As the capital of Fukushima Prefecture, Fukushima City is a bustling city with little nature to be found. If you want something more relaxing, take a short trip out of the city to a small shopping area seated atop a hill. With a wedding chapel at the highest point of the hill, St. Anna's Garden is a great place to visit during any season.
St. Anna's Garden is full of little shops to browse with a great view of the surrounding area. Although named a "garden," St. Anna's Garden is more like a picturesque little area of quaint shops and eating areas set aside from the city.
Our friends who live in the neighboring city of Nihonmatsu drove us through winding country roads to visit St. Anna's on Halloween Day. We parked in the free parking lot, which is conveniently located in the center of St. Anna's Garden, and headed to a pizza shop that was recommended to us called "Sento Hills Pizza."
Considering how expensive pizza can be in Japan, the menu had lots of reasonable prices and options for pizza. They even cooked it in an authentic brick oven! We all ordered different pizza, but we unanimously agreed that this was some of the best pizza we have tried in Japan so far.
After lunch, we wandered across the way to a little gelato place next to the beer garden. As someone who has visited Italy, I have to say the gelato was just how I remember it. They had over a dozen homemade flavors, and you can mix and match the flavors you liked the best (you can try samples of all the gelato!).
Unfortunately, there was a wedding ceremony in St. Anna's wedding chapel so we didn't get to peek inside, but we wandered around the little shops. Since it was Halloween Day, there were groups of children dressed up in costumes for a special Halloween event.
St. Anna's Garden offers more than just food. They also have a wide variety of shops, including handmade and traditional crafts, galleries, imported household goods, a candy store, lots of cafes and more! There is even a glass shop where you can try your hand at making glass jewelry.
While there is a bus running from Fukushima (head towards Tsuchiyu Onsen [土湯温泉] and get off at Jichi Kenshuu [治研修センター]. It is a 10-minute walk from the bus stop), the easiest form of access is by car.
Please check the website to see which shops are open on the day you are planning to go, some shops are closed on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Some shops also open earlier than most at 9am, while others close earlier at 4pm.