Because of the hard winters in this part of Japan, a lot of people involved in agriculture turn their hands to arts and crafts in order to make money until the sun returns. These delicate brushes are used for painting candles (above)
Aizu-Wakamatsu is famous for many things, but perhaps most famous is the deeds of the Byakkotai (White Tiger force). After a battle, 19 of the young warriors retreated to a hill, looked out across Aizu and saw the castle burning...
Or at least they thought they did, so committed seppuku (self-disembowlment). Unfortunately, they were a bit premature: it was only the buildings around the castle that were on fire. So their deed, in the end, was a bit... Well... Silly. One solider fainted mid-tummy slice and lived to tell the tale of the ultimate military bungle.
While at the bottom of their fateful hill you can buy souvenir katanas (which, to us, lacked a little class) at the memorial site, people are still very sombre and worship the memory of the 19 young men on a daily basis.
But it's not all death and misery: this colourful caterpillar didn't seem to care at all as his crawled around one of the shrines.
Nearby Sazae-do is a hexagonal wooden hall containing 33 statues of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy.
In happier news, we went to our first puppy cafe today and had fun with three or four tiny little dogs. This was my favourite - the Lady Gaga of Aizu's puppy world.
We also stumbled into a brilliant arts and craft shop where I got to try the much-harder-than-it-looked origami crane
Near the origami, there were hundreds of these little figurines set up in a town. Each had been painted by a different person, so it was quite an eclectic mix.
I can't wait for the autumn colours to arrive in earnest, but for now things are still getting ready to harvest.
These little messages were posted all over the train station. Obviously there's plenty to pray for in Fukushima - Jamie will have more on that tomorrow.