Tracing Isabella Bird's tracks in Fukushima (Day 1), July 20, 2016 (イザベラ・バードの福島の足跡を追って(1日目) 2016年7月20日)

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I decided to trace an English woman, Isabella Bird's tracks in Fukushima by riding a bicycle. The total distance is estimated about 150km. She travelled through Aizu region from south to north between June 26 and 29, 1878. It was only eleven years after Meiji Restoration, when Japan reopened itself to the world. Her transportation was mainly by riding a horse or walking along kaido roads (=old highways) and also along steep mountain ridges as high as 800m above sea level. Today, not all the kaido roads remain, but I tried to go as close as her tracks. Photo above shows a scene along the old Nikko Highway near Kawashima-Juku, where juku means an old village for lodgings. Isabella Bird's first stay in Fukushima was at Kawashima-Juku. Today, there is no lodging place in this hamlet.

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I started from Takahara, which is Kawaji Onsen in Tochigi Pref. and pedaled north. Soon after, I came to Lake Ikari as shown above. (These names of location with bold letters appear in her book 'Unbeaten Tracks in Japan'.)

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Near Lake Ikari, there once was an old lodging village called Ikari-juku as a sign in the photo above shows. (The sigh says 'Aizunishi Kaido', not 'Nikko Kaido', but these two are the same in this case.) Isabella's last stay in Tochigi Pref. was at Ikari-juku. There are only limited lodging facilities left today, so I chose Takahara for my start.

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I passed Yokokawa and then came to Sanno Pass. The current Sanno Pass is different from that of the old Nikko Kaido (=Highway). Photos above show a road block for the old Nikko Highway entrance and the abandoned old road hereafter. So I had to give up and pedaled through Sanno Tunnel, which was the current path.

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After I passed Sanno Pass (860m), I entered into Itosawa district of Minamiaizu Town, Fukushima. Then, I came to Kawashima village. In her book this is referred to as Kayashima hamlet and she stayed a night here. Today, there is neither inn nor ryokan here, so I decided to stay at adjacent large town of Tajima. In Tajima, where official name is Aizutajima today and it is a center of Minamiaizu Town, there was an old office building of Minamiaizu County.facing the old Nikko Kaido (=Aizunishi Kaido) as shown above.
山王峠(860m)を過ぎると、福島県の南会津町の糸沢地区にでます。ここを過ぎて、川島地区に入ります。川島宿があった場所で、イザベラ・バードはここで、福島県の最初の宿をとります。現在は、ここには宿は残っておらず、隣の田島地区に、今回は泊まることにします。南会津町の中心地で、会津西街道沿いに、旧南会津郡役所があります。(写真) (福島県内で,旧郡役所が残っているのは、桑折町と南会津町の2箇所だけです。)
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The inn I stayed at Tajima was a historic building which was registered as a National Tangible Cultural Asset and also located along Aizunishi Kaido as shown above. It is called Izumiya Ryocan and this was the second time I stayed here following autumn of 2012. It was a nice inn with very good meal and friendly masters, and with reasonable charge.

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 play back the route and altitude on the map below. (gained elevation: 949m, Distance: 50.6km)
下の地図で、ルート再生や標高を見ることができます。(獲得標高949m、走行距離 50.6km)

Alpine flowers at Mt. Tashiro, June 15, 2016 (初夏の 田代山 の 花々 2016年6月15日)

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Photo above shows red type of Enkianthus campanulatus or Benisarasa-Dodan in Japanese, many of which were found along Mt. Tashiro trail today. They were in full bloom.

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On the ground along the trail, I could see a number of Cornus canadense or Gozentachibana in Japanese as shown above.

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I walked along the trail to Mt. Tashiro which belongs to Oze National Park. Pictures above show views of the starting point, the trail, and the summit of the mountain which is 1926m above sea level. It was a little rainy and foggy day up on the mountain but no wind. I took a shuttle taxi service operated by the town (Minamiyama Kanko) between Yunohana Onsen and the starting point of the trail which was about 15km apart. The fare was 2,000-yen one way.

Along the trail, I could see some other plants and flowers as shown below.

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I found a small group of monotropastrum humile or Ginryoso in Japanese as shown above.

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I found some of flower trees called Menziesia multiflora or Urajiro-yoraku in Japanese as shown above.

On the summit of the mountain, there was a large marsh plain. Some alpine flowers I found there are shown below.

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Photo above shows a kind of Gentiana called Tateyama-Rindo in Japanese. Many of them were found there.

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Photo above shows Andromeda polifolia or Himeshakunage in Japanese. Many of them were found there.

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Photo above shows flowers of Eriophorum vaginatum or Watasuge in Japanese.

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Photo above shows flowers of avens or Chinguruma in Japanese. The plain was a large habitat of the plant, but most flowers were already gone, and these were the only left.

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I left the marsh plain of Mt. Tashiro and walked along the trail toward Mt. Taishaku for a short while. Once I entered into the trail, I found plants called Pteridophyllum racemosum or Osabagusa in Japanese scattered in the wood.

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 play back the route and altitude on the map below.

Visiting public baths at Yunohana Onsen, June 14, 2016 (湯ノ花温泉 湯巡り 2016年6月14日)

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Today, I visited Yunohana hot spring resort in Minamiaizu Town. This is located near the starting point of Mt. Tashiro trail. I stayed here tonight heading for the mountain tomorrow morning. There are four public baths open to any visitors. Ishiyu pubic bath shown above is one of them with mixed bathing. I happened to bathe together with a local elderly woman who was 93 years old. She told me that this Ishiyu Bath is the best out of four and that she had kept her health with daily bathing without any doctor.

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The second public bath was Tenjin-no-yu Bath as shown above. This was also a mixed bathing type, but this time I was the only one. The main bath was too hot to soak into, but the small one was moderate.

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The third one was Yubata-no-yu Bath as shown above. This public bath was a separate type for men and women each.

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And the last one was Koubo-no-yu as shown above. This was also a separate type with shower facility.

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All the public baths use hot spring water which naturally wells up by itself, with no water being added, nor heating, nor any artificial things being added, nor water circulation, as the description above shows. They were really excellent hot spring baths.

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To get to Yunohana Onsen (=hot spring resort), you can take a local bus from Aizutajima Station of Aizu Railway as shown above to Yunohanashimo Bus Stop.

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I stayed at a private inn called Kitanoya which had an old dining house with thatched roof as shown above. The landlady was a smart and friendly woman. She prepared us delicious soba noodles.

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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A man who loves Fukushima (福島大好きおじさん)

Author:A man who loves Fukushima (福島大好きおじさん)
Local guide for Fukushima (English)(福島地域通訳案内士(英語))
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