Passing down the story of loyalty and tragedy of young samurai warriors to posterity
Boshin War was fought in Japan in 1868 when time has changed from Edo to Meiji period. It was a civil war between the new government forces led by Satsuma (present Kagoshima Prefecture) and Choshu (present Yamaguchi Prefecture) who had established the Meiji Government on one side and the forces of the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate and the alliance of clans in Tohoku region on the other. As the new government forces gradually advanced toward north, Aizu clan (western part of the present Fukushima prefecture and a part of Niigata Prefecture) formed Byakkotai units of 20 boys aged 16 to 17 in preparation for battle. When pulling back to Mount Iimori, the boys saw the keep of Tsuruga Castle in black smoke. Believing that the castle had fallen, they committed suicide to follow their lord (one of them survived.) This is the tragedy on Mount Iimori, the story of which has been featured in TV dramas.
Today you can visit the place where the boys committed suicide by a slope conveyor for 250 yen (closed during snow season) and climbing the remaining 45 stone steps. Many people including Byakkotai fans visit the place from which they can see Tsuruga Castle. The Byakkotai Museum at the bottom is a good place to think how the boys might have felt at the time.
Address: Ikki-machi Yahata, Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima
Admission Fee: Free
Directions: Train: 4 minutes by Town Bus Akabe (running from Apr to Nov) from Aizu Wakamatsu Station on the JR Ban-Etsu-nishi Line (2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo using Tohoku Shinkansen) to Iimoriyama-shita and a short walk; or 46 minutes by Town Bus Haikara-san (all-year service) to Iimoriyama-shita and a short walk
Car: 12 minutes from Aizuwakamatsu Interchange on the Ban-Etsu Expressway