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Fukushima, View from Hekizantei in Dake Onsen
View from Hekizante

Fukushima – Support Through Sightseeing

Support Fukushima through Sightseeing! Although life has returned to normal for most people living in Fukushima, tourists are still avoiding the prefecture.  Radiation levels are no higher than any average city in the world, but ignorance still keeps many people from visiting and many sightseeing spots are barely surviving. For travelers who wants to get off the beaten path to visit wonderful, lesser-known sites, Central Fukushima is a perfect destination choice.   And, visiting is a great way to support an area that is still very much in need of assistance.

Fukushima, Jorakuen Garden
Fukushima, Jorakuen Garden

Fukushima – Support Through Sightseeing

There are a number of options for traveling to the area.  For those who prefer to drive, it takes about 3 1/2 hours from Tokyo.  Or, rent a car from/to Fukushima Station – check with a JR Travel Agency for shinkansen/rental car packages.

As the sightseeing spots I am recommending are difficult to reach by mass transportation, those who do not drive should hire a taxi, van, or small bus with driver.  The cost is much lower than in Tokyo and/or in more famous sightseeing areas, although someone who speaks Japanese will be needed to communicate and make the reservations.

Here is a step-by-step two day tour itinerary of Central Fukushima, beginning and ending at Fukushima Station, that can be enjoyed by all types of travelers – families, couples, groups, etc.

Fukushima, Dinner at Hekizantei
Fukushima, Dinner at Hekizantei

Starting at Fukushima Station, drive 20 minutes south to enjoy an early lunch at Kinu-no-Sato.  This Japanese restaurant has an extensive menu, but I recommend the kamameshi lunch set.  If you contact them in advance, they can accommodate any special food requirements.  After lunch, pop into the two shops located across the parking lot.  One, a kimono store, also has a very nice selection of Japanese souvenirs.  Pick up a tasty dessert for later in the other, Kirari, a baumkuchen ‘factory’.

Fukushima – Support Through Sightseeing


A short 15 minute drive brings you to Kasumiga-jo, which is also called Nihonmatsu Castle.  There are actually ruins from two different castles at this site, the original dating back 600 years.  On my visit, beautiful trellises of wisteria were blooming beside a pond and historic tea house within the grounds.  Make your way

Kasumigajo (Nihonmatsu Castle), Fukushima
Kasumigajo (Nihonmatsu Castle), Fukushima

on foot, or by car, to the highest point within the castle ruins for beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.

If you have an interest in sake, just down the street is the famous Daishichi Sake Brewery.  Pick up a bottle from their on-site shop, or, if you are traveling without Fukushima, Best Living Japanchildren, call ahead to schedule a tour and/or tasting.


Next, travel about 20 minutes north to the tiny village of Dake Onsen.  There are a number of accommodation choices here, but I recommend Hekizantei, a ryokan/hotel that sits on the edge of a small lake, Kagami-ga-ike.  After checking in, take a leisurely walk around the shore, enjoy a short hike to a tiny forest shrine, or just relax in an outdoor hot spring bath at the hotel.

Daishiki Brewery, Fukushima
Daishiki Brewery, Fukushima

Dress in yukata and enjoy a dinner of delicious local specialties served in a large tatami room, but on individual tables with chairs.  If contacted in advance, the hotel can accommodate those with allergies and/or food restrictions.  Breakfast is a mostly Japanese buffet, but there are enough ‘Western’ choices to satisfy picky eaters.

On day two, drive higher into the mountains to famous Goshikinuma, or ‘five-colored swamps’.  Meander along a four-

One of lakes of Goshikinuma
One of lakes of Goshikinuma

kilometer walking path through a lovely forest.  As you walk, the trail passes a number of lakes that were formed when Mount Bandai erupted in 1888.  The colors of the lakes are a variety of blues, greens, and even red.

For everyone (except those with young children), I also recommend a quick visit to the nearby Morohashi Art Museum.  This impressive museum boasts one of the top three Salvador Dali collections in the world, in addition to works by Picasso, Renoir, and others.

Fukushima, Jorakuen Garden
Fukushima, Jorakuen Garden

On the drive back into Fukushima City, my favorite spot for lunch is Yamu, a Japanese restaurant housed in a lovely 220-year-old home overlooking a small garden (reservations recommended).  Or, for something simple, have a sandwich or some pizza at St. Anna’s Garden, which is also home to a number of shops, a microbrewery, and a Kokeshi Doll Museum.  Depending on the season, it also may be possible to stop and pick fruit at a nearby orchard.

Also in Fukushima City, Japanese garden lovers should visit Jorakuen, which was designed by a master gardener who worked for Kyoto’s Kinkakuji Temple for many

Garden view at Yamu Restaurant
Garden view at Yamu Restaurant

years.


Be sure to return to Fukushima Station about one hour before your shinkansen returns to Tokyo so that you’ll have time to shop in Corasse Fukushima.  This souvenir shop specializes in locally-made products and food from all over the prefecture.

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Website Links:

Baumkuchen shop, Kirari   http://b-kirari.jp/shop/baumkuchen/

Kinu-no-sato’s Kamameshi Lunch    http://www.kinunosato.com

Daishichi Sake Brewery    http://english.daishichi.com

Kasumikejo (Nihonmatsu Castle)  http://www.nihonmatsu-kanko.jp/?p=672

Hotel/Ryokan Hekizantei  http://www.hekizantei.jp

Dake Onsen village   http://www.dakeonsen.or.jp

Morohashi Art Museum   http://dali.jp

Yamu’s Japanese lunch    http://yamu.jp

Jorakuen Garden  http://www.jyourakuen.jp

St. Anne’s Garden   http://www.anna-g.com

Corasse Fukushima  http://www.corasse.com

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For more information, or if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail Sandra directly at: japantravelconsultant@yahoo.com

Sandra IsakaSandra Isaka has lived in Japan for 20 years and is an intercultural consultant & Japan travel specialist.  She explores constantly with the ultimate goal of becoming ‘the’ number one expert on travel within Japan.  For daily Japan travel/life tips, follow her Facebook posts at ‘Excursions in Japan’.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Excursions-in-Japan-1820525704754802/

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Fukushima – Support Through Sightseeing

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