The capital of Fukushima Prefecture is a compact city center surrounded by lush mountains, fruit orchards and healing hot springs. Known as the “Fruit Kingdom,” delicious fruits can be tasted throughout the year. While the city, with its traditional festivals, horse races, and flower parks, draws visitors from around the Tohoku region and beyond, the surrounding areas are well worth exploring. Fukushima’s city center lies 60 kilometers northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and never had to be evacuated. Radiation levels remain slightly above the pre-accident levels but do not pose a health threat.
The Abe family began planting the hillsides around their farm in the 1920s as a way to generate income by selling flowers. In 1959, the family decided to allow the public access to their land by creating a park. They named it Hanamiyama or Flower Mountain. Since 1959, three generations have continued to look after Hanamiyama and enjoy its success. Visit the park to see a wide variety of blossoms, including cherry, plum, and forsythia. The park also has gorgeous displays of hydrangeas, golden-rayed lilies, and brightly coloured azaleas. In addition, non-native trees and plants are scattered throughout the park.
Activities: Photo stop Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour
This famous hot spring area is located at an altitude of approximately 750 meters, which is why it’s called 'taka-yu' ('taka' means 'high-up' and 'yu' means 'hot spring'). The waters of Takayu Onsen are a bluish milky colour and are thought to have healing properties. Most of the resort facilities of the area neither add water nor adjust the temperature to maintain the natural allure of the hot spring waters. After bathing in the waters of this spring, your skin becomes almost slippery from the high acidic and hydrogen sulfide makeup. (Image via Tohoku Kanko)
Activities: Onsen, Photo stop Fee: None (bath depends on place) Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Bandai-Azuma Skyline Snow Corridor
The Bandai-Azuma Skyline is a 29-kilometre sightseeing road to the west of Fukushima City. The roadway makes for a lovely drive as it weaves its way through the Azuma Mountain Range, tying together Takayu Onsen and the Tsuchiyu Mountain Pass. It has even been nicknamed “the road that runs across the sky” as it offers such spectacular panoramic views of Fukushima City and the beautiful countryside. (Image via Tohoku Kanko)
Activities: Photo stop Fee: None Time required: 30-45 minutes
Goshikinuma, literally meaning “Five Coloured Ponds”, is a group of volcanic lakes, ponds and marshes. The ponds take their name from the mysterious hues that vary in colour depending on the season, weather and angle of view. The complex consists of more than five ponds including the renowned Bishamon-numa, Aka-numa, Midoro-numa, Tatsu-numa, Benten-numa, Ruri-numa, Ao-numa and Yanagi-numa. Each pond has a character all its own. Aka-numa is framed with red-tinted plants thanks to the high iron content of the water. Meanwhile, three different colours can be seen on the surface of Midoro-numa. (Image via Tohoku Kanko)