10 years after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, residents and businesses of Fukushima are developing new and creative ways of breathing life back into the prefecture. One such business, operating in Koriyama, is Magonote Travel. Originally conceived as a taxi company, Magonote has since expanded into transportation for the local elderly community and also supported developing tourism experiences. The company’s president, Shonoshin Yamaguchi, says that he wants to not only use his business to help the local residents, but to help travelers experience what Fukushima has to offer and, in turn, revitalize the prefecture’s struggling economy.
Magonote travel offers several tours and dining experiences throughout the year. Metropolis was lucky enough to join their apple and Aizu beef “Food Camp Tour” this October. Set in one of the many Fuji Apple orchards at Fukushima’s Fruit Farm Kato, the tour is a rare opportunity for a European-style outdoor dining experience in Japan. Fruit Farm Kato, one of roughly 5,000 fruit growers in the area, is nestled in the one-square-kilometer Fukushima basin, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. A perfect environment for growing apples, the area receives hourly sun showers — which also means hourly rainbows — as the sun begins to dips below the mountains in the afternoon. Fruit Farm Kato, which has been operating for 30 years, is usually closed to the public, but in the interest of supporting Magonote’s cause, orchard owner Kato-san opened his land to this tour.
Each one of Magonote’s tours puts an emphasis on collaboration with local businesses and, for this tour, Magonote Travel asked chef Ryota Hayashi from local kaiseki restaurant, A-Un, to create a five-course meal featuring local Aizu beef and hand-picked apples from Fruit Farm Kato. Along with apple cider tasting and apple-inspired cocktails, this tour is a great way to enjoy a long, boozy lunch in nature while learning about the region and chatting with locals.
Like many regional areas, Koriyama has also been hit hard by the pandemic. With many of Magonote Travel’s tours being forced to cancel over the past two years, locals are excited to be able to finally share their beloved region with the rest of Japan. As the third biggest prefecture in Japan, Fukushima has a lot to offer that has largely gone unseen by the rest of the world for the past 10 years. Just over one hour from Tokyo Station via shinkansen, Koriyama is an easily accessible day trip from Tokyo and, with bus and taxi transfers provided by Magonote Travel, you can make the most of the day without the need for a car .
Magonote Travel has heaps of tours and food camps planned in 2022 and beyond, visit their website for more information and to plan your own trip into the Fukushima countryside.