The Real Japan, putting a tick in every box
Akita Prefecture still manages to put a tick in every visitors ‘must-see’ or ‘must-experience’ boxes – traditional ryokans, beautiful outdoor onsen, historic samurai districts, bullet-trains journeys, lakes, mountains and a rugged coastline. Time in Akita assures you will connect with an authentic, rural Japan.
Semboku, featured in video above, is the name of the region which includes Kakunodate, one of the stations on the Shinkansen line. It really does comprise the best of Akita and contains enough attractions within a small vicinity to convince travellers to make the journey up North. Kakunodate Town itself is known as the “Little Kyoto of Tohoku”, and nearby is Tazawako – Japan’s deepest, clearest, purist, bluest lake. Also close is Nyuto Onsen, a collection of traditional ryokan in a remote cedar forest, famous across Japan for the medicinal qualities of their onsen.
See below for several more compelling reasons why your guests will thank you for sending them to Akita.
THE BEST PLACE TO SEE THE CHERRY BLOSSOM...
We can’t think of a better place in Japan to witness, experience and marvel in the cherry blossom season. And, because the cherry blossoms arrive later in Akita (at the end of April), you can avoid the mad rush taking place further south, in Tokyo or Kyoto. Less cost, fewer crowds, better availability and a better, more intimate experience.
AND THE BEST PLACE TO SEE THE AUTUMN COLOURS
The landscape is made from mountains, pristine lakes, valleys and deep gorges, terraced paddy fields- much of it also covered in luxuriant primeval forest. And, come the Autumn, it all turns red, purple, orange and yellow. It is simply gorgeous and there is no better place in Japan to see the changing of the colours.
A CONNECTION WITH NATURE
There is a deep and palpable connection between the people of Akita and their pristine natural environment. In a physical sense through it being the main food-producing region, but also in a cultural and spiritual sense. Nature is at the heart of truly idiosyncratic lifestyles, art and crafts, rituals and religious practices.
KAKUNODATE -THE NEW KYOTO?
This is undoubtedly Japan’s best historic samurai town and remains remarkably unchanged since its founding in 1620. To stay in a traditional ryokan and visit this undiscovered small town (well, the Japanese know all about Kakunodate) and walk through its wonderful preserved merchants district is to step back in time. Places like Kakunodate are why people want to visit Japan.
Good karma points are available for your guests by travelling to Tohoku. A visit to Akita should most certainly be part of an itinerary that includes its neighbouring prefectures on the East coast where almost 20,000 lives were lost during the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. The resilience and industriousness of the local population has done much to support regeneration, but they are very much in need of continued support from international tourism.
For Akita itself, it is heavily reliant on tourism to help preserve local cultures and cottage industries, protect its pristine natural environment and create new opportunities for its dwindling younger population.
A SINCERE WELCOME
An undeniable part of the appeal of Japan is not only the novelty of the country to travellers, but of the travellers to the country. The magic of genuine mutual fascination and appreciation with the local population and visitors is as powerful in Akita today as it was in Kyoto over 30 years ago.