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Japan Regional Information

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Akita

A granary area formed by abundant river waters and flat lands - Kanto-matsuri Festival that paints the colors of summer of the Tohoku region
Akita Prefecture is situated in the northeastern part of the Japanese main island. The western side faces the Japan Sea and has abundant river waters, flatlands, and spreads of fertile granary area. On the other hand, high mountains surround the northern, southern and eastern sides, and areas in the inland are known as those with the most snowfall in Japan.

Akita's attraction is the various beautiful faces of nature. These include the deepest lake in Japan, Lake Tazawa-ko, Lake Towada-ko known for its mystique beauty, the Oga-hanto Peninsula with its beautiful coast line and sunset, the scenic Hachimantai Plateau, and Mt. Chokai-zan also known as Akita Fuji.

Akita has many traditional festivities and unique events throughout the year and you should not miss any of them. There are the Akita Kanto-matsuri Festival which represents the Tohoku region (northeastern region), Kamakura (snow huts) Festival in Yokote City, and the Namahage-Sedo Festival in Oga City, an event during which people dressed as demons knock on doors to visit houses to bless people on a winter night.

Akita is also known as a rice-farming region. You can try various local specialties such as Kiritanpo Nabe Stew made of rice, and Jizake, or locally brewed sake (rice wine).

Getting there
An hour 5 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Akita Airport, and 1 hour 25 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. Fifty minutes from Akita Airport to Akita Prefecture Office by bus. Three hours 55 minutes from Tokyo Station to Akita Station by the JR Akita Shinkansen Line.
 

  • Akita City
    A park city with a row of stores and houses along the street, in harmony with nature - A summer festival in which people parade the street holding upright bamboo poles with lighted lanterns.
    Akita City is situated in the mid-west of Akita Prefecture with the Dewa Mountainous districts in the east and the Sea of Japan in the west. You can see the beautiful evening sun setting into the Japan Sea. The City prospered as the capital of the Satake fief in around the 17th century, and is now a pivotal city, with amusement quarters ranking first in the prefecture. The city and its suburbs are mostly shrouded in green, and the city park with a row of stores and houses along the street is in harmony with nature.

    In the city you can find Chiaki Park created from the ruins of Kubota Castle, old temples and shrines, wealthy farmers' residences, and blocks of the old city everywhere. There are many places that recall the history of Akita. On the other hand, you can also find more than a few new cultural key assets, such as the Atrion, multi-purpose facilities, Port Tower Selion, a symbol tower with a height of 143 meters.

    In Akita City, vigorous traditional events are also held. The Akita Kanto-matsuri Festival is held every summer in which performers holding Kanto, the bamboo pole with lighted lanterns, parade. This Kanto weighs about 60 kilograms, and a long main bamboo pole is held upright with 9 bamboo poles attached horizontally to the main pole on which 46-48 lanterns are suspended. There are also the Tsuchizaki-minato-matsuri Festival (Port Festival) and Bonten-matsuri Festival in winter. At Neburi-nagashi-kan Hall, the materials and pictures of those traditional events are displayed, enabling visitors to enjoy the atmospheres of the festivals all the year round.

    Getting there
    Three hours 55 minutes to Akita Station from Tokyo Station by the JR Akita Shinkansen Line, and 6 hours 25 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station with a change at Tokyo Station, by the JR Tokaido and Akita Shinkansen Line.

     

  • Hachimantai Plateau
    Alpine plants and the emerald green Hachiman-numa Marsh - A scenic hot spring with views of magnificent Mt. Iwate-san
    Hachimantai is a plateau-like volcanic terrace, 1,400-1,600 meters above sea level, extending over Iwate Prefecture and Akita Prefecture in the west, and part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. A swamp near the top of Hachimantai is a treasure trove of over 160 kinds of alpine and swamp plants, and visitors can enjoy the mizubasho (Japanese skunk cabbage) and nikko-kisuge (yellow alpine lilies) in full bloom from spring through autumn. The beech forest also contains the radiant emerald green Hachiman-numa Marsh as well as Gama-numa Marsh and Kagami-numa Marsh.

    Hachimantai-onsen Hot Spring is a scenic hot spring with views of the Ou Mountain Range, which run across the Akita Prefecture border, and the magnificent Mt. Iwate-san. Nearby are the Gozaisho-en Garden, filled with the flowers of alpine plants, and Goshiki (five-color)-numa Marsh, where the water changes color according to the sunlight. Together they offer an ideal route for walking. Visitors can also enjoy skiing at Hachimantai Ski Resort in winter that operates up to May.

    Spectacular views of Hachimantai, such as marshes in the forest and the virgin forest of Aomori white fir, can be enjoyed from the window of the bus that travels along the Asupite-Line Road connecting the Hachimantai-onsen Hot Spring and the Toroko-onsen Hot Spring in Akita Prefecture that crosses Hachimantai.

    Getting there
    Two hours 30 minutes to Morioka Station from Tokyo Station by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line, and 5 hours from Shin-Osaka Station with a change at Tokyo Station by the JR Tokaido and Tohoku Shinkansen Line, then around 1 hour 50 minutes by bus to the top of Hachimantai from Morioka Station.

     

  • Kakunodate
    "Little Kyoto of Michinoku" lets you feel the continuity of history
    Kakunodate is a quiet town in the east of Akita. It is enclosed on three sides by mountains, and the Hinokinai-gawa River runs southwards through it. The original shape of the town was formed at the beginning of the 17th century, and from then on it developed as a castle town. Underneath its Tohoku (the northeastern region) appearance, the town has a smart, elegant feel, and is called the Little Kyoto of Michinoku (the old name of Tohoku).

    A large number of samurai houses remain in Kakunodate, and the town is one of the best for seeing the layout of a Japanese castle town and the style of samurai houses. Some of the most impressive are the houses of Ishiguro, Aoyagi and Nishimiya. There are also shrines, temples and merchants' storehouses, which seem to surround the town and give visitors the feeling that the history of Kakunodate is still alive today.

    Hinokinai-gawa River is lined with cherry trees for 2 kilometers. The tunnel of cherry blossoms that forms along the riverbanks in spring is beautiful, and has been designated a national beauty spot. Even after the flower season, the banks are loved by the townspeople as a pleasant walking course - first there are cherry leaves, then green shades in summer and autumn tints later on.

    Many traditional events are held throughout the four seasons in Kakunodate. If you come at the right time you can enjoy some of these: the Sakura-matsuri Festival (cherry blossom festival) in spring; the Sasara-mai (dance) in summer, in which people dance while they rhythmically rub two sasara (bamboo whisks) together; the stirring Oyama-matsuri Festival in autumn, in which floats collide with one another; and the Hiburi Kamakura in winter, in which a straw bag on the end of a rope is set afire and swung around to pray for good health.

    Getting there
    Kakunodate Station is 3 hours 25 minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Akita Shinkansen Line.

     

  • Koyasu-kyo Ravine
    Enjoy steam that forces its way out of the rocks, and the beauty of a ravine bordered with cliffs
    Koyasu-kyo Ravine is located at the entrance to Kurikoma National Park in the southeast of Akita. It is a ravine formed by erosion from the rapid currents of the Minase-gawa River, and is 8 kilometers long, with V-shaped cliffs 60 meters high. Hot springs bubble up in the surrounding area, and white steam rises from cracks in the rocks, making it look like the earth is breathing.

    There is a walkway alongside the river, and upstream the Koyasu-kyo Daifunto (great hot water geyser) sprays out steam and hot water with a tremendous noise that tingles your skin with the wonders of nature. Koyasu-kyo-onsen Hot Spring is a mountain hot spring that looks down on the ravine, and has been busy with visitors for a long time. In recent years it has become a starting point for climbing Mt. Kurikoma-yama. Also, from the Kawarayu-bashi Bridge over the Minase-gawa River, you can look out over the whole ravine. You can enjoy the fresh green of spring, the tinted leaves in autumn, and the icicles that hang in the ravine during winter.

    Tokoton Hill in Koyasu-kyo Ravine is a leisure spot equipped with various sports facilities. You can camp, play tennis or swim in the heated swimming pool. In winter you can ski, and from spring until autumn you can go grass skiing on the ski slope.

    Getting there
    Omagari Station is 3 hours 25 minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Akita Shinkansen Line. From Omagari Station, it takes 35 minutes to reach Yuzawa Station on the JR Ou Honsen Line. The Ugo Kotsu bus takes 1 hour 10 minutes to get from the Yuzawa Eigyosho bus terminal to the Daifunto Iriguchi bus stop.

     

  • Lake Tazawa-ko
    A sapphire-blue lake - A leisure spot all the year round
    Lake Tazawa-ko is a crater lake, situated almost in the center of the eastern part of Akita Prefecture, and at 423.4 meters in depth is the deepest in Japan. Moreover, its transparency ranks second in Japan. Surrounded by a gentle range of hills, which provide the lake with a bright atmosphere, the almost perfectly circular lake is filled with mysterious sapphire-blue water, inviting us to sink below its surface.

    If you go round the lake by bus, you can enjoy views of the lake from different angles. A pleasure boat that you can board at two locations is also available. The view from aboard the boat on the lake is slightly different from that which can be seen from the shore.

    The lakeside is dotted with chalets modeled after "The Little Girl Heidi from the Alps" (a popular animated cartoon based on a Swiss storybook for children), Tazawa-ko Swiss-mura (the Swiss Village of Lake Tazawa-ko), a theme park that reproduced a row of stores and houses on a Swiss street, hotels and rest houses. This place is crowded with people who enjoy water sports, such as sailboarding and jet skiing in summer. In the vicinity are many leisure spots, including a ski resort and a camping site.

    In addition, you can visit Nyuto-onsen-kyo Village, comprising many hot springs: Ogama-onsen Hot Spring can be used as a base for climbing Mt. Nyuto-san along the Sendatsu-gawa River at the foot of Mt. Eboshi-dake, near Lake Tazawa-ko, Kaniba-onsen Hot Spring in a quiet thicket, and Magoroku-onsen Hot Spring, with an open-air bath and utase-yu, a hot water splash on the side of the river bank.

    Getting there
    Three hours 10 minutes to Tazawa-ko Station from Tokyo Station, and 15 minutes to Tazawa-kohan from Tazawa-ko Station by bus.

     

  • Lake Towada-ko
    Dual crater lake reflects four seasons in its clear blue water.
    Lake Towada-ko is at the top of a 400-meter-high mountain on the border between Aomori and Akita. It is a dual crater lake that was formed by the caving in of a volcano mouth formed by a giant eruption. With a depth of 327 meters, the lake is the third deepest in Japan. The water is translucent enabling you to see into it to a depth of 10 meters. Lake Towada-ko reflects the four seasons in its clear blue water: fresh green of spring, autumn leaves, and the snow in winter, all giving the lake a mysterious beauty.

    There are four observation points set up around the lake, so you can enjoy the lake's appearance from different angles. Sightseeing boats leave from the Yasumiya bus terminal, and go to Nenokuchi at the entrance to the Oirase Mountain Stream and Utarube, which is always busy with fishing-lovers. Seeing the lake from a boat shows a different kind of beauty than the view from the lakeshore. Near Yasumiya there are all sorts of facilities, including a campsite, Lake Towada-ko Visitors' Center and Lake Towada-ko Tansuigyo Suizoku-kan (Freshwater Fish Aquarium).

    If you walk a little ways from Yasumiya, there is a sculpture of a maiden at the lake, the last work of the poet and sculptor Kotaro Takamura, and Towada-jinja, a shrine said to have been built in the 9th century.

    Getting there
    Morioka Station is 2 hours 22 minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line, and Towada Minami Station is 1 hour 50 minutes from Morioka Station on the JR Hanawa Line. A JR bus from Towada Minami Station to Lake Towada-ko takes 1 hour.

     

  • Oga-hanto Peninsula
    Beautiful views of the coast and sunset - home to the Namahage legend
    Oga-hanto Peninsula in the west of Akita juts out into the Sea of Japan in the shape of an ax. Along its coastline are fantastic views of crags and boulders, and it is noted for its beautiful sunsets. It is also famous for the traditional event called Namahage at which time young people dressed up as devils visit houses to bless people.

    There are lots of spots in Oga-hanto Peninsula you should not miss: the view at the Kanpuzan Observatory at the base of the peninsula, where you can enjoy 360-degree panoramas of the Sea of Japan and Lagoon Hachiro-gata; Godzilla Boulder, so named because of its shape; the west coast of Oga with its stirring views of cliffs and rocks; Hachibodai, from where you can look down at two crater lakes; and Nyudo-zaki Point on the tip of the peninsula, which has a great view of the Sea of Japan. A sightseeing boat leaves from nearby Oga Aquarium, and from it you can view the cliffs extending along the west coast.

    At Shinzan-jinja Shrine, the origin of Namahage, the Namahage Sedo-matsuri Festival is held every winter. The Oga Shinzan Denshokan (folklore museum) displays Namahage masks and holds Namahage stage shows, so you can get a sense of the Namahage atmosphere even when festival is not being held.

    Getting there
    Akita Station is 3 hours 55 minutes from Tokyo Station by the

     

  • Shirakami-Sanchi Mountain Range
    One of the world's largest beech forests - The splendor of untouched nature
    Shirakami-Sanchi Mountain Range spreads over Aomori and Akita with an enormous size of 130,000 hectares and its central part has been listed as a World Natural Heritage Site since 1993. The untouched primeval beech forest in the range is one of the world's largest and provides an important environment for vegetation and animal habitats.

    Anmon-no-taki Falls - the most beautiful scenery in the Shirakami Range - is a must to visit. You can stroll along the nature trail through the lush woods and along the river where crystal clear water flows. At the Shirakami Range Visitors' Center and the Shirakami World Heritage Center, you can learn a lot about the nature of the Shirakami Range. There are many exhibition rooms and a visual image hall as well.

    Lake Ju-ni-ko, the lake of mystery in the northwestern foothills of the Shirakami Range, is surrounded by a dense beech forest. Lake Ju-ni-ko actually consists of a group of 33 lakes and marshes in total. Among them, Ao-ike Pond is particularly beautiful - it fascinates visitors with its mysterious cobalt blue water.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station to Morioka Station by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line, from Morioka Station to Aomori Station by the JR Tohoku Line, from Aomori Station to Hirosaki Station by the Ou Line - 5 hours 30 minutes in total. Fifty minutes by bus from the Hirosaki Bus Terminal to Tashiro. Three hours 55 minutes from Tokyo Station to Akita Station by the JR Akita Shinkansen Line. Thirty-three minutes by the JR Ou Line from Akita Station to Higashi-noshiro Station. Thirty-three minutes by the JR Gono Line from Higashi-noshiro Station to Akita Shirakami Station.

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.

 

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