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History

Tenkyokaku

Named by the Crown Prince Yoshihito upon its opening in 1907 as “The Palace of Heaven’s Mirror”, Tenkyokaku is a decadently decorated former villa. Imperial Prince Arisugawa Takehito decided to build Tenkyokaku after being impressed by the beauty of Lake Inawashiro during a visit to the Tohoku District. His family, the Arisugawa-no-miya Family, owned the villa until 1952, when it was granted to Fukushima Prefecture.

Tenkyokaku has since been used as a meeting hall and a space for lectures and exhibitions. The former villa, its annex and its front gate have been specified as important cultural properties of Japan. Despite being restored in 1984, the building retains many of its original features, including the impressive chandelier which can be seen below.

Despite no longer being able to see Lake Inawashiro from the windows of Tenkyokaku, the luxurious renaissance-style architecture and liberal use of all things gold and glittery means that visitors will by all means feel that its name still rings true.

Tip:
For only 520 yen, you can dress up in a traditional outfit and take as many photos as you would like in the building!

Tsuruga-jo Castle

Tsuruga-jo Castle allows visitors the opportunity to experience history, nature, and tradition with all five senses. Despite being mostly reconstructed, the surrounding park's stone walls remain in their original state.

In 2010, for the first time in the 45 years since it was refurbished in 1965, the castle underwent a cosmetic restoration. At last, in the spring of 2011, the same red tile roofs of Tsuruga-jo that were seen by the Byakkotai during the Boshin War at the final days of the Tokugawa shogunate were displayed for all to see.

Within the castle tower's museum, the swords and armor of the successive lords of the castle are on display and visitors can watch a CG theater video reflecting on the great history of Aizu. Along with the historical atmosphere surrounding Tsuruga-jo, visitors can sense the changes that have occurred throughout history, thanks to the engaging and informative museum within the castle walls.

Because all of Aizu, including Mt. Bandai and Iimoriyama, can be seen from the fifth-floor viewing platform at the top of the castle tower, it is fun to gaze across the surrounding area with the feeling of a feudal lord looking over his domain. The castle is also a must-see in the springtime, when approximately 1,000 cherry trees offer a magnificent display within the castle's grounds.

Kasumiga-jo (Nihonmatsu-jo) Castle

Nihonmatsu-jo was a castle built in 1643 by Mitsushige Niwa, the first feudal lord of the Nihonmatsu Domain. This domain had command over a territory producing 100,000 koku of rice (one koku being the amount of rice needed to feed one man for a year) and Nihonmatsu-jo was one of the strategic points of the Tokugawa Shogunate forces that fell in Boshin War after a fierce battle, precipitating the tragedy of the Nihonmatsu Youth Corps. Today, the castle ruins have been turned into a prefectural natural park, with the stone walls being the only structures remaining from the old days. The seasonal beauty of the landscape with the restored castle and the surrounding natural environment is a soothing experience for visitors, particularly in the spring when the 1,700 cherry trees in the park are in full bloom making it seem as if the castle is surrounded by haze of blossoms. This is why Nihonmatsu-jo is also called Kasumiga-jo (meaning "castle in the mist"). In autumn, the park is crowded with visitors to Japan's largest crysanthemum doll festival.

Oyakuen

Oyakuen was used approximately 600 years ago as a villa for the then lord of the Aizu domain. Subsequently, in the mid-17th century, within the grounds the lord of the Aizu clan started growing medicinal herbs with which to protect the citizenry from epidemics, leading to the Oyakuen name, which literally means "medicinal garden." As the traditional garden is still as it was long ago, it is now an important national asset. The buildings within the grounds were also used by the lord as a place of relaxation and for entertainment. Accordingly, this building is still devoted to Japanese tea, and even now, you can enjoy such an experience. We hope you'll take the time to enjoy traditional ceremonial tea in a Japanese garden here in Aizu at the Oyakuen.

Ouchi-juku

Ouchijuku is a small isolated village nestled in the mountains of southwestern Fukushima Prefecture.

This village was one of the post towns established under the post station system during the Edo Period. Its well-preserved streets prompted its designation as an Important Preservation District for a Group of Historic Buildings in 1981.

The road that used to run through this village was called the Shimotsuke Kaido Route or the Aizu Nishi Kaido Route, and was an important road connecting Aizuwakamatsu and Imaichi, a post town on the Nikko Kaido Route in Tochigi Prefecture. This road was frequented by many travelers as well as by the processions of feudal lords who had to travel to and from Edo periodically.

They rested and relieved their fatigue from traveling in this village. Surrounded by this streetscape, it is easy for visitors to feel as if they have slipped back through time to the Edo Period, as they explore the gift shops, restaurants and traditional residences dotted throughout Ouchi-juku.

Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Hall

This memorial hall was established to honor the world-renowned bacteriologist, Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928) and to introduce his life. On the property of the memorial hall is Noguchi's birthplace, where the fireplace that he fell into and suffered a serious burn injury and the alcove post on which the words of resolution he made before he went to Tokyo are carved are restored as they were in his day. The exhibition room contains many resources that introduce Noguchi's life and accomplishments, including his favorite articles, letters, and photographs. In Dr. Noguchi's Laboratory, which was recreated here, a robot in the image of Dr. Noguchi is exhibited. The robot answers questions from visitors and gives encouraging messages to visitors. And there was renovated in April, 2015. There was the experience-based corner that could learn about the bacteriology by the movie and available games.

Takashiba Deko Residence

A traditional craftsmen's village bestowing an air of nostalgia.
The lively, ubiquitous paper-mache dolls will bring a smile to your face.

Takashiba-Dekoyashiki is an historical craftsmen's village, at one time under the protection of the Miharu feudal clan. Dating back 300 years to the Edo Bunroku era, this community is said to have been born when a traveler from Kyoto taught the people how to craft paper-mache dolls using a special paint called nikawa. Take a walk today through the nikawa-scented streets of Takashiba-Dekoyahiki and open yourself up to the Japan of old.

Shiramizu Amida-do

Shiramizu Amida-do (Amitabha Hall) was constructed in 1160 by Princess Tokuhime of the Oushu Fujiwara clan, which built the "golden culture" in Oushu (the present Tohoku Region). It is the only building in Fukushima Prefecture that has been designated as a national treasure. Inside the hall stands a wooden statue of Amida Nyorai as well as a number of other Buddhist statues such as Kannon Bosatsu, Seishi Bosatsu, Jikoku Tenno, and Tamon Tenno. The garden, called Jodo Teien (Jodo, or "the pure land", is the Buddhist paradise) is a realm of natural beauty in every season. The scenery is especially breathtaking in summer when the lotus flowers are in bloom, prompting one famous writer to liken the garden to the mythical Xanadu.

Shingu Kumano Shrine Nagatoko

Built in 1055, the Nagatoko is the Shingu Kumano Shrine's worship hall, and it is designated a national important cultural asset. Built as the main structure during the Heian period, its thatched roof is supported by 44 massive pillars, 45 cm in diameter. This comprises a single large, open stage with no walls, and is said to have been used for ascetic training by priests. At present, in the treasure house, visitors can view a copper pot and other national and prefectural designated cultural assets. Come autumn, the stand of 800-year-old ginkgo trees is bathed in yellow, making a beautiful contrast with the Nagatoko.

Enzoji Temple

A symbolic temple of Aizu, Enzoji was made about 1,300 years ago in 807.

Fukuman Kokuzo Enzoji Temple was built by Tokuichi Daishi, a noted priest from Aizu. The main hall of the temple rises high above a huge crag. From here, the Tadami River can be viewed flowing magnificently through the town. You can also see the various views of each season, with cherry blossoms in spring, mist over the river in summer, red maples in autumn, and snow in winter.

The temple has many highlights, such as a treasure house and monuments in memory of poets, inscribed with their poems and haiku. It is said that the statue of Fukuman Kokuzo Bosatsu (the Bodhisattva of wisdom), whom the temple is dedicated to.

There are many legends associated with the temple. For example, one legend tells of how when Kobo Daishi threw wood shavings from the Kokuzo Bosatsu into the Tadami River, they immediately turned into countless Japanese dace fish. Another story is about how a red cow helped with the difficult construction of the temple - a story which led to the widespread acceptance of the "akabeko" red cow as an important symbol of Fukushima. One more story is that of Nanuka Do Hadaka Mairi (Naked Worship at Nanuka Do Shrine).

The legends are many and varied.

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