Akita boasts beautiful ladies (akita-bijin) and the origins of one of the two famous Japanese dog breeds (take a guess which one). It lies in Japan’s Tohoku region. Isolated by mountains, the appeal is in its natural beauty and its bang up job of preserving traditions.
How to Get There
Akita has not one but two airports for you to choose from. Akita Airport has more destination variety: flights go between Sapporo, Tokyo (Haneda), Nagoya, and Osaka. Buses connect it to Akita Station, which is about 40 minutes and 930 yen away. Odate–Noshiro Airport only has flights to and from Haneda. But if you’re planning to go to Noshiro or the surrounding tourist destinations in the north, it’s a better option.
|Tokyo => Akita||Japan Airlines||¥6,039 (US$45)||
From Tokyo you can ride the JR Akita Shinkansen straight there (again, trains are your BFFs in Japan). It’s about a 4-hour ride and costs JPY 18,000, but it’s fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Important note: seats require a reservation.
Overnight buses are that slower but cheaper option you can take when you have no special train pass. It’s around 8 hours from Tokyo, and you can oftentimes fine one-way fares as low as 5,000 yen.
JR East has a lot of lines running through the prefecture, and Akita Station is a hub of regional public transportation. But Akita also has lots of roads and highways, so if you’re up for a road trip there’s that too.
In contrast to the prefecture’s size, the cities, even its capital, are smaller compared to other prefectures’. In other words, the streets are made for walking.
What to See and What to Do
Lake Tazawa (Tazawa-ko) is the deepest lake in Japan and a real romantic spot. Sunset strolls on the beach, swimming or boating on the lake, etc, etc. Stop by the east shore and you’ll find a famous bronze statue of Princess Tatsuko, a legendary beauty (again, akita-bijin) who drank from the lake and ended up becoming a dragon. It’s even seen an uptake in Korean tourists after being featured in a K-drama. You can stay at the nearby Nyuto Onsen, filled with rustic hot spring resorts.
Speaking of old, Kakunodate is a former castle town worth visiting. Emphasis on the “former”, as the castle no longer exists, but it has two well-preserved districts: one for samurai and another for merchants. The town also makes for a magical hanami spot with tons of weeping cherry trees (shidarezakura).
The local specialty to try is kiritanpo, rice that’s been pounded and shaped into cylinders. Usually you find it accompanying nabe and soup dishes.