Tracing Isabella Bird's tracks in Fukushima (Day 2), July 21, 2016 (イザベラ・バードの福島の足跡を追って(2日目) 2016年7月21日)

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The second day started from Aizutajima and I headed to Ouchijuku, Shimogo Town. In her book 'Unbeaten Tracks in Japan', Ouchijuku is referred to as 'hamlet of Ouchi'. Photo above is the former yadoya (=inn) she stayed at that time. Today, it does not provide lodging anymore, but the house is open to public. More details are in this article later.

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I left Aizutajima and pedaled along the old Nikko Kaido (=Highway). In her days, there was a place that the kaido crossed the Aga River before it reached Aizushimogo Town. The place was called Nagano ferry port and it was located near Nagano village about 7km apart from Aizutajima. Photo above shows today's view of the approximate location. The former ferry port does not exist anymore, instead a bridge connects Nikko Kaido from a bank to the other.

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I found an old map which shows Nikko Kaido crossed the Aga River by a ferry as shown above.

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At Shimogo Town, the old Nikko kaido branches into mountainous area to the northwest and then to the north toward Ouchijuku. This is a different way to Ouchijuku from a popular way today from Yunokami Onsen. The actual old mountain road as shown above runs parallel to the current paved road until Nakayama Pass (710m).

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On the way, I found natural water welling out called Choju-no-mizu or water for long life, as shown above. The water was cold and really refreshing.

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At the same place as the water, there stood a board which explained details about Shimotsuke Kaido, which is the same as Nikko Kaido and Aizunishi Kaido.

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Soon after passing Nakayama Pass, I came across an amazing old giant Zelkova tree which is 950 years old as shown above. This is called Yahata Zelkova tree.

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I finally got to Ouchijuku village and I visited former yadoya (=inn) which Isabella Bird stayed 138 years ago. A note in front of the house said that she stayed here, as shown above.

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The house was open to visitors with 200-yen charge, and the master told me that this room above was the one Isabella stayed. Six years later in 1884, a new Nikko Kaido road was completed which bypassed Ouchijuku and this changed the village.

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Tonight, I stayed at a minshuku (=private lodging) called Honke-0giya as shown above. It was a good lodging with an excellent meal and a very kind landlady.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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You can trace the route and altitude in the map below. (Up: 4.9%, gained elevation: 504m, Distance: 28.7km)
下の地図で、ルートの距離や標高を見ることができます。(上り4.9%、獲得標高504m、走行距離 28.7km)

Tonohetsuri and Aizu Railway in autumn, 10/25, 2015 (秋の 塔のへつり と 会津鉄道 2015年10月25日)

Today, I started from Aizuwakamatsu Station and pedaled toward south. Actually I pedaled along Aizu Railway and the Aga River which is also called the Okawa River.
今日は、会津若松駅から出発し、南に下ります。道は、会津鉄道 と、阿賀川 (大川とも呼ぶ)にほぼ沿って行きます。

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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Leaving Aizuwakamatsu Station I first stopped at Tsurugajo Castle Site. The castle was surrounded by autumn atmosphere as shown above.
まず寄ったのが、鶴ヶ城 です。写真のように、秋 の色に包まれていました。

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(Autumn colors along the Aga River, Shimogo Town, 10/25, 2015, 阿賀川沿いの紅葉、下郷町、2015/10/25)
Just after passing Ashinomaki Onsen, I was pedaling right beside the Aga River. The river was surrounded by colorful banks as shown above.
芦ノ牧温泉を通過後、道は、阿賀川 のすぐ隣を進みます。阿賀川 の両岸は、紅葉 に包まれていました。

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(Aizu Railway train near Lake Wakasato, Shimogo Town, 10/25, 2015, 若郷湖 近くの 会津鉄道、下郷町、2015/10/25)
Soon after, I arrived at Lake Wakasato which was made artificially by stopping the Aga River. Picture above shows Aizu Railway line running just beside the lake on a highly elevated way.
しばらく行くと、若郷湖 (わかさとこ)に着きます。ここは、阿賀川 をせき止めた、人造湖です。すぐわきを、写真のように、会津鉄道 の高架が走っています。

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I saw another Aizu Railway train passing a bridge as shown above.
その先に、橋を渡る 会津鉄道 の電車に、会いました。(塔のへつり のすぐ手前)

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(Autumn colors at Tonohetsuri Valley, Shimogo Town, 10/25, 2015, 塔のへつり の 紅葉、下郷町、2015/10/25)
I finally arrived at Tonohetsuri Valley. This site is designated as National Natural Monument by its strange shaped rocks and cliffs. The site was covered with autumn colors as shown above. But the locals said "This is not the best color. It used to be much better."
最後に、塔のへつり に着きます。ここは、国の天然記念物で、奇岩の渓谷です。紅葉 になっていますが、地元によると、例年はもっと色が良いとのことです。

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(Open air bath at Senkyokaku Inn, Ashinomaki Onsen, 10/25, 2015, 芦ノ牧温泉、仙峡閣 の露天風呂、2015/10/25)
Tonight I stayed at Senkyokaku Inn at Ashinomaki Onsen (=hot spring site). The inn has its own chloride spring welling up from beneath the bath. It is a member of Japan Association of Segregated Hot Spring Inns. Picture above shows an open air bath of the inn.
今夜は、芦ノ牧温泉 の、仙峡閣 に泊まります。ここは、自前の塩化物泉が、浴槽の底から自噴しています。日本秘湯を守る会 の会員宿です。写真は、仙峡閣の露天風呂です。

You can trace the route and altitude in the map below. (Gained altitude: 205m)

【2015年1月21日】 会津 の 雪景色、大内宿 など (Jan. 21, 2015: Snow covered beautiful scenes in Fukushima)

Today I visited Ouchijuku village in Aizu region of Fukushima covered with deep snow. Last night I stayed at Yunokami Onsen on the foot of the hill and I walked up to the village in the morning about 6km away. It took about 1.5 hours one way. Altitude of the village is 650m.

The location is on the map below. The GPS logged route is drawn by red. The map can be scaled up and down by clicking it.
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写真は、大内宿に入ったところです。(冬の大内宿 下郷町 入口 2015/1/21) 今朝は、10時過ぎまで、青空が広がり、雪とのコントラストで大変きれいでした。大内宿は、江戸時代に、会津と江戸を結ぶ会津西街道沿いの宿場町で、当時の雰囲気が色濃く残っています。会津と江戸は、61里(240km)あり、当時は5泊6日の旅でした。大名の保科氏は7回、松平氏は11回、この大内宿に泊まったとされています。現在は、国指定の重要伝統的建造物群保存地区になっています。
Above photo shows a view from the entrance point of Ouchijuku village. This morning, clear sky spread until just past 10 o'clock and it made a beautiful contrast with white snow. Ouchijuku village prospered in Edo Period some 300 years ago as the lodging village for travelers between Aizu and Tokyo along the old main highway. Even today many old thatched roof houses stand along the street which bring us back to those old days. Aizu and Tokyo is separated about 240km and it took 6 days and 5 nights to travel. It is said that feudal Lord Hoshina stayed at Ouchijuku 7 times and another feudal Lord Matsudaira 11 times. Today Ouchijuku village is designated as National Preservation District of Important Traditional Buildings.

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一番奥の、展望台からの光景です。(冬の大内宿 下郷町 展望台 2015/1/21) 海外からの観光客も、多くいました。
Above photo shows a view from observation hill at the end of the village. There were many foreign tourists today.

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Just below the observation hill there was a nice souvenir shop called Kanouya.

Down the hill from Ouchijuku village there is Yunokamionsen Station of Aizu Railway Line. This station is famous as the only thatched-roof railway station in Japan. I took some pictures of the station and train from National Route 121 just across the railroad.

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写真は、上り(東京方面)快速電車と駅舎です。(湯野上温泉駅 会津鉄道 冬 2015/1/21)
Above photo shows inbound (toward south) rapid train and Yunokamionsen Station.

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写真は、上り(東京方面)普通電車と駅舎です。(湯野上温泉駅 会津鉄道 冬 2015/1/21)
Above photo shows inbound (toward south) local train and Yunokamionsen Station.

In Aizu Region of Fukushima, there is also thatched-roof bus stop. The bus stop is called Maezawamukai Bus Stop at the entrance of Maezawa magariya village in Minamiaizu Town. The bus stop is located along National Route 352 as shown in the map below.
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写真が、その茅葺屋根のバス停で、風雪でも待つ人を守る立派な造りです。(前沢集落 前沢向バス停 2015/1/20 )
Above photo shows the excellent thatched-roof bus stop which can protect travelers from severe snowstorm.

In front of this bus stop, there spread the small village of Maezawa in which many character L-shaped thatched roof houses stand. This village is also designated as National Preservation District of Important Traditional Buildings the same as Ouchijuku village.

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But in winter season, as shown in the above photo, all the houses are covered with deep snow that we cannot see the details of L-shaped structure. There is an observation place of the whole village up on the mountain across the road but today deep snow of 2meters high rejected me.

Last night I stayed at Shimizuya Inn of Yunokami Onsen. Though it looked like rustic inn along the National Route 121, everything was good including people, meal, hot spring (only spring source was flowing into the bath with no water or circulation), room, and charge (really reasonable).
Welcome! 福が満開、福のしま。
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A man who loves Fukushima (福島大好きおじさん)

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