Fukushima City Minka-en (The Fukushima City Historical Architecture Park) imagines what life would have looked like hundreds of years ago in Fukushima Prefecture.
Fukushima City Minka-en showcases a range of traditional structures from northern Fukushima built between the Mid-Edo to Meiji era (1700 – 1912), including restaurants, private houses, storehouses, watchtowers and even a theater.
Using the English-language map of the park available, visitors can explore the park, and learn about the lifestyles of Japanese families and villages from years gone by.
You may even get a chance to try out some of the traditional technology! Although I couldn’t actually try making something on it, it was fun to pose with this loom and pretend I was an old lady from the Edo period!
Former Hirose-za Theater
This theater, constructed originally in 1887, was originally located along a riverside in Yanagawa Village (now known as Date City), and was moved to the park after its reconstruction in 1994.
At the heart of this theatre’s stage is a rotating platform, which would have been used as part of traditional kabuki plays over the centuries. Made of wood and cedar shingles, it’s fascinating to think that of the architectural planning it would have taken to have included a fully-revolving section in the stage.
Complete with a hidden room behind the stage for performers, and a large seating area, the theatre is still used for performances to this day.
To learn about another interesting aspect of this building, visitors must step outside and look carefully at the walls. In a certain place on the outside of the structure, you can see bear claws, from when a bear recently got a bit hungry and journeyed down from the forest in the middle of the night! When I visited, the paper covering the outside wall had been ripped down.
The Hirose-za Theater is one of the oldest theatres of its kind left in Japan, so it’s not surprising that it is considered by most to be the highlight of a trip to Fukushima City Minka-en.
Many events and seasonal festivals are held throughout the year that visitors may view or take part in, such as new year celebrations, Dolls festival and rice-planting. Some of these events give visitors the opportunity to eat a meal inside one of the traditional buildings!
Minka-en is a great place to explore of an afternoon. I can imagine it’s especially beautiful in the Autumn time. It’s worth a visit to check out and learn about traditional local culture!
Visiting the Park
Opening Times: 9:30-16:30 (Closed on Tuesdays*, during the New Year holidays)
*If Tuesday falls on a National Holiday, it will be closed on the following day.
Admission Fee: Free!
By bus: Take a bus from Fukushima Station’s East Exit. The bus will be on the Sabara Line, headed for Arakawa Hatsudensho (荒川発電所). Get off at Azuma Sogo Taiikukan (あづま総合体育館). The bus should take 30 minutes and cost approximately 600 yen. Fukushima City Minkaen is around a 12 minute walk from the bus stop.
By car: 10 min from Nishi Fukushima IC (off of the Tohoku Exressway)
By taxi: 25 min taxi from Fukushima Station
For more information, download this leaflet.