August 22nd was our first full day in Fukushima. That day my husband’s relatives had planned a trip to famous places in Fukushima prefecture, including Aizu city and Tsurugajo castle. Already around 9 o’clock in the morning we got into the car. My husband, his cousin, his aunt, his eldest uncle and the cousin’s son and I filled out the seven-person car pretty well. I was actually still trying to figure out who exactly was living in the house we stayed in, but I did like the feeling of finally being apart of a “bigger” family. Due to getting to bed too late and getting up too early I quickly felt asleep during the drive. Our first stop was some kind of cave area; I unfortunately didn’t catch the name of.
You crossed a wide lake on a bridge, which liked to sway beneath your feet. After walking up some very steep stairs there was a small shrine, after that we returned to the car. After some more driving, we reached Ouchijuku. A small, isolated village surrounded by the many mountains of Fukushima. This village has been kept in the original style and shape, with some similarities to the famous Shirakawa-go in Gifu prefecture.
Of course this was just a small version, with one main street, but it was still interesting and there was a lot of old styled shops selling candy, souvenirs, ingredients and etc. There were also a lot of soba restaurants and ice cream shops. My husband’s aunt bought us soft ice cream with sesame flavour, which were surprisingly good.
Then we got into the car, yet again and went to the main attraction of the day, Tsurugajo Castle in Aizu city. The castle had recently been through renovation, where the roof tiles also got reverted from grey back to the original red colour, which is a unique colour among the castles of Japan. For me, who has already seen a great amount of Japanese castles, the red tile colour also seemed to be what stood out the most about this particular castle.
Tsurugajo castle that has a very good size, white walls, a nice garden and nature area and then the pretty red tiles, was surely worth the visit. Especially since I love seeing Japanese castles, since they’re all unique and special in their own way – even though most of them are copies of castles, which burned down centuries ago.
After that we looked for a place to eat and for some reason the uncle had decided that it had to be a ramen restaurant. We ended up in a restaurant/museum, which was a truly interesting experience. Not so much that we were the only people in the building. More that it was an original, big house from very old times. When we entered we took our shoes of by the door and we were then led into a big room with tatami floors. There was a lot of small tables and pillows to sit on, we all sic sat down and ordered our food. After eating this late lunch, it was time to head home and once again I fell asleep in the car, but this time around, the aunt, the cousin’s son and my husband joined me.
My husband and I went to our room to relax and he also continued his nap, until around 8 o’clock where we were offered a late dinner. A very delicious dinner and then all of us watched television and talked until it was time for bed.