[December, 2009] We were very surprised when we saw this system to avoid the ice on the road in winter for the first time in Kitakata in Fukushima Prefecture. It was bitterly cold, but very interesting…
Surface area: 13.783,74 Km2
The prefecture of Fukushima is bordered to the north by the prefectures of Miyagi and Yamagata, to the south by Gunma, Tochigi and Ibaraki, to the east by the Pacific Ocean and to the west by the prefecture of Nigata.
The name comes from the prefecture’s capital city, Fukushima, which, in its time, derived its name from the ancient castle of Fukushima.
Historically, it is formed of three regions: the coastal area, (Hama dori), the central area, (Naka dori) and the western area (Aizu).
The prefecture is the most southerly of the prefectures in the Tohoku region and has recently made it into the news headlines due to the nuclear disaster that resulted from the huge earthquake in 2011
In this regard, it is worth nothing that Fukushima ranks as Japan’s third prefecture for growth and that only a small part of it, less than 5% of the territory, or the area actually surrounding the nuclear plant, was actually considered to be dangerous.
The rest of the region, which includes places such as Tokyo, which are a considerable distance from the area in which the incident occurred, is considered safe and covers areas that are of great interest for tourists.
The main cities of the prefecture are Iwaki, Koriyama, Fukushima, Aizuwakamatsu, Sukagawa and Date
What to see
Of particular interest are the wonderful natural landscapes such as the flowering cherry blossom in Hanamiyama park in the city of Fukushima, the largest cherry blossom park in Japan.
Just a few kilometres from the city of Aizu lies the village of Ouchi-juku which has been rebuilt exactly like a village of the Edo period.
Even electric cabling has been laid underground in order to keep the reconstruction true to the original historical period.
The castle of Tsuruga, which is just twenty minutes from the station at Aizu, even though rebuilt, is very impressive, especially when the cherry blossom is in flower.
With spectacular natural scenery and suitable for hiking are the volcanic area of Bandai, Mount Azuma and the Oze national park.
In the city of Sugakawa, on the 2nd Sunday of November, there is a matsuri (festival) celebration called Taimatsu Akashi in which giant torches are lit, the “taimatsu,” which are built from bamboo and tatami mats wrapped in kaya, a type of dried grass which used to be used in the past for building farmhouse roofs. As they burn through the night, the taimatsu make a beautiful and very impressive spectacle.
The area has been inhabited since ancient times.
In fact, stone objects dating from the Palaeolithic era have been found here.
There have also been discoveries of remnants from the jomon, yayoi and kofun periods, although the large tumuli belonging to the latter period are few and are all located in the southern area of the prefecture.
During the period of imperial expansion of the state of Yamato, around the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., the castle of Fukushima, which is also the administrative centre, was at the northern limits of the area of influence (and control) of the court.
Further north is the area that was controlled by the Ainu people.
They have been increasingly pushed further northwards over the centuries until eventually, they were confined to the island of Hokkaido which in turn was colonized during the Meiji Period.
In fact, the northern limits of the state of Yamato were moved within the prefecture of Miyagi during the 7th century.
The territory of the current prefecture of Fukushima is under the control of the so called northern Fujiwara.
A branch of the Fujiwara family had taken control of the north of Japan with the city of Hiraizumi in Iwate as its centre.
The northern Fujiwara were defeated by Minamoto no Yoritomo when the Shogunate of Kamakura was established.
During the Meiji period, Fukushima was an important centre for the production of coal.