardworking, and happy. Every day the old lady would gather hemp from the fields nearby and painstakingly weave it into cloth. It was a time-consuming task, but after three years, three months, and ninety days of long, hard work, she finally completed a full roll of cloth. Her husband, on seeing the fruits of her labour, declared that after all her hard work, he would take it to the town nearby and sell it. Carefully packing the cloth, he set off.
* "Cloth! Cloth! Hemp cloth!" he called, wandering through the town, but he was laughed at by the townspeople who told him the cloth was worthless and should be thrown away. The old man didn't give up, though, and continued walking through the town calling, "Cloth! Hemp cloth!" But alas, everywhere he went, he got the same reaction. After walking all day and not selling even a scrap of cloth, he decided to return home. Dejected, he wandered to the river at the town's edge. I don't want to carry this around anymore. I might as well throw it into the river," he thought. Muttering, "This is payment to the water god," he flung it into the water, watching as the current carried it away. With that, the old man returned home, but he was so ashamed of his failure that he couldn't bring himself to go inside and face his wife. With no honour left, he sat in the shadows and started sobbing.
* Meanwhile, the old woman had made a special treat of red bean rice for supper and was waiting for her husband to return. She waited and waited, and began worrying as it got dark outside and there was still no sign of him. Just then, she hear the sound of someone crying at the kitchen door. Wondering who it could be, she opened the door to find the old man sitting in the shadows, eyes swollen and wailing loudly. "What on earth are you doing sitting here crying? I was worried sick waiting for you. Hurry up and come inside, you must be hungry," she said pulling him by the hand.
* After wailing some more, the old man finally said, "I'm sorry. You worked so hard to make that cloth but I couldn't sell it anywhere. Nobody wanted it. I was so angry I gave it to the water god." To which his wife replied, "Good, good. You did a good thing. Don't upset yourself about it. Hurry up and come in and have something to eat." The two went inside and sat down to supper, but just as they were about to dig in, they heard a great rattling outside. Peering around the kitchen door, they saw five gigantic baskets sitting outside, and when they opened them, the couple found inside vast treasures, the likes of which they had never seen before. Realising this was a present from the water god, they clasped their hands together in gratitude. The couple were never in need of anything again and lived happily ever after.
[This information appeared in the Spring 1999 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* After years of avoiding work and idling his days away, a young man suddenly found himself without money, land, and possessions, all of which had been used or sold of to support his lazy, self-indulgent lifestyle. Finally, left without even food to eat, the man was forced to sell his house, and decided that there was nothing to do but go to Ezo (Hokkaido).
* Naturally, having already sold everything he owned in order to buy food, he found himself without any footwear, so he fetched some straw from his stable and, that night, noisily set about making a pair of sandals. He completed his task just as dawn broke, and putting the newly-made sandals on, started his journey to Ezo.
* The young man had not walked far before he heard stammering sounds coming from his supposedly empty house. Puzzled at what could be causing this noise, he retraced his stepss, and peering inside, found a strange man dressed in a ragged kimono, with long hair and a straggly beard. The bedraggled intruder was heartily pounding some straw with a hammer. Startled, the idler asked, "Who are you? What are you doing in my house hammering straw?" "Me?" the stranger replied, "I'm the God of Poverty. Since you're leaving this house, I thought I'd go with you, but when I looked for something to wear, I couldn't find anything, so I'm just making a pair of sandals. I'll follow you to Ezo, so go on ahead."
* The idler thought for a minute. "If this God of Poverty follows me to Ezo, I'll still be poor and have nothing to eat," he pondered. Even though he knew he had to leave the house, he started wondering if maybe he shouldn't go to Ezo after all. The God roused him from his thoughts. "You hate working, and all you do each day is wake up, muck around, and sleep. I like that about you, so that's why I'm going to Ezo with you." Hearing this, the idler's frustration grew. "Is that so?" he replied, "Well, what don't you like?" The God didn't have to think long. "The thing I hate the most is money, closely followed by people who work hard, I can't stand them! I love messy places like yours, with lots of rubbish. I don't like clean, tidy places at all. People like you who don't work and just sleep, eat, and play all day are the people I like the best. That's why I'm never going to leave you."
* Hearing this, the idler saw he had a real problem on his hands, but realized that if he did the things he hated the most, he could solve his dilemma. "If I get up early every day from now on and clean my house and go out and work hard, maybe the God of Poverty will go somewhere else," he mused. Starting the very next day, he got up early every morning, worked hard to tidy up his house and yard and worked hard in the fields until late at night. Sure enough, the God soon started to find things unbearable and quietly slunk off to find another lazy person to be with. And in realizing the value of hard work, it wasn't long before the idler became a rich man.
[This information appeared in the Summer 1999 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* See Also:

MISAKA KOUGEN Mountain (Mishima)
Height: 600m
Time needed: 3 hours
Open season: From the end of April
Access: 20 minutes by car from Aizu Miyashita Station
Contact: Mishima-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-48-5533

MISAKAYAMA Mountain (Mishima)
Height: 831m
Time needed: 3 hours
Open season: From the beginning of May to the end of October
Access: 20 minutes by car from Aizu Miyashita Station
Contact: Mishima-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-48-5533

Height: 2065m
Time needed: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Open season: From the end of June
Access: 1 hour and 15 minutes by bus from Aizu Kougen Station, get off at Azuki Onsen Touzanguchi
Contact: Ina-mura Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-76-2214, Fax: 0241-76-2215

MOMEN Cotton
* See Also:

MIYASHITA ONSEN Hot Spring (Mishima)
Access: 10 minutes walk from Aizu Miyashita Station
Contact: Mishima-machi Kikaku Ka Tel: 0241-48-5533

MIYATOKO ONSEN Hot Spring (Nangou)
Access: By bus from Tajima Station, get off at Yamaguchi Shako, then by bus to Myatoko Kajiya Mae
Contact: Miyatoko Onsen 0241-72-2589

MYOUJINGATAKE Mountain (Aizu Takada)
Height: 1074m
Time needed: 2 hours
Open season: All year round
Access: 20 minutes by bus from Aizu Takada Station
Contact: Aizu Takada-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0242-55-1121, Fax: 0242-55-1139

NAKANO TAKEKO Takeko Nakano, member of the Fujinbutai [1846-1868]
* Nakano wanted to participate in the Boshin Civil War, but the men would not let her. She was given information about a princess (Teruhime) who needed protection in a town north of Aizu (Bange). She wanted to prove her worth, so she went to Bange to protect the girl. After a couple of days, she realized the information was not true. She rushed back to Aizu but was killed in battle on the way home. Other women heard this story and, wanting to prove their worth, started fighting for the Aizu Clan. This group of female warriors was later called "Fujinbutai" or "Joushigun" by historians. They became quite skilled in the use of naginata, a long sword.
* See Also:

NAGINATA Sword with a long handle
* The naginata was used by the female warriors during the Boshin Civil War. Girls in local schools still study the use of this weapon. You can see naginata demonstrations in local festivals (in particular, the Fall Samurai Festival on September 23rd).
* See Also:

NAKA NO YU ONSEN Hot Spring (Bandai)
Access: 20 minutes by car from Bandai-machi Station, 30 minutes walk from the peak of the Goldline
Contact: Naka no Yu Ryokan Tel: 0242-65-2326

NAKANOSAWA ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 40 minutes by bus from Inawashiro Station, get off at Nakanosawa Onsen
Contact: Nakanosawa Ryokan Kumiai Tel: 0242-64-3449

NAKAYAMA Mountain (Shimogou)
Height: 855m
Time needed: Around 1 hour
Open season: All year round, but April and May are the best
Access: 3 minutes walk from Tonohetsuri Station
Contact: Machi Kikaku Kankou Ka Tel: 0241-69-1144, Fax: 0241-69-1134

NANATSUGADAKE Mountain (Tajima)
Height: 1636m
Time needed: Around 3 hours
Open season: From the first Sunday in June to the beginning of November
Access: 25 minutes by bus from Tajima Station, then 2 hours walk
Contact: Tajima-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-62-6210, Fax: 0241-62-1288

NANGOU TOMATO Nango Tomatoes (Minami Aizu area)
* While cruising through the bucolic scenery of Minami Aizu, one will invariably come across one of the several farms scattered throughout the region that are home to the Nango tomato. The Nango tomato has quite a reputation for being one of the best tasting tomatoes in Japan. Unfortunately for the residents of Fukushima, however, almost all of them are sent to the Tokyo/Yokohama area markets.
* Although the name implies that they are a product of Nango, they are actually produced throughout most of the Minami Aizu region. Nango is simply the name of this particular type of tomato. The road to today's famous Nango tomato began in 1962 when fourteen botanists and farmers from Nango and Ina got together and began testing different hybridization techniques. After a few years of trial and error, they were successful. In 1967, the Nango Tomato Cultivation Coop was formed. Today there are about 160 farms in the region that produce approximately 3000 tons of Nango Tomatoes annually.
* Nango tomato seeds are sown around the beginning of April in one of twelve co-operative nurseries. In May they are transplanted to a temporary growing bed and, a few weeks later, permanently planted. They are harvested from July through the end of October. In total, about 30 hectares of Minami Aizu land are used for the cultivation of Nango tomatoes. With approximately 21,000 plants per hectare, 25 to 30 tomatoes per plant, and an incessant demand, the Nango tomato industry is definitely a prosperous one.
[This information appeared in the November 1991 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

NEKOMA HAPPOUDAI Mountain (Bandai)
Height: 1240m
Time needed: 30 minutes
Open season: From May to the beginning of November
Access: 30 minutes by car from Bandai-machi Station
Contact: Bandai-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-73-2111, Fax: 0241-73-2115

NEKOMADAKE Mountain (Bandai)
Height: 1404m
Time needed: 2 hours
Open season: From May to the beginning of November
Access: 30 minutes by car from Bandai-machi Station, then 1 hour and 30 minutes walk
Contact: Bandai-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-73-2111, Fax: 0241-73-2115

NEPAL HAKUBUTSUKAN Nepal Museum (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access
Cost 200 yen
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Higashiyama-machi, Innai (Inside Tsuruizutsu)
TEL: 0242-26-5629, FAX: 0242-26-5629
* See Also:

NISHI AZUMAYAMA Mountain (Inawashiro)
Height: 2024m
Time needed: 5 hours
Open season: From the end of May to the beginning of November
Access: 30 minutes by bus from Inawashiro Station
Contact: Inawashiro Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0242-62-2048, Fax: 0242-62-2939

Access: 5 minutes by bus from Nozawa Station
Contact: Nishiaizu-machi Onsen Kenkou Hoyou Centre Tel: 0241-45-2900

NISHIKUBO ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 20 minutes walk from Okinajima Station
Contact: Takiya Ryokan Tel: 0242-65-2318

NISHINOSAWA ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 15 minutes walk from Okinajima Station
Contact: Tanabe no Yu Tel: 0242-65-2533

NISHIYAMA ONSEN Hot Spring (Yanaizu)
Access: 30 minutes by bus from Yanaizu Station, get off at Nishiyama Onsen
Contact: Nishiyama Onsen Kumiai (Rosawa ?? Onsen) Tel: 0241-43-2014

NISSHINKAN Aizu Nisshinkan, Samurai Training School (Kawahigashi)
Bus Access
Contact Information
* See Also:

NITCHUU IIMORIYAMA Mountain (Atsushiokanou)
Height: 1595m
Time needed: 11 hours
Open season: From the end of June to the end of October
Access: 45 minutes by bus from Kitakata Station
Contact: Mura Sangyou Ka Tel: 0241-36-2111 (ext.19), Fax: 0241-36-2191

NITCHUU ONSEN Hot Spring (Atsushiokanou)
Access: 30 minutes by bus from Kitakata Station
Contact: Atsushio Onsen Ryokan Kumiai Tel: 0241-36-3138

NOGUCHI HIDEYO Medical Researcher
* Dr. Hideyo Noguchi is a name well known to students of medicine. During his lifetime he was a higly respected scientist and today is remembered for his many contributions to the field of medical science. His most famous achievement, discovering a cure for yellow fever, is but one of many accomplishments which brought him recognition and respect from various countries around the world.
* Dr. Noguchi was born in 1876 to a peasant family in Sanjogata (now part of Inawashiro), on the shore of Lake Inawashiro. His mother, a wise and industrious woman, taught him from an early age the virtues of perseverence and hard work and is widely considered responsible for her son's diligence and strong will.
* It became evident early on that Noguchi was an exceptionally gifted individual. Even so, his mother was almost forced to take him out of school because of the financial burden the school fees placed on the family. Mr. Sakae Kobayashi, a local schoolteacher, recognized young Hideyo's potential and offered what assistance he could. He persuaded Mrs. Noguchi to send her son to Inawashiro Higher Primary School, where Kobayashi was working as an instructor. Under Kobayashi's guidance, Noguchi excelled and was soon at the head of his class in many subjects.
* When Dr. Noguchi was an infant, he had fallen into the fireplace in his home and burned his left hand. As a result, his hand was deformed and he had no independent use of his fingures. Throughout his childhood, it was a source of embarassment for him. In 1892, through the kind charity of his classmates and teachers, he was able to undergo an operation which partially restored the use of his fingers. This event is seen as a turning point in Noguchi's life, as he was greatly impressed with the possibilities of medicine. From that point on, he dedicated himself to pursuing a career in medical science.
* Upon graduation from Inawashiro Higher Elementary School in 1893, Noguchi went to work at the Kaiyo Surgical Clinic in Aizu Wakamatsu. The clinic was run by Dr. Watanabe, the doctor who had operated on his deformed hand. During his time at the clinic, Noguchi spent all his free time reading all of the medical books he could find, and studying English, German, and French. In the three years he spent at the clinic, he acquired a great knowledge of medical subjects. Dr. Watanabe was so impressed that he and Mr. Kobayashi paid for a Noguchi to travel to Tokyo to take an examination for medical practitioners. He passed the examination and became a doctor at the young age of twenty-one.
* Dr. Noguchi worked in Tokyo for a few years before making the decision to go to the United States. When he arrived in Philadelphia in 1900, he was a solitary stranger in a foreign land with little money. Dr. Simon Flexner, an American scientist that Noguchi had met in Tokyo, sympathized with the young man's plight and entrusted him with a small task of investigating snake poisons. Dr. Noguchi mustered up all of his energy and poured it into this project. Three months later, he had produced an impressive 250 page report. His reputation began to grow and he eventually earned a scholarship from the Carnegie Institute in Washington. In 1904, he entered the newly established Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller University) where Dr. Flexner was working. Noguchi eventually became a full member of the institute, quite a high honour. Rejecting offers of higher remuneration, Dr. Noguchi associated himself with the Rockefeller Institute until his death in 1928.
* Noguchi's first great discovery came in 1910, when he published a paper on serum diagnosis of syphilis. The following year, he succeeded in the pure culture of the syphilis spirochete. The pure culture had never been achieved before. With these and other accomplishments, Noguchi began to establish his name internationally.
* In 1918, Noguchi was sent by the Rockefeller Institute to Guayanquil, Ecuador to study yellow fever, an infectious disease prevalent in tropical climates. Many studies to find the cause and cure of this usually fatal disease had been conducted previously, but to no avail. After only about one year of research, Noguchi discovered the cause, and long long after, succeeded in producing a remedy. This is, unquestionably, his most famous accomplishment.
* In 1927, he travel to Africa to set up a research station in Accra (capital of present day Ghana) on the Gold Coast to further investigate yellow fever. During the course of his studies, however, he contracted the disease himself. Unfortunately, the remedy that he had created in South America proved inaffective against the African strain and he succumbed to the disease on May 21, 1928.
* After leaving the shores of his native land for the United States in 1900, Noguchi returned to Japan only once. But it was a moving homecoming as hundreds of people came out to welcome him.
* Today, his childhood home in Inawashiro has been preserved. Beside the home sits the Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Hall. The hall opened in 1939 and is a commemoration of his life. Approximately 750,000 people pass through its doors each year. His grave, however, is located in Woodlawn Cemetery in New York City. It is marked by a large stone inlaid with a bronze tablet reading "Through devotion to science, he lived and died for humanity."
[This information appeared in the July 1992 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

NOGUCHI HIDEYO KINENKAN Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Hall (Inawashiro)
Bus Access
Contact Information
* See Also:

NOGUCHI HIDEYO SEISHUNKAN Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Building (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access Platform 2 at the Aizu Wakamatsu Station
Cost 100 yen
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Naka-machi 4-18 (Inside Ichibankan)
TEL: 0242-27-3750, FAX: 0242-26-4579
* See Also:

NOREN Cloth curtain used in entrances (Shiokawa)
* A noren is a simple, split curtain fashioned from cloth, originally hung at the main entrance of a residence. Noren have graced Japanese homes and businesses since the early Heian period (784-1185). Noren essentially keep out sunlight and dust.
* Shiokawa has a proud tradition of displaying colourful and unique noren. They can be seen outside the majority of establishments in the town's main shopping area, including convenience stores and the post office. This street scene, known as noren no machi, is now only seen in its full splendour on special occasions such as town festivals and days of religious significance.
* So what distinguishes Shiokawa noren from all the others? Most noren are simple cloths hung from the doorway, but the noren displayed in this town are large swatches of material with eye-catching designs.
* The merchant or shop's name and trade is generally written in white. If noren is hanging outside a shop, it indicates that the shop is open for business. Noren became such an integral part of Japanese merchant life and culture that when a subordinate or apprentice opened their own place of business, it was considered a high honour to be able to use their master's noren. The good reputation of the superior would be bestowed upon the young novice, ensuring a modicum of trade through association.
* Noren enjoyed extensive use until the Taisho period (1912-26). They fell out of use as companies tried to modernize and make their shops look more western. Today, while most shops have stopped using noren all together, many restaurants uphold the tradition. Noren made of hanging strands of twisted rope are common in front of drinking establishments. Noren can also be found in private homes, now generally being used as space dividers or as decoration.
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1996 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

* See Also:

NOU MEN Noh Masks (Atsushikano, Tadami)
* Seima Toshima has weathered, wrinkled hands that look like they themselves have been carved from a block of wood. These hands have the power to chisel faces twisted by grimace or laughter or pain that are still hauntingly beautiful. Living in the hills behind the village of Atsushiokano for most of his life, Toshima has been carving masks that take on lives of their own.
* Mr. Toshima first became interested in masks used in local festival when he was in his teens. At age sixteen, he began carving as a hobby, but this came to a stop when he was drafted into the army a few years later and sent overseas. After returning to Japan, he moved back to Atsushiokano and became deeply involved in the local sericulture industry, eventually becoming the head of the local silk producer's co-operative. This was a time of rapid economic development in Japan, and many farmers from rural areas would move to the cities during the winter and work to supplement their incomes. This was not a possibility for Mr. Toshima, however, who was kept busy running the silk co-operative. Consequently, he decided to start carving again in the hopes of selling some of his pieces. By the early 1960s, he was selling some masks and other carvings but for prices that could barely support his hobby, let alone his family. It was at this stage that he decided to improve the quality of his work through the study of the art of mask-making. But living in the pastoral hills of Atsushiokano meant that he would have to learn on his own, as there were no skilled artisans in the area to teach him. Armed with a number of books on the subject, Toshima set about becoming a master of his craft. By studying pictures of masks completed by different artists from around the country, he was able to acquire the basic skills of mask-making. Over the years his work imporoved and he began to get more and more recognition as an adept craftsman. Another turning point came in the early 1970s when he was asked by the local town hall to enter some of his creations in Fukushima's annual folk-craft contest. It was there that he met a competition judge who asked him who he was studying under. When Toshima replied that he had taught himself, the judge told him that his masks were of excellent quality, and that he should continue with his studies. Spurred on by this encouragement, Toshima entered more contests and won several awards, including the coveted Governor's Prize. Winning these awards brought him to the attention of both local and national media, which furthered his fame and increased demand for his work.
* Today, Toshima receives many orders for masks and other carvings from traditional dance groups and cultural preservation societies around the country for masks and other carvings. Orders from foreign buyers and collectors are not uncommon. Popular masks include the Tengu (a mythical bird-man creature), the Hannya (a demon), and the Ko-omote (young woman). He also carves lion masks for shishimai festivals, Buddhist images, and so on. About eighty percent of his work consists of masks known as Noh men, which originated in the traditional theatres of feudal Japan. There are 80 styles of Noh masks, some dating back over 800 years.
* To carve a Noh mask takes Toshima just three to four days. Finishing that same mask takes much longer. Starting with a block of wood, he imagines the visage hidden within and slowly brings it to life with his chisels. Noh masks must conform to set sizes, usually about two thirds the size of an average human face, so there is little room for error. Once a mask has been roughed out, it is sanded smooth, and then, more often than not, painted repeatedly until it has a deep lustre. It is not unusual for Toshima to applly so many coats of paint that some of the lines carved from the mask disappear. The whole process, from a block of wood to a completed Noh mask takes about one month. Unpainted masks take much less time to complete and have a rougher quality in their expressions. Since some types of mask are always in demand, and because it can take a long time to finish a piece, Toshima will sometimes work in anticipation of future requests, stockpiling completed masks.
* One of the unique aspects of Toshima's art is his choice of wood. He works with kiri, or paulownia, for which the Aizu region is well-known in Japan. It is a light, fire-resistant wood with a thick grain, and ironically, one of the most fragile and difficult to carve.
* Toshima says that the shape of a mask's eyes are of utmost importance, for the eyes can change the whole facial expression. The eyes and the rounded features of the Ko-omote mask are apparently very difficult to shape, making it the hardest mask to carve, and therefore one of the most valuable.
* From the entrancing gaze of the Ko-omote to the roar of the Hannya, each of Seima Toshima's masks is unique in both appearance and expression. His work has won him wide respect as a talented artisan, and he continues in his work as one of Fukushima's living cultural treasures.
[This information appeared in the Summer 1995 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

* See Also:

NUMAJIRI ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 40 minutes by bus from Inawashiro Station, get off at Numajiri, 30 minute walk (welcome bus also available)
Contact: Tamuraya Ryokan Tel: 0242-64-3421, Fax: 0242-64-2331

NUMAZAWA ONSEN Hot Spring (Kaneyama)
Access: 2 minutes walk from Aizu Nakakawa Station
Contact: Kaneyama-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-54-2311, Fax: 0241-54-2848

OGUNINUMA Oguni Marsh (Shiokawa)
* High above the town of Shiokawa and under the shadow of Mt. Bandai in Fukushima's Aizu region lies a beautiful marsh. Serenity is no stranger to the lake, mountain, and wetlands wal known as Oguninuma. There are around 280 different kinds of flowers in the lush Oguninuma area, many blooming throughout the summer months in splashes of colour on a landscape of green. The white mizubasho attract visitors in May while the the pretty nikko-kisuge (yellow lilies) of June also draw nature lovers from around the prefecture.
* There is a narrow, winding (and sometimes terrifying) road leading from Shiokawa up into the hills and finally to a small parking lot near Oguninuma. It only takes ten minutes to walk from the car park to the lake and marsh, but there are other options for those looking for a more serious hike. Trails to Oguninuma start at the Happodai parking lot on the Bandai Gold Line toll road and from Oshizawa on Route 459. Some hiking routes include Mt. Bandai and Oguninuma, but require an early start. A hike through the marsh, where the flowers are most abundant, takes a leisurely thirty minutes. To preserve its delicate eco-system, trails through the marsh have been elevated, and the whole area has been designated as a national park in order to halt encroaching development. Lake Oguni was formed long ago out of the volcanic activity of Mt. Nekoma, the peak to the east of Mt. Bandai. The lake lies in a volcanic caldera, a cauldron-like depression in the mountain, but it is only eight metres deep. For the convenience of hikers, there is a small rest house at the north end of the lake.
* Because of the great variety of flowers that grow in the cool mountain climes, and because these flowers bloom at different times of the year, each trip to Oguninuma is a new experience. From the pure white of the mizubasho in spring to the carpet of yellow lilies in the summer, the colours of Oguninuma are worth the requisite long hike or drive.
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1995 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

* See Also:

OGUNIYAMA Mountain (Kitashiobara)
Height: 1271m
Time needed: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Open season: From the end of April to the end of October
Access: 10 minutes by car from Bandai Kougen Station
Contact: Ura Bandai Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-32-2349

OKINAJIMA ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 10 minutes walk from Okinajima Station
Contact: Takara no Yu Ryokan Tel: 0242-65-2611, Fax: 0242-65-2624

OMOTE BANDAI ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 10 minutes by car from Inawashiro Station
Contact: Hotel Fudoutaki Tel: 0242-65-2300

ONIGATSURAYAMA Mountain (Tadami)
Height: 1465m
Time needed: 3 hours and 30 minutes
Open season: May to November
Access: 30 minutes by car from Tadami Station
Contact: Tadami-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-82-5250, Fax: 0241-82-2845

ONODAKE Mountain (Shimogou)
Height: 1383m
Time needed: 3 hours
Open season: From the last Sunday in May (Spring to Fall)
Access: 15 minutes by car from Yunokami Onsen Station
Contact: Machi Kikaku Kankou Ka Tel: 0241-69-1144, Fax: 0241-69-1134

ONOGAWA ONSEN Hot Spring (Kitashiobara)
Access: 30 minutes by car from the Inawashiro Bandai Kougen interchange on the Bandai Highway
Contact: Ryokan Onogawa Kohansou Tel: 0241-32-3158

ONSEN Hot spring
* As a result of two large volcanic zones invading almost every corner of the country, Japan is home to some 20,000 hot springs. Known as onsen, they have been enjoyed in Japan for thousands of years - certain myths even tell of ancient gods enjoying a soak. In recent years a massive tourist industry has developed around these hot springs with an estimated 100 million people checking in at onsen inns or hotels annually.
* Hot spring resorts range widely, from ones with more than 100 hotels and inns to single-inn resorts deep in the mountains. From open-air baths to "secret" hot springs in hidden places, there are as many ways to enjoy these resorts as there are hot springs.
* The healing qualities of hot springs have been known in Japan for a long time. Depending on the chemical composition of the water, onsen claim to be able to cure such ailments as arthritis, skin diseases, nervous disorders, and rheumatism. Recently, doctors have even begun referring patients to hot spring resorts as a means of both physical and mental rehabilitation.
* Onsens have always been surrounded by an element of religion. With the introduction of Buddhism in 552 AD, the purifying qualities of hot springs began to be associated with the cleansing of the soul as well as the body. Many hot springs are reported to have been discovered by Buddhist and Shinto priests who retreated into remote mountains in search of enlightenment. Some tales tell of these men being led to onsen sites by supernatural creatures that came to them in a dream. Today the idea that onsen are reservoirs of sacred water is still preserved in the minds of many Japanese.
* Although mixed bathing among the sexes is now rare, for hundreds of years it was the norm, not the exception. In fact, people were more concerned about bathing with someone of a different class - samurai preferred not to bathe with members of the merchant class - than with someone of the opposite sex. But in 1870, mostly as a result of Western influence, a law was passed prohibiting men and women from bathing together. At first it was difficult to enforce, but now it is fully accepted by most Japanese.
* Hot spring resort towns began to thrive during the 1920s. Often tucked into the mountain ravines or on the outskirts of cities, most are located near a serene river or babbling brook. Today they are a common get-away for city dwellers who, utilizing Japan's modern transportation system, can usually get to one in a relatively short amount of time. All-inclusive package tours, complete with charter bus, are also quite popular.
* In Fukushima Prefecture, some of the more well known hot spring resort areas are Iizaka and Tsuchiyu in Fukushima City, Higashiyama and Ashinomaki in Aizu Wakamatsu, Joban-Yumoto in Iwaki, Bandai-Atami in Koriyama, and Dake in Nihonmatsu. Among the smaller and more remote onsens are Futamata in Tenei, Tokusa in Tateiwa, Yunokami in Shimogo, Bobata in Ishikawa, and Nakanosawa in Inawashiro.
* In recent years, more and more foreigners have been venturing to Fukushima Prefecture to enjoy its many hot springs. Tenei's Futamata Onsen, for example, despite being off the beaten path, welcomed approximately 800 foreigners last year.
* A significant element of the culture of Japan, Japanese onsen have a long history of refreshing tired bodies and purifying worn-out souls. Enjoyed for centuries as a place to unwind and relax with friends, the onsen tradition seems likely to continue for many more centuries to come.
[This information appeared in the April 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

OOKAWA DAM Ookawa Dam (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi
* See Also:

OOMORI ONSEN Hot Spring (Atsushiokanou)
Access: 20 minutes by car from Kitakata Station
Contact: Atsushiokanou-mura Shakai Fukushi Kyougikai Tel: 0241-36-3112

OOSHIO ONSEN Hot Spring (Kaneyama)
Access: 20 minutes walk from Aizu Ooshio Station
Contact: Kaneyama-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-54-2311, Fax: 0241-54-2848

OOSHIO URABANDAI ONSEN Hot Spring (Kitashiobara)
Access: 30 minutes by bus from Kitakata Station
Contact: Hotel Kansan Tel: 0241-33-2231, Fax: 0241-33-2232

OOTAWARAHIKI Giant Tug of War (Aizu Bange)
* Every January 14th, the strong-of-spirit in Aizu Bange assemble before the town hall for a test of physical strength and stamina. Clad only in loin cloth, local men brave the freezing temperatures to compete in a tug-of-war style contest known as the Ootawarahiki.
* Aizu Bange is a small town in the middle of Fukushima's Aizu basin. It plays host to many visitors from around the prefecture, and indeed from around the country during its unusual Ootawarahiki Festival. The history of this traditional celebration dates back to the time of a daimyo (feudal lord) by the name of Tadasato Gamou, who was head of the Aizu clan from 1606 to 1627. The original purpose of the festival was to demonstrate devotion to the gods inhabiting the market that was held twice a month on the same spot as the annual tug-of-war. Before the first market day of the year (traditionally on January 14th), Aizu Bange's men would prove their devotion to these gods by stripping down to nothing but their shitaobi (loin cloth) and headbands before joining in the competition.
* On Hatsuichi, or the first day of market, men from ages 15 to 65 gather in the middle of the town. They have been separated into groups representing the east and the west, and wear red or wide accordingly. Tradition holds that if the east side wins, the price of rice will increase, but if the west wins, there will be a good harvest. Since the first years of the festival, guests from other areas, such as the samurai from the nearby castle town of Aizu Wakamatsu, would travel to join in the spectacle and shout encouragement to the opposing teams.
* Complicating the actual tug of war itself is the existense of a huge straw bag, known as a tawara between the opposing sides. Tawara are cylindrical, straw containers that have long been used for the storage or transport of rice, potatoes, charcoal, and so forth. The tawara used in the annual festival is much larger than those that were used to bring goods to market, however, weighing in a over 3 tonnes. In fact, Ootawarahiki could be directly translated at "Giant Tawara Pull".
* The events get underway in the early afternoon as some local students compete against each other before quickly fleeing to change into warmer clothes. Later in the day, fortified against the cold with some Aizu sake, the teams of older men try to overpower each other. The final event of the day was the scattering of small gifts and mini tawara into the crowds of onlookers.
* Those wishing to participate in the annual tug-of-war are allowed to join in if they apply by December 25th. Be forewarned, however, that donning the traditional garb of Aizu Bange's Ootawarahiki will be a chilling experience!
[This information appeared in the March 1994 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

* See Also:

OOTODAKE Mountain (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Height: 1415m
Time needed: 6-7 hours
Open season: From the second Sunday in June
Access: 40 minutes by bus from Aizu Wakamatsu Station
Contact: Aizu Wakamatsu Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0242-28-9693, Fax: 0242-28-9684

OTTATE ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 20 minutes by car from Inawashiro Station
Contact: Sumiyoshi Kan Tel: 0242-65-2221, Fax: 0242-65-2224, Kokuminshukusha Sagi no Yu Tel: 0242-65-2515, Yamagataya Tel: 0242-65-2450

ORIHIME Weaving Princess (Shouwa)
* If you happen to be one who enjoys mixing with a better class of person, the village of Showa is the place for you. Situated in the west of the prefecture, this small village (population 2167) boasts not one, but seven princesses. The weaving princesses, or orihime as they are known, have come from all over Japan to live and work in Showa to help revive the are of karamushi-ori, or karamushi weaving.
* Karamushi is very rare and Showa is the only place in Honshu where it is spun. What makes karamushi unique is that its fibres are made from aoso grass, which is harvested and stripped of its outer layers in late July. The remaining strands are spun into a cloth, which is surprisingly hardwearing yet gentle to the touch.
* The practitioners of this technique have been dwindling in number due to the depopulation of rural areas that has been happening throughout Japan. To combat this phenomenon, the residents of Showa, together with the local agricultural co-operative, set up a scheme whereby young women from all over Japan could have the opportunity to come to Showa to learn the skills necessary to produce karamushi ori. The programme was launched two years ago and has proved a great success.
* This year's princesses hail from Tokyo, Miyagi, Saitama, and Iwate. They found out about the programme through advertisements on Fuji Television and in the Mainichi Shinbun. Forty-six women applied and sixteen were chosen for an interview. The interview was very strict, with the mayor, representatives of the agricultural association, two karamushi instructors, and local government officials in attendance. At the conclusion of the selection process, the sixteen had been whittled down to seven successful applicants.
* Each woman has her reasons for wanting to be a part of the programme. Some want to live in yukiguni (snow country) made famous in contemporary Japanese literature. Others wanted to learn a tactile skill with an actual product as opposed to working on a computer all day.
* The year of the orihime is actually only 9 months long. Their contract starts in June. They start by completing the thread-making from the previous year's aoso harvest. The months of July and August are spent harvesting and preparing the fibres for spinning into thread. Thread-making takes up the months of September to December. The New Year sees the orihime get their first taste of weaving the thread into cloth. This is also a time-consuming process: producing ittan (a measure of cloth equivalent to 12 yards by 1 yard) of karamushi ori takes three months. The weaving completes their contract period, from January until March.
* Their experiences as orihime do not just begin and end as mere producers of karamushi-ori. They form an important part of the community in this small village, attending local festivals throughout the year, as well as struggling with the local dialect. Many of the women enjoy learning this traditional skill so much, they decide to stay on an extra year. Occasionally, love gets woven into the pattern, as orihime decide to stay in Showa when they marry local residents.
* With the continuing success of this programme, Showa hopes to stave off the cripping depopulation that has been detrimental to so many other small villages throughout the country.
[This information appeared in the Spring 1996 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

* See Also:

OOUCHIJUKU Old post town, preserved (Shimogo)
* For hundreds of years, walking and horseback were the main modes of transportation throughout Japan. As roads became more and more travelled, small post towns cropped up along them whose sole purpose was to accommodate the various people who wandered through. These towns, known as shukuba, soon developed a character all their own and today the few that remain are considered telling vestiges of a way of life that has since slipped from memory.
* Ouchijuku, tucked away in the hills of a remote part of Shimogo in southern Aizu, is one such post town. Established during the 1670s, Ouchijuku is the oldest remaining shukuba in Fukushima Prefecture. Once a bustling stop on the road connecting Aizu Wakamatsu to Imaichi (in Tochigi Prefecture), today it is a quite place far removed from National Highway 121, the major road now serving the area.
* Shukuba appeared in Japan a few hundred years ago as a product of the Tokugawa Shogunate's venture to repair roads, set up distance markers and establish lodging stations along the country's major thoroughfares. They were preceded by a system in which small stations, known as ekiden, were set up along major roads at approximately 20 kilometer intervals that provided rested horses for travellers. Based on a similar system in China, the ekiden system was implemented in 701 as part of a sweeping code of laws and ordinances known as ritsuryo. Ekiden were reserved exclusively for official messengers, however, who used the roads to maintain stealth contact between the central government and the outlying provinces in order to preserve the status quo. By the late Heian period (866-1160), however, the ekiden system existed in name only as the authority of the ritsuryo codes began to decline. It finally disappeared altogether with the establishment of the Kamakura Shogunate in 1185.
* Shukuba first appeared in the Tohoku region (northern Japan) around 1604 and remained a constant feature throughout the Edo period (1603-1867). Their main raison d'etre was to provide lodging for travelling lords (daimyo) and their entourage. Most shukuba had their own honjin, or officially appointed inn, and all post towns had a supply of fresh horses so that official travellers would be assured of having rested animals. As the towns became more and more settled, however, establishments such as merchant houses, small shops, tea houses, and inns serving ordinary travellers also became regular features.
* One reason post towns thrived during the Tokugawa period was because of the Shogunate's policy of requiring all feudal lords to spend every other year in the capital city of Edo (Tokyo) and their families to reside there permanently. This policy, known as sankin kotai was implemented by the ruling shogun to reduce the possibility of revolt in the distant provinces. For the feudal lords, however, the policy meant much travel between their domain and Edo and they, along with the many letter carriers and transporters of rice who were also frequent shukuba visitors, served to promote and maintain the various post towns they passed through on the way.
* Shimogo's Ouchijuku is considered among the most well-preserved shukuba in Japan. In 1984 the town's honjin was reconstructed to depict how it appeared to the many daimyo of the era who stopped there on their way to and from Edo and countless articles are on display that reflect the lifestyle of the times. Large, spacious wooden homes with thatched roofs and restaurants that offer traditional meals of grilled char and wild vegetables also help preserve the feel of an isolated post town of old.
* During its heydey, Ouchijuku was a hub of activity and no doubt a welcome stop for weary travellers. Today, however, it is visited only by tourists who wish to catch a glimpse of yesterday and taste a remnant of the past.
[This information appeared in the December 1992 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* The second weekend in February each year sees a snow festival take place in the startling winter scenery of this world of yesteryear.
* See Also:

OUTLOOK Fukushima Prefecture's English Newsletter
* OUTLOOK is published four times a year by the International Affairs Division of Fukushima Prefecture. To be added to the distribution list, please contact:
International Affairs Division, Fukushima Prefectural Government,
Sugitsuma-cho 2-16, Fukushima-shi, Fukushima-ken, 960-8670
TEL: (024) 521-7183, FAX: (024) 521-7919
* See Also:

OYAKUEN Medicinal Herb Garden (Aizu Wakamatsu)
* Not far from Tsurugajou in Aizu Wakamatsu lies a place of beauty that has been enjoyed for generations. A place of worship and healing, enshrouded in superstition and buffeted by war, the Oyakuen gardens have a long and interesting history.
* Around seven hundred years ago, Naomori Ashina, a local ruler of the Aizu area, commissioned the construction of a small shrine (called the Asahi Jinja) on the current location of the gardens. He chose the site because it was said that the water welling up from the ground there had healing properties. A descendant of Ashina added another building to the site sometime between 1432 and 1444. One hundred years after that, the structures were resurrected from a state of disrepair by another Aizu lord, who used the area as a place for reflection and meditation, and urged others under his command to do the same.
* It was not until the Matsudaira clan assumed the duties of local rule in the 1600s that the site became known for its medicinal herbs and vegetables. Indeed it was a fourth generation Aizu clan leader who first called the area Oyakuen (Literally, medicinal garden).
* About three hundred years ago, a wooden structure was built on an island in the garden's reflecting pool. Originally designed to be a place of peaceful reflection, the building's thatched roof came to shelter wounded soldiers during the Boshin Civil War of the late 1800s. Most of Aizu Wakamatsu was devastated during the conflict, but Oyakuen escaped relatively unscathed; although some sword marks can apparently still be seen in the wood of the buildings. Oyakuen was designated a public park in 1928, and as an "Important National Scenic Site" by the Ministry of Education in 1932. The same kinds of herbs grown by the Aizu clan's daimyo and samurai are now being planted, harvested, and made into traditional remedies (since 1956).
* Today, people visit Oyakuen year round. The changing seasons enhance the beauty of the garden, with spring's cherry blossoms and autumn's colourful leaves drifting slowly into the pond. Located just a few minutes from two other attractions (Tsurugajou and Bukeyashiki), Oyakuen is a fifteen minute bus ride from Aizu Wakamatsu station.
[This information appeared in the Spring 1995 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

Bus Access Platform 4 at the Aizu Wakamatsu Station, In Front of the Post Office
Cost Adults 310 yen, High School Students 260 yen, Junior High and Elementary Students 150 yen
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Hanaharu-machi 8-1
TEL: 0242-27-2472, FAX: 0242-29-1322
* See Also:

OZE Oze Natural Park (Hinoemata)
* Nestled in among mountains on Japan's main island of Honshu lies Oze, a region roughly 8,700 hectares in area that straddles the three prefectures of Fukushima, Gunma, and Niigata. Blessed with a myriad of natural wonders - verdant forests, majestic mountains, lush meadows and marshland, clear lakes and streams, and a plethora of flora and fauna. Oze is one of Japan's most famous and well-preserved natural assets.
* The part of Oze that is located in Fukushima lies in Hinoemata and contains three of the most famous areas of Oze: Oze Marsh, Oze Plain, and Mt. Hiuchi (literally, "tinder mountain"). Oze Marsh and Oze Plain lie on either side of Mt. Hiuchi and were formed when the mountain erupted thousands of years ago. Mt. Hiuchi is a beautiful mountain that was once believed to be a holy place where gods lived. Legend has it that the mountain got its name a long time ago, when the scarcity of fire caused much hardship during the blistery winter months. Buddha, in his mercy, appeared in the form of an old man and granted the people a red rock which produced fire when struck. Today there is still a small shrine on the mountain paying homage to this benevolent act.
* A part of the Nikko National Park, Oze has the distinction of being the highest marshland in Japan and can only be visited by trekking in on foot from a handful of starting points bordering on the area. In Fukushima there are two such starting points: Miike Pass and Numayama Pass. Starting from Miike Pass, one can either hike to Oze Plain or climb Mt. Hiuchi and end up on the bank of Oze Marsh. Starting from Numayama, one can hike straight to the marsh in just over an hour.
* The person most responsible for ensuring that Oze's pristine landscape remained undeveloped is a man named Chozo Hirano. Born in 1871 in Hinoemata, Hirano soon became enthralled with the beauty of Oze and decided to build a simple log cabin near Oze Marsh and live there for the rest of his life. He survived by catching trout and char from the marsh which he himself had successfully stocked. He also put up hikers at his cabin. Before long there were a great many people staying at his house and he became known as the Hermit of Oze. Today, the spot where Hirano built his cabin in the site of the Chozo Goya, a small lodging house where hikers can stay. It is run by Hirano's descendants.
* Hirano made a constant appeal to maintain the natural state of Oze and worked continually to halt the development of roads and industries in and around the area. Hirano was so adamant in his ambition to preserve Oze that he once scolded a well-known botanist who came to study the flora for picking flowers too randomly. It was always his dream to make Oze a protected area. Because of his efforts, Oze was eventually designated a Natural Asset of Japan.
* For decades, Oze has been the stage for confrontations between environmentalists and those wishing to exploit the area's main resource: water. Tokyo and the prefectures that make up the Kanto region have long wanted to utilize Oze's abundant supply of fresh water for electric power as well as to help alleviate the hardships they periodically face due to water shortages. There has always been fierce opposition to these plans, however, from the prefectures of Fukushima and Niigata who are determined not to allow Oze's natural scenery to be destroyed by such development. The debate seems to heat up whenever the Kanto area experiences a dry spell, but so far Oze has remained free of any such exploitation of its most abundant resource.
* Although Oze has escaped development and the exploitation of water, it is still facing significant environmental problems. This is mostly due to the increasing number of people visiting the area each year. Most conspicuous is the trash sometimes seen along the paths that traverse through the park. More serious, however, are the long term threats to the fragile ecological system. Many attempts have been made to curtail this problem such as limiting the number of visitors, prohibiting the use of soap and shampoo at the lodging houses, and making a pipeline to transport waste outside the park. Another dilemma threatening to upset the balance of nature in Oze is the recent introduction of new plant species whose seeds are brought in on the shoes of visitors from other areas.
* In August 1992, Governor Sato got together with the governors of Niigata and Gunma to discuss the problems confronting Oze. As a result of these talks, a commitment was made between the three prefectures to work together to preserve this precious asset.
* Oze has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. Each year, approximately 600,000 people visit Oze to experience its pristine beauty. The task at hand is to figure out how to continue allowing people to enjoy Oze's beauty without destroying it in the process.
[This information appeared in the December 1992 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* High in the Echigo mountains lies the natural wonder that is Oze. Part of the renowned Nikko National Park, the Oze region straddles three prefectures: Fukushima, Gunma, and Niigata. Well known for its spectacular scenery, towering peaks, and abundant wild flowers, Oze is a popular destination for all kinds of nature lovers. But now, with so many people visiting the area, a host of conservation challenges have surfaced.
* Fukushima, Niigata, and Gunma have recently begun setting up the Oze Preservation Foundation to address the problems of maintaining Oze's delicate ecosystem. The foundation is to be provided with about two billion yen from various sources to conduct research, set environmental protection policies, and provide information to the area's visitors. The conservation guidelines currently employed in the Oze area are the result of consultations between national, prefectural, and local governments and address the problems associated with large numbers of visitors. With over 500,000 people coming to Oze every year, restrictions on camping, vehicles, and even bathing are necessary. Additionally, more and more visitors every year means that infrastructure such as new roads and parking facilities are in demand.
* The blooming of the beautiful Mizubasho in spring and the changing colours of autumn attract thousands to the trails of Oze. To limit environmental damage during peak periods, visitors are required to leave their cars behind and take buses into the area. Other restrictions on things like the number of campsite reservations and which trails can be used are also applied during crowded periods.
* Because of its isolated location, the area experienced very little human influence until very recently. This means that Oze's delicate ecological balance can easily be upset by the introduction of foreign substances, so all human waste and contaminated water (such as bath water) are treated and piped out of the area.
* Another problem lies in visitors not obeying the posted rules. Some people still litter the area with their garbage or pick the flowers despite the many signs to the contrary. Oze's marshy plains also suffer greatly when trod upon; a two centimetre deep footprint in the soft, mossy earth destroys twenty years of growth. To combat this lack of respect for the beauty of Oze, specific policies such as campaigns asking visitors to return with everything they bring into the area are sponsored. Trails are well maintained and clearly marked. Despite these efforts, however, carelessly tossed cigarette butts and plastic wrappers are still in evidence.
* Oze's challenge is to survive in the face of thousands of visitors who come seeking beauty they are unwittingly destroying little by little. It is hoped that with the creation of the Oze Preservation Foundation, consistent, research-based policies aimed at further reducing such environmental damage can be developed.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1994 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

* The tranquil surroundings of Oze played host to a group of one hundred distinguished trampers on September 11 as the fourth Oze Summit was held in the National Reserve. An annual event devoted to preserving the fragile beauty of the Oze area, the summit this year featured not only the governors of Fukushima, Gunma, and Niigata prefectures, but also environmental preservation expert Barbara Curtis from New Zealand, who had been invited to Fukushima Prefecture as part of an ongoing environmental exchange between the two regions. Other guests included representatives of the Tokyo Power Company, which owns a large portion of the Oze Wetlands, local and national government officials, and staff from the Oze foundation.
* This year's summit covered some controversial topics, including the possibility of introducing an entrance fee to park users. With the numbers of visitors to Oze increasing every year, human impact has been a major issue with those concerned about maintaining the fragile ecosystem of the area. Entrance fees were suggested as a way of limiting numbers entering the park, and Canada, Pakistan, and the Himalayas were quoted as examples of countries where such systems have been successfully operated. This was countered with the argument that Japanese people have a right to visit their mountains and parks, and enjoy their national treasures without having to pay for the privilege.
* The other major topic of discussion was the announcement of the decision to close off access to the park between Nanairi and Miike to all buses except designated shuttle buses. This thoroughfare has consistently had problems with traffic jams due to the bottleneck effect caused by the narrowing of the road upon nearing Miike. Furthermore, apart from shuttle buses, all traffic is to be halted between Miike and the entrance to Numayama, the closest possible entrance to the park by road. To facilitate this new policy, a new carpark has been constructed at Nanairi which will accommodate both buses and private cars. it is hoped the move will not only eliminate the frustrating traffic jam problem, but also decrease the harmful effects of car-related pollution in the area.
* Ms. Curtis began her talk by congratulating all parties involved in the management and preservation of Oze area for the wonderful job they have been doing in co-operating with each other. The revegetation programme currently in progress and the well-maintained boardwalk system were two areas singled out for special praise. In commenting on the problems faced in Oze, in particular the difficulty of balancing human impact with environmental protection, she described the way her own conservancy in the Tongariro/Taupo region in New Zealand was addressing the issues, and offered a range of ideas for management officials to ponder. Ms. Curtis gave strong support to the decision to restrict traffic flow from Nanairi but added that perhaps banning all traffic from the area may be something to consider in the future. She added that park management would not find easy solutions to their problems, and encouraged them to have the courage to make hard decisions in the future. Although they may not be popular with everyone, they will have to be made to protect Oze.
* The Oze Summit was successful in encouraging dialogue and the exchange of ideas about the future direction of the management of this protected area. It is hoped that the good work of the many parties involved in keeping alive the beauty of the region will continue for generations to come.
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1998 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* Situated within the Nikko National Park, which spans Fukushima, Gunma, and Niigata Prefectures, the Oze Wetlands are one of the country's most treasured conservation areas. With a myriad of routes passing through forests, marshlands, and mountains, Oze is suitable for hikers of all abilities. Famous for its wild flowers, Oze takes on a different appearance with each season - a carpet of white mizubasho in spring, the brilliant yellow of the day lilies in summer, and in autumn, the vivid reds, yellows, and oranges of the wetland's grasses stretch as far as the eye can see.
* Hikers can choose from Oze's variety of trails to plan a course ranging from two hours to several days in length. The trails around the marshlands are mostly flat and boardwalked, making for an easy stroll. For those looking for more of a challenge, there are several mountains in the immediate area, including Hiuchigadake which towers at 2356m which is more suitable for fit and experienced climbers. A morning start is recommended as a return journey can take up to four hours. The waterfall (Sanjogataki) located north of Oze Marsh is also worth a visit. The descent is steep, and therefore, slow going. However, the spectacular scene at the bottom makes it worthwhile, and almost makes one forget about the near-vertical climb back up to the main trail.
* Because the weather at Oze is very changeable, wet weather gear is a must when hiking in the area. Also, due to the delicate eco-system in the area, the use of shampoos and detergents is strictly prohibited.
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1999 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* See Also:

OZEGAHARA Mountain (Hinoemata)
Height: 1500m
Time needed: 4 hours
Open season: From the middle of May to the middle of October
Access: 2 hours by bus from Aizu Kougen Station, get off at Oze Miike
Contact: Oze Hinoemata Onsen Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-75-2432, Fax: 0241-75-2336

RAMEN Chinese noodles in soup (Kitakata)
* At the very least, the weekends in Kitakata are alive and busy. Typically, a slow-paced, embracing city of 37,000, Kitakata undergoes a metamorphosis into a lively, bustling tourist town on the weekends as literally thousands of visitors flock from as far south as Nara Prefecture and as far north as Aomori Prefecture to experience the ramen mecca of Japan.
* There are over 120 ramen shops in Kitakata, each one adding its own personal touch. On the weekends, each shop is filled with customers, the more famous shops with lines extending a fourth of a city block and a wait as long as two hours.
* Perhaps the most famous ramen shop in Kitakata lies on the perimeter of downtown Kitakata, Makoto Shokudo. Like many of the shops in Kitakata, Makoto is a family business, now reaching into its fourth generation and extending an equally homey atmosphere to its customers. Makoto began in 1945 as an udon (thick wheat noodles in soup) and ramen shop by the grandmother and father of Kazuya Sato, the current owner. By 1947, Makoto recognized its ramen potential and began to serve ramen exclusively.
* On a busy day, Makoto serves over 1,500 customers, using over 240,000 grams of noodles. Although the shop has expanded the number of its rooms, it is still housed in its original location, occupying the downstairs of the family home. The family kitchen is transformed by day into the heart of the ramen legend where Sato-san and his father work side-by-side, stopping for a quick minute to visit with customers and enjoying the legend they helped create.
* There are many kinds of ramen, the most popular in Kitakata being shoyu (soy sauce) and miso (bean paste). Similarly, there are many factors contributing to the fame of Kitakata ramen, from the larger-than-usual sized noodle to the "special water" found only in Kitakata. The real, singular reason for the uniquely delicious ramen, however, will probably never be known. Yet, in the Tohoku region, one often hears of the magic of Mt. Bandai. Lodged at the western base of Mt. Bandai, it is quite possible that some Bandai magic has blessed Kitakata with its delicious ramen.
* The word yoroshiku in Japanese carries a variety of meanings, "with compliments" or "with my regards" being the most common. In heart-felt appreciation of his good fortune, Sato-san expressed the sincerity of this ramen mecca by saying, "Kitakata ramen, yoroshiku."
[This information appeared in the April 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Michelle Knapp.]

* See Also:

RINDOU Autumn Bellflower or Gentian (Minami Aizu Region)
* Flowers are a main agricultural product of the Minami Aizu area and one of the most popular is the autumn bellflower, a plant of the genus gentiana. It has narrow, dark-green leaves, a sturdy stem, and violet, bell-shaped flowers. Almost all of the autumn bellflowers grown in the Minami Aizu area are shipped to the Kanto area where they are used in the making of bouquets and the traditional Japanese art of flower arranging (ikebana).
* Today, autumn bellflowers are produced in all parts of the Minami Aizu region except Hinoemata. Cultivation didn't start until 1979, when a few farmers decided to plant the flower seeds because their land had reached the point where it couldn't accommodate the daikon (radish) crops which had been the main crop to that point. To the residents of the area, this was a drastic change and many people had their doubts. Now, production has blossomed into a major agricultural industry and the people's attitudes toward it is positive. As Hisao Sato, a farmer in Shimogo puts it, "It's great to be able to produce something beautiful and make money at the same time."
* At the beginning, however, it was not so easy. After the seed is first planted, it takes about three years before the flowers can be harvested. Once it reaches this mature state, it will continue to produce flowers for about three more years. After that, however, the land must be used for another type of crop (or remain fallow) for a few years because it is no longer suitable for the autumn bellflowers. For this reason, most farmers rotate their crops.
* Around April each year, the first flowers begin to appear from the ground. The harvest season is from July through November and it the busiest time of the year. After the harvest, the stalks are cut low and fertilizer is spread in anticipation of next year's crop. According to Mr. Sato, a winter without snow means a low quality crop the following season. As he explains, "Snow on the ground helps the plants hibernate; it keeps them cold. If the winter is very cold and the summer very hot, the flowers will be bright and vibrant."
* As long as the demand for these showy flowers remains steady, the autumn bellflower will probably remain one of Minami Aizu's main agricultural products.
[This information appeared in the November 1991 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

SABASHIRI ONSEN Hot Spring (Aizu Bange)
Access: 25 minutes by bus from Aizu Bange Station, get off at Sabashiri, then walk 30 minutes
Contact: Sabashiri no Yu Tel: 0242-85-2658

SAGAWA KANBEI Samurai [1831-1877]
* Sagawa was a samurai during the Boshin Civil War. He supported the daimyou Matsudaira's plan to fight for the Tokugawa shogunate against the Emperor.
* See Also:

SAIGOU TANOMO Aizu Clan Elder Advisor [1803-1905]
* Saigou was the karou, or elder advisor, of the Aizu clan at the beginning of the Boshin Civil War. His advice to the daimyou, Matsudaira, was to avoid getting involved in war. His advice was ignored and Aizu quickly got embroiled in the mess. Saigou resigned his position and was succeed by Gonbei Kayano.
* See Also:

* Kiyoshi Saito, born in 1907 in Aizu-Bange in the northwest of the prefecture, worked in a number of jobs until he achieved fame as a woodblock print artist in the immediate postwar years.
* Leaving Aizu with his family at the age of 5, he spent his childhood in Hokkaido, where he began to develop a serious interest in oil painting. Having tried his hand at several jobs, he finally settled in a position with a sign painting store, painting in oils in his spare time. In 1931, at the age of 24, still sure that he wanted to be an oil painter, he left for Tokyo to work in advertising, where he finally started to experiment in woodcuts.
* Producing a number of woodblock prints from 1936, he continued to paint and draw while working, although receiving little recognition for his efforts, due in part to the low esteem in which woodblock printing was held in Japanese art circles at that time and also to the upheaval of World War 2 that left little room for art and its appreciation. With the arrival of U.S. occupational forces, however, his reputation grew quickly, as American servicemen began to buy up his prints and take them home. He started to receive extensive coverage in the English-language press in Japan, also receiving mention in the pages of Time and Stars and Stripes, the U.S. Forces newspaper.
* Recognition by Japanese critics came somewhat later. In 1951, along with 14 other Japanese artists, he was asked to participate in the Sao Paolo Biennial, where, to many people's surprise, he took first place with his print Steady Gaze, receiving greater acclaim than artists in other media.
* Since that time, he has been prolific, and while living largely in Tokyo and Kamakura, has travelled to various countries to give demonstrations and to take sketches. Meanwhile, his work has been exhibited in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and of course, around Japan. In 1987, he returned to Aizu, where he is working at present. [Note: This article was written in June 1990. Saito Kiyoshi passed away in 1997.]
* Much of Kiyoshi Saito's work is recognizable by its use of wood grains to produce a variety of textures, and by the emotion with which he loads his prints. The fact that he did not study art under any particular teacher (he started working straight after leaving school at age 14) and developed his own printing techniques, painting as he wanted to paint, points to his highly individual style.
* Besides various methods of printing, he also paints in ink, and says himself that he does not want to be remembered solely for his woodblock prints. "Woodblock printing is difficult work," he says. Once a cut is made, mistakes cannot be covered up. He is also well known for his depiction of soft, often nostalgic snowbound scenes in the Aizu area. Yet as a man unafraid of expressing his opinions, he insists with some conviction that he should not be considered as an Aizu person, that he paints the snow there because it is there, not because it is Aizu: "I'm not an Aizu novelty," he says.
* Snow, he continues, was an original source of inspiration for him and he had wanted to paint it for a long time. Of his Aizu series of pictures, he says "The snow makes the picture. Without the snow, there's no picture."
* Choosing his subjects can sometimes be a time consuming task, driving around searching for the right scene, sometimes finding it in his kitchen without even looking for it. But they have one thing in common: immediately upon seeing the subject, he knows that it is right. "It jumps out at me," he says. Then he makes a sketch, which sometimes he returns to only years later to reconsider and finally turn into a print or painting.
* For Kiyoshi Saito, each of his prints or paintings brings back clear memories and retains an emotional charge, associated either with the subject or his feelings when he drew them. Seeing his print Jealousy (1952), which depicts one chicken under the scrutiny of two other chickens, he tells of the criticism that his work received from various people in the Japanese art world after being awarded the top prize in Sao Paolo against general expectations. Also, as an artist independent of any defined school, he had no patron to promote his work, only his steadily increasing grass-roots popularity and the support of the Army of Occupation, who he says gratefully, made his life during the chaos following the war years a fairly comfortable one.
* Pointing to Nude (1966), he talks of the huge wall that he cup up against in his work, unable to draw or paint anything. Then, finally producing this print, he realized that, in order to make artistic progress, he must climb not a single, large wall, but many small ones. Even now he says, "The world of art is ruthless." While he still has his health, he must go searching for something else. After all, he says, "My work's an adventure."
[This information appeared in the June 1990 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Mark Crowther.]

* See Also:

* Divided by the peaceful Tadami River and surrounded by the mountains and forests, the little town of Yanaizu paints a picturesque scene. Located deep within the snow country of Aizu, the town was home to one of Japan's most famous artists, Kiyoshi Saito. Yanaizu awarded their favourite son the status of honorary citizen during his lifetime, and today, the town celebrates the artist's life and works through the Yanaizu Kiyoshi Saito Art Museum. The museum was opened in 1997, the year of Saito's death.
* Although he originally dabbled in oil painting, Saito discovered the world of woodprints at the age of 29, and it was his subsequent woodprint works which brought him worldwide recognition. Many of his works were released as series, a concept which was common overseas but rare in Japan. Perhaps the most famous of these was the "Aizu in Winter" series, a collection of one hundred and fifteen prints of various snowy scenes of Aizu. Yanaizu was frequently the subject of his work, with other locatiosn including Aizu Wakamatsu, Mishima, Bange, Takada, and Nishiaizu.
* International success came for Kiyoshi Saito in 1951, when, at the age of 44, the piece "Steady Gaze (Flower)" was exhibited in Brazil at the Sao Paulo World Art Festival. Over the following decades, the artist's paintings were the theme of exhibitions throughout the world, and Saito travelled to destinations including India, the United States, Australia, France, and Mexico with his work. These trips also served as inspiration for his artwork, with prints of New York's Central Park, castles in India, churches in Sante Fe, and shops in Paris, among his many pieces.
* Situated along the banks of the Tadami River, the Yanaizu Kiyoshi Saito Art Museum is the most prolific collector of Saito's works, owning 650 of his approximately 2000 paintings. The museum changes its displays four times a year to coincide with the seasons, and draws visitors from all over the country. Open from Tuesday to Sunday every week, admission is 500 yen for adults, 300 yen for high school and university students, and 200 yen for elementary and junior high school students.
[This information appeared in the Summer 2000 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

SAKE Rice wine
* Some say it's the water. Others say it's the rice. Still others claim it's the age-old traditions that have been followed for centuries. Maybe it's just plain Aizu magic. But whatever the reason, Aizu sake has a reputation for being one of the most mellow and full-bodied brews produced in Japan.
* The fact that Aizu is blessed with superb rice and an abundance of fresh water is surely a factor in the high quality of Aizu's sake. The water is a result of the region's perennial heavy snowfalls which, along with the extreme temperature changes associated with the seasons in Aizu, help produce the high quality rice for which Aizu is famous.
* Sake has been brewed in Aizu for over 400 years and today there are about 48 breweries throughout the region, each producing their own unique brand of the Aizu "fire water".
* The production of sake begins in the autumn with the harvesting of the rice. After the rice is polished and thoroughly washed, it is soaked in water overnight and then steamed for about two hours the following morning. Yeast and water are then added to the cooked rice and the mixture is allowed to ferment slowly.
* After approximately 25 days, having fully fermented, the mixture is put into a sakebukuro (literally, a sake bag) and squeezed to separate the liquid from the solid materials. The milky substance is then strained through a carbon filter to produce the familiar clear liquid. This is run through tubes heated to about 65 degrees Celsius in order to kill any bacteria. Finally, the sake is placed in tanks where it will mature for more than three months before being bottled and shipped.
* New sake is usually available from the end of February or the beginning of March. In the past, sake breweries would hang a sakabayashi (a ball of Japanese cedar leaves) in front of their establishment as a sign that the new season's sake was ready. As the months would pass, the sakabayashi would darken in colour, symbolizing the aging of the sake. (Sake is best when consumed within a year after being bottled.) Today, this tradition is still carried on by some breweries.
* A good place to learn about the age-old tradition of sake brewing in Aizu is the Aizu Sake Brewing Museum in Aizu Wakamatsu. Opened in 1973, the museum chronicles the history of sake brewing in the Aizu area. It is associated with the Konohana Sake Brewery, located just across the street from the museum, and has many old photographs and sake-brewing paraphernalia on display.
* Perhaps the best way to realize the magic of Aizu's sake, however, is to go and try a cup yourself!
[This information appeared in the April 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* Sake has a very important place in Japan's traditional culture as well as in its modern way of life. The manufacturing process is steeped in tradition as its roots extend back to pre-recorded history. Part of the sake mystique lies in its long history of prominence in the Japanese lifestyle. It is speculated that the process of brewing rice wine first came to Japan sometime after the introduction of wet rice cultivation, with the first written record of sake in Japan dating to the year 300. At first, sake was produced at temples and shrines and was often associated with religious rites and celebrations. Popular brewing began about seven hundred years ago, and the manufacturing process has been undergoing subtle refinement even since. A number of laws attempting to regulate the production and consumption of sake have been passed over the years, none of which were able to significantly dampen the drink's popularity. Today there are about three thousand brewing concerns throughout the country, the bulk of which are jizake, or local brands.
* One such local brand produced in Fukushima'a Aizu region is Kaishuichi, a choice sake with a 350 year history. Produced at a brewery bearing the brand's name, Kaishuichi sake is a good example of a proud traditional craft that is passed down from generation to generation within a family. While the variables that can determine a sake's quality are many, the experts at Kaishuichi recognize the three most important: high quality rice, pure water, and a lot of patience.
* Kaishuichi's brewing process, like that of most jizake, follows some general sake-brewing rules, but also incorporates some unique ideas that give their product a special flavour. The first step in the process is to polish specially grown rice, refining out lipids and proteins. About thirty to sixty percent of each rice kernel is planed off during this step. A special kind of hard rice is used in sake-brewing. Ordinary table rice is much softer and would retain too much water during the steaming process, where the rice is steamed in a cauldron for about sixty minutes. The brewmasters at Kaishuichi then malt the rice in a climate-controlled sauna-like room, which is kept quite humid. After adding yeast and water, the mixture is left to ferment in large tanks. At this point in the brewing process, some sake makers have been known to play classical music such as Mozart in the belief that it aids in the fermentation process, proof that even the sake tradition is susceptible to fashion. The whole mixture is then pressed, with unrefined sake being squeezed out and the remaining mash used to distill another Japanese drink, shouchuu. The unrefined sake is them sterilized at sixty-two degrees, purifying it of any remaining bacteria, and stored to allow the brew to mellow. The whole process takes about one year. The rice is harvested in the autumn, brewing takes place in the cold of winter to prevent the grown of unwanted bacteria, and the finished sake is aged until about October, when it is shipped. The Kaishuichi brewery still follows the age old practice of hanging a ball of cedar leaves called a sakabayashi in its entrance at the beginning of the sake-making season. The aging leaves turn from green to brown representing the aging of the sake brewed within.
* Besides Kaishuichi, there are twenty-two other sake breweries in Aizu Wakamatsu, along with the Aizu Sake Brewery Museum and the Aizu Sake Historical Museum which is located in the front of Tsurugajou. A trip to the Aizu area is not complete without a stop at a traditional brewery and a sampling of the local sake legends.
[This information appeared in the March 1994 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

* The Aizu region boasts over four centuries of expertise in the brewing of the traditional beverage of choice in Japan, sake. A visit to the western part of the prefecture is never complete without a visit to one or more of the fifty odd breweries in operation in Aizu to sample some of the famous brands. Those particularly partial to a drop or two of Japan's rice wine might also consider a visit to one or both of Aizu's two Sake History Museums, both located in Aizu Wakamatsu, for a lesson on sake brewing methods used over the years.
* The Aizu Sake Brewing Museum chronicles the history of the aizu region as well as the story of sake brewing in the area. Alongside the tools of sake brewers of yesteryear are profiles of the famous people of Aizu and displays about the Boshin Civil War and Tsurugajou. Complimented by the nearby Konohana Brewery, where visitors are able to see contemporary sake brewing appliances and methods, the Aizu Sake Brewing Museum focuses on the instruments used in bygone days. The display features a collection of photos of brewers and brewing methods of the past, wooden utensils and large wooden vats which were used for mixing and storing the sake - which have since been replaced by metal ones for hygeine reasons - and a pulley system which was used for hoisting vats from floor to floor.
* The Aizu Sake History Museum has a brewery on the premises and as a result, displays are different depending on the time of year. During the sake brewing season from December to March, historical displays are put away and visitors can take a tour around the factory to watch modern day sake brewing in process. In summer, however, the museum is lined with the tools of old, complete with mannequin "workers", illustrating the olden day sake making process step by step. The tour also features a video on Aizu's sake making tradition and even includes a room on Japan's famous sake drinking personalities.
* After a comprehensive lesson on the history of Aizu sake, the only thing left to do is sample the product. With centuries of mastery behind it, Aizu is sure to live up to its reputation of being one of the leading sake-making districts in Japan.
[This information appeared in the Spring 1998 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* See Also:

SAKAI ONSEN Hot Spring (Nangou)
Access: 1 hour by bus from Aizu Tajima, get off at Yamaguchi (final stop), then 10 minutes by bus, get off at Sakai Onsen
Contact: Sakai Onsen Sayurisou Tel: 0241-73-2121, Fax: 0241-73-2388

SAKURA TOUGE ONSEN Hot Spring (Kitashiobara)
Access: 40 minutes by car from the Inawashiro Bandai Kougen interchange on the Bandai Highway
Contact: Lavie Spa Urabandai Tel: 0241-32-2200

SANBONYARIDAKE Mountain (Shimogou)
Height: 1917m
Time needed: 5 hours
Open season: Summer
Access: 1 hour by car from Youson Kouen Station, then 3 hours walk
Contact: Machi Kikaku Kankou Ka Tel: 0241-69-1144, Fax: 0241-69-1134

SANSHOUUO Salamander (Hinoemata)
* Hinoemata is a tiny village of about seven hundred people nestled in the mountains of the southern Aizu region, an area renowned for its beauty. Oze National Park is nearby, which helps fuel Hinoemata's thriving tourism industry. Minshuku, traditional Japanese inns that offer food and lodging, provide a place to stay for the many visitors to the area. What makes these particular minshuku different, however, is the exotic meals they offer. Specifically, one can eat bear soup, wild vegetables, and salamanders from nearby streams which are fried in tempura.
* Kazutoshi Hirano is the proprietor of a Hinoemata minshuku. He is also involved in the harvest of the wild vegetables and salamanders that make his establishment's tempura a bit of a culinary adventure. Hinoemata is the only remaining place in Fukushima where salamanders are still caught for food and Mr. Hirano is one of only six locals who search the cold mountain streams for the amphibians.
* From the beginning of June until July twentieth, Mr. Hirano rises early every morning and dresses warmly for the hard work that lies ahead. The harvest time for salamanders coincides with the area's rainy season, which makes the climb to the headwaters of local streams a cold and slippery undertaking. When there is a heavy rain, however, a good catch the next day is the result.
* After twelve or thirteen years of scrambling up creek beds and slick, muddy hillsides, Mr. Hirano has become adept at finding good footing and getting to the top of a mountain and back as quickly as possible. He usually starts by following one stream to its headwaters and then following another back down the mountain. This process, along with setting the traps, can take anywhere from three to eight hours, depending on the distance to be covered. The traps consist of a bundle of sticks tied together in such a way that lets water flow through, but traps the salamanders as they swim downstream. The devices are propped up horizontally, directly under the flow of water, allowing the salamander litter chance of escape.
* Mr. Hirano keeps traps on several different streams and alternates among these waterways, such that a typical day's catch is between one hundred to two hundred mature salamander. This means that he catches about ten thousand in one season. While some Japanese salamander have been recorded to be over a metre in length, the variety in Hinoemata's hills are only thirteen to sixteen centimetres long.
* After the salamanders are caught, they are put in salt water for about eight hours, after which they are cooked in a smoke-house. Although the smoke shrinks them, they regain their shap once they are soaked in lukewarm water, the step prior to cooking them in tempura batter. While out catching salamander, Mr. Hirano also picks a variety of wild vegetables, such as maitake (mushrooms) and yobusumasou (an asparagus-like vegetable). These are dried and cooked in tempura as well, and served with the salamander. The taste of tempura salamander is quite good, once you ignore the shape. They can be eaten without frying them as well, but are apparently quite bitter without the tempura.
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1994 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

* See Also:

* Samurai were members of the ruling class. Originally they were warriors, but during the Edo period, they were not engaged in fighting. They created Bushidou to show the way a warrior should act, even during times of peace.
* See Also:

SAYURI KAIKAN Hot Spring (Nangou)
Access: 1 hour by bus from Aizu Tajima, get off at Yamaguchi (final stop), then 10 minutes by bus, get off at Sakai Onsen
Contact: Contact: Sakai Onsen Sayurisou Tel: 0241-73-2121, Fax: 0241-73-2388

SAZAEDOU Spiral Temple (Aizu Wakamatsu) [1796~, 1889~present]
* Sazae means "turban shell" or a shell that is spiral-shaped like a turban. Sazaedo is a temple which was built in 1796 to enshrine 33 images of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The temple is 16 metres high. It fell into disrepair during the Meiji restoration. In the late 1800s it was rebuilt with the support of the local citizens.
* [BUDDHIST PILGRIMAGE] In Buddhism, adherents occasionally make a pilgrimage to certain temple to pray for their families and neighbours. There are famous routes that pilgrims can take in order to see a certain number of temples in one visit (for example, the 88 temples in Shikoku). However, not everyone is lucky enough to be able to go on a pilgrimage. The people who were left behind would often give money to the pilgrims and ask them to bring back charms from the temple. This is how the custom of "omiyage" or collecting gifts for friends while on trips away from the village got started. Also, for the benefit of people who could not make the journey, certain temples were made to house multiple images that could be worshiped during one trip. Sazaedou, with its 33 images of Kannon, is just such a temple. (You may notice another kind of Buddhist tradition around temples. Often you will see stones piled up on top of stones around the temple. This is to signify that even though one may not be able to build a temple, one can start the process with the laying of a single stone, as long as one's heart is in it.)
* [STAIRS] The inside of the temple is shaped like a double helix. The stairs spiral up and down the building, so you can't take the same stairs on the way up as on the way down.
* [KUMITATE SHIKI] This temple was built without using nails. The wood was cut to fit together without needing extra reinforcement. This style of construction is called "kumitate shiki".
Bus Access Platform 5 at the Aizu Wakamatsu Station, In Front of the Post Office
Cost Adults 300 yen, University and High School Students 250 yen, Junior High and Elementary Students 150 yen
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Iimoriyama
TEL: 0242-22-3163
* See Also:

SEABURIYAMA Mountain (Aizu Wakamatsu)
* Mt. Seaburi stands between AIzu Wakamatsu and Lake Inawashiro. It is 871 metres above sea level. "Se" means a person's back, and "aburi" means to heat, so SEABURI means to heat one's back. The mountain got this name because the sun warms your back as you climb up in the morning, and again as you climb down in the evening.
* [TOYOTOMI HIDEYOSHI] Around 400 years ago, Hideyoshi Toyotomi visited Aizu in order to get the leaders of the area to agree to a unified Japan.
* [KANPAKU DAIRA] On his way to the Aizu area, Toyotomi climbed Mt. Seaburi. He rested in a place called kanpaku daira.
* The view from Mt. Seaburi is quite breathtaking, especially at night.
* There are campsites with barbecue facilities and outdoor athletic grounds on Mt. Seaburi. The athletic grounds are free.

SEABURIYAMA Mountain (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Height: 871m
Time needed: Around 2 hours
Open season: Spring to Fall
Access: 20 minutes by bus from Aizu Wakamatsu Station
Contact: Aizu Wakamatsu Kankou Kousha Tel: 0242-27-4005
* See Also:

SEIKATSU KOUGEIKAN Traditional Crafts Centre (Mishima)
* Located in a far-flung corner of Aizu, set against a backdrop of magnificent mountains, lies the little village of Mishima. Surrounded by forests and fields, one would hardly think this little village was anything out of the ordinary, yet Mishima boasts a wealth of tradition in crafts, something the town is fighting to continue in the face of adverse influence from modern society. At the heart of this movement is the Mishima Traditional Crafts Centre, a facility constructed as one of five new enterprises to combat the village's depopulation trend.
* The centre was completed in October 1986, and serves as the area's base for local traditional crafts such as woodwork, ceramic art, weaving, and painting, all of which are characterized by their use of natural resources to make daily objects. With experienced instructors and top class facilities, the centre focuses on increasing the popularity of these crafts by running classes for both locals and visitors as well as providing facilities and guidance for people who already possess fundamental skills. This has proved a hit not only with the residents of Mishima, but also the tourists, who flock to the village to try their hand at creating everything from tables and chairs to straw raincoats and bamboo seives.
* One of the personalities working at the Mishima Traditional Crafts Centre is Setsuko Kubota, regarded by the centre as being a living treasure. Mrs. Kubota, who was recently presented with the prefectural Technical Excellence Award for her superior weaving, has worked at the centre for eight years, teaching the craft to both tourists and locals. Brought up in an environment where handicraft was a part of the lifestyle, her greatest love is to make things. As a result, she can create just about anything from anything.
* Mrs. Kubota's work is well-known and, consequently, there is a waiting list of up to two years for her goods. Her unique style is attributed to the fact that she was not taught her craft. In fact, with no one remaining who possessed the knowledge to continue it, the tradition was, in effect, dead. Mrs. Kubota set about learning the craft on her own, using her own inquisitiveness and her natural flair for handicraft to pull apart old woven items such as bags and baskets and reweave them to learn how they were made. This must undoubtedly have been a laborious activity, as making even a small bag from scratch takes a professional like her eight days. The time-consuming process involves soaking dried grass overnight to soften it and twisting it into strands of twine before weaving it into a splendid creation. However, Mrs. Kubota makes this process look easy, and at first glance, it is almost as if her hands were magic. "You just do it like this," she says, twisting a few strands of grass into a tight twine rope with a few quick flicks of her youthful wrists. One can't help but think a beginner would not say the same.
* The fruits of Mrs. Kubota's labour are displayed around the centre and it is easy to see why she is held in such high esteem. With a lifetime of weaving experience behind her, her products, which include everything from clothes such as raincoats and sandals to baskets, bags, and even stools, are of the highest quality.
* Mrs. Kubota teaches weaving at the Mishima Traditional Crafts Centre every week from Tuesday to Saturday. Materials have to be prepared in advance, so making a reservation is advised.
[This information appeared in the Summer 1998 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* See Also:

SENBEI Senbei, rice crackers (Kitakata)
* Seen by many as the perfect accompaniment to ocha (green tea), senbei -- the rather clumsy English translation being "Japanese rice cracker" -- has a long history and can be secure of its place on the Japanese dining table.
* Senbei has been hand-made in Kitakata for as long as anyone can remember. While other senbei makers, powerless to withstand the tidal wave of potato crisps and snacks flooding the market, were being swallowed up by conglomerates, why has Kitakata managed to resist the maelstrom? The answer is simply quality.
* The area is home to no fewer than eight companies that still produce the crackers, because Kitakata is perfect for senbei production. Rice rich in flavour is available in abundance - the area's fame due to its kura (storehouses) bearing strong testimony to this fact. The region is also home to many sources of pure spring water and daizu beans used in making soy sauce. Finally, vegetation thrives in this locality, and the nara (Japanese oak) is no exception.
* One of the most well-known manufacturers in Kitakata, the Yamanaka Senbei Honpo, has been producing the rice crackers since 1900. The process used by Yamanaka is simplicity itself, adding to the allure of the finished product.
* Yamanaka takes a local variety of rice, the sasanishiki, and grinds the grains into a powder. Pure spring water is added and the mixture is steamed. The resulting dough-like substance is then rolled out and cut into shapes, Yamanaka usually chosing circles. these are left to dry.
* These flat wafers are then roasted in an oven heated from top and bottom by a white charcoal made from the aforementioned Japanese oak - an archaic horizontal toaster if you will. One of only three people that still insist on roasting with charcoal, Yamanaka staunchly maintains that the essence of the oak permeates the cracker.
* The extent of the roasting is determined by an experienced eye - no modern timers assist the process. The thickest of senbei cook through without burning on the outside, due to the nature of the infrared heat generated by the charcoal. The roasting takes under a minute.
* Next, Yamanaka adds tamari, an old expression that means soy sauce. Brewed from local daizu, the tamari is applied with a brush made from kome no ho (ears of rice), which also contributes to the flavour. This tamari senbei is left to dry on the top of the oven.
* So, why should one partake of Yamanaka's product? Putting aside the delicious taste, senbei is made from the most basic ingredients that grace the Japanese diet, namely rice and soy sauce. The crackers require no preservatives or artificial flavours, thereby containing hardly any fat or any of the other elements forbidden in these health conscious times.
* Tamari senbei is also one of the softer, more yielding varieties of cracker available. Babies and the elderly can enjoy their unique flavour with the fear of damaging their teeth.
* To learn more about these ancient, healthy snacks, you may wish to access the Aizu Fukkokai homepage at
[This information appeared in the Spring 1997 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

* See Also:

SEPPUKU Ritual suicide by self-disembowelment
* Seppuku involves holding a short knife in your right hand and making an incision in your abdomen from left to right. This cut is not meant to kill you, only to make you suffer. Your aide is then expected to finish the job by lopping off your head with a sword.
* [HARAKIRI] By switching the order of the Japanese characters and reading them in a different way, the word "seppuku" becomes "harakiri". The words have identical meanings, but seppuku sounds better (less direct) because it uses the old Chinese pronounciation, rather than the Japanese pronounciation.
* The abdomen was chosen because ancient Japanese believed that it was the place where the soul resided. The way to perform this suicide became very ritualized in terms of apparel, site, time, witnesses, inspectors, and assistant. It was considered one of the five grades of punishment among the samurai class.
* See Also:

SHIBOSAWA ONSEN Hot Spring (Hinoemata)
Access: 2 hours by bus from Aizu Kougen Station, get off at Oze Miike, then 3 hours walk
Contact: Shibosawa Onsen Tel: 0241-75-2105 (Closed during the winter)

SHIDAHAMA ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 20 minutes walk from Jouto (??) Station
Contact: Lakeside Bankou Tel: 0242-66-2711

SHIKKI Lacquerware
* The word shikki means lacquerware and includes any crafted item that has a lacquer finish. Most of the world's best lacquerware comes from the Orient and Japan's shikki is especially renowned. In fact, the word "japan" can be used to refer to lacquer itself or any object decorated and varnished in the shikki style.
* Lacquer is a resinous liquid that can be found under the bark of the lacquer tree, which is indigenous to eastern Asia. This liquid is extracted, refined, and mixed with various pigments. A think layer of lacquer is applied to the surface of an object and allowed to dry. This process is usually repeated many times and the result is a coating that not only adds beauty to the item, but also protects it from moisture and corrosion.
* Shikki has been around for a long time. In fact, some old lacquerware products have been discovered that suggest it was used in primitive times. The oldest existing item that exhibits an artistic use of shikki is a miniature shrine made of Japanese cypress located in the temple, Horyuji, in Kyoto. It is known as the Tamamushinozushi. Use of lacquer on artistically crafted articles, such as furniture, boxes, eating utensils, Buddhist sculptures, and even buildings, began to pick up during the seventh century with the introduction of various techniques from China.
* There are many different kinds of shikki. Some of the more popular ones are:
* MAKIE - an object is coated with lacquer, then sprinkled with gold or silver powder
* TSUISHU - an elaborate red lacquer with a pattern carved into the finished surface
* CHINKIN BORI - lacquerware inlaid with gold
* RADEN - lacquerware inlaid with mother-of-pearl
* In Fukushima Prefecture the production of lacquerware is concentrated mainly in the Aizu area, specifically in Aizu Wakamatsu, and is one of the biggest industries in the prefecture. A unique feature of shikki production in Aizu is that it is divided into three areas of specialization. One group of craftsmen concentrate solely on the cutting and shaping of the wood. A second group sands the wood and applies the initial coats of lacquer. The product is then sent to the artist who puts on the finishing touches.
* According to the oldest existing records, shikki production got its start in the Aizu region around 1449, when the feudal lord Morinobu Ashina ordered the peasants of the area to begin cultivating lacquer trees and producing lacquer tallow which is used in the making of candles, soap, lubricants, etc. Around 1501, another feudal lord, Moritaka Ashina, ordered the people to start applying red and black lacquer to all the wooden utensils they were making.
* When Ujisato Gamo came to Aizu in 1590, he proceeded to set up measures encouraging and fostering the production of Aizu shikki. This is widely considered to be the foundation period of the expansion and development of Aizu shikki. During the ten year period of 1789 to 1799, as part of what came to be known as the Kansei Reforms, Aizu shikki production, as a traditional industry, began to be rigorously promoted. As a result, by the 1840's, Aizu shikki had become quite well known throughout Japan. It also began, to a limited extent, to be exported overseas.
* During the Boshin War that afflicted the region in 1868, the production of shikki was completely halted. Afterward, production began to pick up. However, a few years later, when the industry came out from under the protection of the feudal lords, it floundered somewhat. Powerful local merchants came to the rescue and helped support the art until it got back on its feet.
* Today there are a number of people involved in the production of shikki in Aizu. One such person is Kurando Terui, a man who specializes in the makie style of shikki. Mr. Terui has been painting lacquerware for over thirty years and is well known throughout the area for his skill and craftsmanship. He is proud of the shikki tradition in Aizu, but concerned about its future. Successors to the trade are becoming harder to find and assembly line mass production of lacquerware continues to increase. It is hoped that more young people will become interested in the craft before handmade lacquerware becomes totally extinct.
* For the time being, however, shikki is one of the more prosperous industries, not just for the Aizu area, but for the entire prefecture.
[This information appeared in the May 1992 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

SHIMAI TOSHI Sister Cities (Kitashiobara)
* Aizu's Kitashiobara village had cause to celebrate on 7 November as it signed a sister city agreement with the town of Turangi in New Zealand. The signing ceremony took place in Tongariro, New Zealand, with seventeen representatives from Kitashiobara and thirteen from Turangi in attendance.
* The sister city pledge was signed by Mayor Takahashi of Kitashiobara and the Chairman of the Turangi Tongariro Community Board, Councillor Tim Hurley, and was followed by a welcome performance by the children of Turangi who sang and danced for the visitors. The delegation then moved to the site where three years earlier, Mayor Takahashi had planted a cherry tree as a symbol of the friendship between the two regions. Here, a plaque was unveiled to commemmorate the occasion.
* Exchanges have been occurring between Kitashiobara and Turangi since 1994. The two regions are similar in size, each with populations of about 4000 people, and both areas are popular tourist spots. Kitashiobara is in the heart of the Ura-Bandai sightseeing area which features Mt. Bandai, Lake Hibara, and Goshikinuma swamp, while Turangi, situated 300 kilometres south of New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, is in the area of Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake. The region is famous for its good fishing and water sports as well as its picture book scenery, and is also close to some of the North Island's major ski fields.
* The sister city pledge opens the door for exchange at the grass roots level, wich sports and cultural exchanges in the pipeline. It is hoped this will give the citizens of Kitashiobara and Turangi an opportunity to deepen the link between Japan and New Zealand while cultivating a lasting friendship between the two towns.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1998 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* See Also:

SHIROKIYA SHIRYOUKAN (Aizu Wakamatsu) Shirokiya Historial Materials Museum (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Oomachi 1-2-10
TEL: 0242-22-0203
* See Also:

SHIZUKURAYAMA Mountain (Mishima, Shouwa)

SHIZUKURAYAMA Mountain (Mishima)
Height: 1234m
Time needed: 3 hours
Open season: From the first Sunday in June
Access: 30 minutes by car from Aizu Miyashita Station
Contact: Mishima-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-48-5533

SHIZUKURAYAMA Mountain (Shouwa)
Height: 1209m
Time needed: 3 hours
Open season: From June to the beginning of November
Access: 1 hour by car from Aizu Kawaguchi Station
Contact: Mura Kikaku Ka Tel: 0241-57-2116, Fax: 0241-57-3044

SHOUGUN Military leader of Japan before Meiji Restoration
* The Shougun was the military leader of the daimyo and all of Japan (until Meiji Restoration). The last Shougun was Yoshinobu Tokugawa.
* See Also:

SILKROAD BUNMEIKAN Silkroad Museum (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access Platform 5 at the Aizu Wakamatsu Station, In Front of the Post Office
Cost Adults 250 yen, Junior and High School Students 150 yen
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Ote-machi, Tsurugajou, Kita Demaru
TEL: 0242-27-1001, FAX: 0242-26-8999
* See Also:

SOBA Soba (buckwheat) noodles (Yamato)
* Visitors to Japan are almost certain to have encountered soba in their travels. These brownish looking noodels made from buckwheat flour are an eternal favourite with Japanese, and are traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve to ensure long life. Soba is the claim to fame of the town of Yamato, located at the foot of Mount Iide in northern Aizu. From 1984, the people of Yamato have worked to establish their town as one of the top soba making districts in Japan.
* The secret to Yamato's high quality soba is the town's location. The buckwheat plants used for soba-making in the town are all grown locally. As they only take two months to grow to maturity, planting traditionally occurred twice a year, with harvests in summer and autumn. Currently, however, buckwheat is only harvested in the town in autumn. These plants can be grown just about anywhere, and for this reason, the noodles were an important staple food in the past, replacing rice as the fundamental diet in areas where land was not very fertile. However, the plants grow best at an altitude of 400 to 500 metres above sea level, in places such as Yamato where temperature changes throughout the day are extreme. Pure water is also a necessity for good soba, and with Yamato originating from the heights of Mount Iide, the ingredients for good quality are all present.
* Standing in the centre of the town is the "Mount Iide and Soba Centre", which was built in 1994 to promote the town's two major points of interest. The centre includes a soba museum, displays about the town's history and Mount Iide, and a large kitchen. Soba-making courses are offered daily under the guidance of Yoko Nagashima, a veteran in the art. Visits from school groups, community groups, and tourists are all common, and under the watchful eye of Mrs. Nagashima, all who pass through can learn the skills necessary to make tasty noodles. While soba is usually made from buckwheat flour with wheat flour or egg white added as a thickener, the noodles made in the Mount Iide and Soba Centre use buckwheat flour only, giving them a distinctive, delicious flavour.
* When she is not busy with classes, Mrs. Nagashima's time is spent making soba to be sold at the centre, which does a roaring business. Phone and fax orders are welcome, and the centre sends the refrigerated fresh soba to customers throughout the country. Unlike the dried soba noodles that can be bought at the supermarket, fresh noodles have a far superior taste, but must be eaten the day they are made. While she currently averages five to six kilograms of soba a day, Mrs. Nagashima made up to thirty kilograms daily when she was stationed at the centre's restaurant which offers a variety of soba dishes.
* The Mount Iide and Soba Centre is open all year round, between 9:00am and 4:30pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Entrance is 500 yen for adults and 300 yen for students, and the soba-making course costs an additional 2000 yen, with each participant making four servings. Bookings for the soba-making or orders for fresh soba can be made by phone or fax at 0241-38-3000.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1999 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* See Also:

SHOUWA ONSEN Hot Spring (Shouwa)
Access: 35 minutes by bus from Aizu Kawaguchi Station, get off at Shouwa Onsen
Contact: Shirakabasou Tel: 0241-57-2585

TADAMI ONSEN Hot Spring (Tadami)
Access: 10 minutes walk from Tadami Station
Contact: Tadami-machi Onsen Hoyou Centre 0241-82-2393

TADAMI-YANAIZU KENRITSU KOUEN Tadami-Yanaizu Prefectural Park
* The Tadami-Yanaizu park is located on the western edge of Fukushima Prefecture along the Tadami River. The town of Yanaizu is the starting point for boating down the Tadami River and is also well-known as a hot spring resort.
* See Also:

TAIKO Taiko drums (Tajima)
* For a taste of traditional Japanese craftsmanship with a hint of modern marketing know-how, one just has to look to Tajima and Hisayoshi Kawada's drum factory.
* In the olden days, the area around Tajima was home to many acres of trees and so it became quite a centre of drum barrel production. This production peaked in the Taisho era, when it was said that 80% of domestic drum barrel production took place in the Tajima area.
* Kawada was working as a craftsman in a drum factory when a friend introduced him to the town of Tajima. Kawada liked the place so much that he moved here 15 years ago. Presently, his factory employs 15 craftsmen. There are only five companies within the prefecture engaged in drum-making. Of these, three are in the Tajima area, mostly concentrating on hand-made drums.
* Kawada's factory currently produces 1000 drums a year, with destinations ranging from Hokkaido to Kyushu. The factory sells to schools, musical instrument shops, and those who have a real passion for taiko. Kawada is also setting his sights on the overseas market, and the sizeable foreign population resident in Japan. To this end, he has published an English language introduction to his company in the English edition of the NTT telephone directory.
* Kawada would like to investigate the market by displaying his exhibits at a European trade fair. He has recognized that there are many different types of drums in Europe, and is considering how to lay the appropriate groundwork for establishing a niche in the spectrum for Japanese drums.
* Tajima happens to be a very convenient place to collect the timber that is used in the drums. The main types of wood used are keyaki (zelkova) and tochi (horse chesnut). Kawada never uses imported wood, as he has no desire to contribute to the demand for timber from developing nations that have no contingency to combat overfelling. Over the years, the abundance of the larger trees has diminished and Kawada has resorted to using gohan, a veneer ply which makes the most of limited resources. Treated cowhide is used to make the drumskins.
* A drum of smaller size would take a month to make, whereas larger drums can take up to half a year to complete. The biggest drum Kawada has made to date had a drumskin diameter of 1.2 metres, and when transported abroad, was only just able to fit in a jumbo jet.
* As part of his scheme to popularize taiko, Kawada has established a taiko school which meets three times a year in Shimogo. His drums are used for practice by those wishing to improve their technique, or those simply wishing to try taiko drumming for the first time. To date, Kawada has also held two classes of drumming in downtown Tokyo, bringing craftwork and tradition to a modern city.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1995 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

* See Also:

TAISHAKUZAN Mountain (Tateiwa)
Height: 2060m
Time needed: 3 hours
Open season: From the beginning of June to the end of October
Access: 40 minutes by bus from Aizu Kougen Station
Contact: Mura Kikaku Kankou Ka Tel: 0241-78-3330, Fax: 0241-78-3008

TAKATSUE ONSEN Hot Spring (Tateiwa)
Access: 20 minutes by bus from Aizu Kougen Station
Contact: Tateiwa Kankou Kyoukai Shukuhaku Yoyaku Centre Tel: 0241-78-2546 or Tel: 0241-78-2795, Fax: 0241-78-3050

TAKINOHARA ONSEN Hot Spring (Tajima)
Access: 5 minutes walk from Aizu Kougen Station
Contact: Santaki Onsen Tel: 0241-66-2313, Yume no Yu Tel: 0241-66-3131

TAKIZAWA GOHONJIN Military Headquarters (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access
Cost Adults 300 yen, High School Students 250 yen, Junior High and Elementary Students 150 yen, Pre-school children 100 yen
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Ikki-machi, Takizawa 122
TEL: 0242-22-8525
* See Also:

TAMOKAKU Used Book Store (Tadami)
* A great way to preserve the beauty of Fukushima, while at the same time promoting recycling efforts around the country, is now underway in Tadami, part of Fukushima's Aizu region. Called a "furubon koukan", literally an old book exchange, the programme involves swapping old books for the conservation of a forest near Tadami.
* Beginning in late April of this year, Tamokaku, a lumber co-operative in Tadami, undertook the exchange programme to meet the community goals of providing reading material for local residents, giving Tadami's economy a boost, and of course, saving some trees for everyone to enjoy. Many people living in large cities, such as Tokyo or Osaka, who have very little room for old books, can now swap them for a forest near Tadami. In this way, trees that might have been cut down to provide paper for more books are spared, and older publications are recycled amongst the residents of the small town of Tadami, an area known for its long winters. The local economy also benefits from this new exchange in that three new jobs were created in order to receive, catalogue, and organize the huge number of books the programme acquires. In the first two months of operating the book exchange, Tadami found itself swamped with over two thousand volumes from people all over Japan and from as far away as Hawaii. They are receiving many recently published novels and manga (Japanese comic books) along with a few older books, including a few from the Meiji era. In addition to the large number of books the programme is receiving (about two thousand a day), they are also getting other items such as compact discs and video games that donors no longer need.
* The book exchange programme started with about 330,000 tsubo of trees in a forest just outside of Tadami. (A tsubo is a traditional Japanese unit of measure equal to approximately 3.3 square metres.) Tamokaku, the lumber co-operative that started the exchange, purchased the area some years ago, and decided to promote people's awareness of conservation by using it in the book exchange.
* One of the attractive features of this exchange system is that while it helps preserve the local environment, it is also giving a boost to Tadami's economy. In addition to the local young people who have been hired to receive the books, book donors are travelling to Tadami to take a closer look at the forest they are helping to protect, which has increased tourism. The area's consumers also get a break in that they can now enjoy an abundance of inexpensive reading material during Tadami's long winter.
* The book exchange in Tadami has gotten off to a very good start. In fact, the response has been a bit overwhelming. According to a representative of the programme, they would like to receive older books, and hopefully create a place where people from big cities can come to relax and enjoy them. From here, however, a number of challenges face the programme, such as the fact that they have a limited number of trees set aside to trade for used books. Additionally, now that the programme is generating so much interest in preservation, it may become difficult for Tamokaku to harvest trees in surrounding areas. The amazing response to the programme may become a problem as well because of the limited amount of space available to handle the huge inflow of books. While a building was erected to house the books, it is fast running out of shelf space. The programme already has about the same number of books as a small bookstore, and it has only been in operation for a very short time. This problem may be alleviated by selling excess books to used book dealers.
* If you are interested in contributing to Tamokaku's book exchange programme, please contact:
968-, Fukushima-ken, Minamiaizu-gun, Tadami-machi, Tamokaku, Kurosawa Kawakubo
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1994 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

* See Also:

Access: 15 minutes by bus from Aizu Kawaguchi Station, get off at Tamanashi
Contact: Kaneyama-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-54-2311, Fax: 0241-54-2848

TARABU KOUGEN Mountain (Kaneyama)
Height: 600m
Time needed: One to two days
Open season: All year round
Access: 15 minutes by car from Aizu Kawaguchi Station
Contact: Machi Kikaku Kankou Ka Tel: 0241-54-5222, Fax: 0241-54-2117

TASHIROYAMA Mountain (Tateiwa)
Height: 1926m
Time needed: 3 hours
Open season: From the second Sunday in June
Contact: Mura Kikaku Kankou Ka Tel: 0241-78-3330, Fax: 0241-78-3008

TENKYOUDAI ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 10 minutes by car from Inawashiro Station
Contact: Inawashiro Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0242-62-2048

TENKYOUKAKU Imperial Villa (Inawashiro)
* On a trip to Tohoku in 1907, Imperial Prince Takehito Arisugawa stopped by Lake Inawashiro. He became so enthralled with the scenery there that he decided to have a villa built near the lake's shore. Construction of the villa began in the spring of 1908 and was completed in August of the same year.
* Soon after its completion, the Crown Prince Yoshihito (Emperor of the Taisho era) visited the villa for five days. At that time, he named it Tenkyokaku, which means the palace of heaven's mirrors. In comes from an old Chinese poem by Rihaku which includes the lines:
A beautiful lake reflects the sky.
The sky is heaven's mirror.
* In 1924, Tenkyokaku was given to Imperial Prince Nobuhito Takamatsu upon his succession. In 1952, Nobuhito granted the villa and its surroundings to Fukushima Prefecture. Tenkyokaku was used for a while for meetings and lectures, but because of its gradual deterioration, it eventually fell into disuse.
* In 1979, Tenkyokaku was designated a National Cultural Asset and in 1980, efforts were started to restore the villa. Restoration was finished in 1982. Two years later, in September 1984, Emperor Hirohito and his wife visited Fukushima Prefecture and stayed at Tenkyokaku for a few days.
* The villa was built in an era when Western building techniques were quite popular. It is a two-storey building with dignified renaissance-style architecture. The grandness of the Imperial villa is reflected in its spacious rooms, luxurious curtains and carpets, gorgeous chandeliers hanging from the ceiling in every room, and finely-crafted furniture.
* When Tenkyokaku was first built, Lake Inawashiro could be seen clearly through the windows. Now, however, a thick forest now surrounds Tenkyokaku and impedes the view. This trivial detail doesn't stop the tourists from coming to marvel at this rare and impressive reminder of Japan's history of appreciation for western ornamentation.
[This information appeared in the August 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

TENNOU Emperor
* See Also:

* Once made in practically every house in Aizu, the making of Tojindako (literally, Chinese kite), ceased altogether in the 1930s. Makoto Saito, who lives in the Bandai-Atami area of Koriyama, resurrected the craft in 1954 and has been producing the large, colourful kites ever since.
* Mr. Saito, a native of Aizu Wakamatsu, learned the craft from his grandfather and decided to begin making the kites when he realized that the craft seemed to be dying out. Today he is the only person in Fukushima still maintaining the tradition.
* Tojindako are known for their unique shape and colourful design. The most popular kind are the ones known as berodashi tojin. Berodashi literally means "stuck out tongue", and these kites' designs are dominated by a huge, red tongue sticking out of a frightening face. Also known as Berodashi Enma (Enma is the judge of hell), it is said that these kites were sometimes flown on the battlefield in an attempt to indimidate the enemy.
* Although the exact origin of Tojindako is unknown, countless theories abound. One is that the craft was started in Aizu by a Korean potter who was invited to Aizu to make ceramics. As a way to alleviate his homesickness, the potter decided to make a kite and fly it in the hope that someone back home would see it and remember him.
* Another theory has to do with the many Christians who once lived in Aizu. Because they were at one point severely prosecuted in Japan, Christians had to find clandestine ways to express their faith. The Christains of Aizu began making tojindako because the frame of the kites, made of thin bamboo sticks that cross each other, roughly resembled a crucifix.
* Mr. Saito makes about ten kites every two weeks. His most popular kite is a one-metre tall berodashi tojin which sells for approximately 14,000 yen. Mr. Saito also often makes custom kites for such places as stores, restaurants, and museums, sometimes as far away as Tokyo and Osaka.
[This information appeared in the June 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

TOKUGAWA YOSHINOBU Last shougun of Japan [1837- ]
* Tokugawa, as military leader of Japan, was not handling the affairs of the country very well. The emperor had very few powers and was unable to control the Shougun. However, other people noticed Tokugawa's lack of control and used it to try to bring the emperor back to power. A civil war ensued with the forces of the Meiji Emperor battling the allies of the Tokugawa Shougun. Eventually the emperor's army prevailed and the Shougun was stripped of his title and power.
* See Also:

TOKUSA ONSEN Hot Spring (Tateiwa)
Access: 1 hour and 10 minutes by bus from Aizu Tajima Station, get off at Tokusa Onsen Iriguchi
Contact: Tateiwa Kankou Kyoukai Shukuhaku Yoyaku Centre Tel: 0241-78-2546 or Tel: 0241-78-2795, Fax: 0241-78-3050

TOYASAN Mountain (Nishiaizu)
Height: 580.6m
Time needed: Around 1 hour
Open season: From the end of April to the middle of November
Access: 10 minutes by car from Nozawa Station or 30 minutes walk from Ogino Station
Contact: Nishiaizu-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-45-2211, Fax: 0241-45-4199

* Toyotomi was the Shougun (military leader of Japan) who ordered Ujisato Gamo to rebuild Tsurugajo and to protect the area from Sendai's Date family (Toyotomi's enemy).
* See Also:

TSUCHIYUZAWA ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 20 minutes by bus from Inawashiro Station, get off at Tsuchiyuzawa Onsen Iriguchi, the walk 10 minutes
Contact: Tsuchiyuzawa Onsen Ryokan Tel: 0241-32-2171

TSUJIRI ONSEN Hot Spring (Aizu Bange)
Access: 20 minutes by bus from Aizu Bange Station, get off at Tsujiri, then walk 5 minutes (welcome bus also available)
Contact: Taki no Yu Tel: 0242-83-3529

TSUKINOWAGUMA White Collared Bear
* Tsukinowa means "a white collar", like a halo around the moon. Guma comes from kuma, which means "bear".
* Bears have been an object of human fascination for ages and many cultures have engendered myths and rituals centering around this mysterious animal. In Japan, bears were once widely revered as the reincarnation of dead ancestors and ancient hunters referred to the bear as the lord of the mountain. Today, however, with the gradual constriction of its habitat, the bear faces becoming an endangered species in Japan and its image as a sacred animal has all but faded away.
* Japan is home to two types of bears, currently the largest land animals to roam its forests. The higuma is a brown bear that dwells only in Hokkaido. The tsukinowaguma, commonly known as the Japanese bear and easily recognizable by the white ring of fur around its neck, can be found throughout Japan's main islad of Honshu. Mainly the bears are found in the Tohoku (northeastern) region and the Japan Alps.
* It is estimated that approximately 850 tsukinowaguma currently inhabit Fukushima Prefecture. The majority of these animals live in the Aizu region, specifically in Tadami. A few inhabit the mountains of Fukushima's central region, while none can be found along the coast. However, because they are solitary animals who spend most of their time wandering in search of food, bears often roam across prefectural borders. Their habitat consists mainly of large beech forests in mountainous areas and they hibernate from December to April every year.
* Clay figures resembling bears and artifacts made from bear bones and teeth have been found at archaelogical sites throughout the Tohoku region and reflect the significance of the animal to earlier inhabitants of northern Japan. Considered a mysterious creature because of its ability to survive without eating during hibernation, bears were often the object of religious deference. The people of Tohoku often prayed that their dead relatives would return to this world, just as the bear wakes from hibernation every spring, seemingly coming back to life.
* A ritual developed out of this belief called kuma matsuri (bear festival). Considered a gift from the gods, bears came to be thought of as the spiritual reincarnation of dead relatives. A bear would be captured, fed well, and treated with reverence - sometimes for a few years if the bear was very young at the time of capture - before being ritually sacrificed. It was believed that this would allow deceased ancestors to appear once again in the human world.
* Once practised in various areas throughout northern Japan, today the festival is only performed by the Ainu, Japan's indigenous people, in Hokkaido. Its earlier religious significance, however, has dissipated and it is held more often than not as a tourist attraction.
* In the Tohoku region, ancient hunters called matagi considered the tsukinowaguma their most prized quarry because of the profits they could make from selling its meat and hide. The bear was also valued for its gall bladder, which was used as a medicine for a variety of diseases and ailments.
* An interesting aspect of the matagi was that, believing the use of the village words in the mountains would anger the mountain deities, they developed and esoteric vocabulary to be used only in the mountains. Moreover, groups of matagi existed throughout northern Japan and each locale developed their own unique lexicon. For example, the Tagokura matagi of Tadami in western Aizu called bears "koshimaki", water "sai", fire "momi", and rice "tagusa". These words are kuma, mizu, hi, and kome respectively in standard Japanese.
* It was forbidden to use the mountain language in the village or vice versa and a matagi who happened to use a village word on the hunt ran the risk of being ostracized. Ordinarily, the penalty was to be splashed with cold water as a sort of ablution or be made to return to the village. But sometimes the whole group would return because the sacredness of their hunt had been tainted by the sound of village words.
* Encounters between humans and bears is nothing new, but in recent years, with their habitat slowly shrinking due to the development of golf and ski resorts and the construction of road and dams, bears have begun venturing out of the mountains more and more as they forage for food. The damage to farming establishments (such as fruit farms, honey bee farms, and saplings planted to replace logged forests) that has been attributed to bears has increased significantly in recent years.
* Today, with the threat of extinction facing the tsukinowaguma, Japan's Environment Agency has set down rules aimed at protecting the bear and keeping it from becoming an endangered species. For example, hunters need a special permit, can only hunt from November 15 to February 15, and cannot shoot a bear with cubs. Hunters are strongly urged to voluntarily regulate themselves in following these rules. This approach seems to be working as the number of bears shot in recent years has significantly decreased. Furthermore, most of the bears that were shot were the ones who continued to invade crops or who were considered a threat to a particular community.
* In Japan, more bears are killed in Fukushima than in any other prefecture and this distinction has caused the prefectural government to take the task of protecting the bear into its own hands. It has set a goal of keeping the number of bears in Fukushima prefecture at the same levels, while still allowing for safe co-existence with humans. It will not be an easy task, but it is recognized as an essential one if the tsukinowaguma is to survive in Fukushima and remain lord of the mountain.
[This information appeared in the April 1993 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Thomas Madden.]

* See Also:

TSURUGAJOU Castle (Aizu Wakamatsu) [1384-, 1590-, -1874, 1965-present]
* This castle was originally the office of the leader of the local clan. However, the castle that you see today is just one reproduction in a long line of castles that have stood on this ground. (Most castles in Japan are reproductions of the originals which were destroyed in battle or in restorations.)
* [TSURUGAJOU or WAKAMATSUJOU] You will hear the castle being called both Tsurugajou and Wakamatsujou. Originally the castle was named Kurokawa Yakata by Ashina Naomori. When Gamou Ujisato reformed the castle, he named it both Tsurugajou and Wakamatsujou. In 1934, when the castle grounds were designated as a national historical site, the name on the register was Wakamatsujou. Both Tsurugajou and Wakamatsujou are now in current use, but almost everyone refers to the current castle Tsurugajou. (Sometimes the ruins of the older castles are referred to as the ruins of Wakamatsujou.) Tsuru means crane.
* [1384 - ASHINA NAOMORI] The original castle was built by a feudal lord named Naomori Ashina. The moat dates from this time, but there were no rock walls.
* [1590 - GAMOU UJISATO] Ujisato Gamou added the walls, a seven-storey castle, and several interior buildings.
* [1639 - KATOU AKINARI] Akinari Katou rebuilt the castle with five storeys and added the walls and gate at Ootemon. The castle built by Ujisato Gamou was damaged in an earthquake in 1611, necessitating this new building.
* [1965 - WAKAMATSU-SHI] The city of Wakamatsu rebuilt the castle which was demolished by the Meiji Government in 1874 after the Boshin Civil War.
* [OOTEMON] The main entrance of the castle used to be where ROUKABASHI (the red bridge) is. However, during the Edo period, the main route to Tokyo (Edo) was changed from Seaburiyama to Takizawa Touge. At that time, Akinari Kato changed the main entrance of the castle to Ootemon when he fortified the area in front of Taikomon and Tsubakizaka. Ootemon means "main entrance". Originally, the area in front of Tsubakizaka was just an open field, but Kato added rock walls and a gate called Ootemon. You can see marks in the rock walls where the gate used to stand. An example of such a gate is KUROGANEMON on the other side of the castle. Three pillars support each side of the gate. The gate is placed in a corner so that it cannot be attacked directly. However, this gate can be protected from several spots within the castle -- on top of the rock walls, across the moat, etc. Enemy who tried to attack this gate would quickly find themselves surrounded and forced to jump into the moat where they can be easily attacked. Right now there are a lot of trees in this area, but during the Edo period, they wouldn't have been here. The view would have been clearer. The walls that surround the castle not only protect the castle, but serve as a vantage point to check the actions of the enemy. The castle was put to great use during the Boshin Civil War of 1868. It is a great marvel that the structures designed during the peaceful Edo period could be put to use in a war over two hundred years after they had been built.
* [DEMARU] A demaru is an open space that can be used to reinforce defences. At Tsurugajou, there are four demaru (Kitademaru, Nishidemaru, Ninomaru, Sannomaru) and one Honmaru (the innermost circle). If you add all of this space together, you will get 290,000 square meters, which is six times larger than the Tokyo Dome. The walls that surround the demaru are the oldest remaining part of the castle.
* [WAKAMATSU JOUSHI] These walls are known as Wakamatsujoushi, which means "the remains of Wakamatsu Castle".
* [ENDO KEISHI] In 1890, a man named Keishi Endo bought all 28.935 hectares of the castle ruins for 2500 yen and donated them to the local lord, Matsudaira. A monument stands on the castle grounds to commemorate Endo's generosity. The castle grounds might not have been preserved without his kind act.
* [TSUBAKIZAKA or YOKOTEZAKA] After entering Ootemon, you will pass through an area called Kitademaru and come upon a slope called TSUBAKIZAKA or YOKOTEZAKA. A tsubaki is a camellia (a kind of flower) and saka is a slope. When a camellia wilts the flower flops over heavily and rather ungracefully (unlike the cherry blossom petals that float gently in the breeze when they have finished blossoming). The camellia has been likened to a person who has had his head lopped off. For this reason, the camellia is not a very auspicious flower. This slope is called tsubakizaka because you had to get permission to traverse it. If you started climbing the slope without permission, you were likely to end up being killed, rather ungracefully (and flop over like the camellia). The slope is now covered with asphalt which was put there for the National Sport Meet (Kokutai). Underneath the asphalt, the slope is divided into two sections, one for people and one for horses. The section for people took up about three quarters of the area of the slope and was covered in uneven log steps. Because the steps were quite roughly and unevenly made, an enemy would have to look down to traverse them. This made it an easy slope to defend. Ootemon was not created until 1639 when Katou Akinari changed the main entrance from ROUKABASHI. So, before Ootemon was created, this slope would have been one of the main access points to the castle. The rocks in these walls are the biggest that you will find on the castle grounds. They were all taken from the same mountain, Keizan in Aizu Wakamatsu, so they are all of a similar colour and texture.
* [AIZU FUDOKI] A fudoki is a book that describes various details of an area including climate, topographical features, and daily life (perhaps comparable to an almanac). One edition of the Aizu Fudoki includes information about the construction of Tsurugajou.
* [YUUJOISHI] The largest rock in the castle walls is located at the top of Tsubakizaka. It weighs over 7 tonnes (2000 GAN in old Japanese measurements) and is called YUUJOISHI. According to an edition of the Aizu Fudoki, a beautiful woman was placed on top of the 7 tonne stone to sing and dance and entertain the men while they transported the stone. Because of this, that particular stone is called "Yuujoishi" or the "rock of the amusing girl".
* [USETSU SAKOU] As you can imagine, it would not be very sensible for enemy forces to be able to enter Honmaru directly. In order to confuse the enemy, the walls were built so that you have to turn right then go left. This style of castle is called "usetsu sakou" or "turn right, go left". This was an added defence mechanism for the castle. This rule holds for the three entrances to Honmaru (Nishidemaru, Kitademaru, Ninomaru).
* [TAIKOMON] One of the gates is called "taikomon". A taiko is a large drum and mon means gate. At the top of the gate was a huge taiko drum with a diameter of approximately 1.8 meters. It was brought over from Korea in the 1500s. The drum was probably used to announce the arrival of various visitors, such as the local lord. It also might have been used to warn the people in the castle of an approaching enemy. The tree near the site of the gate would not have been here. The drum was probably damaged during the Boshin Civil War as no trace of it remains.
* [HONMARU] Honmaru is the central area of the castle grounds, the area that contains the castle itself.
* [ISHIGAKI] Three types of rock walls (ishigaki) can be seen at Tsurugajou. The first, and oldest is NOZURAZUMI (literally, "field facade construction"). Gamou Ujisato used this style of building to make the walls that support the castle itself. This style uses rocks that have been taken from rivers and they remain in their natural shapes (they are not cut into squares, for example). The advantage of nozurazumi is that it allows water to seep through the rocks without getting stuck. This makes the wall strong against the elements. The second oldest style is UCHIKOMIHAGI (literally, "hammer and put together joints"). The base was made of large rocks then smaller rocks were stuffed into the gaps. The larger rocks were shaped with tools (hammers), so they would stay together properly. This provides a very strong base. There were no machines for lifting the rocks, so the workers would build a slope, and roll the rocks up to the top, then pile up more sand. As the walls got higher, the slope got longer. They would eventually remove the dirt from the slope and grind the surface of the wall to get rid of parts that stuck out. Even now, you can see the vertical traces of this cutting and grinding that they did in the Edo period. This style of construction tends to trap water, so there is a possibility that the wall will succumb to water damage at some point. The advantage to this type of wall is that it looks better than the nozurazumi style, which looks quite primitive in comparison. An example of this style can be seen in the walls near TAIKOMON. The third and newest style is KIRIKOMIHAGI (literally "cut and put together joints") and a good example of it can be seen near Kuroganemon. In this style, rocks are cut and shaped to fit together perfectly.
* [MUSHABASHIRI] "Musha" means samurai and "hashiri" means rushing or running. When you put them together, they become mushabashiri, which is the word used to describe the stairs in the walls around the castle. These stairs were used by the defending samurai to climb up the walls in case of an attack. There are three styles of mushabashiri. The rock wall just inside honmaru is made in the "AWASEZAKA" or "AIZAKA" style, which means a pair of stairs facing each other in a V-shape. The stairs on one side of the V have been repaired, but the other set remain unrepaired. This style allows lots of soldiers to run up to the top of the wall quickly. (The tree on top of the rock wall at the top of the awasezaka is a keyaki (zelkova) which was not planted, but just started growing one year.) Another type is "GANGIZAKA" which is a long, steep staircase. The stairs that lead to Kanetsukidou (the bell tower) are a good example of this style. The third style is "KASANEZAKA", but there are no examples of this style on the grounds of Tsurugajou.
* [TSURUGAJOU INARI JINJA] This shrine is for people who need an extra bit of help with their schoolwork and tests. Just before "test season" in March, hundreds of school-children and their parents flock to this shrine to pray for good results. Foxes are said to be servants of the gods, so this shrine and the Kasama Jinja located on the other side of the castle are sometimes mistakenly called "Kitsune Jinja" or Fox Shrine. For some reason, foxes are said to like aburaage (fried tofu), so many people leave some after they make their wish.
* [OBIKURUWA] The commander controlled his troops from inside a thin, rectangular area called the "obikuruwa" which means "belt-like enclosure". The obikuruwa at Tsurugajou is very similar to the same structure in Osaka Castle. This area is the last line of defence before the enemy reaches the weaker buildings within the castle walls. Japanese castles often had very strong stone outer walls, but very weak, wooden buildings on the inside. This is in direct contrast with European castles, which often consist of one large, strong building surrounded by a moat.
* [WEAK BUILDINGS, STRONG WOMEN] The emperor's forces (SEIGUN) bombed the castle with cannons from Odayama. Occasionally, there would be as many as 2000 cannons firing. However, the castle and the buildings in the courtyard rarely burned down. The reason for this was that putting out fires was the job of the women at the castle. The moment a cannon landed, women would rush out with wet blankets, futons, or straw mats to cover the cannon before it exploded.
* [ENTRANCE OF HONMARU] There used to be an old rock wall here but it was taken down. It also follow the rule of USETSUSAKOU.
* [WALL ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE OBIKURUWA] On the top of this wall, there used to be wooden/metal wall through which soldiers could fire their weapons.
* [MONUMENT TO KAYANO GONBEE] This is a monument to Gonbee Kayano, one of the clan elders during the Boshin Civil War. He took responsibility for the Boshin Civil War by killing himself by ritual disembowelment. The citizens of Wakamatsu erected this monument to the memory of their Gonbee in 1934.
* [REMAINS OF THE OLD BUILDINGS] Honmaru contains about 29000 square metres (8840 tsubo in old Japanese measurements). There used to be many buildings in this space. There were two chambers called DAISHOIN and SHOUSHOIN (they included 86 and 48 tatami respectively). In the exact centre of Honmaru, there was a GOZASHO, room where the feudal lord could conduct political business or study. On the left hand side, behind the tonosama gozasho, there were two houses in a row. A courtesan (TSUBONE) lived in one of these houses, called NAGATSUBONE.
* After the Boshin War, many of the ruined buildings were bought by local temples. Gosankai and one of the genkan (entrance halls) were bought and moved to Amidaji in Nanukamachi. Tonosama Gozanoma (the rooms for the local lord) were taken to Chomeiji in Nisshinmachi. Unfortunately, two to three years later both the temple and the repaired building were burnt to the ground. The Hashirinagaya was moved to a sake store called Tsurunoe in Nanukamachi. Some of the ruins of a building from Honmaru were used in building Koutokuji, which includes Ujisato Gamou's gravesite, on Shinmeidori.
* [CROSSES] There are cross marks in about 10 different places at the castle. Most of them can be found on the outside walls of the ishigaki, but occasionally one can be found on the inside walls. They are almost impossible to see if you aren't looking for them. There is no record or explanation of where these marks came from or why they are there. Some people suggest that they were left by Christians (Ujisato Gamou, the man who rebuilt the castle in 1384, was a Christian. His Christian name was Ujisato Leo). Others suggest that perhaps the men who built the walls were trying to leave their mark on them.
* [GOSANKAI] Gosankai means "three floors". This building was used for secret conferences. From the outside, it looks like the building only has two floors. In fact, in between the first and second floor, there is another, small, secret floor. Once the last person enters the hidden room, the stairs can be taken away by the people inside the room. Spies could be detected easily because the corridor was built in a way that the floor boards creaked when someone walked on them. In 1874, this building was bought and moved to the temple grounds at Amidaji in Nanuka-machi, where it still stands today.
* [STEPS TO STOP SOIL FROM DRAINING] On the wall beside the moat, there are steps that were put there to stop the soil from draining away during heavy rain or from snow melting during the spring thaw.
* [ROUKABASHI] Roukabashi (meaning corridor bridge) is the red bridge leading to the castle from Ninomaru (where the tennis courts are now). The bridge used to have a roof, but it was removed because the soldiers couldn't see the enemy well enough. The bridge was built so that not very many people could get across the moat at once. Legend has it that pulling a certain board out of the bridge made the whole thing collapse, if necessary.
* [THREE TYPES OF JAPANESE CASTLE GROUNDS] The three types of Japanese castle grounds are YAMAJIRO (castle built on a mountain), HIRAYAMAJIRO (castle built on grounds with mountains and plains), and HIRAJIRO (castle built on a plain). Tsurugajou is considered to be a hirayamajiro because it was built on sloping grounds. This can be proven by the fact that the water level of the moat is different on opposite sides of the castle.
* [CONDITIONS DURING THE BOSHIN CIVIL WAR] During the Boshin Civil War, around 5000 people were trapped in the castle for about one month. There were about 600 to 700 women included in those numbers. Imagine that you are stuck in a place with 5000 other people, especially when that place was only built to hold a few hundred people. What do you think the biggest problem would be? Toilets! Kikuko Mizushima, a member of the women's fighting force, wrote about her experiences during that time.
* [MITO CHIGAI] Anyone of the people trapped inside was willing to give his or her life to protect the castle. Nevertheless, there were three problems with being confined to the castle grounds. The first was how to dispose of human waste, the second was how to get clean water, and the third was living with lice. The living conditions were disgusting. They came up with a clever way to solve the problem of getting rid of waste and getting clean water. The water was pumped in through an earthen pipe. If you go to the castle and look at the water on either side of Roukabashi (the red bridge), you will see that the water level is different on either side. This difference in water level is called "mito chigai". It may seem like there is just one moat, but that is not the case. The moats are actually separated and the water in one moat does not touch the water in another. This mito chigai design was originally made so that boats could not sail all the way around the castle and cause a blockade. However, this design turned out to have secondary benefits in that waste could be dumped into one side and water drawn from the other.
* [NINJA OTOSHI or NINJA KAESHI] This ishigaki is 20 metres high making it the tallest in eastern Japan. Because of the great size of the wall, the original builders realized that it would be difficult to repair should it be damaged. In order to make the wall less likely to crumble, two strategies were used. First of all, if the ishigaki was built perfectly straight, it would probably collapse under its own weight, so it was built with a bit of a curvature in the middle. This also protects the wall from damage from earthquakes. Secondly, the rocks in the wall were put together in a style called "GOBOUZUMI". (Gobou are long rectangular vegetables.) Long, rectangular rocks were used with the smallest side facing outwards. This made the wall extremely stable. This wall is called ninja otoshi (falling ninja) or ninja kaeshi (tumbling ninja) because it is extremely hard to scale due to its size and anyone who tries to climb it can be shot down easily from the wall that juts out at a ninety degree angle from it (YOKOYA KAKARI).
* [YOKOYA KAKARI] The rock walls zigzag in three spots. These zigzags are called "yokoya kakari". This pattern was useful for defending the castle grounds against invasion. If the enemy forces were trying to scale the bank, the defenders could stand on the top of the bank and fire arrows. The zigzag meant that the defenders had a wider range of view to work with (fewer blindspots).
* [SUMIYAGURA or MONOMIYAGURA or NURIKOMEYAGURA] There were eleven sumiyagura (literally corner towers) on the banks of Tsurugajou's grounds. Now only the bases remain, but there used to be buildings on these corner turrets. Sumiyagura served three main purposes. First, they allowed the soldiers to defend the castle walls. Second, they allowed the soldiers to attack the enemy. Third, they were used for the storage of various goods. Each sumiyagura was given a name so that the soldiers could refer to them quickly. Sometimes the purpose of a particular sumiyagura can be guessed from its name, but many of them remain a mystery. Sumiyagura were also sometimes called MONOMIYAGURA or "observation turrets". The names of the seven sumiyagura on the inner grounds are: Chatsuboyagura (tea holder tower), Tsukimiyagura (moon-viewing tower), Hoshiiyagura (dried rice tower), Seinansumiyagura (southwest corner tower), Yumiyagura (bow tower [as in bow and arrow]), Kitasumiyagura (north corner tower), Oyumiyagura (bow tower [again, bow and arrow]). Each tower had a structure on top that was made by covering pillars with two coats of black lacquer. The structure was so dark, it was difficult for the enemy to see, so they were referred to as NURIKOMEYAGURA, or lacquered container towers.
* [CHATSUBOYAGURA] You can almost see Iimoriyama from here. The tea stores were held in the warehouse that used to be at this site. You can see the cut marks in the walls where a wooden or metal wall would have stood. This wall was built to protect the soldiers, but there were holes in the walls so they could shoot approaching enemy.
* [HACHIMAKI ISHIGAKI] Ujisato Gamou built the rock walls on the inside of the moat on top of the natural embankments of the marsh. This kind of ishigaki is called "hachimaki ishigaki" or headband-like rock wall. This style of construction can only be found in Tohoku and Kantou (eastern Japan).
* [TSUKIMIYAGURA] Tsukimiyagura means moon-viewing tower. The south-east part of the castle is the best position for viewing the moon. It is also the best place for taking pictures because of the perfect frame of the castle building in the background. If you climb on top of tsukimi yagura, you can see a marsh called "ushinuma".
* [KOUJOU NO TSUKI] There is a monument on which is written a famous poem called Koujou no Tsuki (Moon over the dilapidated castle).
* [DOI BANSUI] Bansui Doi was a young man who visited the castle in Aizu Wakamatsu on a school trip. At that time, he was a high school student in Sendai. Later in his life, he was asked by the Ministry of Education to write poems for the country. He wrote a poem called Koujou no Tsuki, keeping in mind his memories of Tsurugajou and Aobajou in Sendai. He has given lectures about his thoughts while writing this poem (for example, he gave a speech at Aizu Girl's High School in 1946).
* [MONUMENT TO THE POEM] The citizens of Aizu Wakamatsu donated their money to support the building of a monument to commemorate the poem, Koujou no Tsuki. There are four monuments of Doi's poetry (in his writing) in Japan: one at Tsurugajou in Aizu Wakamatsu, one at Aobajou in Sendai (erected in 1950), one at the remains of Okajou in Takeda, Oita Prefecture, and one in Iwate Prefecture.
* [DRAINAGE SYSTEM FOR POLES] There are square slots carved out of the rock walls. They are clearly made to support wooden posts, but they have an interesting extra feature. If you look into the square holes, you will see that there is an opening at the bottom of the hole. This ingenious system allows water to drain out so that the bases of the wooden posts do not rot.
* [CONSTRUCTION SITE] Two buildings are being reconstructed: the Hoshiiyagura and the southern hashirinagaya. The decision to rebuild these structures coincided with the 100th anniversary of the founding of Aizu Wakamatsu City. They are scheduled to be finished in March 2001.
* [RINKAKU] Sen Rikkyu was a master of tea ceremony and flower arrangement who lived in Osaka. He was the tea ceremony advisor to Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1536-1598), the shogun of Japan. The detailed rules of tea ceremony that he created were so refined that they became accepted as the standard method and continue to be used today. Sen Rikyu had a daughter who was exceptionally beautiful. The shogun, Toyotomi, asked for her hand in marriage, but was continually refused by Sen Rikyu. Sen Rikyu was eventually accused of bribery and made to kill himself by ritual disembowelment. Ujisato Gamo was the leader in Aizu at this time. He was a great fan of culture and knew about Sen Rikyu and his incredibly elegant form of tea ceremony. Gamo also knew that Rikyu's family was also in danger of being killed (or being asked to kill themselves) and that, should it happen, would mean the end of Rikyu's style of tea ceremony. Gamo invited one of Rikyu's sons Sen Shoan to Aizu in order to protect him. Sen Shoan built Rinkaku, the tea room on the castle grounds, and taught and practised tea ceremony for the two years that he was being protected. Ieyasu Tokugawa (a future shogun) and Gamo eventually asked the shogun, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, to pardon Rikyu's relatives so that Shoan could return to his home. Hideyoshi agreed and Shoan returned to Kyoto to revive his father's techniques. The three most famous styles of tea ceremony practiced today, Omote Sen, Ura Sen, and Musha Kouji Sen, were created by Shoan's grandchildren (Sousa, Soushitsu, and Soushu, respectively). All of this happened thanks to a forward-thinking feudal lord in Aizu, Ujisato Gamo. The tearoom remained on the grounds of the castle until after the Boshin War. When Aizu was defeated, the remains of the buildings on the castle grounds went up for sale. A local tea ceremony expert, Zenbei Morikawa, bought the tea room and moved it to his garden. In 1990, it was returned to its rightful place, perfectly preserved thanks to the Morikawa family. Originally, the tea room would not have been surrounded by walls. (The walls were placed there because entrance to the tea room costs extra.)
* [UMA ARAI ISHI] Uma means horse, arai means wash, and ishi means stone. This is a kind of stone tub that was used to wash the horses. Water was taken from a well.
* [BABA] Baba means "horse place" and this is where the local lord (tonosama) would keep his horses and run them. The same kind of place for horses belonging to the warriors was called Sakura-no-baba (near the current Tsurugajou Kaikan).
* [PURPOSE OF THE CASTLE BUILDING] The purpose of the castle is threefold. First it is a symbol of the Aizu area. Second, it is useful as an observatory. Finally, it served as a control tower in times of battle. It is an easy mistake to think that it might have been a residence, but the fact that there were no windows is proof that it was never meant to be a comfortable palace like some of the castles in Europe.
* [TENSHUKAKU] Tenshukaku refers to the castle building. The walls at the bottom of the castle are built in the nozurazumi style. These walls are the oldest part of the castle grounds. They were built when Ujisato Gamou restructured the castle and the grounds in 1592-93. The rocks were brought by professionals from Anou in Shiga Prefecture. The walls may look like they were built on top of the earth, but in fact they go four metres into the ground. Because they were built in the NOZURAZUMI style, they are not susceptible to water damage because the water can run through the rocks easily without collecting in certain spots and weakening the wall. The corners are also strong. The strength and good design of the walls was proven in 1611 when a large earthquake occurred in Aizu Wakamatsu. Many rock walls were toppled, but the ones supporting the castle remained standing. The original castle was made of wood, but the current castle is made of concrete.
* [THE CURRENT CASTLE BUILDING] Unfortunately, Aizu was on the losing side of the Boshin Civil War. As a result, the castle was demolished in 1874 (five years after the war ended) by the Meiji government. It was destroyed because it was in a state of disrepair, but also because it symbolized the power of the Aizu clan. It was reconstructed in 1965 with the support of the local citizens. The cost of restoring the castle was 150,000,000 yen (around $1,500,000 US). The rock walls (ishigaki) at the base of the castle are 11 metres tall, and they are from the original castle. The original walls were not built to support the weight of a concrete building, so before the current castle was built, four thick metal poles were put into the ancient walls to support the new structure. The walls of the original building were flush with the wall, but the present castle's walls are somewhat smaller than the rock walls. Because the walls are the oldest part of the castle, every effort was made to preserve them while construction of the new building took place. Salt was stored in the cellar below the castle because the rock walls could keep it cool and dry. Salt was a precious commodity in the mountainous Aizu region. The 5-storey building above the salt cellars is 25 metres tall. Because of the height of the wall, the total height of the castle would equal the height of an 11-storey building.
* [DISPLAYS INSIDE THE CASTLE] Displays inside the castle change regularly. These items may not be on display right now. 1st floor - tomb-period excavations (4th to 7th centuries) and Buddhist materials 2nd floor - antique lacquerware and pottery 3rd & 4th floors - Boshin War items, Byakkotai displays 5th floor - observatory Southern wing - folk materials
* [YOROI KABUTO] This suit of armor was made of iron, covered with lacquer. At the front of the helmets, they have the symbol of their groups.
* [TSUKA] The castle has a collection of various "tsuka" or "sword guards". They served both a practical purpose (to protect the sword) and an asthetic purpose (to decorate the handle). Craftsmen were very proud of their ability to carve detailed patterns on the tsuka.
* [SHACHIHOKO] Shachihoko is the name of the mythical fish that decorate the top of the castle. They have the face of a tiger and the body of a fish. There is one female and one male. They are said to protect the castle from fires. The shachihoko do not appear in the famous picture of the castle just after the Boshin Civil War. However, they do appear in the original plans for the building constructed by Akinari Kato in 1639. It is possible that the shachihoko were destroyed in the war and therefore do not appear in the picture.
* [AKAI RANKAN] A red gate around the top of the castle was a feature of the original 7-storey castle built by GAMO UJISATO in the 1590s. When Akinari Katou restructured the castle into a 5-storey building during the Edo period (1639), he decided to keep the original red gate or "akai kouran". A red gate is the sign of an old castle - most castles that were built during the Edo period do not have a red gate.
* [HASHIRI NAGAYA] The long structure on the left side of the castle was used as a secondary headquarters when the obikuruwa was invaded. There are no windows on one side. It was also used to store weapons. In the case of the Aizu clan, the soldiers stored their personal weapons here (the structure used to run all around Honmaru). If the castle was suddenly in danger, the soldiers would run here (often in their regular clothes rather than their armor) and take up arms. As a part of the Aizu Wakamatsu 100th Anniversary celebrations, the minami (south) hashiri nagaya will be reconstructed. Since the castle was constructed in the Edo period, an essentially peaceful time, the weapons that were originally stored in the hashiri nagaya were quite dated by the time of the Boshin Civil war (two hundred years later). These old weapons (spears, swords, etc) had become treasures. Unfortunately, after the castle was defeated in 1868, the enemy forces made off with the valuable weapons and they were never to be seen in Aizu again. Unfortunately, the weapons didn't generally end up in museums, but were hoarded in private collections, so they may be lost to the Aizu family forever.
* [KUROGANEMON] Kuroganemon is a gate made from wood covered in iron. The rock walls beside the gate are made in the KIRIKOMIHAGI style of construction. This style is quite modern and involves cutting the rocks to fit into the walls.
* [KINPAKU NO KAWARA] Recently, there was a plan to build new public washrooms in different places on the castle grounds. However, a law in Japan states that no large-scale building can be done without first completing an archeological excavation. During the excavation process, the diggers found the remains of other ishigaki, traces of waterways, and ceramic roof tiles decorated with gold (kinpaku no kawara). The Agency of Culture has ordered the remains to be preserved, so the plans for new washrooms have been put on hold. These kinpaku no kawara were quite common in the Kansai area (western Japan, Kyoto, Kobe area), but they are a rare find in the Kantou/Tohoku areas (eastern Japan, Tokyo and north). The only other example in this area is Numata Castle in Gunma Prefecture. There were records of the gold roof tiles in a book called "Ujisatoki", but no one was able to prove that they had actually existed until they were unearthed in the late 1998.
* [MUSHADAMARI] The mushadamari is a long thin place where the soldiers could live during battles. It would not have been used during the Edo period after Katou's reforms to the castle, since by that time, soldiers did not live on the castle grounds.
* [HANAMI] There are approximately 900 sakura (cherry) trees on the castle grounds. These are the kind that do not bear fruit. Tourists flock to the castle during late April for cherry blossom viewing (hanami). Ostensibly, the purpose of gathering is to view the cherry blossoms, but it is really just a good excuse to relax and drink sake under the trees. There are two specific trees on the grounds that are used to gauge "blossoming" during the cherry blossom season. The cherry trees on the castle grounds were planted in 1908.
* [MUSHABASHIRI - GANGIZAKA] The set of stairs near the bell tower (kanetsukidou) were built in the gangizaka style. They are very steep and difficult to climb.
* [UMEZAKA or CHIKIRIZAKA] Umezaka means plum slope. There are some plum trees around this slope.
* [NISHIDEMARU] Nishidemaru is a parking lot now, but it used to contain many storehouses. There were places to store many of Aizu's traditional crafts, such as candles and lacquerware, and the tools to make them.
* [KANETSUKIDOU] Kanetsukidou is a bell tower. It was built in the 1700s. It used to toll every hour on the hour, but now it only rings at 12 noon. Noon was known as "kokonotsu", which actually means "nine". This comes from the fact that the bell would ring three times, then pause and ring nine times, so one could easily tell without listening to all of the rings that it was 12 noon and not eleven. During the Boshin Civil War, the bell tower became a symbol of Aizu's power because the regular tolling of the bell signalled that the castle was still in the Aizu clan's hands. The enemy forces, on the other hand, hated the sound of the bell, and thought it sounded like mockery. They often tried (and succeeded) to kill the bell-ringer by shooting at him from the opposite side of the moat, but they were eternally frustrated by the fact that some brave soul would then run out and ring the bell exactly on time anyway. The bell was moved to the castle walls that remain near the City Hall after the war, but it was returned to its rightful place in 1941. (Incidentally, the wall that remains near the City Hall also conforms to the "usetsusakou" form.)
* [YUMIYAGURA] Yumiyagura means "bow tower", and it might have been used to store bows (and possibly arrows) or other weapons.
* [AIZU FALL FESTIVAL] This festival is held on the national holiday on September 23rd. It is also known as the "Samurai Festival". Thousands of people dressed up in costumes from various periods of Aizu history parade through the streets on this day. The parade starts at the castle.
* Aizu Wakamatsu is well known for being the gateway to the beautiful scenic region of Ura Bandai, but it is also famous for its historical sights, the most prominent being Tsurugajou, which is regarded as the symbol of the city.
* The castle was built at the end of the fourteen century by Lord Ashina, and served as a stronghold for generations of rulers to follow, although it changed hands several times as a result of political struggles and wars. Aizu Wakamatsu was a prosperous castle town until the Boshin Civil War broke out at the beginning of the Meiji period (1868-1912). Although the people of Aizu fought valiantly to defend their town and castle, they were defeated by the anti-shogunate forces who eventually destroyed the castle in 1874. Tsurugajou was restored to its original state in 1965 and has become an important historical site, representing the warrior culture of the past. Standing five stories tall, the castle looks out over the town and is surrounded by a stone wall and a moat. In the castle grounds are planted a thousand cherry trees which add to its charm, especially when they are in full bloom in spring. Inside the castle is a history museum with exhibits ranging from excavated artifacts from the fourth century to displays on the Boshin War to local arts and crafts.
* Tsurugajou is open daily to visitors from 8:30am to 4:30pm and is located 15 minutes south of Aizu Wakamatsu Station.
[This information appeared in the Winter 1998 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

Bus Access Platform 5 at the Aizu Wakamatsu Station, In Front of the Post Office
Cost Adults 400 yen, Junior High and Elementary Students 150 yen
Ticket for Castle and Rinkaku Teahouse: Adults 500 yen, Junior High and Elementary Students 150 yen
Contact Information 965- Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Ote-machi
TEL: 0242-27-4005, FAX: 0242-27-4012
* See Also:

UNAI ONSEN Hot Spring (Aizu Bange)
Access: 20 minutes by bus from Aizu Bange Station, get off at Unai, then walk 5 minutes
Contact: Kankyousou Tel: 0242-83-0247

* The Ura Bandai region offers plenty for the hiker. The looming figure of Mount Bandai towers over a network of hiking trails that weave their way through the Bandai highlands. Of the many courses available, the Goshikinuma (Five Coloured Lakes) trail is one of the most stunning. An easy 3.6 kilometre (approximately one hour) flat walk through a dense forest of maples and pines, the trail winds around a collection of swamps which, due to mineral deposits in the water, range in colour from emerald green to rusty red.
* Oguni Marsh is another highlight of the area. Located west of Mount Bandai at the foot of Mount Oguni and Nekomagatake, the marsh, like Oze, is noted for its wild flowers. The five kilometre (approximately two hour) trail onto the marsh is a gentle climb through a forest of beech, Japanese oak, and maple trees, followed by a boardwalk descending through fields of day lilies, gentians, or blackberry lilies, depending on the season, onto the swamp below. For a half day trek, hikers can take a loop trail instead of returning through the forest. This slightly more demanding alternative, a six kilometre trail from the swamp, passes over Mount Oguni before descending to Kitashiobara's La Vie Spa. Hikers taking this alternative are able to leave their cars at La Vie Spa and take a shuttle bus to the beginning of the course.
[This information appeared in the Autumn 1999 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Ellen Burgess.]

* See Also:

URABANDAI WASEZAWA ONSEN Hot Spring (Kitashiobara)
Access: 50 minutes by bus from Inawashiro Station, get off at Wasezawa
Contact: Hibarako Minshuku Kumiai Tel: 0241-34-2127, Urabandai Wasezawa Onsen Kumiai Tel: 0241-34-2322

Access: 30 minutes by bus from Inawashiro Station
Contact: Urabandai Nekoma Hotel Tel: 0241-37-1111

UWADASHIRO Mountain (Hinoemata)
Height: 1600m
Time needed: 1 hour
Open season: From the middle of May to the middle of October
Access: 2 hours by bus from Tajima Station, get off at Oze Miike
Contact: Oze Hinoemata Onsen Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-75-2432, Fax: 0241-75-2336

YAJIDAIRA Mountain (Inawashiro)
Height: 1500m
Time needed: 10 minutes
Open season: From June to October
Access: 1 hour and 30 minutes by bus from Fukushima Station, then 1 hour and 30 minutes walk
Contact: Inawashiro Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0242-62-2048, Fax: 0242-62-2939

YAMADA SHIKKI KAIKAN Yamada Lacquerware Plaza (Aizu Wakamatsu)
Bus Access A bus is not necessary -- walk 5 minutes north of Aizu Wakamatsu station
Cost Plaza: free
Theatre: Adults 1200 yen, High School Students 1000 yen, Junior or Elementary Students 700 yen
Observatory: Adults 300 yen, High School Students 200 yen, Junior High and Elementary Students 100 yen
Free parking
Contact Information 965-0025 Fukushima-ken, Aizu Wakamatsu-shi, Ougi-machi 32-6
TEL: 0242-25-2225, FAX: 0242-25-2409
* See Also:

YAMAGUCHI ONSEN Hot Spring (Nangou)
Access: By bus from Tajima Station, get off at Yamaguchi Shako
Contact: Nangou-mura Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-72-2112, Fax: 0241-72-2002, Yamaguchi Onsen Tel: 0241-72-2588

YAMAGUCHI ONSEN KIRARA 289 Hot Spring (Nangou)
Access: By bus from Tajima Station, get off at Kirara 289
Contact: Kirara 289 Tel: 0241-72-1289

Access: 20 minutes by car from Yamato Station
Contact: Yamato-machi Hoyou Centre Tel: 0241-39-2360, Fax: 0241-39-2361

YANAIZU ONSEN Hot Spring (Yanaizu)
Access: Near Yanaizu Station
Contact: Yanaizu Onsen Ryokan Kumiai (Minatoya) Tel: 0241-42-2030

YOKUMUKI ONSEN Hot Spring (Inawashiro)
Access: 50 minutes by bus from Inawashiro Station
Contact: Hotel Mount Bandai Tel: 0242-64-3911

YUKI MATSURI Snow Festival (Tadami)
* [TADAMI YUKI MATSURI] From the month of December, the mountains in the south-west of Fukushima Prefecture can expect to receive between 3 and 5 metres of snow. The town of Tadami, with a population of 6500 (decreasing yearly) becomes even more isolated than it is in the warmer months.
* In order to prevent complete vegetation under the kotatsu, snowmen were built to entice people out of the confines of their houses. The idea worked and gradually the event grew and developed over the years. Moreover, as snow festivals became increasingly popular throughout the Minami Aizu region, Tadami decided to attract crowds by lighting the main snow sculptures at night and arranging a variety of events.
* 1990 saw the 18th Tadami Snow Festival held as usual on the second weekend in February. A reproduction in snow of Alhambra Palace (Granada, Spain) provided the centrepiece, and the sculptures of a traditional Japanese house, a pyramid and sphinx, and Godzilla completed the international flavour. Incidentally, these are built by the Self-Defence Forces, construction workers and the local school children during the week preceding the snow festival.
* Further diversity can be found in the entertainment. Local dances, the yanatori saotome and kagura from the neighbouring village of Meiwa, were performed on the snow stage. (The rival dance group, Kobayashi, wasa to have performed, but had spent the previous evening visiting 18 houses, an ancient tradition, and were therefore unable to attend!) The saotome depicts rice-planting and is said to bring people a good harvest. It can be traced back 400 years, the only difference being that the graceful, kimono-clad figures are now men. Apparently, women used to dance but were replaced when the rice crop failed one year.
* At midday, mochi is distributed, although various stalls around the festival site provide plenty more sustenance. The afternoon can be spent browsing among the local crafts on sale or wandering around the town looking at the snow creatures, ranging from dragons to sumo wrestlers, made by the people of Tadami. Alternatively, one can be entertained by the senior high school punk rock bands -- rivals for any of the Harajuku groups. The evening has a magical quality. Men in their 42nd year, clad only in loincloths, run through the crowds with blazing torches. These are taken to light the three bonfires, around which mochi is toasted on long poles. If eaten, the mochi is said to keep colds at bay. Soon afterwards, the sparks from the bonfires are replaced by a medley of fireworks outlining the snow-covered mountains against the night sky. This year, the star shaped character "dai" was traced with burning torches across the ski slope. The evening ends with the annual disco - there being something for everyone on the agenda.
* On the second day of the festival, the entertainment continues. As usual, there was a karaoke contest and Mr. Shiro Miya, an enka singer drew a large crowd. Unfortunately, the festival seems to enjoy fine weather for only one day, but determined to banish winter gloom, nothing was cancelled. Snowmobiles continued to zip around the campsite and amateur bands played to an audience of umbrellas in the evening. Those who attend, and an approximately 20,000 were expected, are impressed by the warmth of these snow-bound people. The trek to the great matsuri in this small community is worth the effort.
[This information appeared in the March 1990 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Susan Tonkin.]

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YUKI TO HI NO MATSURI Snow and Fire Festival (Mishima)
* For nearly 25 years, the residents of Mishima have been braving the winter chill and celebrating on of the prefecture's most lively festivals. The Snow and Fire Festival lures most of the townspeople out to the local baseball ground in February to enjoy the festivities and pray for continued good health and harvests.
* The festival was originally established to combat the debilitating effect of seasonal depopulation. Mishima's cultural association decided that a winter event was necessary to maintain a sense of community within the town. The first Snow and Fire Festival was held in Mishima in 1972. Attendance in the early years must have been fairly low since agricultural workers had to leave in the winter to find other sources of work. However, as the years went by, Mishima's winter exodus decreased and attendance at the festival grew correspondingly. Now the event is primarily held as a tourist attraction. Due to inclement weather, the 1996 festival saw a small drop in the number of revellers, but recent years have seen over 2,000 people frolic in the sub-zero temperatures. Since Mishima's population is a mere 2,910, these figures are impressive.
* Koshogatsu means "small new year" and corresponds to new year's day on the old calendar. According to the old calender, January 15th was the start of the new year. With the change to the Gregorian calender, the date moved to February 10th.
* Every year, brightly coloured dango, or rice dumplings, are hung from tree branches. This custom is known as dango sashi. As they attach the dango, the townspeople pray for a prosperous year.
* The main event in the festival, however, is sainokami. This celebration occurs throughout Japan, but is known as sainokami only in the Tohoku region. Essentially, the sainokami is a new year fire festival where the previous year's decorations are taken down and burned. In agricultural areas, the sainokami is done to ensure a rich harvest.
* On the morning of the 10th of February, local residents gather at the site of the festival and build the fire. A tree is taken from the local forest and wrapped in straw. At the top of the resulting totem-like structure, there is a white paper, called onpe. Once completed, the trees stretch over 20 metres into the air. At 6pm the same evening, a ceremony is held at the community centre where a local official strikes a flint with an iron bar. The sparks fly and catch bits of tinder which begins to smoulder. The tinder is used to light a wooden taper which in turn lights a candle. This flame will eventually be used to ignite the trees.
* However, the festivities in the community centre are far from over. A group of local residents practice all year for this moment. They don amusing masks and perform a dance. The dance appeases any evil spirits, securing the safety of the village for another year. The performance, which features an encounter between a lion and a cheeky young man enthralls the audience for 30 minutes. After the performance ends, children rush to have their heads engulfed by the jaws of the lion, which ensures good fortune for the coming year.
* The participants then make their way to the site, where the trees are set aflame on the stroke of seven. Children are mesmerized by the flames, excited by fireworks, and exhausted from playing on the snow sculptures that they created earlier in the day. The entire town contributes something to the occasion, whether by attending and participating in the event or by creating snow-lanterns in front of their houses.
* As the flames die on the sainokami, children and adults alike approach the embers to warm their dango sashi, marking the end of a memorable day for the whole community.
[This information appeared in the Spring 1996 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Duncan Flett.]

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Access: 20 minutes walk from Honmei Station or 15 minutes by car from Aizu Kawaguchi Station
Contact: Kaneyama-machi Kankou Kyoukai Tel: 0241-54-2311, Fax: 0241-54-2848

YUNOHANA ONSEN Hot Spring (Tateiwa)
Access: 40 minutes by bus from Aizu Kougen Station, get off at Yunohana Onsen
Contact: Tateiwa Kankou Kyoukai Shukuhaku Yoyaku Centre Tel: 0241-78-2546 or Tel: 0241-78-2795, Fax: 0241-78-3050

YUNOKAMI ONSEN Hot Spring (Shimogou)
Access: 10 minutes walk from Yunokami Onsen Station
Contact: Yunokami Onsen Ryokan Kumiai Tel: 0241-68-2876, Yunokami Onsen Kaihatsu Kabushikigaisha Tel: 0241-68-2569

YUUTOPIA BANGE Hot Spring (Aizu Bange)
Access: 10 minutes by car from Aizu Bange Station
Contact: Aizu Bange Koukyou Service Tel: 0242-83-1151

YUZURIHA Group of artists (Atsushiokanou)
* Travel up to a certain, small, winding mountain road in the north of Aizu and you will arrive at what, at first glance, seems to be the middle of nowhere. Kuroiwa is a very small, isolated area, offically part of the village of Atsushiokano. The community's population has been drastically reduced over the years as younger residents moved away. leaving their elderly parents behind. This trend has been reversed recently, as a group of artists have taken to the hills to become a part of Kuroiwa's small but close-knit community.
* A few years ago, a young artist by the name of Akinobu Aoto came to Kuroiwa as a visitor. He enjoyed the experience so much that he soon quit his job as an art instructor and moved up to the Aizu community with some of his family. He also invited two other artists who had become intrigued with the idea of living and working in a mountainous setting. A year later, in April 1994, they were joined by a fourth artist, rounding out a group with varied artistic interests and backgrounds.
* Together, they have created "Yuzuriha Studio" at an old elementary school in Kuroiwa. The studio environment allows the artists to work on group projects such as designing posters or postcards, plan exhibitions, and still work on their own individual projects. The studio takes its name from a type of tree that does not lose its older leaves until the new ones are ready. Name the studio after the yuzuriha is clearly a metaphor for the community itself, as the younger artists help replace the declining population of Kuroiwa. Once a neighbourhood of over 200 people, local residents now number only 17, including the artists. The Yuzuriha group has brought new life to this aging community and, in return, is learning about traditional ways of living from the elderly inhabitants. For example, the two groups have co-operated in the building of a water-powered device to mill the rice they have grown. The elderly supplied the knowledge and the artists the muscle. The Yuzuriha group hopes to learn as much as they can, and preserve this knowledge for future generations.
* The pace of life in the mountains is slow and work at the Yuzuriha studio proceeds at an unhurried pace. There is a surprising lack of schedules here (except when the fields need tending) that contributes to a relaxed, almost communal atmosphere. Mountain living provides the artists with a clean, healthy environment with plenty of inspiration, although they say it can get lonely, especially in the winter. Kuroiwa gets more snow than any other community in Fukushima (two metres is not unusual) and is often cut off from "civilization" until the plow arrives. The local artists have decided to make the best of all the snow by applying their sculpting talents to local drifts. This year they carved twenty-four figures around Kuroiwa, and then lit them up with over 250 candles, which attracted several hundred people from around the prefecture.
* The community of Kuroiwa has a new lease on life, thanks to some young people from around the country who have settled there to experience a more traditional, natural lifestyle. The Yuzuriha artists now hope to broaden the diversity of their group by adding new members of different backgrounds as they look to the future and the past from their mountain home.
[This information appeared in the Spring 1995 edition of OUTLOOK, Fukushima Prefecture's English newsletter. The article was written by Christian Hansen.]

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Aizu Glossary - Main Index

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