Aizu Railway Revaty in Minamiaizu, Dec. 20, 2017 (会津鉄道 リバティ 南会津を走る 2017年12月20日)

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Today I visited Minamiaizu covered with snow by taking Aizu Railway from Aizuwakamatsu to Nakaarai Station. Photo shows a limited express Revaty running through snow covered fields under a winter blue sky. The train was from Asakusa, Tokyo headed for Aizutazima, the center of Minamiaizu Town. The location of the photo was between Nakaarai and Aizutazima shown as viewpoint 1 in the map below.
本日は、会津若松から会津鉄道に乗り、中荒井で降り、雪化粧の南会津を訪ねました。写真は、特急リバティが冬晴れの空の下を走る姿です。列車は、東京・浅草を出発し、南会津の中心地、会津田島に向かうところです。写真は、中荒井と会津田島の間で撮りました。(下の地図のviewpoint 1です。)

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Then I walked toward south and took other pictures as shown above, a local train and another Revaty bound for Asakusa, at viewpoint 2.
そこから南に歩き、普通列車と、浅草行の別のリバティを撮りました(viewpoint 2)

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I walked further south to near Aizuarakai Station (viewpoint 3) and shot a rapid train called Aizu Mount Express as shown above.
更に南に歩き、会津荒海駅の近くで、快速会津マウントエクスプレス号の写真です。(viewpoint 3)

Finally, I took a short video of another Revaty from Asakusa at the same viewpoint 3, as shown above. I think you can feel the image of the train running.

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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Tadami Line trip to Yanaizu and Nanukamachi, Dec. 15, 2017 (只見線 で 会津柳津 と 七日町 へ 2017年12月15日)

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Today I traveled to Yanaizu Town by JR Tadami Line to watch train view in snow. Photo above was a view in the town from viewpoint 1 in the map below. The location was about 40-minute walk from JR Aizuyanaizu Station.
本日は、JR只見線で柳津町に行き、雪景色の中の只見線を見ました。写真は、街中(地図のviewpoint 1)で見た只見線です。会津柳津駅から、雪道40分ほどです。

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Tadami Line also ran through the back yard of historic Fukumankokuzo-Bosatsu Enzoji Temple in the town. Photos above show the train passing near the red bridge in the temple precinct. The location viewpoint 2 was shown in the map below.
只見線は、町の由緒ある福満虚空藏菩薩圓藏寺の裏を走ります。写真は、境内の赤い橋の脇を走る只見線です(地図のviewpoint 2)。

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On the way back home, I got off at Nanukamachi Station and walked through the traditional streets. I first stopped at Yamada Momen-orimoto as shown above, a traditional spinning factory of cotton cloth called “Aizumomen”, which started more than 100 years ago. The factory also has its small shop of wears and accessories made from the cotton cloth.

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Next, I stopped at Yamada Mingei workshop as shown above located just a block away. It was a traditional handicraft workshop of Okiagarikoboshi, a self-straighten up doll special for Aizu region. The shop is said to be the origin of all the similar workshops in Aizu and is dedicated to totally handmade, while some other workshops use machines in these days.
It took less than 2 hours walking through the street between Nanukamachi and Aizuwakamatsu Station stopping and shopping at the spinning factory and the handicraft workshop. Locations are shown in the second map below.

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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National Treasure tour of Shojoji and Ryukoji Temple in Aizu, Oct. 25, 2017 (勝常寺、龍興寺など会津の国宝巡り 2017年10月25日)

Today, I had a special tour of old Buddist temples in Yugawa Village and Aizumisato Town, both of which are located right west of Aizuwakamatsu. This study tour was organized by Omotenashi_Guide_Fukushima, a group of interpreter guides for Fukushima. I attended the tour as a member.

All of us gathered at Michinoeki (or Roadside Station) Aizu, which is about 30-minute ride on local Aizu Bus from Aizuwakamatsu Station. Then we traveled through the route by car.

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First, we visited Shojoji Temple in Yugawa Village which is only 5-minute by car (or 15-minute by walk) from there. A photo above shows the main Yakushido Hall building which was rebuilt in 1398. The temple itself was founded in 807 by Buddhist patriarch Tokuitsu. There was something special with this temple. It had a number of treasures including three National Treasure statues and nine other statues designated as National Important Cultural Assets, and Yakushido building which was also a National Important Cultural Asset. All the wooden statues were built in early 800’s.

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Photo above shows Kannondo Hall building in the precinct, which keeps all of the important treasures. One of them is eleven-faced Kannon statue which is a National Important Cultural Asset and also one (10th) of Aizu 33-Kannon designated as Japan Heritage last year.

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Photo above was a “goshuin” or official red stamp of the temple which was hand-written by the chief priest in person today.

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Photo above shows a brief English outline panel which stood inside the precinct.

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An American artist Langdon Warner is said to have contributed to protect these treasures from war attacks. There was a Memorial inscribed with his name (in Japanese Katakana) within the temple ground as shown above.

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Then we moved to Ryukoji Temple where another National Treasure was kept. The location is close to JR Aizutakada Station in Aizumisato Town. A photo above shows front garden of the temple with a stone monument of the treasure. The treasure is a set of Lotus Sutra scrolls hand-written in early 800’s. In each of the nine scrolls left today, all of the sutra kanji characters were written on each lotus flower, drawn with different colors. Only a part of the image is shown in the bottom left of the picture above to give an amazing sense of it.

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Finally, we visited Hoyoji Temple also in Aizumisato Town. The temple had a 3-story Buddhist tower (23-meter high) as shown above, which was the only kind in Aizu region. It was rebuilt in 1780 for the 3rd time.

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A board above shows a brief outline of the tower in Japanese.

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The temple itself was founded in 720 by a Buddhist priest Tokudo. It had a Kannondo Hall called Suzume-bayashi Kannon as shown above, which was rebuilt in 1768. This was also one (29th) of Aizu 33-Kannon designated as Japan Heritage last year.

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A plate above shows a brief outline of the temple and the Kannondo in English and Japanese.

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Photo above was a “goshuin” or official red stamp of the temple which was also hand-written by the chief priest in person today.

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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