Five weeks on from my last trip up north I headed that way again but there was to be a stop at Aizu Wakumatsu en-route to my nights accommodation in Sendai. It also happened to be my birthday and so, whilst my wife was working, I travelled up to Koriyama via Utsunomiya on my own. On that previous trip I ventured east on the Ban-Etsuto Line to see Mini Mount Fuji among other things but this time I headed west for an hour or so. I passed Inawashiro Station which was where my girlfriend (now my wife) and I went en-route to the wonderful Goshikinuma (Five Colour Lakes) back in 2012.
A few stops on from there was the tiny Higashi Nagahara Station and from there I walked for roughly thirty minutes to the Aizu Jibo Daikannon Statue. Being such a big statue it came into view much sooner than that which was a bit of a surprise as I had completely forgotten what kind of place I was going to as my notes on this area were made a few weeks ago.
It was a vast complex but I decided to just home in on the 57 metre statue. I paid the 500 yen entrance and went through the motions of walking up to the top of the statue (there was no lift) just for the sake of it. The views made it all worthwhile though.
After descending I was in a bit of a quandary. It was a 30 minute walk back to the same station but the next train in the direction I wanted wouldn’t be for another two hours! All a far cry from the regularity of trains in Tokyo which I’m used to! I would then have had to walk for another half an hour to the place I wanted to see. There really wasn’t much choice but to just bite the bullet and take the 90 minute walk to Aizu Sazae-do Temple! It was a nice day anyway. It didn’t stay that way for long though as the rain started. It was mere drizzle at first and quite refreshing but it inevitably got a bit harder as I continued on my journey. I saw this dinosaur (below) at a car lot on the way.
With a bit of running here and there I managed to get to the temple in about an hour. The sign on the path walking up to it even said that it was a strange buddhist temple. Weird as it may be, it is actually recognised as a Naturally Designated Important Cultural Asset not that I really understand the importance of such an accolade! The grounds of the place were very pleasant with water rushing through at a rapid pace and the views across the city were refreshing too.
This 16.6 metre high, three-storey, hexagon shaped Buddhist structure (below) was built in 1796 and is the world’s only wooden building remaining from the mid-Edo Period. It’s quite unique in thattwo ramps come up from both the front and rear entrances and are united via a little bridge at the top having made two revolutions. Constructed entirely of wood, this really is a precious and rare building.
I finally decided to take a bus after that but took one in the wrong direction and ended up at Aizu Wakamatsu Station. I could’ve just given up then as it was raining but instead took another bus back in the direction I’d just come from and beyond as I wanted to see one more quirky sight. The ticket office lady told me to get off at a stop which was one or two stops earlier than I had to which was annoying as I was pressed for time and could’ve done with saving a bit of energy. The nearest bus stop is actually Aizu Bukeyashiki.
In following the Google Maps app I ended up cutting through a wood and overgrown vegetation and so I was mightily relieved when I did locate what I’d come for as I did think I might’ve been on a wild goose chase for a few moments then. The reason for all this adventure was just to find a historical landmark which I think is known as Nakamura-yama. This mountain features a load of bizarre-looking family tombs standing atop turtle-shaped stones. They are dotted all about this completely silent corner of Aizu Wakamatsu.
The bus got caught up in a bit of traffic returning to Aizu Wakamatsu Station (below) and annoyingly I missed the train I wanted by about a minute. The next one wasn’t for another hour meaning that all my rushing around before that had been in vain. Such waiting around was to be a theme of my holiday in Northern Japan!
Click here to read ‘Dining Out: A Truly Novel Way Of Ordering Food At Genbikei Gorge’
Bonus: This place (below) is in Tokyo and a little reminiscent of the Aizu Sazae-do Temple in Aizu-wakamatsu as it has the same method of going up and down. If you’ve already forgotten what was written above then that means corridors to and from do not intersect. This uniquely designed Buddhist cultural facility is only 10 years old. It’s called Ohdai Sazaedo and is located in the grounds of Taisho University (3-20-1 Nishisugamo, Toshima-Ku). It is also considered to be a new power spot!