Tanagura is a small town located in the south of Fukushima Prefecture. It only takes two hours from Tokyo to this peaceful town where time flows very slowly.
Even though categorized as a rural area, Tanagura is quite independent. There are many shops and convenient stores which sell a wide range of products such as foodstuff, sweets, electronics, books and fashions inside the town. Agriculture is well prospered. There are some big factories such as Kyocera and Unicharm offering jobs for residents. Tanagura is very easy to live in.
One of the most attractive points for tourists is definitely Sakura, or cherry blossoms. Tanagura has a lot of beautiful "old" Sakura trees throughout the town. They bloom in the midst of April not only near temples and shrines but also along ordinary streets and paths. At the center of the town lies Site of Tanagura Castle, where hundreds of Sakura trees entertain people along the moat. (Check how beautiful the Sakura is from this post.)
The most famous Sakura tree of Tanagura is the Weeping Sakura tree of Hanazono. This 150-year-old tree offers you a gorgeous view of Sakura and its water reflection on the pond with the background of a rural landscape. Not like other famous Sakura trees in Fukushima Prefecture, there are much less visitors so you can enjoy a really peaceful time here. (Check out my post to see more images of this Sakura tree.)
Another attractiveness is autumn colors. Although I have not visited Tanagura in autumn yet, they say that Site of Tanagura Castle and the mountainous area wear awesome autumn colors from the end of October to the midst of November. Yamamoto Fudouson Temple is one of the nice places in the mountainous area. I must visit here again and take photos of autumn colors someday. (Photos of Yamamoto Fudouson Temple in spring is available from here.)
Shimimochi, or freeze-dried rice cake, is something that you shouldn't miss. They beat rice and leaves of Synurus pungens to a paste, and put it under the chilly air of winter. The cold weather of Tanagura makes this healthy food which keeps for a long time. I recommend Shimimochi because it is quite soft and sticky whereas it makes me feel the sense of countryside. It can be a nice soft and sticky sweet, too. I, indeed, love soft and sticky food.
Lastly, I have to mention the high quality of hospitality by Tanagura residents. It's really what you can feel only by visiting here. I hope that you, too, visit Tanagura Town someday.