May 31, 2015


(Last updated in May 2018)

Akita(秋田)prefecture is a large prefecture in the Tohoku(東北)region, below Aomori(青森)and on the left of Iwate(岩手).

First went there during my Golden Week Tohoku trip in 2013. It was the stop after Hirosaki(弘前)in Aomori. Took JR train to Takanosu(鷹の巣), then transferred to private train for Kakunodate(角館), famous for its well-preserved samurai district(武家屋敷).

The samurai district is a short taxi ride away from the train station (or a 25 minutes walk). It is also known for being 1 of the top 3 sakura spots in Tohoku region. Having a love for castle towns and sakura (especially weeping sakura 枝垂桜), this place is not to be missed! A pity the trees only reached 50% bloom when I was there.

There are a few houses opened to public, but we only paid to go into Ishiguro-ke(石黒家), the oldest and most representative in the area. Another significant one is Aoyagi-ke(青柳家).

It was nice strolling around the small traditional town, popping in and out of the samurai houses and shops. Tried some local specialties such as Kiritanpo (grilled rice stick) and Nama-Morokoshi (a type of powdery traditional cookies).

In Spring 2018, I went to Kakunodate again for cherry blossoms and managed to catch them in full bloom and good weather! This time, I rented a bicycle near the station and cycled to and around the samurai district just to view and take photos of cherry blossoms. Other than the weeping cherry trees along the streets of the samurai district, the long row of cherry trees (Somei Yoshino 染井吉野 variety) lining the river nearby was also impressive.

During my first visit to the prefecture, had good ramen near Akita station (voted as Number 1 ramen in Akita).

In Autumn 2015, I went to Akita prefecture again for Nyuto Onsen(乳頭温泉). Although Tsurunoyu(鶴の湯)is the most famous and oldest ryokan there, chose Taenoyu(妙の湯)because of the ratings, and didn't regret my choice. Service and atmosphere was like a 5 star hotel. Food was delicious, with lots of seasonal vegetables harvested from the nearby mountains.

The most amazing of all was the onsen. There are 2 types of hot springs, namely gold(金の湯)and silver(銀の湯), like Arima Onsen(有馬温泉). There are altogether 7 baths, inclusive of public & private, gender-separated & mixed, indoor & outdoor. The mixed outdoor bath's illuminated waterfall view was stunning! So magical and surreal! Currently ranks as my Number 1 Rotenburo, higher than sea-view ones. (It is limited to female guests from 5-6 pm.)

*Google Image.

I'd recommend dropping by Tsurunoyu in the day, then stay in Taenoyu, to have the best of both worlds. They also offer awesome snow views in winter months. When I stayed in September, it was already 6 degrees at night!

During this trip, I also visited Lake Tazawa(田沢湖)nearby, the deepest lake in Japan. There is a sightseeing bus that goes around the lake, though timings are not too frequent. I wouldn't say it is a must-visit, but if visiting Nyuto Onsen, it can be covered together.

Akita is also famous for Kanto Matsuri(竿灯祭り), 1 of the 3 big festivals in Tohoku in summer.


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