Where is Tohoku
The population is 9.8 million and gross regional domestic product is more than 30 trillion JPY (2002). All the capital cities of those prefectures are connected to Tokyo by Shinkansen (Bullet train).
The Shimokita Peninsula (Shimokita Hanto) is the axe-shaped peninsula located at the northernmost tip of Japan's main island Honshu. The remote peninsula's main attraction is Osorezan ("Fear Mountain"), whose barren, steaming and sulfur-rich landscape resembles descriptions of Buddhist hell.
The Shimokita Peninsula is generally known for its rugged scenery, wild landscape and harsh weather. While these aspects are part of the region's attraction, they also result in widespread closures during the winter months.
Lake Towada is part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park and is the largest caldera lake on Honshu, Japan's main island. Located on the border between Akita and Aomori Prefectures, the area is well known for its autumn colors especially around the Oirase Stream, one of Japan's most famous autumn color spots.
Oirase Stream is a picturesque mountain stream in Aomori Prefecture that is one of Japan's most famous and popular autumn colors destinations. The stream flows along the floor of the Oirase Gorge, winding among trees which, while a lush green in spring and summer, turn brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange from late October through early November. Over a dozen waterfalls cascade down into the stream all along its length from.
HirosakiDuring the Edo Period, Hirosaki was the political and cultural capital of the Tsugaru Region, the western section of present day Aomori Prefecture. The city remains one of the culturally richest cities in the northern Tohoku Region.
Hirosaki developed around its castle, Hirosaki Castle. Several thousand cherry trees are planted around the castle grounds, making it one of Japan's most spectacular cherry blossom spots. The trees are usually in bloom in late April to early May.
Former Samurai District
When the Tsugaru Clan sided with Tokugawa Ieyasu at the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, they ensured their authority as the feudal lords of Hirosaki for the 250 years of the Edo Period. Hirosaki Castle was to be the base from which they would rule, and around which a typical castle town developed.
Like in all castle towns, the samurai, who served the Tsugaru Clan, lived in residences surrounding the castle of their feudal lord. Today, a section north of Hirosaki Castle remains preserved as a former samurai district. Although much of the area looks like an ordinary modern Japanese residential area today, three samurai houses and one merchant house have been preserved and are open to the public.
Shirakami - SanchiShirakami Sanchi is an extensive mountain range straddling the border between Aomori and Akita prefectures in the northern Tohoku Region of Japan. The central core of Shirakami Sanchi is made up of the last virgin beech forests in Japan, for which the region was declared one of the country's first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1993.
The main attraction of Shirakami Sanchi are the various hiking trails that lead through the forests to waterfalls, mountain peaks and lakes. The most popular hike leads to the Anmon Falls on the north eastern side of Shirakami Sanchi. The Anmon Falls are a set of three waterfalls that lie about 90 minutes into the valley from the trailhead (not accessible from late November to late April).
FOODS IN AOMORI
1. Hachinohe Bakudan
Hachinohe has largest catch of squid in Japan. This Bakudan donburi is using those squid, egg of salmon, and egg yolk. These ingredients will be set in ginger and garlic mixed say sauce and will be served on the top of rice bowl.
2. Nokke Don
Aomori is surrounded by the ocean on three sides, and various seafood can be enjoyed each season.
One of the highlights of tourist attractions in Aomori for many visitors is fresh, delicious yet reasonable seafood delicacies. This entry is about “Nokke-don”, making your own seafood bowl at the fish market in Aomori-City which is getting popular not only among tourist, but also among local people!
3. Aomori Apple
Aomori covers more than half of total yield of apples in Japan. Various apples such as Fuji, Tsugaru and Jonathan are harvested in their best seasons. Apple Road which runs along the apple-producing area has the best sceneries in spring. with flowers, and in autumn with red apples.
4. Hachinohe Ramen
Hachinohe Ramen has been loved by locals for more than 80 years. The soy sauce broth cooked with pork stock, dried sardines and Nanbu local chicken tastes light yet rich. The ramen features the handmade curly noodles and clear broth.
5. Towada Barayaki
Towada Barayaki is a dish of cow ribs with many sliced onions seasoned with sweet & spicy sauce grilled on a hot plate. It is started among Korean immigrants in Misawa city, shortly after the war. They came up with this recipe to make a delicious dish from cheap cow ribs sold off from the US military. Barayaki born in Misawa is definitely a soul food of locals around Towada area.
Hachimantai is a mountainous region in northern Akita and Iwate Prefectures, which makes up the southern part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. The region is far removed from Japan's cities and offers some of the country's best rustic hot springs as well as rewarding hiking trails through volcanic landscapes that will delight travelers looking to explore the Japanese countryside.
KakunodateKakunodate is a former castle town and samurai stronghold in today's Akita Prefecture. While Kakunodate Castle no longer remains, the town is famous for its samurai tradition and its hundreds ofweeping cherry trees (shidarezakura).
Apart from the loss of its castle, Kakunodate remains remarkably unchanged since its founding in 1620. The town was built with two distinct areas, the samurai district and the merchant district. Once home to 80 families, the samurai district still has some of the best examples of samurai architecture in all of Japan.
Kakunodate is also well known as the location of one of the Tohoku Region’s most popular cherry blossom spots. Around late April and early May, large crowds of people come to see Kakunodate's special combination of pink blossoms and historic homes.
Akita CityAkita City has the most beautiful seasonal changes during the year. In spring, Senshu Park, with the ruins of the castle of the Satake family, is full of cherry blossoms and azaleas.
In summer, you can enjoy the magnificent view of gigantic columns of clouds standing up over the Japan Sea. In autumn, Mt. Taihei becomes a beautiful rainbow of colors.
And then, in winter, everything is covered with pure white snow, and the air is so clear everywhere.
Besides such wonderful nature, there are many other things that one can see, do and eat that are unique to Akita. For example, in the Hirano Art Museum, you can see the 'Akita no Gyoji' (The Events in Akita), the largest canvas painting in the world, painted by Tsuguji Fujita (1886-1968).
Senshu Art Museum has the works of Kenzo Okada in mysterious profundity as well as 'Akita-Ranga', unusual works among Japanese paintings.
Kanto Festival is the pride of the Akita people and is well known even outside Japan. Truly, there are many places to see that are very unique to Akita.
Akita prefecture also has many distinctive local foods. Not to be missed!
It is said that "One picture is worth a thousand words" and "Seeing is believing," So please come over and discover the good things of Akita with your own eyes.
You may find charms of Akita that even we haven't discovered yet!
FOODS IN AKITA
1. Inaniwa Udon
Most visitors to Japan soon become acquainted with udon, thick wheat noodles usually served in a salty broth with tempura-fried vegetables, a sweet piece of fried tofu, or similar toppings. The udon of the town of Inaniwa will therefore come as something of a surprise, as they are often very thin and fine. These hand-made noodles from the southern part of Akita are famous in Japan, and have even been offered as imperial gifts in the past. They can be ordered at restaurants, or bought dried to take home.
The surprise is the form the rice takes; most people do not expect sticky rice to be shaped around a wooden skewer and grilled. It’s said that this style of cooking started as a kind of travel rations for hunters going up into the mountains, but today this rice-on-a-stick, called tampo or (if cut) kiritampo, is usually eaten at festivals with a sweet-salty miso paste. However, most kiritampo in Akita isn’t eaten on its stick at all.
To make Iburizuke, dried daikon radishes are hung above the fire and smoked, then made into pickles. The nata-zuke is unique for being cut randomly by a nata (matchet). It is first salted, and then pickled in rice malt.
In Akita, pickles called as gakko and Iburi means smoked.
During the Heian Period, the Fujiwara were the most powerful clan in Japan. In 1105, Hiraizumi was chosen as the seat of the "Northern branch" of the Fujiwara family. The city steadily grew in cultural sophistication and political power, so that it even came to rival Kyoto, the national capital.
In 1189, however, Hiraizumi was razed by Minamoto Yoritomo, the man who would soon after become Japan's first shogun. Yoritomo was looking for his brother and rival Yoshitsune, who was being given refuge by the local Fujiwara leader. The city never recovered its former prominence, but it still features some of the Tohoku Region's most precious historic and cultural properties.
KitakamiThe city is famous for the sakura that bloom in Tenshochi Park, which is regarded as one of the hundred best places in Japan to view cherry blossoms.
Another hallmark of the city is Oni Kenbai, a traditional sword dance where the dancers dress as demons, performed during summer festivals.
Hiraizumi in the southwestern part of Iwate Prefecture is a town extending up the Hiraizumi Hill on the west bank of the Kitakami-gawa River, that prospered for almost 100 years from the 11th to 12th centuries as the center of the Tohoku region (the northeastern region). Over 3,000 national treasures and historical sites still remain, telling of the Fujiwara Clan that reigned over the area in the zenith of its prosperity. The splendid culture that appeared during the reign of the Fujiwaras lasted for three generations and has been preserved in the area to this day.
Many historical sites and buildings still remain around Hiraizumi, including the site of the Muryoko-in Temple, modeled after Byodo-in Temple in Uji, Kyoto, and the Takadachi-gikei-do Temple, which houses a wooden statue of the tragic samurai warrior Minamoto-no Yoshitsune.
FOODS IN IWATE
1. Iwate Beef
The most famous beef in Iwate is Maesawa Beef produced in the Maesawa area of Oshu City. It is said that the Matsusaka Beef in the West and the Maesawa Beef in the East are the best beef brands in Japan. The exquisitely marbled meat is so soft that it melts in your mouth. To ensure its quality, Maesawa Beef is only available at stores or restaurants, which are designated as official distributors. The Maesawa Beef Festival, held on the first Sunday of June, is a great time to enjoy this high-end delicacy at a bargain price; over 30,000 visitors from in and out of Iwate flock to this event. To get beef at the festival, buy a beef-exchange ticket in advance. Another great Iwate Beef is Iwate Short-Horn Beef, which is lean and healthy.
The cattle are raised on highland pastures, and in summer, many tourists enjoy the panorama of the relaxed cows, the lush green grass, and the blue sky. In Iwate, there area many restaurants where you can enjoy great Iwate Beef such as these, in various dishes such as steak, sukiyaki, and shabu-shabu.
2. Wanko Soba
Buckwheat noodles (soba) are served up as a lively eating contest. This local favorite began almost four centuries ago as an efficient way to provide guests with “all-you-can-eat” noodles, and continues today as one of Iwate’s most famous food experiences. Count your bite-sized bowls as you down them, but beware! Slide the lid on your bowl quickly when you’re done, or one of the servers will slide in a new portion for you to eat.
Wanko Soba Noodles is served with various condiments, such as: tuna sashimi; nameko, mushrooms with a slightly gelatinous coating, simmered in soy sauce; daikon radish pickled in miso with crushed walnuts; harako, or salmon roe. Sometimes people forget about the contest and take their time to enjoy the delicious soba and the condiments. Some restaurants offer a set menu of condiments and several bowls of soba, for those who opt not to eat them contest-style. In Iwate, there are many soba restaurants, each with different soba, condiments, and dipping sauce. A reservation is often required for Wanko Soba Noodles, so check before going to a soba restaurant.
3. Morioka Reimen
Morioka Reimen is one of the “Three Great Noodles of Morioka,” along with Wanko Soba and Jajamen. Reimen is originally a Korean dish; Morioka Reimen Noodles was first served in 1954 by a yakiniku restaurant owner from Korea. The most unique characteristic of Morioka Reimen Noodles is the rubbery texture of the noodles, which are served in a cold soup with beef, kimchi, cucumber, boiled egg, and a piece of fruit such as apple, pear, or watermelon.
The fruit helps soothe your mouth if the soup is too spicy. You can usually choose from three levels of spiciness; if you are not sure which level to get, you should go for “betsukara,” which means the kimchi which is added to the soup is served separately so that you can adjust the spiciness yourself. You can try Morioka Reimen Noodles at basically any yakiniku restaurant in Morioka.
4. Mochi Dishes
Mochi, or “rice cake,” is made of steamed and pounded rice. It is a New Year delicacy, served in a traditional soup called zoni, or wrapped in nori seaweed with soy sauce. Popular sweet mochi are kinako mochi and azuki mochi, covered with sweetened soybean flour.
Mt. Gassan, Mt. Haguro and Mt. Yudono, collectively known as the Dewa Sanzan (Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa), are located in central Yamagata. The Dewa Sanzan mountains boast of having the oldest history of mountain worship in Japan, where ascetic devotees called Yamabushi pay reverence, and even today wear the traditional white robes and diadem. Of the three, only Mt. Haguro is accessible throughout the year. Mt. Gassan is closed from early autumn to early summer, while Mt. Yudono is closed from autumn to spring.
Mt. Haguro is 414 meters high and surrounded by a dense cedar forest that starts at the Zuishin-mon Gate. There are 2,446 stone steps that lead to the mountain top. Beyond this dark, shaded stairway, you can see a striking five-story pagoda that rises up towards the sky, one of Japan's National Treasures. Sanjingo-saiden Shrine, which enshrines gods of all three sacred mountains, sits near the top of Mt. Haguro. It has a 2.1-meter-thick thatched roof, and the interior is completely covered with Japanese lacquer, a sight that is well worth seeing.
The top of Mt. Gassan lies at an altitude of 1,984 meters. There you will find Gassan-jinja Shrine, with its excellent view, as well as the famous Mida-ga-hara Marsh where you can enjoy 'nikko-kisuge' (yellow alpine lilies), black lilies, 'mizubasho' (Japanese skunk cabbage) and other marsh vegetation.
At an altitude of 1,504 meters is Mt. Yudono, deemed the ultimate ascetic disciplinary practice ground. Yudono-san-jinja Shrine is revered as hallowed land which must be kept secret. It is a highly mysterious shrine and photography and video recording are still prohibited today.
Zao, located on the Yamagata-Miyagi prefectural border, is a mountain park centered in the Zao Mountain Range. You can enjoy the beauty of nature there, when you visit locations such as the mysterious Okama crater lake, also known as Goshiki-numa (five-color marsh). It is known for its varying water colors which can change several times a day. Also well known is the Zao Shizen-shokubutsu-en (botanical garden), a treasure house of alpine plants. Aboard the ropeway car, you can take a bird's eye view of the whole Yamagata Basin, or enjoy the night view and the starry sky from a lodge or inn.
If you prefer outdoor sports, enjoy camping and trekking among the verdant greens of spring or the scarlet leaves of autumn, take a horse-riding lesson at the International Horse Riding Club at the foot of the mountain, or go paragliding at Bo-daira. In winter, Zao turns into a mecca for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. Descending the slopes through clusters of ice-covered coniferous trees is truly exhilarating!
If you prefer heat to cold, the Zao-onsen Hot Spring at the mouth of Zao National Park is highly recommended. It has long been known as one of the best hot springs to enjoy open-air baths and public hot baths, one of which is a large open-air bath that can accommodate 200 people at a time! As for dining, you can taste dishes unique to this region such as Mongolian barbecue (Jingisukan).
FOODS IN YAMAGATA
1. Tama Konnyaku
In spite of what some of you might think the white balls you see above are not gnocchi or any other floury dumplings, but tama konnyaku, a wonderful, healthy, almost zero calorie Japanese product made with a plant called konnyaku (Amorphophallus konjac). Often called devil’s tongue, yam or konjac this plant is transformed into flour and then mixed with water to produce a sort of gelatinous, transparent substance, sold as noodles (shirataki or ito konnyaku), rectangular blocks (ito konnyaku) and the “balls” you see above (tama konnyaku). All these products are very rich in fiber, contain no carbs, have almost zero calorie per 100 g and an amazing capacity to absorb the flavours from the sauce or the soup they are served with. The high fiber they contain regulates the digestion, gives a very quick sensation of satiety, while the low-calorie and low-carb intake allows even the biggest diet freak to enjoy a fabulous dish. Konnyaku is called in Japan “the broom for the stomach” due to its high fiber content.
2. Yonezawa Beef
Not only we represent Yonezawa and Yamagata Prefecture, but also are counted to "the Japan's three biggest Japanese beef" said to that we line up to Matsusaka beef and Kobe beef which represent national Japanese cow.
"Yonezawa beef" which is popular among shabu-shabu taste to be enraptured by steak.
Gift of comfortable growth environment.
3. Yonezawa Ramen
The origin is thought to be ramen noodle stand by a Chinese merchant back in the Taisho era and now “Yonezawa Ramen Noodle” can be enjoyed at about 130 restaurants in the city. The soup is basically made of chicken carcasses and dried sardines, which tastes plain with good finish and can be had even every day. The noodles are cut straight and kneaded into curly style.
Long known as one of Japan's major fruit producers, Yamagata is most famous for its outstanding 75% share of cherry production; the average 11,500 tons of cherries grown in Yamagata is 10 times that of second-place Aomori Prefecture. It's not surprising that so many aspects of Yamagata are related to cherries. From the brilliant white of blossoms in spring to the eye-catching contrast of bright red fruit and deep green leaves in summer, the cherry serves as a symbol of Yamagata and is the prefectural tree. Cherries also bring in a large source of revenue, whether they are purchased in the form of expensive hand-arranged giftpacks, or bought directly from farms. Pick-yourself cherry orchards also have an effect on the prefecture's tourism by attracting from around the nation visitors who often stay in hot spring inns and hotels. There are also several local festivals and events held on the theme of cherries, including of course the ever-memorable Cherry Pit Spitting Contest.
Imoni is a type of stew made with taro potato, beef, konnyaku, sugar, soy sauce or miso. It is traditionally eaten in the autumn of Tohoku region of Japan. Yamagata hosts the biggest imoni festival in Japan in September.
Matsushima is located in the central part of Miyagi Prefecture. Some 260 islands, large and small, are scattered in picturesque Matsushima Bay. The view of Matsushima changes from place-to-place and from-season-to-season, and is so beautiful that it is considered one of the three most beautiful sites in Japan.
Dotted with small islands covered by black and red pines and grayish white rocks, the views of Matsushima Bay from the four islands of Ogi-ga-tani, Tomi-yama, Otaka-mori, and Tamon-zan are truly spectacular, which is called "Matsushima Shidaikan," the four grandest views in Matsushima. With its stunning island scenery, the place is frequented by visitors all year round.
Zuigan-ji Temple, a Zen temple erected in 828, stands facing Matsushima Bay. It took five years to construct the present buildings for Date Masamune, who reigned over this district in 1604. Among them, the main hall and other premises are designated as national treasures. They are highly valued as representatives of the classic Japanese architectural style of that period.
Sendai City, situated in the center of Miyagi Prefecture, is the largest city in the Tohoku region. It has prospered as the capital of the Dates' fief since Date Masamune reigned over this district and built Aoba Castle at the beginning of the 17th century. Explore the site of Sendai Castle ( or Aoba Castle) or rest and relax in the neighborhood of Mt. Aoba-yama, which has been transformed into a gracious public park.
Sendai is known as "The City of Trees." The main streets, Aoba-dori and Jozenji-dori, are lined with rows of beautiful zelkova trees, The Christmas illumination, the "Sendai Pageant of Starlight" is spectacular, not to mention the beauty of fresh verdure in spring and the scarlet-tinged leaves in autumn. Ichiban-cho-dori Street, which crosses Chuo-dori Street and runs parallel to Aoba-dori Street, is a shopping area. A local market, with many smaller stores lining the side streets, make for a delightful shopping excursion. After shopping, relax and dine at your choice of 3,000 fancy restaurants, all clustered around Kokubun-cho, located on the west side of Ichiban-cho-dori Street.
The Tanabata-matsuri Festival, held every summer in Sendai, is considered one of the four greatest festivals in the Tohoku region. It is one of the most popular attractions, drawing crowds of over 2 million spectators every year. Gorgeous decorations made with bamboo and Japanese paper called sasatake are put up in the arcades in front of Sendai Station and in all other parts of the city, in what appears to be a contest for beauty. The festival is based on the Chinese seventh of July legend: The 'Kengyu' (a cowherd) represented by the star Altair, and the 'Orihime' (a weaver) represented by the star Vega, appear on either side of the Milky Way and cross the bridge of magpie's wings over the Milky Way for their one-time rendezvous a year.
Kinkasan is an islet about 60 km east of Sendai and 1 kilometer to the southeast of the Oshika-hanto Peninsula. It floats above the Pacific Ocean, and is only about 26 kilometers in circumference. The highest point on the island is about 445 meters above sea level. From it, you can enjoy a beautiful panorama of the Pacific Ocean, Sendai the City of Trees, and the Kurikoma Mountain Range in the north of Miyagi.
There are several walking courses on the island, including an undulating course around the island and a course to the island's summit. The climate is warm, and wild deer and monkeys live on the island. Hike these courses and you will truly be able to fully enjoy the island's nature.
Also on the island is Koganeyama-jinja Shrine, which was built in the 8th century. Its guardian god, the god of good fortune, has been attracting worshippers for many years. This shrine forms the starting point for the hiking course to the top of the mountain, and people in the shrine office can give you an advice on how best to enjoy the course. There is also accommodation attached to the shrine, where you can spend the night. From its large communal bath, you can enjoy the view of the Oshika-hanto Peninsula.
Foods in Miyagi
1. Beef Tongue
Grilled beef tongue is said to have originated in Sendai. Try delicious charcoal-grilled sliced tongue lightly sprinkled with salt.
It is said when a yakitori restaurant served this with using the beef tongue which Allied Occupation forces didn't eat after World War II.
Now there are about 60 restaurants for gyuutan cooking in Sendai city.
2. Zunda Mochi (Rice Cake)
This is a local speciality in Sendai. Boiled soybeans are finely strained, and before serving, a rice cake is dipped into the paste. The flavor of soybeans is a great match to the sweet sensation, and the result is uniquely delicious.
3. Sasa Kamaboko (fish Sausage)
Sasakamaboko is a bamboo-leaf-shaped fish sausage made from whitefish, eggs, sake and salt. It's best served grilled or dipped in boiling water with soy sauce and a garnish of Japanese horseradish or ginger.
4. Harako Meshi
A specialty of autumn in Miyagi, this dish is made from salmon caught in local rivers. First thin slices of salmon are simmered in a broth prepared from soy sauce, sake, mirin (sweet rice liquor), and sugar. The broth is then used to cook the salmon roe. Finally the salmon and roe are scattered over rice that has been cooked in the same savory broth. Harako is another word for ikura (salmon roe).
The Bandai region in Fukushima Prefecture is an attractive outdoor destination, offering various walking and hiking opportunities in summer and skiing in winter. It centers around Mount Bandai, a volcano which last erupted in 1886. The eruption reshaped the mountain and created the pond dotted Bandai Highlands, also know as Urabandai (literally "behind Bandai").
Further north lies Mount Azuma, a volcanic mountain range with multiple peaks, including the beautifully shaped Azuma-Kofuji ("Little Azuma Fuji"), which resembles and is named after the bigger and more famous Mount Fuji. To the south of Mount Bandai is Lake Inawashiro, one of Japan's biggest lakes.
Urabandai (literally "behind Bandai"), also known as the Bandai Highlands ( Bandai Kōgen), is a pond dotted area on the highlands north of Mount Bandai. It is a popular outdoor destination, offering attractive scenery, various walking and hiking opportunities in summer and skiing in winter. Urabandai is also popular for autumn color viewing. Due to the wide range of elevations, colors can usually be seen somewhere during the entire month of October.
Iwaki Hawaiian Park
Spa Resort Hawaiians is a one-stop water park, onsen and entertainment facility with a Hawaiian theme. It is located in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, and was formerly known as Joban Hawaiian Center. Inaugurated in 1966, it was the first theme park to be built in Japan. Over the years, the resort had been upgraded to meet with times, and it is still today a highly visited destination.
The most famous attraction of the resort are the Hawaiian dance performances by the Hula Girls, the dance team whose name is synonymous with the resort ever since it opened. In the 1960s, iwaki was a coal mining town facing crisis when oil became the predominant energy source in Japan. The resort was built and the Hula Girls entertained to draw in tourists - the new source of income for the town.
In the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and nuclear plant accident, the Hula Girls visited numerous evacuation centers along the tsunami hit Pacific Coast to encourage their inhabitants. They also traveled all over Japan to perform and invite people to visit Iwaki. They are thus seen by many as a symbol of hope and recovery for the affected regions. The spa resort itself suffered damage from the earthquake and was fully reopened in February 2012.
The resort is divided into five sections:
The Water Park is the main area where the indoor pools, water slides and the dance stage are located. Here, a Hawaiian atmosphere is recreated with pineapple trees and other tropical vegetation, and staff and hotel guests in Hawaiian outfits. Step outdoors and you will find Spa Garden Pareo, a water playground with outdoor pools, deckchairs, Jacuzzis and a sauna (closed in winter).
The Spring Park is one of two hot spring areas that draw their spring water from Yumoto Onsen. It features lukewarm indoor pools where both genders can enjoy a dip in swimsuits, as well as regular, gender separated hot spring baths where swimsuits are not allowed.
includes entry to the Water Park, Spring Park, Spa Garden Pareo and Edo Jowa Yoichi, and unreserved seats for dance shows. Separate fees apply for rides in the Water Park, lessons and massage services and for reserved seats for the dance shows.
Tsuruga Castle (Tsurugajō) was built in 1384 and changed hands many times between the different rulers of the Aizu region. It was destroyed after the Boshin War of 1868, a rebellion against the newly formed Meiji government, which had taken over control from the Tokugawa shogun and put an end to Japan's feudal era. Tsuruga Castle was one of the last strongholds of samurai loyal to the shogunate.
The castle was rebuilt as a concrete reconstruction in the 1960s. In renovation works completed in 2011, the color of the roof tiles was reverted from grey to the original red, a unique color among Japanese castles. Visitors can enter and climb to the top floor of the castle keep and look out onto the surrounding city. The inside of the building is an interesting museum with attractive displays about the history of the castle and the samurai lifestyle.
The Aizu samurai residence (Aizu Bukeyashiki) served as the quarters of the region's most important and highest ranked samurai, as well as his family, employees, and servants. The original complex was burnt down during the Boshin War in 1868, but has since been reconstructed and furnished to replicate its appearance in the Edo Period.
Because of the prestige of the samurai and the size of his retinue, the samurai residence is quite expansive. There are dozens of different rooms and sections, including gardens, guest rooms, a teahouse, an archery range and a rice mill. Inside many of the rooms there are mannequins of the former inhabitants portraying either typical scenes of daily life or dramatic historical events.
Ouchijuku (Ōuchijuku) is a former post town along the Aizu-Nishi Kaido trade route, which connected Aizu with Nikko during the Edo Period. Restrictions set by the shogunate required travelers to make their long journeys on foot and as a result, post towns developed along the routes to provide travelers with food, accommodations and rest.
Today, Ouchijuku has been restored to look as it did in the Edo Period with telephone and electricity wires buried. The unpaved main street is lined by thick thatched roof buildings, which house a variety of shops, restaurants and minshuku (small traditional Japanese inns). Soba noodles and locally caught char fish roasted on sticks are popular specialties.
Ouchijuku's former Honjin, the principle inn for high ranked government officials, is also located along the main street and open to the public as a museum. It offers visitors an example of elegant, traditional housing interior of the Edo Period and includes a collection of dishes, clothing and other artifacts.
This clear soup is an essential dish served on auspicious occasions, such as at the new year, and at other ceremonial gatherings. It is made from dried scallop holdfasts, which are softened in dashi stock. Other ingredients include wheat gluten croutons (mame-fu), shiitake mushrooms, carrots, taro yams, kikurage fungus, and konnyaku jelly noodles. It is seasoned with soy sauce, salt, and sake, and should be served in bowls of red lacquer produced in Aizu-Wakamatsu.
2. Nishin no Sansyo Zuke
A traditional way to prepare herring so that it can be eaten year-round. The fish are first opened, cleaned, and dried. Then they are layered with leaves of sansho pepper in between and pickled in a liquor prepared from soy sauce, sake, vinegar, and sugar. In the old days, special ceramic serving bowls for pickled herring were used in the Aizu-Wakamatsu region, and were an integral part of a bride's trousseau. They are still produced by local ceramics craftsmen.
3. Kitakata Ramen
The key difference for Kitakata ramen is its noodles. The noodles are made with a higher amount of water content when neading the dough, making the noodles springier and doesn't turn soggy as quickly when served in soup. The noodles are thin, wide curly noodles that are chewy and have a much stronger presence that most other ramen noodles.
The soup are usually simple, soy sauce flavored soup made from chicken, pork or occasionally seafood. The toppings are usually thin sliced cha-shu pork, menma bamboo and sliced spring onions.