【2014年12月28日】 阿武隈川の白鳥と冠雪の安達太良山 (Dec. 28, 2014: Swans again in Abukuma River and snow-capped Mt. Adatara)

I found many swans swimming in Abukuma River this morning. The location was asterisk1 in the map. This is near the Faculty of Engineering of Nihon University in Koriyama City.
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今朝の阿武隈川の白鳥です。 (阿武隈川 白鳥 郡山市 日大工学部近く 2014/12/28)
Above photo shows swans in Abukuma River this morning.

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また、今朝は、冠雪の安達太良山がきれいに見えました。 場所は、みちのく自転車道沿いの☆2です。 (安達太良山 郡山市 みちのく自転車道 安原橋より)
I also could see clear snow-capped Mt. Adatara. The location was asterisk 2 in the map along the Michinoku Cycling Road.

【2014年12月19日】 雪化粧の 御薬園 と 鶴ヶ城 (Dec. 19, 2014: Snow covered Oyakuen Garden and Tsurugajo Castle, Aizuwakamatsu City, Fukushima Pref.)

本日、会津若松市の、御薬園 と、鶴ヶ城 を訪ねました。昨日、全国的にも大雪が降り、一面 雪景色 でした。場所は、地図の☆1と2です。
Today I visited Oyakuen Garden and Tsurugajo Castle in Aizuwakamatsu City. It snowed heavily across Japan and here in Aizuwakamatsu City all were covered with snow. The locations are asterisk 1 and 2 in the map below.
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会津若松駅から、写真の街中周遊バスの「 あかべえ 」で、行きます。一日何回、何処へ行っても、5百円です。
I took a city circulation red bus called Akabe as shown above. This bus can take you anywhere in the town with only 500 yen a day how many times you ride.

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まず、国指定名勝の 御薬園 です。1430年頃に、会津藩主の蘆名氏により創設された古い庭園です。1696年に、会津藩主松平氏により、現在の姿になりました。写真は、その説明と、庭園の風景です。中央に見える建物が、楽寿亭 で、藩主などの休み処でした。場所は、☆1です。 (雪の 御薬園 会津若松市 2014/12/19 )
First visit was Oyakuen Garden which was designated as the National Scenic Site. This garden was first built in 1430 by the Aizu Domain Lord Ashina. After more than 200 years from then, in 1696 the Lord Matsudaira developed this garden into the current design. Above photos show the explanation and the view. The building in the center is called Rakujutei which was used as teahouse and others. The location is asterisk 1 in the map.

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楽寿亭 の説明と、反対側からの風景です。 (雪の 御薬園 会津若松市 2014/12/19 )
Above photos show the explanation of Rakujutei building and a view from opposite side.

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次に、鶴ヶ城 です。場所は、☆2です。入口の、椿坂 側からの風景です。 (雪の 鶴ヶ城 会津若松市 2014/12/19)
Next was Tsurugajo Castle. The location was asterisk 2 in the map. Above photo shows a view from Tsubakizaka Slope side.

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中に入り、本丸側からの光景です。 (雪の 鶴ヶ城 会津若松市 2014/12/19)
Above photo is a view from opposite side called Honmaru.

鶴ヶ城 の沿革は、次の通りです。
The followings are the brief history of the Tsurugajo Castle.
(1) The castle was first built in 1384 by Aizu Domain Lord Naomori Ashina. It was called Higashi Kurokawayakata Castle.
(2) In 1594 Aizu Domain Lord Ujisato Gamo extended the castle into 7 layer structure.
(3) In 1611 the castle suffered a big damage by a big earthquake. In 1640 Aizu Domain Lord Yoshiaki Kato repaired and changed this castle to the current 5 layer structure which we can see today.
(4) In 1868 the castle suffered a big damage by the Boshin Civil War but did not fall.
(5) In 1874 the new Meiji government once scrapped the castle.
(6) In 1965 the castle was newly rebuilt. And afterward it was designated as the National Historic Site.
(7) In 2011 all the roofing tiles on top of the castle were replaced by red tiles as the same as the old castle.
(8) Year 2015 will be 50th anniversary of the new castle.

【2014年12月16日】 蔵の街 喜多方、とまとランドいわき など (Dec. 16, 2014: Kitakata as the town of Kura buildings, and Tomato Land Iwaki, Fukushima Pref.)

Last month (Nov.), I had a chance to visit many different places in Fukushima by chartered bus. Some of the interesting information are shown below. The places are shown in the map as asterisk 1 through 5.

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First place is Takashiba Dekoyashiki located at asterisk 1 in the map. This is a small village in Koriyama City close to the border with Miharu Town. This village had been working with handicrafts called Miharuhariko which is a papier-mache craft and Miharugoma which is a wooden toy horse over 300 years. There are four workshops today each of which is producing their own design.

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上の写真は、入口から一番奥にある「 橋本広司(ひろじ)民芸 」のご主人が、名物のひょっとこ踊りを披露しているところです。女優の綾瀬はるかさんが、訪れたときの色紙や写真もあります。 (高柴デコ屋敷 橋本広司民芸 2014/11/15)
Above photo shows one of the workshops called Hashimoto Hiroji Mingei which is located farthest from the entrance. The master is dancing with Hyottoko mask. You can find a paper with an autograph by the famous actress Haruka Ayase in the picture.

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また、上の写真は、入口から2番目にある「 彦治(ひこじ)民芸 」製作の、来年の干支の羊の三春張子です。彦治民芸さんは、昭和29年の郵便切手になった 三春駒 の製作元としても有名です。
Above picture shows papier-mache sheep which is the zodiac animal for the year 2015. These are made by Hikoji Mingei Workshop which is located 2nd from the entrance. This workshop is famous that it made Miharugoma toy horse printed on Japanese stamp in 1954.
次は、☆2の、喜多方市です。ここは、蔵(くら)の街 として有名になりました。江戸時代から、会津若松の城下町を支える、商人と職人の街として栄え、みそ、酒を製造、貯蔵する建物として、数多く建てられてきました。現在も2600棟ほどの蔵があり、製造所や貯蔵庫以外に、住まいや美術館、画廊、レストランなどにも利用されています。
Next is Kitakata City located at asterisk 2 in the map. This city became famous as the town of kura buildings. Kitakata area had prospered as the town of merchants and artisans who supported samurais in Aizuwakamatsu castle town just in the south. They had produced sake and miso from rich rice since Edo period some 300 years ago and they had built many kura buildings for producing and storage of those products. Today there are still about 2600 kura buildings in the city and people are using these kura buildings not only for producing and storage but also for many other uses such as museum, gallery, restaurant, and their daily living.

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写真は、喜多方市内の道路脇に並ぶ蔵と、その説明です。 (喜多方市 小田付 蔵 2014/11/15)
Above photos show kura buildings lined along the street in Kitakata City and the explanation panel.

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酒を醸造している蔵の内部です。蔵の中では、モーツァルトの音楽が聞こえてきて、「蔵粋(クラシック)」と言うブランドのお酒を作っていました。 (喜多方市 小原(おはら)酒造 2014/11/15)
Above photo shows inside the kura building used as sake brewery. They use classical music by Mozart inside this kura building while brewing unrefined sake. This is their original sake brand called "Classic" they have developed.

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Above photo shows inside the kura building which stores fine arts and antiques. Temperature and humidity are low inside the kura buildings and they are also strong against fire.

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次は、浜通り(はまどおり)のいわき市 久之浜(ひさのはま)の 浜風(はまかぜ)商店街 です。場所は、☆4で、震災と津波の被害を受けた久之浜の商店街が、震災後6か月で近くの小学校のグランド内に立ち上げた仮設の商店街です。2015年には、新たな商店街が完成し、引越す予定です。 (いわき市 久之浜 浜風商店街 2014/11/16)
Next is the temporary shopping arcade called Hamakaze Shopping arcade. This is located in Hisanohama district of Iwaki City along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean. Asterisk 4 shows the place in the map. This district had suffered a big damage from March 11 East Japan earthquake and tsunami. But they made a great effort and reopened temporary shopping arcade inside the ground of nearby elementary school only after 6 months from the disaster. Now they are expecting to move to their new shopping arcade next year.

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次に、同じいわき市のすぐ南西にある、とまとランドいわき の温室です。ここは、2003年からとまとの温室栽培をやっていて、夏以外の期間、とまとの出荷をしています。(夏は、露地栽培のとまとが市場に出回るので、それ以外の期間という意味です。)土を使わずヤシの実の繊維を使っており、温室内の温度・湿度・肥料は、コンピュータ管理されています。 (いわき市 四倉 とまとランドいわき 2014/11/16)
Next, we visited large greenhouse farm of Tomato Land Iwaki which is located in just southwest in the same Iwaki City. Asterisk 3 in the map shows the location. This greenhouse has been growing and shipping tomatoes since 2003. They ship tomatoes all year round except summer during which every farm ships tomatoes. They do not use soil. Instead, they use a kind of coconut fiber. Temperature, humidity, and amount of nutrients are all controlled by computers.

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They also produce some processed food such as straight tomato juice shown above. I tasted the sample bottle they gave us when we visited. It was so delicious and healthy that I bought some bottles afterwards. These products are available in some shops in Iwaki City and they also have telephone of internet order system.

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最後は、会津の下郷(しもごう)町にある大内宿です。場所は、☆5です。写真は、村の一番奥の丘の上の展望台からの光景です。一瞬、江戸時代に戻ったかの印象を受けます。(ここは、江戸時代、会津若松と日光を結ぶ、会津西街道沿いの宿場町でした。) 現在は、国の重要伝統的建造物群保存地区に指定されています。 (下郷町 大内宿 2014/11/23)
Last place is Ouchijuku village in Shimogo Town of Aizu Region. This is located at asterisk 5 in the map. Above photo shows the overview of the village from observation hill at the end of the village. I felt as if I were back into Edo period some 300 years ago. This village prospered as a lodging village for travelers between Aizuwakamatsu and Nikko along the old Aizu Western Highway. Today this area was designated as the National Preservation District of Important Traditional Buildings.
Welcome! 福が満開、福のしま。
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