– 11 things to know before you go to Fukushima prefecture in Japan.
I'm Chris, this is the Yellow Productions.
I do travel guides that arefun, informed and entertaining.
This video is part ofmy series on Fukushima and larger series on Japan.
If you wanna see more videoson Fukushima or Japan, you'll find links inthe subscription below.
Each one of the scenes in this video, I'm gonna be doing in adifferent part of Fukushima so, you get to see a bit of the prefecture as you learn about it.
So the first thing to know is just some generalinformation about Fukushima and to start, Fukushima is a prefecture.
It's kind of like a state in the US.
It is the third largest by land area of Japan's 47 prefectures.
Fukushima is about 200kilometers north of Tokyo.
You can get here on the Shinkansen, we'll talk about that inthe getting here part.
Fukushima has a populationof 1.
8 million people.
It's a mostly ruralprefecture with mountains, winding roads, sakebreweries, ramen restaurants, cherry blossoms, hot spring resorts.
There's a lot of great things to do here and a lot of them revolvearound nature and eating.
So, the reason why you wanna come to Fukushima is for amore authentic experience than perhaps Tokyo or Osaka or Kyoto that are full of touristsand everything is touristy.
In Fukushima, you'll be greeted much more by the local Japanese.
You'll have much morelocal Japanese experiences and you'll probably be seeinga lot less tourists here because only really 2% of the international tourists that come to Japan visit north of Tokyo.
Fukushima prefecture isdivided into three regions.
The first region is the Aizu region, this is the mountainous region.
This is where we areshooting most of this video and this says Aizu by the way.
Instead of just waivingmy hands about the region, I'm gonna show you alittle map right here.
We're here in Aizu region.
The central region is called Nakadori.
This is more flat andKoriyama and Fukushima, the two big cities inFukushima prefecture there.
This is where theShinkansen line runs through and over here on the coast, this is known as Hamadori region.
This region is cooler and Iwaki is one of the big cities over here, it's got a famous waterpark.
And by the way, the temperatures are generally gonna be more mild along the coast and then kinda gettingcolder in the winter here in the mountains.
And the second thing to know before you go toFukushima is about what to do.
And there's so much to do in Fukushima that I've broken it out into its own video, you'll find a link inthe description below or at the end of this video to my 20 minute longvideo about just things to do in Fukushima.
Fukushima prefecture is oftenknown as the kingdom of fruits and so there's a lotfruits that are grown here, different fruits in season.
We are here in winter and so winter is for strawberry picking but your season, youcan pick what you want and many of these farms offerplaces where you can come and not just pick but you can come and pick and eat.
This farm that we're at, they charge 1, 500 yen.
Whoa I dropped that strawberry.
They charge 1, 500 yen and you can pick and eat asmany strawberries as you want.
By the way, there're two varieties of strawberries in this farm.
There're small ones and there's big ones.
The small ones, they don'tgrow bigger than this.
They're two varieties.
Aah so, let's see how this little one is.
It's grown indoors, they heat this up so it'snice and warm in here.
So if you like fruits, take a look at what fruit's in season and find a pick and eat place.
By the way, speaking of eating fruits, let's go on to the next numberthing you need to know is, what are the things to eatin Fukushima prefecture? Turns out there's so muchgreat food here that I made that its own video too.
20 minutes all about themust eat foods in Fukushima.
You'll find a link to thatin the description below or at the end of this video as well.
But what I do wanna share with you in this video is about sake.
When you come to Fukushima prefecture, you definitely should drink some sake.
Why? Because there's over 60 sake breweries in Fukushima prefecture and actually much of thesake that's made here is only sold in the region and so it's a great thingto try when you're here.
Now I will tell you that sakebefore we came on this trip, I wouldn't say I was alover of sake but now, having sampled lots of sake and almost every meal herein Fukushima prefecture, I appreciate more the varietiesof different types of sake and so I would definitelyencourage you to try.
There's regular sake, there's fruit sake, there's sparkling sake andwhen you're looking at sake, if you're trying to decidewhich one is better, here, let's take a look atone of these bottles actually.
On the back of the bottle, itwill generally have a number.
Something like this that willtell you how polished it is.
So this one is 50% polished which means there's halfof the rice remaining and this one is 35% of the rice remaining.
So, this one's gonna bea higher quality sake.
The lower the percentage number, the higher the quality becausethere is less rice left.
You should know when to go to Fukushima.
Fukushima prefecture has all four seasons, summer, winter, spring and fall.
We are here in the winter and if you come in the winter, it is a winter wonderlandbut Fukushima is quite cold.
But if you like skiing and snowboarding, you can ski and snowboard in the winter, you can visit snow festivals.
There's lots of cool thingsto do in the winter here.
If you come here in the summer, it'll be hot and it it'll be the rainiest.
I think the best time tocome is spring or fall.
If you come in spring, thecherry blossoms will be in bloom, and if you come in fall, then you can see thechanging of the leaves.
Now your other thing tolook out on where to come.
Take a look at some of thelocal festivals that are in town and try to maybe time your visit or your visiting different cities when they have the festivals.
Ouchi-juku has a snow festivaland there's a whole bunch of other festivals all yearround in this prefecture.
So the fifth thing to know before you go to Fukushima is aboutgetting into Fukushima and there's a few differentways you can get in to Fukushima.
The first one, you could fly.
Fukushima has its own airport.
But the airport intoFukushima mostly just has domestic flights coming fromHokkaido, Sapporo in the north and Osaka in the south.
So chances are, if you'reflying in, like we flew in, we flew into Tokyo andthen we took the train in.
There's two major waysthat you can take the train into Fukushima prefecture.
The one that probablymost people think about is JR Shinkansen.
That's the bullet train, that'll go from Tokyo station and then there's two stationsin Fukushima prefecture, Koriyama station and Fukushima station.
From Tokyo, it's 80 minutes to Koriyama or 90 minutes to Fukushima.
Koriyama will probably beyour dropping off point to go to most other parts of Fukushima.
But another train line thatmany people don't know about, actually I didn't knowabout until we came here for this trip is the Tobu Skytree Line.
They have the Revity expresstrain that you can take.
The Revity express, it's one train that'll take you from Asakusa station inTokyo to the Aizu region of Fukushima prefecture which is the mountain region which is kind of a neat way to get there and it drops you of in the center.
And there's this one train if you take the JR way, you have to take a few different trains to get into the mountain region.
So if you've taken the Shinkansen the total travel time with connections to the Aizu region, themountain region where most of the tourist stuff in Fukushima is, is about three hours andthe cost is 9, 000 yen.
Now, if you've taken the Tobu line, it's about the same amount of time.
It's about three hours but it's one train, you don't have to transferand the price is about half of the Shinkansen, 5, 460 yen.
Now another option from Tokyoto get to the Aizu region.
You can take a bus.
You can take a highway bus, JR operates highway buses.
They leave out of Shinjuku Station.
They take about four and a half hours and they cost about 5, 000 yen.
So I don't know why you'd wanna do that 'cause for 400 yen you could take a muchmore comfortable train.
And the last option is, you could drive.
Actually Fukushima is apretty rural neighborhood so if you've ever wantedto drive in Japan, drive in the mountains, Fukushima might be agood place to do that.
I would not recommendgetting a car from Tokyo because driving in Tokyocan be kinda crazy.
I would recommend taking thetrain into Fukushima prefecture and then picking up arental car from there.
By the way, one of our favoriterental car companies is TOYOTA Rent a Car.
We typically rent from them and you'll find their rentalcar places all over Japan by the major train stations.
Once you're in Fukushima, you'll need to know howto get around Fukushima and I'm joined by a specialguest right here, Labu-chan.
He is the station master of the Ishinomaki onsen train station and he told us that really the best way to get around is definitelyto take the train, since he is the station master.
By the way, if you wanna see more of him patrolling the station, you'll see it in my Things To Do video because visiting himis a great thing to do.
Now, Labu-chan has a chiefengineer, his name is Peach.
His kinda tired 'cause heworked all night last night.
But what Peach wants you to know about takingthe trains in Fukushima, they don't run quite as often here as they do in Tokyo and Osaka.
Many of the trains onlycomes once one hour so make sure to pay attention to the schedule because you'llwanna make sure you're there on time for your train.
Hey, you know anotherway you can get around Fukushima is by snow shoes in the winter which is really neat but I recommend that if you've ever wantedto try driving in Japan, Fukushima prefecture isa great place to do that.
You can pick up a rental car.
The roads aren't crowded.
It's pretty easy to drive around here.
If you are gonna be driving in the winter, I'd highly recommend, not recommend, you need to get winter tyres, you would need to askthe rental car company for winter tires and maybe don't driveif it's like you know, super snow down pour.
Other options, there's taxis.
You can take taxis thoughthey are not super plentiful and there's many sightseeing buses that run through Fukushima though the sightseeingbuses are typically seasonal so make sure you check the schedule and then make sure youalso get there on time for those buses because if you don't a lot of them only runs once anhour just like the trains.
You need to know about shopping.
Some of the great souvenirs to bring back from Fukushima besides food, and you'll find foodeverywhere, are folk crafts.
One of the folk crafts you're gonna see everywhere in Fukushimaprefecture is this guy.
Actually this is thetraditional one right here.
This is the Akabeko.
It is a red cow.
You will literally seethis red cow everywhere so this might be the first time.
If you come here you'll see ita lot more, a little red cow, but take a look at this one.
This is a little priest.
You'll see this little priest everywhere.
There's big ones, there's little ones and then if we look to your left over here we'll see painted candles.
See the painted candles have the Akabeko.
You can also get ones thatfloat or you can get tall ones and see the floating ones right here.
This candle floats inthis water right here.
Another craft specialty ofthe region the lacquerware.
You'll find lacquerware incups, in bowls, in spoons, in chopsticks, almost anything you'd want.
And it ranges in price fromlike 500 yen to 8, 000 yen.
And finally, Aizu cotton.
This cotton, it's afabric that's made here and it's typical that itwill have a lines on it that'll go in one direction.
You can get these bags, these are really useful.
I use them to keep myelectronics separate.
You can get a koozie.
This one's in my color and you could even get like scarfs.
You could get coin purses in Aizu cotton.
So when you come to Fukushima prefecture, if you're trying to look for one place to buy a lot of souvenirs and do shopping, Ouchi-juku as a town isa great place to do that.
There's also a great shopping street by the castle in Aizu-Wakamatsu, and finally if you'restaying in an onsen hotel they almost have everythingyou'd ever wanna buy from Fukushima prefectureright in one spot.
The 8th thing you needto know is about hotels.
If you're looking to stayin Fukushima prefecture, well you'll find bigwestern business hotels mostly around Fukushima station and Koriyama station butmy recommendation to you is to stay in traditional Japanesehot spring hotel known as Onsen hotels or ryokans.
We stayed in thetraditional Ryokan actually where I'm shooting this right now.
It's a hotel called Okawaso, in the Aizu Ashinomaki onsen town.
This is one of our favorite hotels we stayed on this trip.
And so if you wanna stayin a traditional Japanese hot spring hotel, this would be one that I'dconsider you looking into.
I'll a whole video just about this hotel, you can check it out later.
But another option is youcould stay in guest houses in the town of Ouchi-juku.
They have little guesthouses that are like bed and breakfast that you can stay in for an even more boutiquehotel experience.
Onsen hotels are like little resort hotels and I say little becausethis one's 110 rooms, it's not like some Walt Disney resort.
But when you come to an onsen hotel, and you should 'causeI've suggested it for you, you should plan to checkin at the check in time at 3 p.
and spend until10 a.
the next day.
It's almost like they'vegot everything here.
They do shows at this particular hotel, they have like a rice pounding show here, they have a ramen restaurant, and then of course they have hot springs that you're gonna be able to dip into and we'll talk about thatin the onsen section.
But don't just look atonsen hotel as something that seems expensive 'cause you're just gonnasleep there, you're not, you're gonna come in at check in time and you're gonna stayuntil check out time.
Now before you go to Fukushima you need to know about onsens.
Fukushima prefecture hasover 130 different onsens.
Those are sources of hot spring waterboiling up from the ground and so there are a lotof onsen hotels here and we're in the private osen bath which is really nice becausemost onsen hotels you have to be naked with a bunch of other people, and here we can just be naked by ourselves for 45 minutes for 3, 300 yen, $30.
You do have to be staying at the hotel to reserve it but it's really nice and we get this big openair bath all to ourselves, we get to see the snow, and soI would definitely encourage you to stay at an onsen hotelwhen you're in Fukushima.
By the way, if you wannaknow more about like, the etiquette for onsenbathing and things like that, I've got a whole video to tellyou how to do and what to do.
What you do with the towel.
What you do with the bucketand things like that.
So you can totally figureit out 'cause I did.
So if you don't wanna spend the money to stay in an onsen hotelor you don't wanna go to public bath 'causeyou don't wanna get naked with other people, another way of enjoying the hot springsis public foot baths.
Fukushima prefecture actually has a number of public foot baths.
This one right here thatI'm currently feet bathing in is in the Yunokami onsenstation in the Aizu region and it's free, the water's hot, it's relaxing, you should definitely try this.
I feel like this isdefinitely a only in Japan and only in Fukushima experience.
And it's particularly best in the snow.
Sitting here in the hotwater, enjoying the snow view.
It's February but I can actuallyhave all of my jackets off to do this because this hot water's keeping me quite warm.
So the 10th to know before you go to Fukushima is the answerto the question, is it safe? And yes, it's absolutely safe.
The nuclear disaster was 10 years ago and while radiation levelsare elevated in the prefecture from where they werepreviously, just slightly and so the radiation levels in most of the prefecture are similar to Hong Kong or Londonwhich are super safe places and the off limits zone around the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is less than 3% of the prefecture.
It's about the size ofthe District of Colombia and you'd have to spend ayear in the exclusion zone to be exposed to a levelthat's considered unhealthy, but that's actually off limits so you wouldn't be going there.
So it's completely safe and a lot of people wonder about the food.
Japan has enacted strictlimits for testing of radiation in food andtheir regulations here are actually 12 times morestrict than that in the US and so all the food that gets grown in Fukushima is tested and they make sure it'shealthy for people to eat.
And the last ting to know is, I've got more videosbefore you go to Fukushima.
You'll find links inthe subscription below.
You'll find a coupleof them on the screen.
I have a usual farewell that I wish you but from this video, I'm just gonna wish you farewell with the snow from Fukushima.