Kannon-numa autumn foliage at Shimogo, October 28, 2022. 下乡的观音沼红叶真好。十月二十八号二〇二二年。下郷町の観音沼紅葉散策2022年 10月28日。

(# Kannon-numa, autumn foliage, Shimogo, Oct. 28, 2022. #観音沼紅葉 下郷町10/28/2022)
Today I participated in a day-tour starting from Koriyama stopping at some places of the best autumn foliage in the southern part of Fukushima and back. A photo above was a scene at Kannon-numa Pond. The pond is located at about 900 meters above sea level. Walking route of about 3km is made around the lake. The route is mostly flat, however going to and from the edge of the pond you need to walk up-and-down. The bus also stopped at some other places such as the new Yukiwari Bridge, To-no-Hetsuri, and Ouchi-juku. Some of the photos taken today are shown in the followings.



(# Kannon-numa, autumn foliage, Shimogo, Oct. 28, 2022. #観音沼紅葉 下郷町10/28/2022)
Some other views at Kannon-numa are shown above.

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There is a Kannon (the God of Mercy) building adjacent to the pond as shown above. It is called Dake-Kannon-do. The origin was established in the late 1600’s.

(# Ouchi-juku, autumn foliage, Shimogo, Oct. 28, 2022. #大内宿紅葉 下郷町10/28/2022)
This was a view at Ouchi-juku today with autumn foliage on the mountain and many people out there.

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(# To-no-Hetsuri, autumn foliage, Shimogo, Oct. 28, 2022. #塔のへつり紅葉 下郷町10/28/2022)
This was a view at To-no-Hetsuri today. The river in the bottom is the middle stream of the Aga River.

This was a view of the new Yukiwari Bridge today. The old bridge was replaced with the new one last year due to the aging problem. Autumn foliage here will be some days ahead.

The exact route and locations are shown in a map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.

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)
Welcome! 福が満開、福のしま。
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