There are many "old Japanese" in Akita Prefecture! For example, in the rural villages of the Oga Peninsula, annual events that men dressed as giant demons called Namahage fear the arrogant children are still inherited. A wonderful samurai residence is left in the Kakunodan. Why do not you enjoy old Japan on the country side of Akita?
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Outline of Akita
Akita prefecture is located in the northern part of the Tohoku region on the Sea of Japan side. The population is about 980,000 people. In this area rice production is thriving and vast rice field spreads. Rice named "Akitakomachi" produced in this area is very delicious.
On the east side of Akita Prefecture, the Ou Mountains range from north to south. In addition to the plains like the Akita plain and the Noshiro plain, there are basins such as the Odate basin and the Yokote basin.
Climate and weather in Akita Prefecture
Akita prefecture is located in the northern part of the Tohoku region on the Sea of Japan side. In the winter, moist air comes from the Sea of Japan, hit the inland mountain ranges and snow. In winter, cloudy days continue. There are many heavy snowy areas in the inland area. In the summer, the "Fern phenomenon" which relatively hot wind descends from the inland mountain range may occur. At that time, the maximum temperature during the day exceeds 35 degrees Celsius.
There are two airports in Akita Prefecture. The main airport is Akita Airport. At this airport, regular flights are operated between Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Sapporo. It is approximately 35 minutes by bus to this Akita station from this airport. In the northern part of Akita Prefecture there is Odate-Noshiro Airpor. This airport is small, but Tokyo flights are operating.
Shinkansen (Bullet train)
Akita prefecture is connected to Tokyo by Shinkansen network. In Akita Prefecture there are Akita, Omagari, Kakunoda and Tazawako stations. The time required depends on each train, but it is around 4 hours from Tokyo station to Akita station.
Oga Peninsula and "Namahage"
The Oga Peninsula in the northwest of Akita City is famous for "Namahage". It is a folk-cultural event held in winter every year. Men dressed as daemons and visit the village houses. They repeat the next phrase loudly.
"Are there any any crybabies around?"
"Are naughty kids around?"
When Namahage come to the house, the children are very scared. By experiencing this fear, children feel that they should never do bad things.
Oga Shinzan Folklore Museum
Oga Shinzan Folklore Museum is located in the Shinzan district of the Oga Peninsula. There are more than 100 nymphs displayed at here. Next to this museum, there is Namahage museum which looks like a typical L-shaped traditional farmhouse (Magariya) of the Oga area.
You can see the demonstration of Namahage at these museums. In addition, you can also transform into Namahage as seen in the picture above!
The Oga Peninsula is about 40 minutes by car from JR Akita Station and 1 hour by car from Akita Airport. From Akita city there are bus tours around Oga Peninsula.
The Sea of Japan seen from the cliffs of this peninsula is rough. Previously, I have covered about Namahage. At that time, local men said that "a long time ago, bad groups that kidnap children from the Sea of Japan might have come." I felt the dreadful life in this peninsula as a background of Namahage's custom.
Kakunodate and Samurai village
Kakunodan is an old town on the inland side of Akita City. Here, the residential town of the Samurai in the era of the Tokugawa shogunate is preserved. If you walk here, you can enjoy the atmosphere of the samurai's era.
There is a square between the section where the samurai lived and the section where the townspeople lived. This square was set up so that fire could not reach the town of the Samurai even if a fire occurred in the streets of townspeople. Cherry blossoms will bloom here and there in the late April in the town of Samurai.
There are a lot of snow in Kakunodate in winter. If you go to the Kakunodate in winter, you can see the beautiful snow scene as seen in the picture above.
There is a Shinkansen station in Kakunodate. The fastest way from Tokyo station to Kakunoda station is about 3 hours and 15 minutes. It is approximately 40 minutes by Shinkansen from Kakunodate station to Akita station.
Winter: Yokote Snow Festival
In Akita prefecture, a number of traditional festivals are inherited. Among them, I particularly recommend "Yokote Snow Festival" held in mid-February every year in Yokote city.
About Yokote Snow Festival, I introduced in the following article. Please drop in on this article as well.
Do you know Akita dog (Akita-inu)?
Akita dog is a large dog kept as a hunting dog in the Ou mountain range in the eastern part of Akita prefecture. They are very faithful to their master. In Akita prefecture there are several facilities in Odate City where you can meet Akita dog. For details, please refer to this site.
In Japan, Akita dog named "Hachi" is famous. He was born in 1923 and was kept in Tokyo by a university professor. The professor died suddenly. But for ten years Hachi has been waiting for the professor to return at Shibuya station which the professor frequently used. You can see the statue of this dog in Shibuya, Tokyo. A movie about Hachi was also produced.
Recently Akita prefecture, Akita dog is taking the spotlight. And even the following magical videos were produced.
I appreciate you reading to the end.
Bon KUROSAWA I have long worked as a senior editor for Nihon Keizai Shimbun (NIKKEI) and currently work as an independent web writer. At NIKKEI, I was the editor-in-chief of the media on Japanese culture. Let me introduce a lot of fun and interesting things about Japan. Please refer to this article for more details.