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The Perfect Overnight Itinerary For Aizuwakamatsu, Japan

Melynie
Posted May 02, 2017

Aizuwakamatsu, located in Fukushima prefecture, is a quaint castle town filled with a rich samurai history. Although a little off the beaten path, Aizuwakamatsu is a great stop for any traveller who is looking to get the full Tohoku experience. With delicious food offerings, historical spots and even hot springs resorts, Aizuwakamatsu is a highly overlooked destination. Here we give you our perfect itinerary for a two-day, one-night experience in Aizuwakamatsu, complete with sightseeing and food recommendations as well as directions to get around the city.

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Getting to and around Aizuwakamatsu

How to get to Aizuwakamatsu?

Aizuwakamatsu is accessible from central Tokyo either by the Yamabiko (Tohoku Shinkansen) or the Tsubasa (Yamagata Shinkansen). After taking the bullet train to Koriyama station, change to the local line, Ban-Etsu Line, to get to Aizuwakamatsu station. Travel time is somewhere around 3 hours and costs 9,100 JPY (81 USD) one way. How to Get to Bullet Train in Japan?

For this itinerary, it is recommended to take the 8:56 am Yamabiko to Koriyama for arrival in Aizuwakamatsu by noon. You can find more details in 6 Things to Do in Aizuwakamatsu in a Day, too!

How to get around Aizuwakamatsu?

Once in Aizuwakamatsu, the city is accessible by local buses. The “Haikara-san” or “Akape” buses go around Aizuwakamatsu with a ride fare that begins from 210 JPY (1.90 USD), but there is a one-day pass available for 700 JPY (6.20 USD) that includes free rides on both buses as well as other local buses. All info is available at the information counter at Aizuwakamatsu station upon arrival.

DAY ONE: 12pm - lunch "Sauce-katsu" at Medetaiya

As soon as you get to Aizuwakamatsu, it will be lunch time, and our recommendation to kick off your trip is by getting “sauce-katsu” at Medetaiya. “Sauce-katsu” is a local Aizuwakamatsu favourite, and is available for either 1000 JPY (8.90 USD) for a regular-sized bowl or 1000 JPY for a special that comes with a bowl of ramen noodles and a mini “sauce-katsu”. Medetaiya itself is loved by locals, and is often crowded during lunch and dinner hours.

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

1pm - Suehiro Sake Brewery Tour

After getting your fill of food, next is alcohol! Suehiro Brewery is one of the most prominent sake breweries in the Tohoku region, making sake for special kabuki events and even for high-profile figures such as Akie Abe, wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Suehiro Brewery offers 30-minute long free tours of the brewery, where visitors can learn how sake is made and about the history of the Suehiro family. Be sure to save time at the end for sake tasting; Suehiro Brewery offers a wide selection of sake for visitors to taste with a handful of limited-edition bottles as well!

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

PLAN A: 2pm - Iimoriyama / Sazaze-do

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If you are interested in history and if the weather is nice, be sure to check out Iimoriyama and Sazae-do. Located in the mountains, Iimoriyama is the gravesite of the “Byakkotai” (“White Tiger Force”), a group of young teenage samurai who died in the Battle of Aizu. Neighbouring Iimoriyama is Sazae-do, officially known as “Old Shoshuji Entsu Sansodo”. This Important Cultural Property was finished in 1796, and is a rare example of a double helix staircase that even da Vinci himself couldn’t achieve.

Iimoriyama

Address: Ikki-machi Yahata, Aizuwakamatsu-city, Fukushima prefecture

Price: Free

Opening Hours: 9am - sunset

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 5-min walk from Iimoriyama-ka bus stop

Contact: +81 242-22-5818

Iimoriyama

Sazae-do

Address: 1404 Bentenshita, Ikkimachi Yahata, Aizuwakamatsu-city, Fukushima prefecture

Price: 400 JPY (3.60 USD)

Opening Hours: 9am - sunset

Access: 5-min walk from Iimoriyama-ka bus stop

Contact: +81 242−22−3163

Sazae-do

PLAN B: 2pm - Bukeyashiki (Samurai House)

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If the weather keeps you from going to Iimoriyama and Sazae-do, never fear! Another recommendation in the area is the Aizu Bukeyashiki, the former residence of the highest-ranked samurai in Aizuwakamatsu. One of the most well-preserved bukeyashiki in Japan, Aizu Bukeyashiki lets visitors step back into the Edo period and walk in the shoes of a samurai. There is also a neat museum, restaurant and a variety of traditional activities on offer.

Aizu Bukeyashiki (Samurai house)

Address: 1 Higashiyamamachiishiyama, Aizuwakamatsu-city, Fukushima prefecture

Price: 850 JPY (7.60 USD)

Opening Hours: 8:30am - 5pm (April to November), 9am - 4:30pm (December to March)

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 1-min from Aizu Bukeyashiki-mae bus stop

Contact: +81 242-28-2525

Aizu Bukeyashiki

4pm - Make a souvenir at Aizu Kosen Koboshi

Purchasing keepsakes is inevitable during any trip, but at Aizu Kosen Koboshi, you are allowed to put your own personal touch on some local souvenirs. Aizu Kosen Koboshi offers a wide range of Aizuwakamatsu souvenirs, from the “akabeko” red cow that bobbles its head to the “koboshi”, a monk priest that will never topple. Guests are invited to let their creative juices flow and decorate their own souvenirs, all paint and wrapping are provided.

While at Aizu Kosen Koboshi, be sure to try out the “koboshi-yaki”, a sweet little pick-me-up available with anko (red bean) and custard fillings.

Aizu Kosen Koboshi

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

Price: Make-your-own souvenirs from 756 JPY (6.70 USD)

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

Check in and relax at Ryokan Harataki

If you plan to stay overnight in Aizuwakamatsu, there is no better place than Higashiyama’s onsen town. Located just a mere 15 minutes away from the station, Higashiyama has a wide variety of ryokan (traditional Japanese-style inns). Take a dip in the onsen (hot springs) while enjoying the view of the mountains. Our recommendation is Harataki, an upscale inn with a rotenburo (outdoor bath) and an excellent kaiseki (traditional Japanese-style course menu) option.

Harataki

Address: 235 Yumoto, Higashiyama-machi, Aizuwakamatsu-city, Fukushima prefecture

Price: around 20,000 JPY (178 USD) / person

Access: 15-min drive from Aizuwakamatsu station

Contact: +81-0242-26-4126

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DAY TWO: 9:30am - Oyakuen, a beautiful Japanese garden

Start off day two by taking a stroll around Oyakuen, also known as Aizu Matsudaira’s Royal Garden. “Oyakuen” literally means medicinal herb garden, and is home to a wide variety of herbs planted by the Matsudairas as well as ordinary citizens. Originally the villa of Morihisa Ashina, the feudal lord of the Ashina clan, the garden was believed to be a sacred place.

The garden’s pond is shaped like the Chinese character for “heart” (read “kokoro” or “shin”) and is apparently named “Shin no Ike”. Visitors can also enjoy an authentic tea ceremony while visiting Oyakuen.

Oyakuen

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

Price: 320 JPY (2.80 USD)

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

Duration: around 30 minutes required.

Access: 3-min walk from Oyakuen bus stop

Contact: +81 242-23-8000

Oyakuen

11am - Tsurugajo Castle

When in Aizuwakamatsu, it is an absolute must to check out Tsurugajo Castle, the main sightseeing spot in the city. Tsurugajo Castle was an important Tokugawa stronghold in Tohoku. The castle was destroyed in the Battle of Aizu, when Meiji government officials attacked and burned down everything but the outer walls. The replica of the original castle is stunning, and houses a museum with information about the Aizu clan and the Battle of Aizu.

Tsurugajo Castle

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

Price: 410 JPY or 3.60 USD (Tsurugajo Castle only), 510 JPY or 4.50 USD (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

1pm - Ouchijuku, an old town from Edo period

Although removed from the central city area of Aizuwakamatsu, Ouchijuku is a must see for visitors who have the time. Ouchijuku was originally a post town in the Edo period, and the buildings have been preserved as they were before the Meiji Restoration. Now a popular tourist spot, Ouchijuku offers a trip back in time. Be sure to check out the shops that line the road with their handmade goodies and to try out the “negi-soba”, soba with an entire green onion!

Most people usually go to Ouchijuku by personal car or bus. From April to November there is a bus that runs from Yunokami Onsen station to Ouchijuku Iriguchi bus stop. The ride takes about 20 minutes and a free pass is 1000 JPY (8.90 USD) per person. In other months there are tour buses that include package deals to Tsurugajo Castle and Ouchijuku for 5000 JPY (44 USD) per person.

Ouchijuku

Address: Shimogo machi, Minami-Aizu gun, Fukushima prefecture

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: 5-min walk from Ouchijuku Iriguchi bus stop

Contact: +81 241-68-3611

Ouchijuku

4pm - Shopping and tea time at Nanukamachi

Before heading back to Tokyo, take some time to relax and finish up your shopping at Nanukamachi. Nanukamachi has a quaint Taisho vibe, with many traditional buildings that offer items unique to Aizuwakamatsu as well as cafes, such as Yamadera Chaya. You can get anything from traditional Aizu nurushi lacquerware to “e-rosoku” (painted candles).

Yamadera Chaya

Address: 3-32 Nanukamachi, Aizuwakamatsu city, Fukushima prefecture

Price: from 500 JPY (4.40 USD)

Opening Hours: 11:30am - 7:30 pm

Access: 2-min walk from Nanukamachi station

Contact: +81 242–26–8079

Yamadera Chaya

5pm - Heading back to Tokyo!

Take the 5:12pm train from Aizuwakamatsu station to Koriyama and then hop on the 6:30pm Yamabiko shinkansen from Koriyama station to Tokyo station. That will get you back to Tokyo by 9pm.The night is still young!

Walking in the footsteps of the samurai in Aizuwakamatsu

From cultural heritage sights overflowing with history to delicious food and sake, Aizuwakamatsu is a perfect two-day getaway for anyone looking to have a good time in Tohoku. Next time you have the chance to go to Aizuwakamatsu, be sure to use this itinerary to help you navigate the city and make the most out of your time!

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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