Located just east of downtown Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima is the small hot spring town of Higashiyama. The area is well known for its beautiful scenery year round and over the years many famous artists have stayed there. Inspired by the beauty surrounding them, they donated numerous paintings, poems and other works of art to the ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) where they stayed.
In fact, Higashiyama has twenty-eight different hotels which can satisfy every taste and budget. Whether you want a modern hotel or a traditional ryokan, you will find them here. If you do not want to stay in town, you can visit the hot springs on a day trip. Many of the hotels and ryokans allow visitors to use their facilities during the day at a set time period for a small fee.
If you simply want to wonder around town and enjoy the scenery, you will be rewarded by the beautiful pink cherry blossoms in the spring and the fiery reds, oranges and yellows of the turning leaves in the fall. Further up the valley is the Higashiyama Dam. The area around the dam is a popular spot for relaxation and picnics.
From August 13th through 18th, the town hosts a bon dance festival. During the festival, a large yagura (bandstand tower) is constructed in the center of town and hundreds of chochin (lanterns) illuminate the streets. Ladies wearing their yukatas (cotton summer kimono) and men in traditional dress dance around the yagura until late at night. The high energy atmosphere attracts both tourists and locals alike.
Whether you want to relax in the town’s hot springs, marvel at the beauty of the cherry blossoms, enjoy the changing leaves of autumn, soak up the high energy atmosphere of the bon dance festival or simply see for yourself that which inspired so many artists over the years, Higashiyama is the place to be.
The town is accessible during the morning and late afternoon hours by the Aizu Loop bus. The journey takes 35 minutes from the Aizu Wakamatsu Station. However, between the hours of 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM the bus only runs as far as Aizu Bukeyashiki. Higashiyama is only a 10-15 minute journey on foot from that point.