Jododaira is subalpine plateau renowned as a popular tourist spot located halfway along the Bandai-Azuma Skyline road in the Azuma Mountains, but did you know there is a full-scale observatory in Jododaira?
Situated at an altitude of about 1,600 meters above sea level, the Jododaira Astronomical Observatory is the highest altitude public observatory in Japan. Visitors can gaze at planets and stars through a 40-centimeter telescope several nights a week when nighttime observation sessions are held.
Why not visit the Jododaira Astronomical Observatory this summer to view breathtaking starry skies, marveling at the Milky Way Galaxy and passing shooting stars? It will be a truly unforgettable experience, thrilling you with the grandeur of the universe and deepening your appreciation that we can live on this miraculous planet Earth.
Why is the Observatory so alluring?
One of the best and most popular star-watching points
Jododaira, located about 1,600 meters above sea level within the Bandai-Asahi National Park, lies in a bowl surrounded by the Azuma Mountains. This geographical feature makes Jododaira one of the best and most popular spots in Japan among astronomy enthusiasts for observing and photographing celestial wonders with little light pollution (excessive artificial light at night that obstructs the view of stars and planets).
Despite the Observatory’s high-altitude location blessed with crisp, clean air, access is also convenient, being only about one hour’s drive from central Fukushima City. It is also the nearest observatory to a Shinkansen bullet train station in Japan!
When is the Observatory open to the public?
The Jododaira Astronomical Observatory opens to the public during the season that the Bandai-Azuma Skyline road is open.
Every year, the Observatory opens to the public from around mid-April, and normally remains open until mid-November when the Skyline is closed for the winter. The daytime opening hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Nighttime observation sessions are held every Wednesday and Saturday from mid-May, when the nighttime closure of the Skyline is lifted.
The sessions are provided from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in May, September, and October, and from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. from June to August.
Sessions may be canceled depending on the weather. The decision on whether to hold the session for the day will be announced around 4:00 p.m., so please check the Observatory’s official X (former Twitter) account or call the Observatory after 4:00 p.m. for updates.
Bring a jacket when joining a nighttime observation session!
The temperature in Jododaira is 10 to 15°C lower than at the foot of the mountains, and can be very cold even in summer. Avoid short pants or skirts, and make sure to bring a jacket.
Telescopes and displays in the Observatory
Visitors can view star clusters and other deep sky wonders through this 40-centimeter reflector telescope in the dome!
Inside the 5.5-meter wide silver dome, the symbol of the Observatory, there stand a 40-centimeter Cassegrain reflector telescope and a 15-centimeter refractor telescope.
The Observatory also has two 10-centimeter refractor telescopes, one for solar observation and the other for prominence observation. On sunny days, a monitor in the Observatory shows solar flares and other sights being captured by the telescope.
Inside the Observatory, you can also see models of planets hung from the ceiling and photographs of nebulae and galaxies on the walls, taken by the Observatory’s director Naoki Toshima and other astronomy enthusiasts. Three different types of iron meteors are also on display, which are especially intriguing.
The Jododaira Astronomical Observatory gives you a rare opportunity to observe, with your own eyes through a large telescope, light from stars tens of thousands of light years away reaching the Earth. Don’t miss this spectacular experience!
|Jododaira, Washikurayama, Tsuchiyu-Onsenmachi, Fukushima-shi
|http://www14.plala.or.jp/jao/ (Japanese only)
|10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (early April to mid-November)
Nighttime observation: Please check the Observatory’s website before
|Mondays (or Tuesday if Monday falls on a national holiday)
Winter season between mid-November and early April
|Free of charge
|300 spaces available in the Jododaira parking lot (motorcycle: 200 yen;
car: 500 yen; microbus: 1,000 yen; tour bus: 2,000 yen)
Fukushima-Nishi Interchange on Tohoku Expressway
Fukushima-Iizaka Interchange on Tohoku Expressway