Aizuwakamatsu City, a final stronghold of “samurai” (feudal warrior) rule in Japan, held a press tour for foreign correspondents and social media influencers based in Tokyo from January 31 to February 2 to showcase its samurai heritage and promote inbound tourism to the area in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. During the three-day tour, the correspondents were guided around local sites revealing the legacy of the area’s Aizu clan samurai, left after their demise during the Meiji Restoration in the middle to late 19th century.
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Correspondents experienced “kyudo” (the Japanese martial art of archery) and “zazen,” a meditative discipline practiced by the samurai, at Aizu Hanko Nisshin-kan, a school for children of samurai said to have been one of the best of over 300 Edo-era (1603-1867) clan schools in Japan.
At Fukunishi Honten, a former merchant home, correspondents saw how private and government investment is helping to preserve local history in Aizuwakamatsu after restoration of the facility provided a space to care for and exhibit local treasures.
“We are doing this to preserve and showcase our identity as the people of Aizu,” said Takashi Yoshida, Fukunishi Honten curator.
Correspondents were also taken to the scenic old post town of Ouchijuku and to Iimoriyama, the latter being the site of the tragic deaths of a group of teenage Byakkotai samurai.
The tour introduced Aizuwakamatsu’s unique local arts and crafts championed by the samurai as important sources of income for the city. Correspondents visited Yamagataya, a store and workshop specializing in candle painting, a craft practiced in Aizuwakamatsu for around 500 years, and watched a performance by “geigi,” traditional Japanese female entertainers and hostesses.
“Aizu has so much to offer and is very much worth a visit from Japanese and foreign visitors,” remarked one of the correspondents who hailed from Europe.
Despite hardships following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Fukushima Prefecture has emerged as the most important sake-brewing region of Japan, having claimed the most gold medals in the prestigious Sake Competition for seven consecutive years up to 2019. Correspondents visited the award-winning brewery Suehiro Shuzo Kaei-gura, a sake brand served at the 2019 G20 Osaka summit.
SOURCE Aizuwakamatsu City