BEAUTY OF JAPAN

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Samurai city, Aizuwakamatsu, and Historical Ouchi-juku with local inn stay

2016.07.28

Introduction

Welcome to Aizu-Wakamatsu and Shimogo area!
A former castle town to Aizu domain, the area has a long history and flourished as a samurai stronghold during the Edo period. Enjoy the authentic samurai city where influences of samurai society still remain strong even today.
Tour also visits locally famous Yunokami onsen (hot spring) and you willl have stay at local and historical ryokan with tatami room. On the next day, you will visit Ouchi-juku where used to be post-town in Edo period.

■History
Aizuwakamatsu:
Located in northern Honshu, Aizuwakamatsu 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.
The city of Aizu-Wakamatsu was destroyed by the war - it was reconstructed during the Meiji period in 19th century and today, you will enjoy the beauty and charm of the city once again.
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.

Shimogo-cho:
Ouchi-juku, prospered as a post town during the Edo period and Yunokami Onsen, blessed with rich natural, and hot spring are located in Shimogo-cho.
Ouchi-juku became one of the most famous sightseeing spots thanks to houses with thatched roof that have been there since Edo period.
There are 48 houses and 3 of them are inn, and the others are restaurants or souvenir shops. At all of inns, restaurants and, shops are not only for business but also their housing for owner.
Ouchi-juku is the great sightseeing spots as well as where to live for 130 people.
On the other hand, Yunokami Onsen is well famous as a hot spring town. People who lives there use hot spring in a daily life.
Hot spring of Yunokami Onsen doesn't have a strange smell or taste, so people who live there could use it for cooking and washing.
The closest station has a footbath for free. Hot spring is indispensable not only in terms of business but also daily life in Yunokami Onsen.
Enjoy to explore Yunokami Onsen's hot spring and beautiful landscape.

■Highlights
- Explore and enjoy the history of Aizuwakamatsu and Shimogo area.
- Get a taste of Samurai city - visit Tsuruga castle, the symbol of Aizuwakamatsu and stroll around jokamachi, the former castle town.
- Feel the local lifestyle of Ochi-juku, and Yunokami Onsen which has atmosphere of Edo period.

■Sample itinerary
----Day 1-----
11AM Meet a guide at Aizuwakamatsu Station (About 90 minutes train ride from JR Koriyama station.)

Visit saka gura - traditional sake brewery storehouse
- Visit saka gura from the Bakumatsu period in the late 18th century and learn about the marvels of sake brewery from Toji, sake brewer of the storehouse who has been honored a title of Sake Meister. Apart from sake brewery, enjoy the prestigious drawings of Yoshinobu Tokunaga, the 15th and last shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan.

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.

Explore hot spring district with over 1,200 years of history
* Available only in a private car tour.
- Enjoy the charm of historic hot spring district, which was first discovered by a distinguished priest over 1,200 years ago. Many samurai visited the district to heal wounds and to rest. Apart from the hot spring, the district is also known for apprentice geisha called karariko san, which the tradition of geisha culture continues today.

Visit a temple with one of Japan's National Treasures, wooden statue of Bhaisajyaguru
* Available only in a private car tour.
- Visit a temple build over 1,200 years ago and explore cultural assets from the Heian period in the early 9th century - a status of Bhaisajyaguru classified as Japan's National Treasure and dozens of other Important Cultural Property.

5PM-6PM Head to accommodation place

6PM Check-in
- You will stay at Shukubo or Minshuku - Japanese style inn.

-----Day 2-----
*Choose from two kinds of options.
(A) Experience of Monk's life.

Stay at temple lodging.
7:00AM Otsutome, training experience (chanting, sermon)
8:00AM Breakfast
9:00AM Sesame tofu making
Move to the Ouchijuku
10:30AM Sightseeing at Ochijuku
Tour ends

- Temple lodging is an accommodation where monks stays, and cleanse the mind and body. Enjoy the Shoujin cuisine, vegetarian meal, and private bath made from Japanese cypress.

- Sesame tofu is indispensable in Shoujin cuisine.
Here is the detail information of Shoujin cuisine: http://beauty-of-japan.com/article/shoujin-ryori-hachi-no-ki-in-kamakura-traditional-vegetarian-cuisine/

(B) Local life experience
Stay at Home with local people
8:00AM Breakfast
9:00AM Check out
9:30AM-10:30AM Bracken picking and harvesting experience
11:00AM Local food making experience
12:00AM Lunch
Move to Ochijuku
1:30PM Sightseeing at Ochijuku
Tour ends

-- Stay at a local house and rest your body in a tatami room. Enjoy the local cuisine and hot springs.
- Learn how to make the local cuisine and enjoy the lunch with locals.

Please ask us for more options;
Fruit picking activity
- There are various fruits grown throughout the year 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
Max. 6 persons
(Please inquire us for a party of 7 or more.)
Duration
2 days
Destination

What's Included
- Guide
- Admission fee to facilities
- Accommodation
- Dinner
- breakfast on the second day
What's not Included
- Transportation fee to/from meeting point
- Food and beverage
- Lunch
- 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