Located at the heart of Fukushima-ken, Inawashiro-machi is a town at the foot of Mt. Bandai. To its south side are the clear waters of Lake Inawashiro and to the north is Mt. Bandai. A two-hour train journey is all it takes to reach this lovely little traditional settlement from Tokyo. Prepare to fall in love with Japan’s countryside charm on our adventure to Inawashiro-machi!
Iwahashi Kan: Visit the home of buckwheat noodles for a feast
People call Inawashiro-machi the home of buckwheat noodles (soba) because it is one of the top producers of buckwheat in eastern Japan. The area boasts the perfect weather condition for growing buckwheat. The buckwheat culture runs deep in the area and traditional recipes are still very popular today. This restaurant serves traditional “shugen” soba (soba for marriage ceremony), The broth served by this restaurant, cooked with tender chicken and beef, is a wonderful match with chewy noodles.
Hours: 11am-3:30pm (open 11am-2:30pm from Dec 1 to Mar 31), closed on Wednesday
Access: 35-min walk or 5-min drive from Okinashima Station or Inawashiro Station on the JR Banetsu West Line
Address: 65 Muranishi, Mitsuwa, Inawashiro-machi, Yama-gun, Fukushima-ken
URL: www.inawashiro.or.jp/meal/iwahashi (Japanese)
Bandai Kogen Kashiwaya: Delicious, mouth-watering Japanese steamed cake
Established over 160 years ago, Kashiwaya has a collection of recipes that have been passed down for generations. Their bestseller is praised as one of Japan’s three renowned manju, featuring sweet-but-not-too-sweet red bean filling wrapped in a thin layer of dough made with black sugar. This delicacy was first offered to travellers on the Oshu-kaido, one of the main routes back in the Edo period. It is now a popular souvenir for people visiting Fukushima.
Access: 25-min walk or 6-min drive from Inawashiro Station on the JR Banetsu West Line Address: 53-1 Nashinokinishi, Inawashiro-machi, Yama-gun, Fukushima-ken
URL: www.usukawa.co.jp (Japanese)
Discovering the charm of sakura flowers
A mountain road neighbouring Akimoto Power Plant is lined with lovely cherry blossom trees that turn the area into a refreshing pink tunnel every spring. This view of nature is simply breathtaking and mystical. The road, also called Myoke-no-sakura, is a secret cherry viewing spot that is not heavily visited by tourists. Not far away is Showa-no-mori, this is another great place to appreciate yaezakura and somei-yoshino sakuras. There is also an observatory deck where you can catch a stunning view of Lake Inawashiro.
Access: 15-min walk from Sukawabashi bus stop (Buses depart from Inawashiro Station on the JR Banetsu West Line)
URL: www.bandaisan.or.jp/entry.html?id=86774 (Japanese)
Open from Apr 14 to Nov 25 (applicable to change due to weather conditions)
Access: 15-min drive from Okinashima Station on the JR Banetsu West Line
URL: www.inawashiro.or.jp/institutionshowa (Japanese) *website currently unavailable, due to ongoing updates
Kannonji River covered in pink blossoms
Kannonji River is a stream of water not far from Kawageta Station on the JR Banetsu WestLine. During spring, the bank is transformed into a 1-kilometre-long corridor of sakura trees, with as many as 200 sakura trees stretching along the way. As a bank protection construction was never built, wild plants grow everywhere. Crystal-clear waters, fresh grass and blue sky work perfectly together to highlight the beauty of somei-yoshino and weeping cherry blossoms.
Access: 1-min walk from Kawageta Station on the JR Banetsu West Line
URL: www.bandaisan.or.jp/entry.html?id=86744 (Japanese)
Kamegajo Park decorated in sakura petals
Kamegajo Park, a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing, is where the remains of the old Inawashiro Castle and Tsurumine Castle site. Although the majestic castle is no longer there, the stone walls are a reminder of the place’s glorious past. Cherry blossoms come into bloom around late April and the picturesque view is made even better with snow-capped Mt. Bandai in the distance.
Access: 20-min walk from Inawashiro Station on the JR Banetsu West Line
URL: www.town.inawashiro.fukushima.jp/cb/hpc/Article-28-2005.html (Japanese)