Death by Naginata | A Fukushima Spy Story Created and Produced by John Daub ONLY in JAPAN THE 8AM KINU EXPRESS TRAIN FROM ASAKUSA, TOKYO A spy he is not but this episode, a cringe worthy thriller, has a simple mission – to show you a unique corner of Fukushima as an international spy with a license to … well, never mind that. The name is Daub ー John Daub One of my dreams is to become an international spy That’s not going to happen but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying to learn some of these skills Many are useful to everyday life like — Savoring the fine drinks of Japan like sake. Knowing your caviar – or in this case, ikura. Recognizing the scent of fine perfume – a skill for every ladies man. Yeah, I admit it I’m not really good with some of those skills but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying which is why I’m going to Aizu Wakamatsu In Fukushima prefecture to try to acquire a new skill I heard they have something really useful there And I’m doing it on a luxury train This is the Green Car The GREEN CAR is considered Japan’s first class. It’s called the green car because first class tickets had a green band around them and 1st class was renamed Green Car in 1969. It’s a place that’s always peaceful and spacious. Tobu’s KINU Express train has very comfortable green car compartments, Perfect for a spy traveling alone. John’s connection in Aizu Wakamatsu is WAKAMATTSUN, a samurai who is well known in the area with connections to the underworld. That’s right, he is a double agent There’s a quick change of trains at Kinugawa Onsen to the Aizu Mount Express Traveling by train means EKIBEN and the sauce katsudon is a local specialty. Tender breaded pork cutlets smothered in a tangy sauce on a bed of rice. As the train rolls closer to its destination through west Fukushiama, John gets the sense he’s being watched. He is. By an agent. It seems his mission is no secret. Where exactly is Aizu Wakamatsu? It’s on the west side of Fukushima prefecture against hills to the east. Many call it SAMURAI CITY for it’s history of – well, Samurai. Today, Aizu Wakamatsu has a fantastic mix of nature and urban space. At the base of the castle is this martial arts dojo where John is set to meet with Wakamattsun. I was instructed to come here It seems the agent has gotten there first.
The secret meeting spot has been compromised. And the Naginata school brainwashed! Welcome, John is not. The all female Naginata warriors have centuries of combined experience. Certain death faces anyone who lingers too long. There’s only one thing to do. Run. The agent has won this battle this time. John needs to find a place to regroup. Those women are not happy to see me! By the way, Tsuruga-jo! The castle is next to the Dojo. An excellent place to form plan B. Tsuruga-jo or Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle is a replica of the original which was erected in 1384 destroyed in 1868 in the Battle of Aizu. It seems that John has escaped the Naginata warriors – for the time being. (Hahaha! He was actually never followed.) Reaching high ground seems to be the best strategy and there’s no better place to scout the area than from the top of the castle. What went wrong? A simple mission to acquire the Naginata skill has turned into a nightmare. The dojo now looks quiet now t’s essential to meet with Wakamatsun – and the best place is the original meeting area because – where else is he going to go, right? Wakamatsun was inside. He communicates through telepathy since he has no known vocal cords. Welcome to Aizu Wakamatsu. We’ve heard about your run in with “the agent” earlier. Dozo – come have a seat. It’s great to see you Daub-san. Your mission to learn Naginata is still on course. The women were not fooled for long, their years of experience include great mental discipline. They will be back in an hour. You have been given a new mission. Find one of Aizu Wakamatsu’s most delicious sake, a spy skill I have heard you need work on. Be careful Daub-san. Evil lurks wherever you step. Look up but always look down too. You might step on a 30cm Samurai When trouble is afoot, I’ll be here to help. This is the Hanaharu Sake Brewery surrounded by lush rice paddies They’ve been making sake for centuries. John searches for the best bottle, but it’s hard to know – for an amateur. Fukushima, especially the Aizu area is known for having some of the best sake. This is the brewery’s top grade sake It’s a “junmai “daiginjo” sake with a fruity bouqut and slightly dry taste Junmai Daiginjyo is the purest level of sake. The rice must be polished to at least 50% of it’s original size removing the impurities, giving it a clear smoother taste. The best! Kanpai! Hanaharu’s Junmai Daiginjo is so good – it’s to die for. You only live once, Daub-san And it will be over sooner than later thanks to “the Agent” who has tracked him down at a Ryokan. The die is cast. That’s right. The coffee. The Agent’s plan to stop John from learning Naginata is working fast. Blurred vision. Fever and body aches. YOU’VE BEEN POISONED. With only minutes to live, there is only one antidote. Ah! Poison! There’s only one antidote. Ramen. Aizu Wakamatsu has some of the best. There’s no time to spare. Go. Be on your way. Medetaiya is a popular place for ramen – and other dishes. It looks like John may actually survive this. The antidote. Well, no – but it is delicious. A sauce katsudon, but it’s not the cure. Enter the manager. Do you expect me to talk? No, Mister Daub I expect you to eat! He means what he cook – and cooks what you eat. The large wavy noodles catch more of the broth than straight noodles, a style famous for this area’s ramen. The impact is instantaneous. The ramen works. John is saved – this time – and just in time. Walking through downtown Aizu Wakamatsu back to the Dojo – the agent has failed to keep John from learning Naginata. NAGINATA with the ladies of Aizu Wakamatsu The agent may still succeed since failing is something John may do on his own. Naginata is a martial arts which requires great discipline. The Naginata is the stick – a weapon – which is useful to hit from a distance. It’s only useful if one knows how it’s used. But by the end of the day, he’s not only learned the art of Naginata, he’s charmed the ladies. Who – I need not remind you – are deadly with those Naganata. The Naginata sensei explains a little of the history. Naginata was a weapon for men before the Kamakura Era (1185-1333) but in the Sengoku Era in Nobunaga Oda’s time the weapon for men became guns and Naginata became a weapon for women In the Edo period it became a weapon for self protection and not for assault. That’s right, there were female samurai and many wielded the Naginata. It was the weapon of choice in this city back then – and again today since it’s famous for the sport. John may make a good international spy someday. Some day … What an incredible trip! I’m back in Tokyo If you’re thinking of going to Aizu Wakamatsu This is the place to be, the TOBU Asakusa Station I took the KINU EXPRESS departing at 8am daily with direct transfers to the AIZU MOUNT EXPRESS which takes 4 hours to get to Aizu Wakamatsu You don’t have to be a super spy to enjoy the sake, the food, the samurai culture an the Naginata Mission: Complete Yes, it is I. Me. You can call me no.1 but whisper it in the shadows at your own risk. This ONLY in JAPAN mission is certainly not the last. He got off easy. He’s no idea, does he? No idea … at all. The ONLY in JAPAN travel stories continue as I roll to the other side Mt Daisen, Yonago and the amazing Sanin area Get ready for some real adventure along the Sea of Japan If you liked it, hit that subscribe button and check out another one of my shows Don’t miss my 2nd LIVE STREAMING channel ONLY in JAPAN GO And check out location photos on Instagram http://instagram.com/onlyinjapantv Mata ne~