Fukushima Prefecture’s second postcard is a cute little red cow called “aka-beko” in Japanese. “Aka” is the word for red, while “beko” is a local dialect word for cow (usually “ushi”). Legend has it that during building a temple called Enzoji, a local village donated timber for its construction, but had a hard time transporting the large amount to the area. Somehow a red cow was involved, though whether it appeared out of nowhere to help, or was used to transport faithfully then died when the temple was completed, is contested. Whatever the original story, the cow is considered a symbol of good fortune and devotion to Buddha, and is popular for all ages today.
The cows are usually made out of paper mache and string. The head is connected to the body in a way that allows it to move side-to-side and up-and-down. It is very cute!
You can find them at many places in Fukushima for sale. I bought mine at Ouchijuku, but they are available around the prefecture.
If you arrive at Aizu-Wakamatsu station, there is a giant akabeko on display outside for more picture-taking opportunities. You can also visit Enzoji Temple to see an akabeko there as well, along with a cow statue and to hear the story. Read more about Enzoji here.