Akita Experiences

Immersive, authentic, original

In the last year Japan-san's team has travelled around the region to identify and tailor experiences to the preferences of more discerning, culturally and ethically aware travellers. Our list below has been formed after conversations with each of the providers whereby we ensure the authenticity, immersiveness, sustainability and safety.  Many of the activities can be customised to the preferences of particular tour operators and clients. Contact us to learn more.

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Akita Inu Tours

Take a walk with the locals

Akita dogs (Inu) are incredible. So is Yoshimi-san. A confident English speaker, Guesthouse founder and proud owner of 2 Akita fluffballs - Su-Chan and Fujiko (who also happen to be married). Yoshimi-san and her loyal companions will guide guests to any areas they desire, but most frequently around the Samurai town, on a walk along the cherry blossom lined Hinokinai River or to see the best of Japanese autumn scenery in the Dakigaeri Valley.

As a keen chef, Yoshimi-san is happy to open up her kitchen for private cooking classes specialising in locally-sourced, seasonal produce. Most especially for her guesthouse patrons.

 
 

"Kaba-zaiku"

Wild Cherry Blossom Bark Craft

Espousing oneness with and gratitude to nature, this family-run crafts business opens its workshop to small groups interested in getting hand-on with cherry blossom bark to produce a range of charming little keep-sakes. 

Since its founding in 1876, Yatuyanagi has stayed in the family and gained fame across the region and Japan particularly for it’s work with Birch. Its ethos encapsulates the spirit of Akita in its worship and sustainable utility of nature. We encourage guests to join this workshop to do their bit for supporting traditional cottage industry, and get an enchanting souvenir. 

 

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Lake Tenting

Craft beer, bento, bliss

Only in Japan. A friendly local outdoors company will kayak you and your floating tent out onto the calm, crystal clear waters of Tazawako to enjoy a “bento” of your choosing and local Tazawako craft beers. Beautifully bonkers and about as good as it gets.

 
 

Mamachari Foodie Tour

Visit local villages and farms to fill your basket for the BBQ

The Mamachari, or Mum’s bike, is ubiquitous in Japan. It comes full equipped with a dynamo light, mudguards, bell and a basket. All you need for a day trip around Lake Tazawako with a local guide to give you a unique opportunities to interact with the local population and enjoy the finest seasonal produce. The day includes dropping in at a local farm to gather ingredients for an afternoon picnic or BBQ. A perfect way to see the area and interact with the local community in a positive, immersive manner.

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Matagi Lodge

Bushcraft and trekking with "The Men of Winter"

Learning the ancient ways of the indigenous Matagi people and experiencing their profound spiritual relationship with nature. Basing yourself in a wonderful, remote lodge for two-nights, Oriyama-san will take you out trekking in the mountains and valleys for the day, where its natural bounty is revealed. Dining will be a cornerstone of your experience, be it surrounding a bonfire out in the wilderness or feasting on Matagi staples such as ‘Kiritampo-nabe’, or more adventurous local game, back at the lodge.

 

Inside Nyuto Onsen

Real Japan. Local hospitality.

Nyuto Onsen local, Sato-san, is able to offer original  and immersive experiences with the local community in Nyuto Onsen and Kakunodate. Her new local tour company fully embraces the post-pandemic travel, checking all the trending buzzwords (in a genuine, earnest sense).

 

She conducts forest bathing classes, yoga, and leads mindful walking tours. She is able to curate personalised wellness experiences for discerning travellers.

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Hipster Sake

Meet the next generation of sake brewers stirring things up

 With over 1,400 sake breweries in Japan, it’s not easy to stand out. Okazaki-san, after serving apprenticeships at some of the country's best breweries, has found a way and is revolutionising the industry in the process. Every aspect of Inato Agave brewery is devoted to sustainability: his choice of location - the brewery is housed in a disused train station; his farming methods - completely pesticide free; a brewing process that produces minimal waste and a sales & distribution method designed to give optimal benefit to local businesses and the community. 

 

Although born in Kyushu, Okazaki-san and his wife chose Oga Peninsula because of its abundant natural bounty. This area has some of the best seafood in Japan and the surrounding forested mountain ranges yield a cornucopia of wild game, mushrooms and vegetables. He is also fascinated by the distinctive culture of the area. As a result, the experience he offers to visitors of his brewery is an homage to Oga, pairing his exquisite sake with the finest locally-sourced ingredients all served on locally produced crockery.

 

Namahage

Mythological Mountain Dwellers

Namahage is the name of a Demon, said to be living in the deep-forested mountains on the Oga peninsula,. On new year’s eve every year the Namahage festival takes place in villages all over the peninsula.During the festival, local young men dress up as Namahage demons, wearing straw garments and frightening masks. They make rounds to all the households in the village where there are young children. Once they arrive at a new house, they yell frighteningly and ask questions like “are there any lazy kids in this house?” or “Have you been good and listened to your parents this year? 

The Namahage Sedo Festival is one of five major snow festivals in Tohoku held over 3 days in February. The dances of brave and powerful Namahage demons under the bush lanterns in the precincts of Mayama Shrine are a captivating sight.

Other than these winter festivities, one can also see a year round Namahage performance at the Oga Shinzan Folklore Museum. A beautifully curated museum, tucked away in the mountains, this gives you special insight into this unique legend that is woven into the fabric of the Oga peninsula culture.

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Zen Yoga Retreat

Zen Meditation, yoga, temple stay

Dairyuji is a Zen Buddhist temple of the Soto-shu sect in Japan. Meaning Big Dragon Temple, Dairyuji is located on the Oga peninsula in northern Japan.With a history of over 800 years, the working temple continues to maintain local traditions as well as welcome visitors. 

As well as being an absolutely stunning temple, the Head Priest and his American wife have developed an mindful and re-invigorating retreat program which combines Zen Buddhist meditation practices, yoga and immersive travel experiences.

For those seeking a deeper kind of travel addressing physical, mental and spiritual aspects of wellness, Dairyuji is here for you.

 
 

Divine Forest Forage

Trekking and foraging with renowned

ingredients sourcing specialist

All the guides who take visitors to Shirakami Sanchi perform a ceremony once a year to give thanks to the divinity of the forest. Shirakami is celebrated as a life-giving region, providing food for the local population since long ago. There are plants, mushrooms, fish and wild game. Our recommended  guide (Kawata-san) is a food professional, born and raised near the Shirakami mountain range. Top chefs from all over Japan (including  three-star Michelin restaurants) use his ingredients. With him, you can walk in the mountains, forage for the ingredients, cook them and eat them in the mountains or in a restaurant in town.

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