Akita Prefecture is surrounded by many natural attractions. Because of this, it has been considered as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. A place where you can enjoy hiking the mountains, cycling near a lake, watching festivals, performances, visiting the famous samurai village or just soak in the hot springs to take a breather from the city life.
There is always something happening in Akita, which makes it an interesting place to take a short vacation. Of course, it would be wonderful if you can bring someone along to share these memorable experiences with you.
If you don’t know what to do when you go to Akita, check out these 10 activities that will make your visit worth your while.
1. Dip your body into Nyuto Onsen hot spring
Nyuto Onsen is a famous hot spring village in Akita Prefecture. The interesting part about going to this hot spring village is that, if you stay at one of their inns or hotels, you are eligible to visit the other hot spring facilities of the other ryokans and hotels in the village. To do this, you need to purchase the Yumeguricho pass and enjoy all their hot spring baths at your leisure. Talk about getting everything in one package!
Nyuto Onsen (Tsurunoyu Ryokan): http://www.tsurunoyu.com/english.html
2. Visit Akita Dog Museum and meet cute Akitaken
The Akita Dog Museum is the only museum in the world that is dedicated to honor Japanese dogs. Ever heard of Hachiko? The dog who became famous in Japan (and the world) for being loyal to his master until his time of death. His statue is displayed outside the museum to commemorate the strong bond between dogs and their owners.
Address: 13-1 Sannomaru, Odate-shi, Akita-ken
3. Visit Samurai Village at Kakunodate
Kakunodate is a town where there used to live many prestigious samurai families. Today, a few of these samurai houses are open to the public. This is a great way to show the tourists how these families used to live during the era of the samurai. Inside the houses are some exhibits, historical records (texts) and authentic samurai armor and clothing. Souvenirs are also available for those who want to buy gifts for their family and friends back home.
4. Hike at Hachimandaira
Hachimandaira Promenade Peak is a worthwhile place to take a hike and enjoy the beauty of nature. Regardless of the season, this place will always be packed with people walking along a well-maintained pathway of boards. The route will take you over flatlands, ponds, lake and mountain forests that will dazzle and amaze you. A relaxing mountain hike that will help you take a breather from all the hustle and bustle of the city life.
Website: http://akita-hachimantai.jp (Japanese Only)
5. Eat Akita’s local food Kiritanpo hotpot
Kirintanpo hotpot is a local delicacy in Akita. Just in case you don’t know, Kirintanpo is made from freshly harvested rice and mashed using a pestle. Afterward, it is wrapped around a stick. Once it is dry, it is then placed near a hearth and will be slightly grilled until golden brown. You can eat it as it is. But, it is more delicious when you add it to the hotpot to and enjoy the delicious Kirintanpo nabe. Some people like to eat it grilled with sweet miso sauce, and you can often find miso flavored Kiritanpo sticks in tourist attractions.
6. Participate in Yokote Kamakura Festival
The Yokote Kamakura Festival has been around for hundreds of years. The Kamakuras (snow huts/ igloos) of varying sizes are built all around Yokote during winter. (Check out the official website to find out the schedule of the festival). The tourists like to visit these snow huts, and it becomes a small gathering place where they can enjoy mochi (rice cakes) and Japanese sake. At night, the small kamakuras are illuminated, and it creates a picturesque scene, that is bound to be a memorable experience for anyone lucky enough to see them.
Website: http://www.yokotekamakura.com/01_event/04_winter/kamakura_time.html (Japanese Only)
7. Cycling and Boating at Lake Tazawa
Lake Tazawa is a beautiful lake surrounded by nature. Regardless of the season, the natural beauty that can be found along the lake is a marvel to behold. You can further explore the surrounding landscape by renting a bike and pedal to your heart’s content. The lake is also home to the famous “Statue of Tatsuko” which is considered as one of the most famous legends of the Lake Tazawa. There is also a special boat sightseeing tour that is available from April to November.
Website: http://www.tazawako.org (Japanese Only)
8. Participate in interesting and traditional Amekko-ichi
Amekko-ichi is the “sweetest” festival in Akita. It is a unique festival that has survived for hundreds of years, on which you have to eat candies or sweets so that you won’t catch a cold the whole year round. Stalls line up the streets selling traditional sweets to the delight of tourists, who specially visit Akita for this yearly event. The festivities include a parade of the local mountain god and other fun activities that you can’t afford to miss.
9. Create your original Magewappa bento box
Magewappa bento box is considered as an artform. Magewappa in Japan means “bent wood” and these specially designed bento boxes are sturdy and very handy to carry. It is also considered as an excellent souvenir for people who love Japanese culture. Those who love to prepare bento boxes will go out of their way to create clever and eye-catching bentos, to not waste the charm of these specially designed Magewappa bento boxes.
You can participate in the workshop open for tourist at Odate Magewappa Taiken Kobo. Anyone who participates in the class gets to bring back the bento box made by yourself! Why don’t you make one? (Reservation required)
10. Witness the most fabulous fireworks in Japan at Omagari Fireworks Festival
The Omagari Fireworks Festival is one of the grandest firework festivals not only in Akita, but in the entirety of Japan. The firework makers from all over Japan gather to showcase their skills to create a spectacle that will light up the night sky, and show everyone the fleeting beauty that the fireworks are renowned for. Take note that a lot of people gather during the Omagari Fireworks festival so it’s safe to secure a seat before coming and also it might take you a while to navigate through the crowd. Even so, this festival is something that you have to see at least once when you head over to Akita.
Website: https://www.oomagari-hanabi.com (Japanese Only)
Data is as of December 2018
Thumbnail is from Flickr