Sports? Yes! Culture? Yes! This is Fukushima!!!

Frankly speaking, I still felt a little worried about the impacts of the nuclear disaster following the 3/11 earthquakes and Tsunami – before I visited Fukushima in person! After researching before our trip, we found out that most of the prefecture (including famous tourism spots like Lake Inawashiro) is far away from the damaged areas and completely safe.  I was so excited for this trip!!

Through out the whole tour, what impressed me most was Fukushima’s outstanding natural beauty. Due to the huge amount of snow there, the background of snow (and so covered mountains) is pure and clean, like a painting canvas ready for visitors.

Amongst this stunning nature, I tried many fun activities in Fukushima – the first one being smelt fishing (or ice fishing). In Taiwan, it seldom (never) snows, so the lakes don’t freeze over. As such, ice fishing was a totally novel activity for me! To be honest, I was actually a bit scared that the ice surface might break, but it is actually safer than I thought because the thickness is close to 30-40 cm.

We were lucky to be fishing inside a big tent, so in fact it was pretty warm! While I was still waiting for just one fish to bite, many of my friends had already gotten one at least! But –  I kept positive and patient. Well – life is not a fairytale – so it’s not unexpected that in the end I got none…

Although we had a lot of fun, we didn’t end up catching many fish (maybe only 4-5 and the rest were kindly donated by the tent next to us haha), and obviously it didn’t make up much to eat for lunch! But don’t worry, if you’re just as bad at fishing as we were you can still enjoy the famous local dish: Sauce Katsu-don (fried thick pork on rice with local sweet sauce), and it will definitely satisfy you!!

Next we drove to the wide and beautiful Lake Inawashiro to see swans which had flown-in from Siberia, and it was literally like “Swan Lake”. You can feed the swans there, as well as many other kinds of wild birds who are hungry for free snacks!

There was just enough time to play in the snow outside our hotel before check-in! Hotel Listel Inawashiro also provides many great facilities for its customers. There are some great souvenir shops, tasty snacks and drinks and snow equipment. And, you must try the coffee -flavor ice cream which is famous and limited to the Fukushima area – yum!! For parents with kids, there is even a playground for children inside the hotel.

    If you love to ski, there is an affiliated ski resort where many international ski competitions have previously been held! Everything you need can be rented from the hotel including skis/snowboard, boots, ski wear etc.

The next morning we were quick to finish breakfast to hit the slopes outside!! It was only my second time skiing, and this time I finally got it!!!

After our morning’s adrenaline rush , we to Aizuwakamatsu to visit Tsuruga-jo, the famous castle. Tsuruga-jo castle was built in the 1300s but destroyed in the 1800s, and the present castle is a replica. Climbing up to the roof of the castle I could see the beauty of the snowy mountains surrounding the castle against the blue pure sky. 

A short bus ride from the castle is the fascinating village of Ouchijuku which is a cultural heritage area of traditional buildings. We tried the Negi-soba challenge there – instead of using chopsticks, we had to use a big onion to eat our noodles!! (harder than it looks!)


How to take the same trip!

Sample itinerary – Driving On Your Own:
(with Locations on Google Map)

Commute: from Sendai to Lake Hibara
Activity: Smelt fishing & Lunch
(¥4,700/per person
Commute: from Lake Hibara to Inawashiro
Activity: See Swans from Siberia
–15:30~16: 00–
Commute: from Inawashiro to Hotel Listel
Activity: Play snow activity near hotel
Time for dinner, rest and onsen bath

Time for breakfast and preparation for ski
Activity: Ski in the ski resort of hotel Listel
(¥1,600/ 3-hr per person
Time for check-out
Commute: from hotel Listel to Castle Aizuwakamatsu
Activity: Visit Castle Aizuwakamatsu
(¥410/ per person
Commute: from Castle Aizuwakamatsu to Ouchijuku
Activity: Lunch & take a walk in Ouchijuku
Commute: from Ouchijuku to Sendai

Sample Itinerary – Using Public Transport:
(with Locations on Google Map)

Commute: from Sendai / Tokyo station to Inawashiro station
(Tohoku Shinkansen>> Koriyama Station,
(Ban-Etsusai Line>> Inawashiro station
(¥6,130/ ¥8,950

Commute: from Inawashiro station to Bus stop (裏磐梯高原駅バス停)
(take 10:32 bus – 磐梯東都バス and then walk 3 mins to Gold House Meguro ¥900

Activity: Smelt fishing & Lunch
Commute: from Lake Hibara to Grand Sunpia Inawashiro Resort Hotel
(take taxi or shuttle bus at 14:45 from Inawashiro station to resort: about 10 mins)

Activity: Ski
Time for dinner, rest and onsen bath

Time for breakfast and check-out
Activity: See the Swans near Lake Inawashiro
(shuttle bus from hotel to Inawashiro station avaliable at 8:45 am
Commute: from Lake Inawashiro to Castle Aizuwakamatsu
(JR from Inawashiro station to Aizuwakamatsu station at 9:10
Activity: Visit Castle Aizuwakamatsu & Lunch
(tsuruga-jo – walk 4 min – take bus from 鶴ヶ城入口 to 七日町駅前
Commute: from Castle Aizuwakamatsu to Ouchijuku
(Nanukamachi Station – take JR to Yunokamionsen Station – Yunoueonsen Ekimae Bus Stop – take bus to Ouchika Bus Stop 

Activity: Take a walk in Ouchijuku
Commute: from Ouchijuku to Sendai / Tokyo
(Ouchika Bus Stop – take bus to Yunoueonsen Ekimae Bus Stop – Yunokamionsen Station – take JR train to Koriyama Station – tohoku shinkansen to sendai or tokyo

Information links

[1] Smelt fishing: 福島県桧原湖わかさぎ釣り情報
[2]Smelt fishing:福島県裏磐梯桧原湖ワカサギ釣りこたかもり
[3]Transportation-bus: 磐梯東都バス
[4]Hotel: ホテルリステル猪苗代 Ski expense: 料金
[5]Hotel: グランドサンピア猪苗代リゾートスキー場
[6]Castle Aizuwakamatsu: 若松城
[7]Ouchijuku: 大內宿

For more great destinations in Tohoku, visit our webpage.

For more inspiration for your trip to Fukushima, click here!

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