BEAUTY OF JAPAN

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Samurai History Discovery Guided Tour in Aizuwakamatsu

2016.07.18

Introduction

In Aizu-Wakamatsu, there was a military unit made of adolescent samurai called Byakkotai, White Tiger Force in the late 18th century during the Bakumatsu period. In this tour, explore the history of Aizu-Wakamatsu through Byakkotai and learn their tragic fate ever changed by war.

■History
Located in northern Honshu, Aizu-Wakamatsu was one of Tohoku region's prominent areas and had been ruled and governed by daimyo, powerful feudal lords since the Sengoku period in 15th century. The area is well known for Boshin War and tragic death of Byakkotai.

Boshin War:
Boshin War, also known as Japanese Revolution, was a civil war between forces of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate and those seeking to return political power to the Imperial Court.
Aizu-Wakamatsu was the location of the Battle of Aizu, one of the largest conflicts of Boshin War. Forces of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate besieged at Tsuruga castle and after a month of siege, they surrendered.
Boshin War is known as the last civil war in Japan and it marked the end of samurai era.

Byakkotai:
Byakkotai, White Tiger Force, was part of Aizu's four unit military. A group of adolescent boys, mainly sons of Aizu samurai aged between 16 to 17 year-old but sometimes even younger at the age of 13, fought at Boshin War.
Having seeing their castle in flames and accepted the defeat, a group of 20 Byakkotai members committed seppuku, ritual suicide, at a mountain overlooked the castle in desperation and laid their souls to rest.

Join the tour and learn the history of Aizu-Wakamatsu!
A fierce battle was fought at Aizu-Wakamatsu. It lasted over a month and Byakkotai fought hard during the battle.
In this tour, visit various historic places associated with Byakkotai and how the battle fields of old days have been restored.
Tsuruga castle, once the military and administrative centre of the region had also been restored with traditional red tiled roof.
It is the only castle in Japan that is roofed with red colored tiles - very impressive and beautiful.

■Highlights
- Explore and enjoy the history of Aizu-Wakamatsu with your English-speaking guide.
- Explore the highlights of Aizu-Wakamatsu in a day - the symbol of Aizu, Tsuruga castle, former samurai residences and sake brewery.
- Experience the great history of Aizu-Wakamatsu - visit the headquarters of Byakkotai and the place where they lost their lives.

■Sample itinerary (11AM-5PM)
11AM Meet a guide at Aizuwakamatsu Station (About 90 minutes train ride from JR Koriyama station.)

Visit saka gura, sake brewery from the Bakumatsu period
- Visit one of the most famous and well known sake brewery of Japan. Because of its popularity, there are imitations sold in market. It is your chance to visit the brewery and purchase a bottle of authentic sake. This saka gura is also of historic value - the saka gura is built on the site of former residence of Byakkotai commander.

Lunch at Nanukamachi-dori street
- Nanukamachi-dori street was known as a gateway to other major cities such as Nikko, Echigo and Yonezawa. The street was full of wholesalers, taverns and restaurants and continued to prosper as one of the busiest and most important streets of the region. The street is visited by many tourist every year, for its historic and beautiful townscape.
Here, try the charcoal grilled dengaku for lunch - one of the local specialties which ingredients such as tofu and rice cakes are seasoned with sweetened soy bean paste and grilled over charcoal. Enjoy the lunch at the restaurant once used as miso gura, storehouse used for soy bean production, and later renovated as a restaurant.

Visit the symbol of Aizu - Tsuruga castle
- Tsuruga castle, also known as Aizu-Wakamatsu castle, was originally built in 1384 and was the military and administrative centre of Aizu region until 1868. Five stories in height with two story basements, it is the only castle in Japan which uniquely roofed with red colored tiles. The castle is part of Aizu's local life to this day - many of locals walking dogs and jogging around the castle.

Visit samurai residence
- Visit buke yashiki, former samurai residences and learn how samurai lived in old days. The residences were burned down during Boshin War and reconstructed and turned into a museum. There is a souvenir shop attached to the museum where you can purchase handicrafts and jizake, local brews.

Visit the headquarters of Byakkotai
- The residence had been used as rest area by lords and also as the headquarters of Byakkotai during Boshin War.
Thatched-roofed building in traditional Shoin-zukuri style architecture is one of Japan's Important Cultural Property. Original structure has been retained and belongings of successive feudal lords and ancient documents are kept and preserved.
There are bullet holes and sword marks and traces of the battle are evident and still remain even today.

Visit the site of the tragic death of Byakkotai
- The fate of Byakkotai was very sad and tragic - learn how they lived and fought for their lords.

Tour finishes at 5:30pm, your guide will take you back to Aizu-Wakamatsu station.

Please ask us for more options;
Fruit picking activity: There are various fruits grown throughout the year in this area and you can pick your own at orchard;
Feb to late April: Strawberries
Jun to early July: cherries
Jul to mid Aug: Melons or blueberries
Aug: peaches
Sep: grapefruits or prunes
Sep to late Oct: pears
Sep to mid Nov: apples
Late Nov - Jan: not available

Visit Aizu momen workshop
- Visit a workshop and learn how Aizu momen, cotton of Aizu, is produced.
Aizu momen is a traditional craft of the region and it has been produced since the early Edo period. It is simple and plain but durable and popular among locals for casual clothing. Weaved by craftsman with traditional techniques and skills, and by the same machines which has been in use since the old days.

Visit Randoseru factory
- Randoseru is a firm-sided backpack made of stitched firm leather, commonly used by elementary schoolchildren. Visit one of the well known factories and see how randoseru is made. You can pick your favorite colored randoseru fabric and experience key rings or bracelet making.

*Pricing: please inquire us.
This tour is available either by walk or in a private car - you can visit additional sights by a private car. Pick-up from Koriyama station is also available upon request.

Tour Detail

Tour Style
Available language: English
Group Size
Min. 1 person
Duration
6 hours
Destination
What's Included
- Guide
- Admission fee to facilities
What's not Included
- Transportation fee to/from meeting point
- Food and beverage
Tour Tips
Booking process
1. Please contact us for availability and pricing through ‘BOOK IT’ button below.
2. We will check the availability and come back to you within 1 business day.
3. Payment request will be sent.
4. Reservation will be confirmed upon payment is received. Confirmation e-mail will be sent to you.

Payment method: Paypal, wire transfer, and bitcoin
*Payment needs to be made in advance

Cancellation Policy
Reservations may be cancelled without a charge up to 8 days prior to the program date.
Reservations cancelled less than 3 days before the program date will incur the following charges:
- Between 7 days and 3 day: 30% of the program charge
- Between 2 days and 1 day: 80% of the program charge
- Less than a day or no show: 100% of the program charge
*Time in JST