Fukushima (福島) is the capital city of Fukushima Prefecture in Honshu, Japan in the Fukushima Basin and its surrounding parts. Fukushima prefecture is the third biggest prefecture in Japan (13,782.54 km²). Known for its fruit production, Fukushima is particularly proud of their peaches, but pears and apples and persimmons are also grown. Fukushima is called peach city, because it produces the most peaches in Japan.
Fukushima was hit by high magnitude earthquake on 11 March 2011. A nuclear plant Fukushima Dai-ichi, located some 60 km to the south-east at the Pacific coast, was damaged in the quake and an evacuation zone was established. Fukushima city is well outside the evacuation zone. Elevated radiation levels have been detected (though still quite low), and while debate rages on about the long-term effects of these levels, a short stay in Fukushima is not likely to do you any harm.
By planeIt is a 40-minute bus ride from Fukushima Airport to Koriyama station (¥800), from which you will then have to travel to Fukushima station by Shinkansen (¥2920, 15 minutes) or local train (¥820, 45 minutes). It may be a bit more convenient to arrive in Tokyo and take the Shinkansen from there.
By trainFukushima is a stop on the Tohoku Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Sendai, and is also served by the JR Tohoku and Yamagata lines. The Yamagata Shinkansen branches off here, traveling over conventional lines to Yamagata and Shinjo. The Shinkansen only calls at .
The travel time from Tokyo to Fukushima by Shinkansen is approximately 1 hour 45 minutes, with 2 to 4 departures every hour at a cost of ¥8500 each way (non-reserved seats).
JR Bus' Abukuma makes five daily round-trips to Fukushima from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo (5 hours, ¥4800). At night, JR Bus runs the Dream Fukushima from Tokyo and Yokohama stations (6 hours from Tokyo, ¥4800). Tohoku Bus' overnight bus, called the Suite, is cheaper at ¥4500 but arrives earlier in the morning.
Kintetsu Bus and Fukushima Kotsu's Galaxy bus runs overnight to Fukushima from Kyoto (11 hours, ¥12130) and Osaka (12 hours, ¥12740).
Willer Express offers bus service to Fukushima from Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, with online bookings available in English. Willer Express' prices vary by the day you are traveling and the class of bus. Willer Express offers "Standard" (similar to Sakura's offering), and "Relax" (slightly larger seats with more leg room, a blanket, and a dome looking thing to keep the light from your eyes).
Momorin Rental Cycles are the best way to explore Fukushima City. Several manned bicycle ports are located within the city. There is one on either side of JR Fukushima Station. Bicycles are free to rent (you must show ID/passport). Bicycles are well-maintained, have 3 gears, large basket, bell, key/lock, and automatic light. They can be borrowed everyday, 10AM-7PM.
Taxis are abundant around the station, though may be harder to find elsewhere.
Buses and trains are convenient for heading out of the city, including the surrounding hot spring areas.
Walking is sufficient around the station, central shopping arcade, and the evening bar and restaurant area. Fukushima downtown is compact with few changes in elevation. There are also paths along rivers 15-20 minutes away which make longer walks or jogs an enjoyable activity.
Do note there are many underground pedestrian walkways in the city. Access is via stairs or escalators, and elevators, but you may have to hunt around for them. Besides the necessary and very long underground walkway beneath JR Fukushima Station, most are just optional shortcuts.
In the city
Iwaya-KannonIwaya-Kannon has sixty Buddhas carved into the rock face of Mount Shinobu (信夫山) and offers a decent place to take a look down at the city.
Hanamiyama ParkThis park is the place to go in spring for cherry blossom viewing. It is quickly becoming a place famous throughout Japan, be prepared for crowds. You can take a short trail up a hill and see some amazing panoramas as well as enjoy walking underneath gorgeous light-pink canopies. There are regular buses leaving for Hanamiyama from the train station. Ask the people at the tourist office for more details.
Prefectural Art MuseumSmall museum mostly with local art, though it does have some national and internal exhibits as well.
phone: +81 24-531-8411address: Yamaguchi Miyawaki-98It's a steep walk up a small mountain. The trails at the top are short and quiet. It is very peaceful but not so special.
address: 1-31 Sakaemachi 1FTranslates as "Decontamination Information Plaza". This is a free mini museum established by Ministry of the Environment. Great chance to learn about radiation, decontamination, and recovery efforts. Most information is in Japanese, but some English handouts and an English speaking radiological expert works there most weekdays. (additional information in English)
Outside of city
Goshiki-numa, Five Colored LakesThese lakes are a beautiful attraction visited by many sightseers. The lakes were formed after Mount Bandai (磐梯山) erupted in the 1800s. The minerals from the eruption give each lake a different color.
Fukushima RacetrackIf you feel like betting on horses then this is the place to go in Fukushima. Live races only happen during certain times of the year, but video races are available year-round.
address: Kamisaginishi-1-1 AraiDiscover agricultural activity in this park with an animals area, a watermill, crafts, restaurants and hot springs
Waraji FestivalThis festival involves tons of dancing, parades, food stalls, and a huge waraji (Japanese sandal).
Iizaka hot springsA great place for a day trip from Fukushima. The is just across the street, open all year round between 9:00 and 18:00 (Tel. 024-542-4241). The staff can speak English and will equip you with an useful English booklet of the onsen and help you booking a day or overnight visit to one of the bath houses. Also they offer tours through the spa town and its surroundings. While strolling through the streets, you can enjoy three foot baths (open throughout the year, free of charge).
- Fruits. Fukushima is known as a "Fruit Kingdom" because of its many seasonal fruits, and the fact that there is fruit being harvested every month of the year. While peaches are the most famous, the prefecture also produces large quantities of cherries, nashi (Japanese pears), grapes, persimmons, and apples.
- Mamador is the prefecture's most famous confection. The baked good has a milky red bean flavor center wrapped in a buttery dough. The name means “People who drink mothers’ milk” in Spanish. It is produced by the Sanmangoku Company.
- Sake. The Fukushima Prefecture Sake Brewers Cooperative is made up of nearly 60 sake breweries. Additionally, the Annual Japan Sake Awards has awarded the prefecture the most gold prizes of all of Japan for four years running as of 2016. Many brands are sold in gift shops and department stores. Kinsuisho (清酒金水晶) is the only brewery located inside Fukushima City.
- Peaches Fukushima city is famous for the peach and produces a large amount of delicious peaches every summer, try one.
AkaiGreat kitakata ramen, and other dishes at cheap prices.
Namazu-teiThis bar, also known as "Catfish", is a cozy blues bar which has live music most weekends. The house band, "Blues Cruiser", has a cheap cover charge, and also a fantastic harmonica player. Namazu sometimes has a DJ playing, with more of a focus on bossanova and jazz. Johnny the barman speaks passable English, and knows pretty well all there is to know about the Blues, having in his past run "Gangster," a major blues venue in Tokyo.
NeoNeo is the other club in Fukushima. A smaller smokey room with decent music and young clientele
address: Omachi7-11A pleasant business hotel with a magnificent view of the mountains surrounding the city and the Abukuma river flowing through the town from the top floors. Wi-fi is provided in the lobby only, rooms are equipped with LAN internet connection.
The tap water is generally safe, and hasn't been contaminated by radiation from the Dai-ichi power plant 90 km (56 miles) away.
While there is ongoing debate about long term exposure to low level radiation, risks to short-term travelers is minimal and should not be of major concern. It has been said travelers will be exposed to higher levels of radiation during the airplane ride to and from Japan then their time spent in Fukushima.