The town brings its historical atmosphere to life.
Kakunodate is a quiet town in the eastern region of Akita. It is enclosed on three sides by mountains and Hinokinai-gawa River that runs to the south. The town has been developed into a castle town after the original township arrangement in the early 17th century. The town has a refined (“miyabi”) and elegant (“iki”) atmosphere, as is called the Little Kyoto of Michinoku.
Many samurai residences remain in Kakunodate, making it one of the best places to see an example of a Japanese castle town. Today the houses are privately owned by the descendants of the samurai warriors; however, some of the residences such as the Ishiguro, Aoyagi, and Nishinomiya are open to the public.There remains shrines, temples, and merchants’ storehouses as well, which are located in the southern part of town. The presence of these historical buildings gives you a feeling that the history of Kakunodate is still alive today.
The Hinokinai River is aligned with cherry trees over 2km. The beautiful tunnel of cherry blossoms that runs along the riverbank in spring is designated by the national government as a Place of Scenic Beauty. The riverbank is popular walking area among the local people even after the cherry blossom season, which is soon followed by the fresh leaves and luscious green in summer and the foliage in the autumn.
Traditional festivals are held throughout the four seasons in Kakunodate: Sakura Matsuri (cherry blossom Festival) in spring, Sasara-mai Dance in summer (a type of traditional lion dance with drums and a flute), and Yama-buttsuke matsuri in early autumn (massive samurai-themed floats collide), and Hiburi-kamakura in winter (a bundle of rice straw is set afire and swung around the body to ward off the evil spirits and wish for the healthy new year).
[Rail] 3hrs 15 min from Tokyo to JR Kakunodate Station by Akita Shinkansen Line; Or, from Akita Airport, take Airport Liner to Kakunodate, or take a bus and change it for a train to JR Kakunodate Station.