Minamiaizu is a very large area of Fukushima Prefecture, so it may be difficult to decide whereabouts to go! I have created a model 3 day course which you could follow as part of your visit to Fukushima Prefecture. Of course, it can be edited and changed as necessary!
1. Aizuwakamatsu Station
Aizuwakamatsu City is a good starting point for visiting Fukushima Prefecture, as it is a city with a lot of history and culture.
2. Enzoji Temple
Built around 1300 years ago, Enzoji Temple is a beautifully crafted Buddhist temple that looks down over the Tadami River, surrounded by trees that turn bright colours in the autumn.
Take the Tadami Line sightseeing train to Aizu-Yanaizu Station (会津柳津駅). It takes 1 hour on the train from Aizuwakamatsu Station to Aizu-Yanaizu Station. From Aizu-Yanaizu station, it is a ten minute walk to the temple.
Alternatively, you could drive there in around 30 minutes.
3. Tadamigawa Bridge View Spot
This is one of the most famous photo spots in the whole of Fukushima Prefecture, offering stunning views no matter the season or weather.
Continue on the Tadami Line sightseeing train to Aizu-Miyashita Station (会津宮下駅). From Aizu-Yanaizu, it will take around 25 minutes to reach Aizu-Miyashita Station. (It would take approximately 15 minutes if you were to drive the distance.)
There is a shuttle bus at Aizu-Miyashita Station that will take you to the view point. Please note that there is only one shuttle bus to the view point per day, and only two buses returning to Aizu-Miyashita station. For this reason, it is important to plan this part of your trip in advance. The shuttle bus takes around 10 minutes.
4. Weaving Experience
Whilst you’re in the area close to Aizu-Miyashita Station (会津宮下駅), why not try out a traditional weaving experience at Mishima Town Tourism Association? The Tourism Association is less than 100 metres in front of the train station, making it very easy to access.
5. Six Buddhas
Drive from Aizu-Miyashita Station to Hinoemata Town. The drive to Hinoemata Town is likely to take around 2 hours, but the views of the luscious Japanese countryside are so stunning that you are likely to stop your car a few times on the way!
After you drop off your luggage at your accommodation in Hinoemata Town, have a look and see if you can find the Six Buddhas hidden in the town. You can read about the significance of the Buddhas here.
1. Kabuki Stage
If you time it right, you can see a kabuki performance here, at a theatre with over 260 years of history! Alternatively, even if you visit when a play is not being performed, the stage and the surrounding seating area are exciting to explore. Moreover, there is a small museum about the history of kabuki very close by, as well as a shrine where you can cut ties with old flames, or build new ones!
2. Mini Oze Park
A short car ride from the centre of Hinoemata Town, visitors can enjoy nature in all its glory at Hinoemata Mini Oze Park, with walks and fishing. There are also small museums, a café, and a gift shop to visit.
3. Calligraphy Gallery
Located inside Mini Oze Park, come and learn more about shodo, Japanese calligraphy.
4. L-Shaped Farmhouses
Farmhouses in this area have been preserved as they were for hundreds of years. Many residents still live in this area, but one or two buildings are open up to the public. There is a nearby view point which can be accessed by climbing a fairly long staircase in a wooded area. It may be difficult for those with accessibility issues, but it is certainly a beautiful view, so those who can reach the top definitely should!
Please be wary that you won’t be able to have a guided tour of the buildings during winter, when the establishment is closed.
5. Yunokami Onsen
Yunokami Onsen takes 1.5 hours to reach by car from Hinoemata, or around 2.5 hours via Aizu Tetsudo train, heading for Aizuwakamatsu City.
It’s not just the station itself that is picturesque and quirky (it has an iirori open stove in the waiting room to keep you toasty in the winter), the whole town is lovely. Stay overnight in Yunokami Onsen town, and rest your feet in a relaxing Japanese hot spring!
This village was one of the post towns established under the post station system during the Edo Period. The buildings still stand as they have for hundreds of years. There is a great view point from where you can see the rows of houses – which is particularly stunning in the snowy months of January and February – and there are also a number of restaurants that sell delicious local food, such as the famous local dish “negi-soba” (soba noodles, eaten with a long green onion, instead of with chopsticks).
Reach Ouchijuku via a 22-minute bus from outside Yunokami Onsen, or drive there in 10 minutes from the same place!
A national natural monument, To-no-Hetsuri consists of cliffs overlooking a river, which have been slowly eroded away to create an extremely unique cliff-face.
3. Ashinomaki Onsen
Ashinomaki Onsen Station is one of the one train stations in Japan to have a feline station master! He finishes work at 4pm, so be sure to get there before then, and (if you can) check with him in advance to make sure he hasn’t changed his working hours recently!
Reach Ashinomaki Onsen from To-no-hetsuri by car in 22 minutes, or take the Aizu Tetsudo train for approximately 35 minutes.
4. Aizu Wakamatsu
Finish your trip back in Aizu Wakamatsu, or perhaps start the next part of your journey here.