The historical city was developed as one of the most active castle towns in Tohoku by a great commander Gamou Ujisato approximately 420 years ago.
It is also known for its dramatic events including the Boshin Civil War of 1868.
First, I went to Nanokamachi railway station, next stop of Aizuwakamatsu, to visit Nanokamachi-Dori Street where the character of castle town still noticeably remains.
Wooden shop houses and western-style buildings are scattered along Nanokamachi-Dori Street, traditional handicraft shops selling lacquerware and hand-painted candles are among them.
While strolling with a map, I came across various pleasures such as an old warehouse-like convenience store or a sake brewer offering samples for tasting.
Going around the town by rented bicycle must be a fun experience.
After “Aizu ramen” noodle lunch, I took an excursion bus named “Haikara-san” to go to the “Oyakuen” garden of Aizu Matsudaira clan, then a famous Tsurugajo Castle which is a symbol of Aizuwakamatsu. The castle has gone through renovation to restore the roof of the tower and reopened with red tiles that were originally lain in the Edo era. It is only tower with red tiles in Japan.
The tower is a museum offering unique experiences with historical and cultural exhibits. The top floor on the 5th storey gives a panoramic view of Aizu, including Mt. Aizubandai and Mr. Iimori where “Byakko Tai (white tigers)”, a group of young samurai of the Aizu clan, committed mass suicide.
The castle was so crowded and packed with many visitors while children’s lively voices were echoing inside.
Currently, performance by “Samurai City Aizu Troop”, clad in armor and hakama (loose-legged pleated trousers) is on in Aizuwakamatsu. These samurais go round tourist stops to welcome visitors, covering Tsurugajo Castel, JR Aizuwakamatsu station, Nanokamachi-Dori street, and Mt. Iimori.
You are welcomed to take a photograph with them. Young and old shouldn’t miss the chance to pose for a souvenir photo!
I took a direct express bus from Sendai to Aizuwakamatsu this time. Its one-way trip takes 2 hours and 15 minutes, and no reservation is required. On day trip was enjoyable enough but I would like to stay overnight at Higashiyama Onsen spring resort (10 minutes by car from Aizuwakamatsu) to relax and explore, paint “Akabeko (red ox)” dolls or visit Mt. Iimori.