Take a Stroll through Magnificent Aizu Scenery.
A nighttime view of Ouchijuku’s street lined with thatch-roofed houses.
Wintry scenes such as this produce a warm feeling that is often associated with Japanese folktales.
Although this may seem like a scene out of a fairytale, it is a place you can actually walk through and experience.
Aizu has four distinct seasons.
No matter the place from which it is photographed, Tsuruga-jo Castle always appears as if in a painting. But only a few places offer angles that make the castle appear framed by blossoms. The trick is to find one.
Despite being situated along a distance of just 3.6 km, each of lakes of Goshikinuma appears to have a different color. They create an astonishing landscape, one that was created by 19th-century volcanic activity.
Seasonal change in Aizu is defined into a clear spring, summer, autumn, and winter climates. The summer is hot, while the winter brings large amounts of snow that can reach up to three meters high in some places. The result is a rich natural environment and a variety of colors that sometimes reveal themselves in magnificent landscapes. Here are five spots that are especially recommended for walking and viewing.
At Ouchijuku, thatch-roofed houses that were built more than 300 years ago line an old highway. Part of the village’s appeal comes from the fact that, although it looks almost exactly as it did during the time of the samurai, it is still a living, breathing town in which people live. After the busy tourist season ends in autumn, the snow piles up and Ouchijuku becomes a place of stillness and seclusion. The snow lit by the glow of orange lamps presents a picturesque world of snug warmth.
There is no better place to spend a springtime day than Tsuruga-jo Castle during cherry blossom season. Selected as one of “Japan 's Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots” by the Japan Cherry Blossom Association, the red-tiled castle tower is encircled in multiple layers by some 1,000 cherry trees of the someiyoshino and other varieties. When the trees bloom in spring, the castle appears to be engulfed in a cloud of blossoms. Excellent photo opportunities can be found just anywhere on the grounds. However, the most popular spots are those offering an angle from which the castle can be photographed framed by blossoms in full bloom.
Scenery that is a “gift” of the season
At Yugawa Village, located in the middle of the Aizu Basin and said to be Aizu’s largest grain-producing region, golden rice plants cover the landscape. They will soon be ready for harvest.
The “snow monsters” of Mt. Nishiazuma only appear during the coldest months of winter. In reality they are trees that have been plastered with snow by high winds. They look just like a crowd of white monsters.
During the summer, an excellent place to take a walk is Goshikinuma on the Bandai Plateau. A cluster of more than twenty lakes and marshes, large and small, can be found on the Bandai Plateau, which was formed when Mt. Bandai erupted in 1888. Goshikinuma is a group of such five lakes with a maintained walking path that can be walked in about 70 minutes. Seemingly emphasizing the individual qualities of each lake, the path displays their changing colors and celebrates their jewel-like beauty.
A popular sight in the autumn is the rural landscape of the Aizu Basin, which seems to stretch as far as the eye can see. Yugawa Village, situated in the middle of the basin, is a rice-growing center. More than half of the village’s total area is devoted to rice cultivation. Just about any time during autumn, it is possible to enjoy unobstructed views of golden rice plants, swaying wave-like in the breeze, with a distant Mt. Bandai in the background.
A popular winter sight is the “snow monsters” of Urabandai. In certain locations, such as subalpine zones of around 2,000 meters in elevation, frost-covered trees can appear when the right climatic conditions are present. When under a clear blue sky, they form a variety of stunning landscapes, sometimes appearing like large animals about to move. Seeing them requires preparation and guidance, so it is best to go as part of a local nature tour.
No matter which season you choose to visit, it is almost guaranteed that you will encounter magnificent scenery. Come and fully experience the delights of Aizu’s four seasons.