Sazaedo at Aizu Wakamatsu さざえ堂
An intermittently wet day, so we drive to Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima prefecture, via the Bandaisan Gold Line, to visit Sazaedo. This is a spiral, wooden pagoda that was once a temple in its own right. It is situated, naturally, at the top of a flight or two of the inevitable steps.
At first we climb to the very top of the steps, to visit the shrine. This is dedicated to the young boy soldiers who committed suicide when they found themselves to be on the losing side of the Boshin War. This was one of the last ditch resistance attempts against the Meiji Restoration’s abolition of the Samurai policy.
What was remarkable about the shrine, was a large, prominent, obviously Roman pillar with a huge eagle on the top and SPQR engraved at the bottom. The information plaque, helpfully, explained that the pillar was a gift from the Italian government of Benito Mussolini. A tribute to the martial spirit of the boy suicides and to proclaim that fascism would reign for a 1000 years. Well, well, well.
Lower down the mood lightens and we explore the modest, quirky, wooden pagoda. This pagoda was constructed in 1796 and was designed by one monk. From the entrance the route makes two revolutions of the tower to the top and then you descend, again making two revolutions, but by a different stairway. The whole route plastered with stickers. It was formerly the Buddhist temple Shoso-ji. There is also an impressive Edo era water system running just below it. Worth a brief visit.
At a loss on an increasingly wet day, we spend time at the Fukushima Prefectural Museum. This is surprisingly busy. I suspect due to the rain, as the exhibits of Jomon pottery would not usually be such a draw.
We move on to Michi no Eki Bandai on a damp evening that is much cooler than of late.
＊Sazaedo ; 400 yen/adult
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.