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8 Things To Do In Aizuwakamatsu In A Day

Melynie
Updated Sep 13, 2018

If you are considering visiting Tohoku and are looking for things to do, be sure to make a trip to Aizuwakamatsu. Although lesser known than Sendai or Morioka, Aizuwakamatsu is located in the middle of Fukushima prefecture and is a city with rich samurai history, beautiful sightseeing spots and delicious sake (Japanese rice wine). Here are 8 things any traveller will enjoy in Aizuwakamatsu, even if you’ve only got a day! If you plan to stay longer, there are beautiful Onsen Ryokans for you to stay at as well!

Top 3 activities to book in aizuwakamatsu

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Getting to and around Aizuwakamatsu

Getting to Aizuwakamatsu is not as simple as getting on one shinkansen (bullet train), but it certainly is not complicated. First, take either the Yamabiko (Tohoku Shinkansen) or the Tsubasa (Yamagata Shinkansen) from Tokyo or Ueno station to Koriyama station. Although northbound shinkansens usually depart from the Ueno station and west/southbound shinkansens depart from the Tokyo station, when going to Aizuwakamatsu you can leave from either stations (much like going to Kanazawa).

From Koriyama, Aizuwakamatsu is easily accessible by the Ban-etsu West Line. The entire journey takes a little over 3 hours (the shinkansen takes around an hour and 20 minutes, while the Ban-etsu West Line ride takes an hour and 25 minutes) and costs 9100 JPY (~79.6 USD).

For those looking to save some cash, there is an alternative highway bus route from Shinjuku station directly to Aizuwakamatsu. The journey takes around 4.5 hours, but only costs 5000 JPY (~43.7 USD).

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Source: Aizu bus

Once in Aizuwakamatsu, it is easy to get around by local bus like the “Haikara-san” or “Akape” buses. The fare for a ride begins from 210 JPY (~1.84 USD), but there is a one-day pass available for 700 JPY (~6.13 USD) which includes free rides on both aforementioned buses as well as other local buses in the area.

Eat "Sauce-katsu" at Medetaiya

Every city has a local dish that they’re famous for, and Aizuwakamatsu is no exception. Although there are many different culinary options in Aizuwakamatsu, our favorite is the “sauce-katsu” at Medetaiya.

Contrary to normal katsu-don, “sauce-katsu” is already layered with rich, specialty sauce. Medetaiya itself is a favorite among locals, often crowded during lunch and dinner hours. Medetaiya offers its famous “sauce-katsu” for 1000 JPY (~8.75 USD). For those looking for a little more variety, there is also an option of getting an Aizu ramen and mini “sauce-katsu” for 1000 JPY.

Medetaiya

Address: 3-1 Sengokumachi, Aizuwakamatsu-city, Fukushima prefecture

Price: Around 1000 JPY

Opening Hours: Weekdays+Sat 11am-9pm, Sun+Holidays 11am-8pm. Closed Mon.

Access: 1 min walk from Sengoku Chuo bus station

Contact: +81 242-33-0288

Medetaiya

Visit Tsurugajo Castle

The main attraction of Aizuwakamatsu is Tsurugajo Castle, a must-see for all history buffs. With the exception of the castle walls the entire castle was destroyed during the Boshin War in 1868-9, when the Aizu clan fought valiantly as the last of the samurai against the Meiji governmental forces. The castle was later reconstructed in the later half of the 19th century.

Visitors can explore the rebuilt castle and learn about the history of the Aizu clan as well as the gritty details of the Boshin War and its influential players. The top of the castle offers a spectacular view of Aizuwakamatsu city and the surrounding area, and there is also a small teahouse on the grounds where visitors can enjoy fresh matcha (green tea) and wagashi (Japanese sweets).

Tsurugajo Castle

Address: 1-1 Otemachi, Aizuwakamatsu-city, Fukushima Prefecture

Price: 410 JPY (Tsurugajo Castle only), 510 JPY (Tsurugajo Castle + Rinkaku Tea Cottage)

Opening Hours: 8:30am - 5pm. Last entry 4:30pm

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 5 min walk from Tsurugajo Castle Iriguchi bus stop

Contact: +81 242-23-8000

Tsurugajo Castle

Slip back in time at Oyakuen

Oyakuen is a medicinal garden that was maintained by Lord Matsudaira. In the 14th century it was believed that there was a spring that cured people’s ailments on the site, which is why Morihisa Ashina, then-ruler of Aizu, built a villa in the area. Today, Oyakuen houses a variety of medicinal herbs and plants, as well as a beautiful teahouse surrounded by the original spring.

Guests are invited to stroll around the garden itself, or experience an authentic tea ceremony in the villa.

Oyakuen

Address: 8-1 Hanaharu-machi, Aizuwakamatsu-city, Fukushima prefecture

Price: 320 JPY

Opening Hours: 8:30am - 5pm. Last entry 4:30 pm.

Duration: around 30 min required.

Access: 3 min walk from Oyakuen bus stop

Contact: +81 242-23-8000

Oyakuen

Stroll around Nanukamachi Street

If you are looking to take a breather from sightseeing, be sure to pay a visit to Nanukamachi Street, or Nanukamachi-doori. This little road is filled with Taisho-style romance, lined with quaint shops selling everything from lacquerware to homemade Japanese sweets and everything in-between. Nanukamachi Street is a great place to pick up omiyage (gifts) as a souvenir of Aizu, as there are shops that sell the famous Aizu urushi-nuri lacquerware, as well as other trinkets.

Nanukamachi

Address: 5 Nanokamachi, Aizuwakamatsu-shi, Fukushima prefecture

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 1 min walk from Nanukamachi station

Website: Nankuamachi (Aizu Tourism Bureau)

Sip sake at Suehiro Brewery

Whether you are a sake fan or not, be sure to check out the Suehiro Sake Brewery while in Aizuwakamatsu. Established in 1850, the Suehiro Brewery has been around for generations, and is one of the most famous sake brewers in Tohoku. Suehiro Brewery provides sake for Nikko’s Toshogu Shrine, sumo and kabuki events, and even for Akie Abe, wife of PM Shinzo Abe, herself.

The brewery offers free, 30 minute long tours of the brewery where visitors can learn about the open-fermentation process as well as the history of the Suehiro family. At the end of the tour, visitors are encouraged to try a variety of Suehiro’s specialty sake.

Suehiro Sake Brewery

Address: 12-38 Nisshinmachi, Aizuwakamatsu-city, Fukushima prefecture

Price: Free

Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm.

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 1 min walk from Yamato-cho bus station

Contact: +81 242-27-0002

Suehiro Sake Brewery

Make a one-of-a-kind souvenir at Aizu Kosen Koboshi

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Source: Trip101

If you are looking for a unique experience be sure to make a reservation at Aizu Kosen Koboshi to make your own, one-of-a-kind souvenir. Aizu Kosen Koboshi, located near Mt. Iimori, offers a wide selection of do-it-yourself souvenir options. Special to Aizuwakamatsu are the “akabeko”, a red cow that bobs its head, “e-rosoku”, literally a painted candle, and “koboshi”, a round Buddhist priest figurine that will never topple over.

Choose what you would like to make and go straight to the store for your painting experience. Aizu Kosen Koboshi provides you with all the paint and materials you need. While there, be sure to try out the “koboshi-yaki”, a sweet treat made in the likeness of a “koboshi.”

Aizu Kosen Koboshi

Address: 236-1 Ushigahaka, Ikkimachi Ōaza Yahata, Aizuwakamatsu-city, Fukushima prefecture

Price: Make-your-own souvenirs from 756 JPY

Opening Hours: Apr-Nov 8:30am - 5pm, Dec-Mar 9am - 4:30pm.

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 5 min walk from Iimoriyama-ka bus stop

Contact: +81 242-85-6218

Aizu Kosen Koboshi

Make your own pottery

You can plan a day to visit the Ki no Oto Koubou, where you can make your own pottery. After paying a visit to the climbing kiln, you will get an insight of the pottery work and make or decorate your own designs. The professional staff will guide you through the teniberi process, where you can control the rotating wheel with one hand while the clay sits on it. Tourists will love the pottery making process and they can make various items out of 500 grams of clay by paying 1000 yen or use 1 kg of clay at a cost of 2000 yen. Once the item is made, it takes almost two months before it is shipped for delivery.

Visit Aizu Homare Sake Brewery

Tourists will love a visit to the brewery, where they can take a tour and gain knowledge about the sake-making process. After the informative tour you can visit the tasting room at the reception, where you can enjoy various kinds of fresh-refined sake, shochu and liqueur. The 4000 square meter Japanese garden is also a huge attraction among tourists. Tourists can calm their sweet tooth with the tart yuzu sake or a cloudy strawberry sake, which gives a dessert like feeling. This brewery has won many accolades among which is The International Wine Challenge for blind taste wine competition since 2013.

Aizuwakamatsu: So much to do in only one day!

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Source: Trip101

Although Aizuwakamatsu is a little far off the well-beaten tourist path, it is a great getaway in the Tohoku area. Whether you are looking to experience what it was like to live in a former samurai town, sip some delicious sake or dine on some local cuisine Aizuwakamatsu has something for everyone. Next time you find yourself planning a trip to Tohoku, be sure to include Aizuwakamatsu on your list. It will be worth it even if you only have a day!

This article was originally published on Mar 06, 2017
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Fifth-generation Japanese-American adventuring around Japan. Born in Hawaii and based in Tokyo, Melynie is a recent graduate of Waseda University. Likes cute coffee shops, handicrafts and...Read more

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