Akita Prefecture is a prefecture that is located in the north-western part of the
Tohoku area to the north of Honshu.
It is the prefecture with the most number of important intangible folk cultural properties in Japan,
and many unique traditional cultures and customs such as the bizarre custom of Namahage in Oga Peninsula, as well as the Akita Kanto Festival which is one of the Tohoku Big 3 Festivals, still exist today.
It is surrounded by incredible nature such as the majestic mountains and the azure Sea of Japan, and visitors can enjoy the scenery that changes along with the seasons and soak in the local vibe and hot springs over here.
Wouldn't it be nice to relax and interact with the local people in the countryside here?
The Akita Dog is a particularly famous dog breed which is native to Akita Prefecture and has been designated as a nationally protected species.
There have been various films featuring Akita Dog, and these faithful dogs are popular not only in Japan but also in other countries.
It takes about an hour to get to Akita Prefecture from Tokyo (Haneda Airport), Sapporo, Osaka, and Nagoya by domestic flight. There are two airports in Akita Prefecture: Akita Airport and Odate Noshiro Airport, and it is easy to access from just about anywhere.
You can take the Akita Airport Liner from the airport to your destination directly without having to change trains!
It takes about 4 hours to reach Akita from Tokyo by shinkansen (bullet train).
JR Rail Pass is also a great deal that can be used
in Akita Prefecture.
* As of 1 September 2019
Nyuto Onsen Village
The collective name for the seven hot springs found at the foot of Mount Nyuto, with Tsuru-no-Yu being especially famous as a hidden hot spring in the mountains. The snowy scene here is spectacular and gives off an authentic Japanese vibe.
Typical double caldera lake that spans across both Akita and Aomori Prefectures. Take in the beautiful seasonal scenery here at the lake which is also home to the Lake Towada Winter Story Festival held every winter.
The deepest lake in Japan and voted as one of the 100 best sceneries in the country. The color of the lake varies according to the water depth and the angle at which sunlight strikes the water surface. This is a mysterious lake which is also known for "The Legend of Princess Tatsuko".
Ice Monsters at Mount Moriyoshi
One of the three largest hoarfrost-covered trees in Japan which also looks spectacular during the night. Enjoy the view of the hoarfrost-covered trees by taking the gondola from Ani Ski Resort, followed by a 5-minute walk to get to the mountain summit where the trees are located.
Akita Nairiku Railway
Local railway measuring 94.2km from the north to the south of Akita Prefecture. It travels through the inland areas from Kakunodate, also known as "Little Kyoto", through Aniai which is home to the Matagi culture, to Takanosu which is home to the largest taiko drum in the world.
Historical samurai town which retains the history of Kakunodate. It is famous for its weeping cherry trees and Yoshino cherry trees in spring, as well as the maple trees and autumn foliage in autumn. The streets are especially charming when covered in snow and remind visitors of its other name as "The Little Kyoto of Michinoku".
A recommended spot near Akita Station to appreciate a snow-covered winter landscape. It is built on the ruins of Kubota Castle and gives off a fortress vibe with several artifacts such as the main castle gate within its grounds.
Voted as one of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan and reminiscent of a fantasy world as the entire area transforms into a pure white scene in winter.
Yokote Masuda Manga Museum
A typical manga-themed museum which contains original drawings, photos, and profiles of various manga artists. It is home to the greatest number of collections in Japan with over 200,000 original drawings available.
Tazawako Plateau Snow Festival
Snow festival hosted at Tazawako Ski Resort which overlooks Lake Tazawa. Various events such as fire swinging, kamakura igloo displays, and firework displays are held, and snow sculptures are lit up at night to create a fantastical atmosphere.
A folk event where dogs made out of rice flour are displayed by the doorways to keep robbers away. The candles inside the snow hall where snow sculptures of dogs stand are lit up at night.
Yokote Kamakura Festival
A traditional festival where water deities are enshrined in kamakura (igloo-like snow houses) with a charcoal brazier inside to provide warmth and to grill rice cakes. Amazake (warm sweet rice wine) is offered to the festival visitors. The kamakura look beautiful and floaty amid the darkness of the night.
Spectacular festival with brilliant fire circle dancing in the snow. Straw bags filled with charcoal are tied to ropes and set alight before swinging them around the body.
Namahage Sedo Festival
One of the Michinoku Big 5 Snow Festivals. The wild namahage dance is soul-stirring and powerful under the light of the Sedo fire at Shinzan Shrine.
Set of dance and music with 1,300 years of tradition and has been recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. People known as "Noshu" from the four designated districts gather at Dainichido on January 2 to dance.
Known as one of the top three best udon noodles in Japan with a history of more than 300 years. These noodles have a smooth texture that is thicker and firmer than somen noodles.
The typical local dish of Akita Prefecture, where freshly cooked rice is pounded and formed into cylinders around Japanese cedar skewers, and baked over a charcoal fire. It is commonly consumed as part of a hot pot dish.
Hot pot dish that is famous as the local cuisine of Oga Peninsula. It is a dynamic fisherman’s dish that is prepared by putting ingredients such as fresh seafood into a wooden tub and cooked by adding in a stone that has been heated to 400 degree Celsius.
Hot pot made using fish sauce from hatahata (Japanese sandfish) and tastes similar to nam pla (Thai fish sauce). Hatahata is a winter specialty in Akita Prefecture, and can also be eaten grilled or in the form of sushi.
Traditional pickles in snowy Akita Prefecture which is made by hanging the radishes on top of fire (to prevent the dried radish to be used for pickling from freezing) before being pickled in rice bran.
Original form of local performing arts in Oga Prefecture which fuses the namahage of Oga together with traditional Japanese taiko. The live performance at Oga Onsenkyo Village is incredible.
Here is our recommended 3-day itinerary to carefully hand-picked destinations in Akita Prefecture based on the theme of "Winter in Akita".
This sample itinerary covers the two major destinations in winter: Nyuto Onsen and the hoarfrost-covered trees at Mount Moriyoshi.
- Take the limousine bus to Akita Station (approx. 40 minutes)
- Take Tazawako Line from Akita Station to Tazawako Station (approx. 20 minutes)
Samurai residences that retain their original look and feel from the Edo period along the wide streets, with gorgeous scenery and streets as the area gets covered in snow during the winter.
- Take Tazawako Line to Tazawako Station (approx. 20 minutes)
- Take a bus from Tazawako Station to Nyuto Onsen Tsuru-no-Yu (approx. 35 minutes + shuttle bus 15 minutes)
2Nyuto Onsen Village
The collective name for the seven hot springs found at the foot of Mount Nyuto. These seven inns that are hidden deep in the mountains each have different hot spring qualities.
Stay in Tsuru-no-Yu, a hidden hot spring inn that has existed since the Edo period, for the first night.
Nyuto Onsen Tsuru-no-Yu
- Take a bus from Nyuto Onsen Tsuru-no-Yu to Tazawako Station (approx. 35 minutes + shuttle bus 15 minutes)
- Take JR Tazawako Line from Tazawako Station to Kakunodate Station (approx. 20 minutes)
3 Akita Nairiku Railway
Take the Akita Nairiku Railway to Aniai Station from Kakunodate Station. Enjoy the incredible snowy landscape outside the train window throughout the one hour and 20 minutes’ journey.
- Take a taxi from Aniai Station to Gondola Mount Moriyoshi Ani Ski Resort (approx. 20 minutes)
4Ice Monsters at Mount Moriyoshi
Mount Moriyoshi is home to one of the three largest hoarfrost-covered trees in Japan that can only be viewed from mid-January to early March.
Take the gondola from Mount Moriyoshi Ani Ski Resort to the summit, and prepare to have your breath taken away by the spectacular winter scenery that nature has to offer.
- Take a taxi from Gondola Mount Moriyoshi Ani Ski Resort to Aniai Station (approx. 20 minutes)
From Aniai Station to Ani-Matagi Station by Akita Nairiku Railway (approx. 30 minutes)
- From Ani-Matagi Station, use the hotel pick-up service to Utto Onsen Matagi-no-Yu (approx. 3 minutes)
5Utto Onsen Matagi-no-Yu
Stay overnight at this hidden accommodation, and experience living amid the Matagi, who made their living by hunting while protecting the mountains. They are also often described as the "Mountain Samurai". Learn about the Matagi culture, taste jango (country) cuisine and homemade doburoku (rice liquor), and enjoy the hot spring during your stay.
Utto Onsen Matagi-no-Yu
- After checkout, take a shuttle bus to Ani-Matagi Station (approx. 3 minutes)
- Take Akita Nairiku Railway from Ani-Matagi Station to Takanosu Station (approx. 1 hour 30 minutes)
- Take JR Ou Main Line from Takanosu Station to Odate Station (approx. 20 minutes)
6 Torimeshi Lunch
Enjoy the delicious torimeshi (chicken) lunch at Hanazen, which is famous for its boxed lunch and is located right in front of Odate Station.
- After lunch, walk to Akita Dog Visitor Center (3 minutes' walk)
7Akita Dog Visitor Center
Tourist facility where you can meet real Akita dogs. There is also a terrace overlooking the Akita Dog Museum, the Odate cityscape, as well as Mount Houou which is the representative symbol of the city.
Experience the making of kiritanpo, local cuisine in Akita Prefecture which is made by wrapping crushed rice around a wooden skewer. The kiritanpo that you have made using your own hands is sure to taste exceptionally delicious!
- Take a limousine bus from Odate Station to Odate Noshiro Airport (approx. 50 minutes)
Odate Noshiro Airport
Travel to Tokyo (Haneda Airport) from Odate Noshiro Airport