Last Updated: Jan 11, 2024
When writing articles about area guides for Japan, I make every attempt to cover the entire prefecture when possible. Sure, some locations like Kanagawa are never going to fit within the confines of a single piece (hell, Kamakura and Hakone alone have their own entries on this blog). That said, there are other prefectures such as Saga that can be neatly wrapped up in a standalone feature. Seeing many of you will not be returning to some of these destinations for round two, it makes the most sense that I cover everything in a single go.
On that note, today we will be taking a look at Akita. Located up in Japan’s northern region of Tohoku, Akita is not the type of place that is regularly frequented by visitors from abroad. This is a real shame as the prefecture is home to some remarkably unique cultural allures. Of course, chief among these are the Namahage. Hailing from the remote Oga Peninsula, this endemic cultural spectacle was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status not too long ago. However, not to derail topics, I’ll opt to cover the Namahage as a single feature.
Though Akita may be well known for its cultural draws, the prefecture also boasts some amazing history. The Akita area first appears on the records in the mid 600’s when the imperial throne was going about subjecting the north. Much later on, during the Edo period (1603–1868), Akita changed hands from one samurai lord to another until it eventually fell under the control of the Satake clan. Under their supervision, the prefecture developed the mining and agricultural industries that it is known for today. These days, remnants of their feudal domain can still be observed throughout Akita.
If you’re interested in giving Akita a visit, know that it’s the type of place you want to traverse slowly. Unlike the region that comprises Kyoto and Osaka, this is not a prefecture well suited to whirlwind tours. Instead, Akita is the type of location that begs you to take things leisurely. This means that you’re going to want to budget at least two to three full days to properly savor all that Akita has to offer. While it is indeed a large time commitment, you’ll have a chance to witness a side of Japan that few tourists seldom…