The Tsuruga Castle during the sakura season is a sight to behold.
Tsuruga Castle, also known as Wakamatsu Castle, is the main landmark of this castle town and the place where one of the last stands between the samurai and the modern Meiji government took place.
Also named as one of Japan’s top 100 famous castles and as one of the top castle spots during the sakura season, this beautifully-preserved castle is actually steeped in the tragic past of Japan’s civil war, the Boshin War in the late 1868-69.
Pay your respect to the young men who gave their lives to preserve their honor at the gravesite of the Byakko-tai.
This is where young men were trained to become samurai.
At the battle of Aizu, one of the biggest battle scenes of the war, all men in the city were called up to join the army to fight the imperial forces, including a corps of 20 teenagers called the Byakko-tai (or White Tiger Corp) who ? recognizing defeat ? committed suicide at the scene. One of them survived. The graves of the Byakko-tai is also a main attraction of the city, located in the middle of Mt. Iimori.
To get an idea of how samurai were trained, visit the Nisshinkan, a Samurai School of the Aizu Domain built in the late Edo era. Here you can see how the Aizu samurai acquired their combat skills and knowledge. This is also where the Byakko-tai were schooled.
The bukeyashiki, or samurai houses, have been preserved for public viewing.
Experience the rest stop of Edo travellers at the Ouchijiku post stop.
Those curious as to how the elite samurai lived during the Edo period can choose from several samurai houses or bukeyashiki that have been preserved and are open for public viewing.
Finally, experience how travelers in the past used to get to the Aizu area by visiting the Ouchijuku, a former post town along the trade route joining Aizu with Nikko during the Edo era. During that time, the shogunate only allowed travel by foot and so such post towns sprung up along the routes to provide accommodation and food. This post town maintains its appearance from ancient times with thatched roofs free from telephone and electricity wires ? unlike the rest of modern Japan.
3h from Tokyo via Koriyama Station (JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line) to Aizu-Wakamatsu Station by JR Banetsu-sai Line.