I went to Lake Inawashiro last weekend for a BBQ with some friends, and was reminded of just how spectacularly beautiful Inawashiro area is – especially in the summer.
Yesterday I travelled to Inawashiro Town and nearby Kitashiobara Village for work, so that I could check out some of the best places to visit in the area. I’ll write about a number of these places in detail over the weeks to come, but, for now, this is my list of recommended sightseeing spots in – and around! – Inawashiro.
1. Tsunoda Lacquer Art Studio（漆芸工房 角田）
As well as the typical usage of lacquer for coating and decorating wooden tableware, Tsunoda san uses lacquer to create beautiful paintings with breathtaking and contrasting colours.
Not only can you view Tsunoda san’s art when you visit his studio, but you can also try out makie painting (painting with lacquerware) or chinkin painting (‘sunken gold painting’). This is the only place in Fukushima Prefecture where you can try sunken gold painting.
I tried out sunken gold painting yesterday (photos below!).
- Opening Hours: 10:00-16:00 (Irregular Holidays)
- Makie Painting Experience: 1000 yen – 2500 yen (Takes 1 hour)
- Sunken Gold Experience: 1300 yen – 2500 yen (Takes 1 hour to 1.5 hours)
- Reserve in advance via the online application form (You can write in english!)
(お名前 = Name. メールアドレス = Email address. メッセージ：Message)
2. Hanitsu Shrine (土津神社）
A feudal lord of the Aizu Clan is thought to have been deified at this shrine. The shrine was opened following his death in 1672. Like much of Japan’s wooden architecture, the shrine has been badly damaged by fire. The shrine that stands here today was built in 1880. One of the highlights of the shrine is a really cool stone monument with a huge tortoise at its base. Make sure to check this out!
Tenkyokaku is a Meiji Era former villa which was opened in 1907. Tenkyokaku was built as a result of the captivation Imperial Prince Arisugawa Takehito felt regarding the beauty of Lake Inawashiro during a visit to Tohoku.
The former villa got its name when Crown Prince Yoshihito described the villa as “The Palace of Heaven’s Mirror” – referring to the beauty of the sky’s reflection on the surface of Lake Inawashiro.
In 1952, Tenkyokaku was granted to Fukushima Prefecture, and it is now open for the public to visit to get a glimpse at the glitz and glamour of the villas of the Japanese elite in the Meiji era!
- Entrance Fee: 360 yen
- Meiji-era Dress Up Experience: 520 yen
- Opening Hours: Open Daily 9:00-16:30
4. Lunch in Inawashiro
Inawashiro area is well known for its delicious soba (buckwheat flour), so I recommend having soba noodles for lunch.
Inawashiro area is also becoming known for its craft beer brewery! The brewery is on site at the Inawashiro Beer Hall. You can have German-style (beer hall) lunches here and try out Inawashiro’s own beer on tap.
* You can’t eat soba noodles at Inawashiro Beer Hall! *
5. World Glass Hall （世界のガラス館）
Opened around 20 years ago, you can see an incredible variety of items and pieces of art made from glass. Most of these pieces are for sale, giving the Glass Hall the atmosphere of both a museum and shop!
My favourite thing about the World Glass Hall is that you can try out glass-blowing or glass-etching! Not only that, but the craftsperson who currently makes glass at the Glass Hall can teach you in English!
The glass you personalise during the glass-etching experience can be taken home with you once you’re happy with the design! However, glass made during the glass-blowing experience can take up to one month to be completed, and needs to be sent to an address within Japan, which makes it harder for international tourists!
- If possible, book these experiences in advance by phone at (+81)120-37-2177 !
- Glass-Etching Experience: 1080 yen (Takes 30 mins)
- Glass-Blowing Experience: From 4500 yen (Takes 30 mins)
6. Swimming in Lake Inawashiro, Camping, Sightseeing Drive
There are plenty of beautiful natural landscapes around Lake Inawashiro that visitors can enjoy without spending any money at all! I recently wrote about how you can camp on the edge of Lake Inawashiro for free at designated camp sites – so check that out here. These campsites often have designated areas where you can go swimming.
Even if you don’t fancy camping, the scenery of the town is so beautiful, it’s worth it just to take a drive around and take in the views of the lake and the surrounding soba fields.
One of the places you should definitely check out if visiting Inawashiro in summer is the Nunobiki Plateau Wind Farm on the outskirts of nearby Koriyama City. This area becomes packed with sunflowers in August!
6. Paragliding & Watersports
Lake Inawashiro is a great place to try out water-sports and other sports such as paragliding and ‘mountain-boarding’. You can also rent row-boats to experience the lake in yet another way. Please note that many of these experiences are a bit difficult to organise unless you speak some level of Japanese.
For paragliding and mountain-boarding, please check out Sportspal’s website (Yamaguchi san, who runs Sportspal, can’t speak English so please book if you are planning to go with a Japanese person, or can speak Japanese to some degree).
I hope you get a chance to visit Lake Inawashiro and the countless amazing places close by!
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