Samurai City of Aizu Wakamatsu, Fukushima, Japan
With the surrounding mountain range and open farm fields, where the town people follows an honest, steady and persevering lives, Aizu Wakamatsu of Fukushima prefecture is the ideal setting of a Samurai city- both in geography and in spirit.
Aizu Wakamatsu may not be as well-known as the other former castle town in Japan, but history shows how the “bushido” spirit (way of a samurai) has made this city a centre of some of the most remarkable story about the Boshin War- a war era of transition from feudal power to imperial restoration.
One of the reminder of the town’s feudal past is Tsuraga Castle (Tsuragajo). The only red-tiled roof castle in Japan, it was said to be not only a fortress for withstanding heavy attacks during Boshin war but served as one of the last fortress of loyalty to the shogunate.
Although, the present castle is mainly a restoration effort done in 1965, the surrounding park and tea house made the castle magnificent nonetheless. Though it was raining quite heavily during my visit, the autumn colours of Tsurugajo Castle Park remained visible and enjoyable to photograph.
I have to admit that my knowledge about Samurai history is quite limited, though I particularly like visiting samurai residences.
Similar to the neighbouring town of Kitakata, the city of Aizu Wakamatsu is more than ready to accept both local and foreign visitors. The best way to move around town is to purchase the 500 yen one day Aizu Wakamatsu Classic Town bus pass that runs all through the many places of interest.
Like the other towns located at this rural side of Fukushima prefecture, Aizu Wakamatsu maybe small in size but certainly a rewarding off-the beaten trip for those who want to see the traditional and historical side of Japan.
The extremely bad weather and my need to head back to Tokyo for another work week has limited my day of exploration at Aizu Wakamatsu. Given a chance, I will love to return back to this town and maybe stay for a night at one of the ryokan at Higashiyama Onsen.
If you want to experience both nature and traditional Japan, I highly recommend a visit to this side of Fukushima prefecture.