Tuesday, 20 October 2009

To Aizu-Wakamatsu And Of A Red Cow

After checking-out from Taenoyu Onsen, we departed for Aizu-Wakamatsu for the sole purpose of getting on the steam locomotive SL Banetsu Monogatari-go to Niigata; which will be in my next post. From Tazawako Station, we went to Sendai before going to Koriyama. There, we hopped on the Rapid Train on JR Banetsu Saisen (West line) - fully covered by JR East Pass; for about an hour to Aizu-Wakamatsu. Koriyama Station is 1 Hour and 20 Minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line.
Taking the rapid train to Aizu-Wakamatsu on the Banetsu Saisen. Rapid trains have fewer stops than a local train making the journey much faster. This train however, doesn't run that often, just one every hour so it was quite full by the time it was time to start the journey. Not that it matters much because...
it was a scenic route getting to our destination. Rows and rows of yellow paddy fields. Of mountains and valleys. Lovely... Although we had to stand for the almost one hour journey, it went by quickly with such a lovely view. Luckily we managed to get Raimie a seat so he spent that whole journey playing with Zaini's Nintendo DS Lite. Raimie's newly bought Nintendo DSi were safely stashed away in our backpack.
In front of Aizu-Wakamatsu station. We didn't sightsee far from the station as we only have a few hours before our scheduled train ride on the SL Banetsu Monogatari-go.
Watching a soba maker in action.
Our simple lunch while waiting for our train eaten at the park nearby.
Raimie with a mechanised Akabeko. Beko, is an Aizu dialect for cow; thus akabeko means red cow. Akabeko is a traditional toy from Aizu. The toy is made from two pieces of lacquered papier-mache, shaped and painted to look like a red cow or ox. One piece represents the cow's head and neck and the other its body. The head and neck hangs from a string and fits into the hollow body. When the toy is moved, the head thus bobs up and down and side to side.

According to legend, akabeko toys are based on a real cow that lived in AD 807. The townspeople constructed a large temple there dedicated to Buddha and heavy loads of lumber had to be transported long distances using the brute strength of oxen and one of the animals used was a reddish cow. The cow refused to leave the temple grounds after construction had been completed and became a permanent fixture there and became a symbol of zealous devotion to the Buddha.

The earliest akabeko toys were created in the late 16th or early 17th century.There is a believe that the akabeko toys act as amulets against illness. The Akabeko makes a good souvenir, don't you agree?

Another souvenir that you can see in this region was of items with the portrait of Hideyo Noguchi.
Photo source : Bank of Japan

He should be a familiar face to those who are familiar with Japanese 1,000yen note. He is a revered Japanese bacteriologist born in 1876 in Inawashiro, Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. He conducted important studies of the causes of syphilis, trachoma, Oroya fever, and yellow fever.

Inawashiro rests on the shores of Lake Inawashiro, one of the largest lakes in Japan. During the Edo period, it was part of the Aizu domain, and was the home of Aizu's secondary castle town.

Just thought you'd like to know a bit of history. :-)

26 comments:

  1. Would you like to exchange links with my blog? pls leave a comment on my blog.

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  2. Speaking of paddy fields, I would like to visit one in the future. I have never stepped foot on one before in my entire life.

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  3. The akabeko looks so cute! Haha! Thanks for the historical information!

    Btw, I love to feast my eyes on scenic padi fields and mountains and valleys. I just love nature! : )

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  4. Oh so much history here today =P

    ps: got the package! thanks thanks thanks!! can't thank you enough. I was to excited to open it as i got back in the car before even waiting to give it to hubs. He's having OT tonight so I will bring it over together with his dinner so he can have an exciting break opening it! hehehe i'll get my cam ready to steal his moments!

    ooops sorry, my ps is way way longer than the comment! love the maneko souvenir too! hugsy!

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  5. @Mei Teng,
    Do you know that the first time I ever got near a paddy field wasn't in Malaysia but somewhere in Terai, Kanazawa

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  6. @foong,
    Japan has lots of nature for us to enjoy. It's not only animes and electronics, you know. :)

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  7. That looks like a pig instead of a cow >.<

    That or I need new glasses! hahahaha! Ok I think it is the second :P.

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  8. I have that akabeko minituare. So cute the way its head move

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  9. @pete,
    Japanese does excel in everything cute. :)

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  10. @Ayie,
    I only read your text message this morning and I was so happy you got the package already. Hope your hubs enjoy listening to it. Did he give you a hug or not after receving it? ^-^

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  11. @ladyviral,
    Our thoughts excatly when we first saw it. Actually, we thought it was a character that is a cross between a dog and a pig. LOL

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  12. @Farah,
    memang soooo cute. Unfortunately tak beli anything akabeko that time. Nyesal lah pulak. Huhuhu...

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  13. what an interesting legend of the red cow. the paddy fields look so yellowish whereas in kedah, it's surrounded by greenery of paddy fields.

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  14. @Life Ramblings,
    I am ashamed to say that I haven't seen a paddy field in Kedah yet. :(

    *go hide under table* LOL

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  15. hebat tu sampai aizu-wakamatsu...
    sgt2 hebat >@@<

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  16. hmmm, lemme think if he did give me a hug? hehehe he was so so so absorbed with the cds and very happy. He gave me a kiss, hehehehe! he was at work for overtime so he couldn't dance with joy yet and when we got home despite being 3am he was all glowing with joy. That's when I got the nice tight hug =) Thanks thanks and many thanks to you!

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  17. The gundam rock cd has very nice tunes, we're making baby listen to it too =P

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  18. hebat2...ada lake best kat aizu...

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  19. @Ayie,
    That's great! I'm happy to hear to the three of you (baby included) gets to enjoy the two CDs. Your hubs really lucky to have such a thoughtful wife. :)

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  20. @Su,
    Ala.... sayang nya. Tak pegi mana-mana lake hari tu. Aim kitaorg hanya nak naik keretapi. Tapi, pemandangan memang best giler. Cantik!

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  21. you're making me blush...i bet you'll do that too for zaini =)

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  22. @Ayie,
    I'm a bit unromatic. Zaini's the romantic one. I usually just allow him to buy whatever he wants and I foot the bill. :D

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  23. I am very lucky to have such a thoughtful wife :)
    I wanted to thank you for making it possible for Ayie to acquire the 2 albums... they are amazing to listen to, you and ayie made it possible for me to experience the music of my all time favorite musician/entertainer/motivational speaker. So with that being said, thank you! :) :) :) I am a very happy person.

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  24. @Jifdc,
    I bet you being so happy receiving the two CDs was rewarding enough for Ayie. :-)

    Happy listening!

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