4 Places to Visit in Aizu-Wakamatsu City
Tohoku, the northern part of Japan, is an area not often visited by foreign tourists but is filled with many historical samurai attractions. Because of this, it is a good opportunity to explore an area without the crowds you know from Tokyo and Kyoto. Not that far away from Kanto area you can find the city of Aizu-Wakamatsu which is really worth a trip if you are interested in Japan's history and architecture.
In this article let's take a look at four highlights of the city which you can easily enjoy on one day.
1. Tsuruga Castle
Tsuruga Castle, also known as Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle, probably is the main attraction for tourists in the City. The castle was originally built in 1384 and was resided by different rulers throughout history. However, it was demolished after The Boshin War (late 19th century). The reconstruction began in the 1960s and renovation works have been completed in 2011.
For 410 yen, visitors can enter the castle and climb to the top. Inside the castle they display many historical items and you can learn more about the samurai era. From the top you have a nice panoramic view of the castle park and city.
The castle grounds are wide and you can take a walk around to see the castle from different ankles. Especially in spring with the blooming cherry blossoms it is a very beautiful spot.
2. Rinkaku Teahouse
Staying on the grounds of Tsuruga Castle you can find the Rinkaku Teahouse which was built for the son of the tea ceremony master Sen no Rikyu. When the castle got demolished, the tea house was moved and later returned to the castle grounds in 1990.
It includes a beautiful green garden and for sure you can sit down and enjoy a fresh cup of matcha there. For 600 yen it comes together with a sweet treat. The entrance fee for the tea house garden is 210 yen, however, a combination ticket with the castle is available for 520 yen.
3. Aizu Bukeyashiki
The Aizu Bukeyashiki is a larger reconstructed samurai residence which served as quarter for important and high-ranked samurai back then. The original construction burned down during the aforementioned Boshin War.
The entrance fee is 850 yen. For this you can find a wide area with different rooms and buildings remembering the samurai era. It also includes a nice garden with a tea house and a rice mill. At the archery range you can try to shoot arrows yourself for a small extra fee.
4. Iimoriyama and the Byakkotai
At most of the historical places in Aizu-Wakamatsu you will notice some information about Byakkotai, because they play a sad role in the area’s history. The Byakkotai were a group of young samurai, aged around 15-16 years, fighting in the Boshin War. 20 of them saw the castle on fire from Iimoriyama and thought they had lost the war and committed suicide up on the mountain (only one of them survived). However, it turned out they were mistaken and the castle was not defeated.
A memorial was built at this sad historical place remembering all of the brave young warriors with their names. Take a minute of silence with an amazing view above the city. You can pray for them and light up incense sticks.
Aizu-Wakamatsu is a beautiful city steeped in history. So don’t miss a visit on your next trip to Japan!