One thing you will notice if you visit the Aizu area is the abundance of painted red beasts on sale as souvenirs. At first glance it might not be obvious what kind of animal they are, but they are in fact red cows, locally called aka bekko, and they are supposed to bring luck and ward off disaster. In some places around Aizu Wakamatsu, you can have a go at painting patterns your own red cow, so of course I had to have a go.A picture of concentration as I daub the cow with white paint.
The finished article.
After getting all artistic, it was time for a lunch time stroll around Tsurugo-jo, a castle in spacious grounds near the centre of the city. The grounds themselves are peaceful and impressive, housing its own tea garden and plenty of greenery. The castle itself, however, was less impressive. The original structure was destroyed in battle in the mid-nineteenth century and today just a few of the original stones remain. In the 1960s though the castle was rebuilt and it was opened to tourists. From the outside you can see the original shape and size of the building, but once you set foot inside it is like entering an anonymous modern museum, and you notice that the rebuilding was in fact done in concrete, as has happened with many other 'restored' castles in Japan. Unfortunately, I can't read enough Japanese to be able say whether or not the exhibition is interesting or not, but I can certainly say that the building is something of a disappointment, the view from the top aside.