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Traditional Craft

Akabeko Red Cows

These are a traditional toy from the Aizu region, and are made from papier-mache on a bamboo or wooden frame. Their free-swinging heads bob up and down with any movement, make people smile. The origins of Aka-beko come from a large red cow that carried lumber all through the building of a large temple long ago, and they are given as a charm so that children will grow up strong just like the cow, and as a talisman for good health and an easy childbirth.

Miharu Koma

Miharu Koma are wooden toy horses from Miharu town in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture. Nowadays, it is a favorite toy of many children. Wood is carved into the shape of a horse, and after being painted black and white, it is decorated with bright red, black, and gold patterns. Finally, a stiff vertical tail is attached. The horses range from 3 to 30 cm in size, with the smaller horses used as charms for children, and ones painted all in white as a talisman for a long life.

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.

Tsuruga-jo Kaikan (Assembly Hall)

The Assembly Hall is a rest house next to Tsuruga-jo castle.

Here you can try local cuisine, from "Wappa Meshi" and sauce katsudon to soba noodles and Kitakata ramen.
The French restaurant "Racines" is also on the premises, so that both Japanese and western-style cuisines can be enjoyed in one location. The restaurants have seating for approximately 1,000 guests.

The first floor store sells local Aizu goods and souvenirs, from Kitakata ramen, soba noodles, and Japanese pickles, to sweets and "akabeko" red cows.(Tax-free Shop)

You can try painting your own akabeko cow (a traditional folk toy which is said to bring luck), and take it home as a good luck charm along with the memories of your trip. Akabeko-painting requires a reservation and takes about thirty minutes.

The parking area accommodates full-size buses as well as personal vehicles.

Kami-Kawasaki Washi (Handmade Japanese paper made in Kami-Kawasaki in Nihonmatsu City)

Kami-Kawasaki handmade Japanese paper - tradition of over 1,000years.

"Kami-Kawasaki Washi" (handmade paper) is famous for its history of over 1,000 years. It was given the name "Kami-Kawasakii Washi" because of its origin in Nihonmatsu City's Kami-Kawasaki district. During Japan's Heian Period, it was known as "Michinoku-gami "("paper made in Michinoku"). It has been used regularly as shoji paper (paper for sliding doors). Many people are charmed by the warmth and simple beauty of Kami-Kawasaki Washi. Paper mulberry, a type of tree used for making the papaer, is grown here as well. The traditional method of p roduction, from raising the raw ingredients to making the paper, is continued even today. This ensures that the finished paper has a luxuriant warmth and refinement, and is strong and durable. At present, a variety of products, such as dyed paper, folkcraft paper, and paper crafts, are produced, all of which maintain the paper's original texture. Although the demand for shoji paper is declining, there is still demand for products such as wallpaper and lamp shades. In this way, Kami-Kawasaki Washi remains important to us everyday.

Okiagari Ko-boshi (self-righting dharma doll)

A good-luck charm symbolizing the wisdom that "life is full of ups and downs," and praying for family safety.

The 3cm-tall Okiagari Ko-boshi paper-mache doll are made along with a prayer for long life and perseverance. These properties are demonstrated by the little dolls themselves. Even if they fall, they stand right back up, symbolizing the wisdom of the old sayings "Life is full of ups and downs" and "Even if you fail, try, try again".

There is a custom in Aizuwakamatsu of buying Okiagari Ko-boshi as good luck charms to bring prosperity and safety for one's family from the first market held in the New Year.
People buy the same number of Okiagari Ko-boshi as there are members in their family, plus one extra for good luck!

When you buy one, try knocking it over so that you are sure to buy a doll which stands right back up!

Aizu lacquerware

Aizu lacquer was founded in 1590, when Gamo-Ujisato, the feudal lord of the Aizu region at the behest of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, invited to Aizu specialist woodworkers and lacquer artisans from Hino in Omi Province (present-day Shiga Prefecture), in order to spread their techniques throughout the region. Since then, successive generations were encouraged by their feudal lords, and at present, they now make a range of items including tableware, vases, writing materials, tea utensils, and Buddhist altar fittings, meaning that now, Aizu lacquer is one of Japan's pre-eminent names in lacquerware.

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