Aizuwakamatsu 会津若松
Map of the Aizu Region

Aizuwakamatsu Travel Guide

Aizuwakamatsu is a city in western Fukushima Prefecture, northern Honshū, and the most important city in the Aizu basin, with a population of about 125,000 residents.

Established as a castle town of the Aizu Domain (会津藩 Aizu-han) in 1592, much of the city burned in the Boshin Civil War (1868-69) in the wake of the Meiji Restoration. Famous for its lacquerware, the city also produces sake, textiles, lumber, and furniture.

Aizuwakamatsu takes great pride in its samurai past and its history of martial arts, as well as its ties with the Tokugawa clan. The Hoshina clan (保科氏), who later ruled the Aizu Domain, adopted the illegitimate son of the second Tokugawa shogun Hidetada and thus expanded their influence, and were in the of the seventeenth century bestowed the privilege to use the Tokugawa kamon (家紋, family crest) as well as the surname of Matsudaira. In the nineteenth century, the Matsudaira fiercely opposed the reinstatement of the Japanese emperor, but were defeated by the technically superior armies of the Satsuma-Chōshū Alliance.

Things to see

Tsuruga Castle Iimoriyama Buke-yashiki
Tsuruga Castle
A reconstruction of the original Aizuwakamatsu Castle.
Visit the graves of the Byakkotai and the famous Aizu Sazaedo Pagoda.
The Samurai Mansions of the Saigō, chief retainers of the Matsudaira
OyakuenMatsudaira Family TombsAizu Sake Museum
Oyakuen: the Royal Garden of the Aizu-Matsudaira
Matsudaira Family Tombs
The tombs of eight generations of Aizu Matsudaira lords
Sake Museum
Aizuwakamatsu boasts almost 500 years of sake brewing tradition.

More things to see

Shinsengumi Museum Shinsengumi Museum
Not far from the town center (A35/H4 station, "Nanokamachi Shirokiya"), it holds artefacts of the shinsengumi and their final battle.
Kondō Isami's grave Kondō Isami's grave
Beheaded in Edo, Shinsengumi members saved their leader's head and buried it at Ten'nei-ji Temple in Aizu (A10/H23 "Yarōgamae" station).
Higashiyama Onsen Higashiyama Onsen
A picturesque and old hot spring resort with four waterfalls in its vicinity (A14/H27, "Higashiyama Onsen" station).
Kitakata Ramen Kitakata
Located 15km north of Aizuwakamatsu and famous for its distinct ramen served throughout the region (JR Ban-Etsusai Line from Aizuwakamatsu).
Nisshinkan 日新館 Nisshinkan (日新館)
Founded in 1803, it served as an academy for the sons of the Aizu samurai. Destroyed during the Boshin War, it has been completely restored.
Fukushima Prefectural Museum 福島県立博物館 Fukushima Prefectural Museum (福島県立博物館), depicting the non-feudal history of the Aizu region from prehistoric times to modern days.

Getting around town

Getting around in Aizuwakamatsu is very convenient, either by bicycle or by bus. The Aizuwakamatsu Classic Town Bus leaves quite frequently from the JR Station and goes either clock-wise ("Akabe", a modern bus) or anti-clock-wise ("Haikara-san", a vintage-type minibus). One ride is 200 JPY for adults and 100 JPY for children. Day passes are available for 500 JPY and 250 JPY.

Aizu Bus Haikara
Aizu Bus Haikara

Aizu Bus Map
Aizuwakamatsu map (click to enlarge)
Courtesy of Aizuwakamatsu Tourist Association
Aizu Bus Schedule
Aizuwakamatsu bus schedule (click to enlarge)
Courtesy of Aizuwakamatsu Tourist Association

Aizuwakamatsu Gallery

Click the thumbnails to open a slideshow.

Akabeko (赤べこ) Underpass at Aizuwakamatsu JR Sta. Tsuruga Castle Aizuwakamatsu City Hall Traditional house Neoclassical building Noguchi Hideyo Memorial Shinsengumi Museum
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