Akita Prefecture, located on the northern tip of Japan's main island, has many natural sightseeing attractions! Among the cool things to do in Akita are soaking in hot springs and seeing the cherry blossom trees in the mountains, which can add an element of serenity to your trip.
Here are 20 points of interest to make your trip to Akita more fulfilling. Check out our basic info on popular local foods, recommended souvenirs, and transportation.
Main image: Shawn.ccf / Shutterstock.com
What Kind of Place is Akita Prefecture?
Akita Prefecture is located on the Sea of Japan side of the Tohoku Region. Tourist attractions include Kakunodate, where samurai residences were built during the Edo Period (around 1603-1868), and Nyuto Onsenkyo, where hot spring inns dot in the mountains.
It is also known for cultivating some of the best rice in Japan. There are also many restaurants in the center of Akita City that serve local cuisine and sake.
Akita Prefecture is also known for its diverse local cuisine. Kiritanpo, which is made by mashing freshly cooked rice and wrapping it around a cedar skewer, and Inaniwa udon, one of Japan’s three major types of udon noodles, are two of the most well know Akita foods.
In addition, food products and woodwork are standard souvenirs, and among them, bent cedar and cypress Magewappa crafts are trendy overseas. Around Akita Station, surrounded by plenty of shopping areas, you can shop for souvenirs and buy food at department stores or additional essentials at drug stores.
Getting to Akita
To get from Tokyo Station to Akita Station, the gateway to sightseeing in Akita Prefecture:
Take the Akita Shinkansen Line Komachi Shinkansen to arrive in about 4 hours. The fastest train takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes.
From Haneda Airport to Akita Airport, flights on ANA or JAL arrive in about 65 minutes. From there, the Akita Chuo Kotsu Bus takes about 40 minutes to arrive at Akita Station.
There are highway buses from Shinjuku Station West Exit (in front of Halc) and Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit to Akita Station East Exit. Both are night buses, with one departure per day.
The Odakyu City Bus / Akita Chuo Kotsu “Flora” bus departing from the west exit of Shinjuku Station, takes about 8 hours and 50 minutes to reach the Akita Nagasakiya Bus Terminal via Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal and the West Exit of Omiya Station.
The JR Bus Tohoku “Dream Akita / Tokyo” bus from the Yaesu exit of Tokyo Station, takes about 8 hours and 40 minutes to arrive at Akita Port Tower Selion.
Akita Prefecture Tour Points
The Shinkansen from Akita Station is the main way to reach tourist areas throughout the prefecture. For example, use the Akita Shinkansen Komachi to get to Kakunodate, famous for its cherry blossoms, and Omagari, where one of Japan’s leading fireworks displays takes place. There are many locations for which you’ll need to change to a bus or use a car to reach after exiting the Shinkansen, so check official websites for access information before visiting.
20 Things To Do On Your Trip To Akita
Here are 20 things you should definitely experience when traveling to Akita Prefecture as recommended by a local writer.
1. Take a walk along the samurai residence street in Kakunodate
Kakunodate, which once flourished as a castle town, is now a historic area where many homes formerly owned by samurai remain. Uchimachi is a street that is especially known for once housing many samurai, and is lined with many former samurai homes and warehouses, giving the entire street the nickname Bukeyashiki-dori, or Samurai House Street.
“Ishiguro Samurai House”, located in the northernmost part of Bukeyashiki-dori, allows visitors to visit the house. There is also a free guide that explains the history of the building and is recommended for sightseeing.
You can also experience riding the “jinrikisha,” or rickshaw, through the streets, pulled by rickshaw drivers called “shafu.” This is another unique experience you may definitely want to try in Japan, so by all means, check it out!
Indoor disinfection measures taken - Sanitizer installed - Ventilation measures in place - Coin trays used - Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor body temperature - Guests requested to maintain social distance - Entry declined to anyone who is feeling unwell - Masks required - temperature check enforced
2. Trekking in the world natural heritage forests of Shirakami-Sanchi
The Shirakami-Sanchi is a vast mountainous area of about 130,000 hectares that rests on the border between Akita and Aomori prefectures. It’s home to one of the largest beech forests in East Asia, covering about 17,000 hectares and registered as a World Natural Heritage Site.
There are various trekking courses for beginners to experienced climbers, and the best time to go is from June to October.
The Fujisato Course, which starts from the Shirakami-Sanchi World Heritage Conservation Center (Fujisato) in Fujisato, Akita, begins near a giant beech tree said to be 400 years old.
From the top of the Futatsumori Course, which starts at the Shirakami Fureaikan in Happo, Akita you can get a panoramic view of the Shirakami Mountains. No matter which course you choose, you’ll experience the magnificence of nature.
Shirakami-Sanchi World Heritage Conservation Center (Fujisato)白神山地世界遺産センター 藤里館
- Address 63 Satoguri Fujikoto, Fujisato, Yamamoto-gun, Akita-ken
- Phone Number 0185-79-3001
・Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (December to February 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)
・Closed: Tuesdays (the next day if Tuesday is a public holiday)*Mondays and Tuesdays from December to February (Tuesdays and Wednesdays during public holidays)
3. Pleasure boat cruise on Lake Tazawa, the deepest lake in Japan
Located in the middle of eastern Akita, Lake Tazawa is the deepest lake in Japan. The symbolic golden Tatsuko statue rises up out of the shining lapis lazuli surface of the lake and is a popular photo spot.
Driving around the lake is recommended, and if you have the time, take the Lake Tazawa Pleasure Boat to appreciate the beautiful water up close.
Departing from Shirahama in front of the Tazawako Resthouse, the 40-minute boat tour passes by the statue of Tatsuko and the Gozanoishi Shrine, which is said to be beneficial for achieving good looks. When the weather is nice, standing on the deck to feel the breeze is refreshing.
Indoor disinfection - Hand sanitizer made available - Proper ventilation - Use of coin trays - Protective partitions installed at reception desk - Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor temperatures - Monitoring the number of people who enter - Entry denied to people who are feeling ill - Masks required for passengers - Temperature checks for passengers
Tazawako Pleasure Boat田沢湖遊覧船
- Address 148 Aza Haruyama, Tazawako Tazawa, Senboku City, Akita Prefecture, 014-1204
Phone: 0187-43-0274 (Tazawako Resthouse)
Hours: Operating daily Late April - early November with departures at 9:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00 (July 20 - August 20 additional departures at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00)
Admission: 520 – 1,220 yen
Regular holiday: Open throughout the period
4. See the traditional snowy Kamakura event
Kamakura is a small New Year event symbolic of Akita Prefecture. The traditional event reveres the water god by setting up an altar in a snow hut. In areas with a lot of snow in Japan, children can often be seen playfully reenacting kamakura in winter.
In Yokote, kamakura are built throughout the city on February 15th and 16th every year. Approximately 80 kamakura with a height of 3 meters are made, and the sight of them lined up is a masterpiece. At night, the candles inside are lit, creating an even more dramatic scene.
5. See the powerful Namahage
The Namahage is said to have been a messenger of Yama-no-Kami, mountain gods of disaster, and wears a carved wooden mask, wielding a knife. In Oga, the local residents dress up as Namahage and go around the town visiting houses on New Year's Eve.
The Oga Shinzan Folklore Museum and Namahage Museum are also located in Oga. The Oga Shinzan Folklore Museum is a 100-year-old private house where Namahage demonstrations are held throughout the year. In the Namahage Museum, you can see displays of actual Namahage masks, and even wear a Namahage costume yourself.
6. Take a photo with an Akita Inu
Akita dogs have adorable round eyes and curled tails. “Akita Inu Station” and “Akita Inu Fureaidokoro in Senshu Park” are two places near Akita Station where you can see Akita Inu from behind a gate. You can even take photos of them! Check the homepage for specific dates and times you can visit.
Akita Inu Station秋田犬ステーション
- Address Area Nakaichi 1-4-1 Nakadori, Akita-shi, Akita-ken
- Phone Number 018-807-2535
Business Hours: Tues, Thurs, Sat, Sun 11:00AM~3:00PM (Thurs, sales only)
Regular Holidays: Mon, Wed, Fri
Akita Inu Fureaidokoro in Senshu Park秋田犬ふれあい処in千秋公園
- Address Ninomaru 1-1, Senshu Koen, Akita 010-0876
Phone: 018-824-8686 (Akita Kanko Convention Kyokai)
Business Hours: May~Oct, 11:00AM~3:00PM
Regular Holidays: Open all day
7. See Godzilla Rock
A famous rock that looks exactly like Godzilla is a popular tourist spot in Oga City. Standing in a rocky area called Shiosezaki, you can almost hear roars from the rugged, raised rocks. Photo shooting at dusk is recommended, making the towering sunset silhouette look all the more like the profile of Godzilla.
- Address Funagawaminato Honzammonzen, Oga-shi, Akita-ken, 010-0535, Japan
Phone: 0185-24-4700 (Oga City Tourism Association)
Hours: Free entry
8. Join in the Akita Kanto Festival in summer
The Akita Kanto Festival, in which about 280 Kanto lanterns that look like ears of rice decorate the city at night, is a traditional summer event considered one of the three major festivals of the Tohoku region along with the Aomori Nebuta Festival and the Sendai Tanabata Festival.
Groups of 46 hanging lanterns 12 meters tall and weighing 50 kilograms are paraded through the center of Akita City. The moment when lantern bearers shift the big lanterns from their hands to their foreheads and from their shoulders to their waist is an exciting sight!
Before the festival’s main parade night, a daytime tournament of lantern bearing technique is held, and the musical accompaniment helps raise the festive mood. At night, festival-goers can touch the Kanto and take photos with them around 20:30 when the performance ends.
9. Watch Japan’s leading National Fireworks Competition Convention “Omagari Fireworks”
National Fireworks Competition Convention “Omagari Fireworks” has one of the best reputations in Japan. Held on the last Saturday of August, the venue, Omagari, in Daisen City, draws spectators from all over the country. Don’t miss the ingenious fireworks created by top-class fireworks artists selected from all over Japan. If you fancy watching, be sure to book a hotel early, as they fill up within a month or two of the fireworks!
The popular tournament consists of two parts – day fireworks and night fireworks. Daytime fireworks in Japan are seen only at Omagari. During the night display, gorgeous fireworks are launched one after another to cover the sky, and the beauty and power are undeniable. The “Musical Star Mine,” combining music and fireworks and the “Wide Star Mine,” which are jointly produced by local fireworks companies, are also popular.
10. Enjoy the world of manga at Yokote Masuda Manga Museum
Japanese manga culture attracts attention from all over the world. For those who love manga and anime, the Yokote Masuda Manga Museum is a great destination.
Opened in 1995 as Japan’s first manga museum, it features work by artists such as Takao Yaguchi, the honorary director of the museum and the author of “Fisherman Sanpei,” Leiji Matsumoto, the author of “Galaxy Express 999,” and Yoichi Takahashi, the author of “Captain Tsubasa.” More than 220,000 original pieces are stored or exhibited here.
In addition to the original picture exhibition, there’s also a workshop where you can have an “assistant experience” where you can apply screen tones to a manga page and a “color manuscript experience” where you can color illustrations with markers and colored pencils.
At the cafe on the 1st floor, you can eat manga-themed menu items and order drinks served on manga-inspired coasters.
*Currently, some exhibits are closed and visiting times are limited to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please check the official website for further details.
Indoor disinfection - Hand sanitizer made available - Proper ventilation - Use of coin trays - Protective partitions installed at reception desk - Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor temperatures - Managing the number of visitors - Appropriate seat spacing - Admission restrictions - Entry denied to people who are feeling ill - Masks required for visitors - Visitor temperature checks - Completion of a check-in sheet at time of admission - Limited access to special exhibitions
Yokote Masuda Manga Museum横手市増田まんが美術館
- Address 285 Shinmachi 285, Masudamachi, Masuda, Yokote-shi, Akita 019-0701
- Phone Number 0182-45-5569
Hours: 10:00 - 18:00 (last entry 17:30); closed 3rd Tuesday (or the weekday following a national holiday)
Admission: Free, special exhibitions charged separately
11. Tour the historic buildings in Masuda, Yokote
Naka-Nanokamachi-dori in the Masuda district of Yokote City is home to historic houses and buildings, making it a wonderful place to take a walk and enjoying a retro atmosphere.
Selected as one of Japan’s important traditional building preservation areas, you can visit 19 classic buildings such as the Tourism Product Center Kura no Eki, Old Ishida Rikichi House, and the Sato Tazaburo House.
Outstanding building techniques like the heavy interior doors and beams and delicate woodworking are sure to attract architecture and design lovers.
Indoor disinfection - Hand sanitizer made available - Proper ventilation - Use of coin trays - Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor temperatures - Entry denied to people who are feeling ill - Masks required for visitors - Visitor temperature checks
・Phone: 0182-45-5541 (Masuda Town Tourism Association)
・Hours: Varies by location
・Admission: Varies by facility
12. Immerse yourself in a famous hot spring in Nyuto Onsenkyo
Nyuto Onsenkyo is the collective name of the seven hot springs located at the foot of Mount Nyuto in Towada and Hachimantai National Park. This historical hot springs area is also said to be where the former feudal lords of Akita bathed.
The seven hot spring inns each have their own unique and varied hot springs. You can enjoy different kinds of hot waters including the milky white waters of Tsuru no Yu Onsen, and the brown, iron-rich waters of Taenoyu Onsen.
All hot springs have the option to visit just for a soak, or to stay overnight to enjoy the springs more leisurely. Some inns even have a free private open-air bath.
13. Immerse yourself in a wild open-air bath at Kawarage Oyutaki
Kawarage Oyutaki in Yuzawa City is recommended for those who want to enjoy a hot spring combined with the dynamism of nature. The hot spring bursts vigorously from the cliffside, turning the entire waterfall into a natural open-air bath.
Visitors are welcome to bathe from early July to mid-September from sunrise to sunset. There is a dressing room right next to the waterfall, and bathing suits are required. If you have tattoos, it’s best to cover them.
- Address Takamatsu, Yuzawa-shi, Akita-ken, 019-0404
Phone: 0183-55-8180 (Yuzawa City Hall Tourism and Geopark Promotion Division) Hours: Early July to mid-September
14. Eat a kiritanpo pot
Kiritanpo is a local Akita cuisine made with freshly cooked rice that is mashed and then wrapped around a cedar skewer, and served in a hot pot.
The soup base is made with Akita's brand chicken, Hinai-niwa, and the main ingredients include kiritanpo, Hinai-niwa chicken, leeks, Japanese parsley, and burdock.
The rich taste of the soup soaked in the hot kiritanpo pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the rice. You can try it at shops such as Otafuku or Chawan-ya, both of which serve many other delicious local dishes as well.
15. Slurp up some Inaniwa Udon!
Originating in Yuzawa, the southern part of Akita Prefecture, with a history of over 300 years, it is considered one of Japan's top three udon dishes. The udon is made by hand by skilled craftsmen and has a firm and silky texture. Sato Yosuke is one of the famous shops, with its main branch in Yuzawa, and several others located throughout Akita, Yokote, and Semboku.
16. Chow down on Hinai Jidori chicken dishes
Hinai Jidori, a type of chicken bred in Akita, is characterized by its firm body, and is one of three major Japanese chicken breeds. The more you chew it, the more delicious it becomes and due to its strong flavor, the meat is often used in soup stock for local Kiritanpo pots.
JR Akita Station, Akita City, and the whole prefecture have many restaurants and shops where Hinai chicken dishes like Oyakodon, Kiritanpo hotpots, and skewers can be enjoyed, so be sure to try some!
17. Enjoy Akita’s local sake
Akita, one of the best rice-producing areas in the Tohoku region, is also active in producing sake.
If you want to enjoy a variety of local sake in one sitting, the best place to go is Bishuokoku Akita Sake-Navi, in Akita City. With more than 100 kinds of sake from 35 breweries, and you can taste Akita’s famous sake at this standing bar. It also has a lineup of seasonal sake and snacks that pair perfectly with sake.
Indoor disinfection - Hand sanitizer made available - Proper ventilation - Use of coin trays - Protective partitions installed at reception desk - Staff wear masks, gargle, wash hands regularly, and monitor temperatures - Managing the number of people who enter - Appropriate seat spacing - Entry denied to people who are feeling ill - Masks required for customers - Customer temperature checks
Bishuokoku Akita Sake-Navi美酒王国秋田 Sake-Navi
- Address 5-2-1 Omachi, Akita-shi, Akita-ken 010-0921
- Phone Number 018-893-6405
Hours: 17:00 - 22:00, closed Sundays
18. Get some souvenir Iburi-gakko
Iburigakko is made from pickled vegetables and has a pleasantly smoky scent. It is recommended to enjoy together with wine and cheese. You can buy it packaged whole or as individually wrapped cut pieces. Can be stored and carried at room temperature.
19. Chose Akita’s famous Kinman confectionery as a souvenir
A modestly sweet bun wrapped in a soft, white dough. You can buy it freshly baked or vacuum packed, which makes a better souvenir thanks to its long expiration date. You can still enjoy that soft, freshly-baked texture by heating it up after you unwrap it.
20. Buy a Magewappa bento box
“Magewappa” is one of Akita's traditional crafts made from cedar and cypress wood. Lunch boxes are popular and give off a gentle cedar scent as soon as you open the lid. Made of wood, it has high absorbency and an excellent antibacterial effect. It is also light and easy to carry.
Did any of these sights or souvenirs catch your attention? Be sure to incorporate a few into you next trip to Akita to make it even more wonderful!
Text by: Shoepress
The information in this article is current as of April 2021. Please check official websites for the latest information before visiting.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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