The Aizu Area is located on the west side of Fukushima Prefecture in the southern part of the Tohoku Region of Japan. With over 1200 years of Buddhist history, Buddhist culture is deeply ingrained in life in Aizu. Additionally, because the area was ruled by many famous samurai from the Sengoku (Warring States) Period (the end of the fifteenth century) up until the end of the Edo Period (the end of the nineteenth century), Aizu culture has deep roots in samurai culture.
The charming Aizu Area is full of places to see and things to try, including the rich natural beauty and hot springs of Mt. Bandai and Lake Inawashiro, and delicious local products like sake, soba, and ramen.
Aka means “red” and beko means “cow.” These dolls were created based on the legendary red cattle that lent their strength to the construction of temples in the Aizu region 1,200 years ago. They are beloved by the people of Aizuwakamatsu as bringers of happiness and guardian spirits of children.
Okiagari-koboshi is a representative lucky charm of Aizu. It is believed to bring good luck as a symbol of perseverance and good health, due to the fact that it stands straight back up after falling over. It is an indispensable good luck charm in Aizu homes, where there is a tradition of buying one more okiagari-koboshi than the number of people in one's family at the first market of every year.
Here are over 30 sake breweries in the Aizu region. Aizuwakamatsu sake is beloved by the Japanese people, and it has won many gold prizes in national awards ceremonies. All sake brewing that makes use of rice and sake from Aizu is of high quality.
Aizu lacquer has a 400-year history of use in unique Aizu paintings and gold lacquerware using very fine specks of gold. This is a nationally designated traditional craft. The variety of modern applications, from chopsticks to mirrors, glasses and even accessories, makes this a perfect gift for people of all ages.
A characteristic of Aizu-momen is that it feels cool in summer and warm in winter. Cotton growing in Aizu has its roots in industrial promotion measures introduced by Ujisato Gamo during the Tensho era. It is characterized by a process whereby the warp yarn is steeped in wheat starch to stiffen, and the weft yarn is woven into it. As a large amount of air is incorporated into the fabric, it absorbs perspiration well, making it cool in summer and giving it excellent heat-retaining properties in winter. Among its other distinctive features are its simple striped pattern and indigo color.
The history of Hongo Yaki began from the tile making for Tsurugajo castle. The characteristic of Hongo Yaki is that it is making both pottery and porcelain, and the style is vary depends on the kiln. So you can easily find your favorite piece.
Kitakata Ramen is one of the top ramen categories in Japan, alongside Sapporo ramen and Hakata ramen. It is known for its full-bodied broth and thick wavy noodles. Many ramen shops line the streets of Aizu, and they each have their own unique flavor.
Soba (Buckwheat Noodles)
Negi-soba (soba with green onions) is a famous soba dish available only in Ouchi-juku, where Takato soba noodles from the Aizu region are eaten using spring onions in place of chopsticks. Yamato Soba from Kitakata is among other famous soba dishes in addition to this. Aizu is one of Japan's best-known soba-producing regions.
Curry Yakisoba (Fried Noodles)
A flavor reminiscent of youthful days that curry yakisoba is popular as a meal, snack, or post-drink bite. This dish is made up of yakisoba, over which a spicy curry is poured, and toppings and flavors vary from restaurant to restaurant. We recommend comparing several versions for yourself.
This style of katsudon features deep-fried pork on cabbage, all on top of a bowl of rice. It has been a food for the common people for the past century. Enjoy each shop’s unique sauce, and savor the flavor.
Misato Horumon (Offal)
An offal dish that has long been eaten whenever people gather together. There are many restaurants offering delicious offal cuisine in Aizumisato. The meat and seasonings used differ depending on the restaurant, so we recommend going from place to place and trying a variety of offal dishes.
Manju (Steamed Bun) Tempura
Manju Tempura is a bite-sized, bean jam-filled manju that is coated in batter and deep-fried. It is enjoyed as a side dish, such as in the form of a topping for warm soba noodles, not to mention as a snack on its own. After the crispy texture subsides, a refined sweetness envelops the mouth.
Aizu's rice produces the highest-grade sake in Japan. Aizu's Koshihikari and Hitomebore varieties both received "Special A" grade in rice flavor quality rankings. The beautiful rural paddy field scenery is also a highlight.
"Mineral Vegetables” is a specialty product of Nishiaizu which has been awarded the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Prize. You can enjoy dishes which use mineral vegetables in the restaurant of "Roadside Station YOLISSE."
Onsen (Hot Springs)
Boasting a 1,300 year history, this onsen village is counted as one of the three pleasure towns of the Ou region. Songs and dances by Higashiyama geisha, commonly known as “karariko-san”, are also an attraction. It is located approximately 10 minutes from Aizuwakamatsu city limits by car, and a characteristic is its closeness to the city's downtown area.
Ashinomaki Onsen is a spa town where a dozen or so hot-spring hotels stand in a row along the Okawa River and national route 118, in the southern part of Aizuwakamatsu City. Access to the town is easy, at about 30 minutes from the city center. Another large attraction is the ability to enjoy the four seasons of a gorge abundant in nature.
Yunokami Onsen is a simple alkaline hot spring with seven spring sources. A distinctive characteristic is its high concentration of negative ions, which is effective in relieving nerve and muscle pain. All of the guesthouses and inns in Yunokami Onsen operate baths where the water flows directly from the hot spring source.
Atsushion, Nicchu Onsen
Atsushio Onsen, in Kitakata City, is also known as the "bath of children." The water has a rich salt content, which is effective against women's diseases. Nicchu Onsen is a secluded hot spring surrounded by mountains.
Aizu is rich in nature, whose beauty changes with the seasons. The shrines and temples themselves are surrounded by a sacred, tranquil atmosphere. The ancient spirits of the samurai, culture, and food have been preserved. A variety of Japanese styled buildings are also available. Aizu has plenty of fascinating things to do for all tourists.