Akita Prefecture [秋田県]
Akita Prefecture is located at northwest part of Tohoku Region.
It is a nearly rectangular about 170 km from north to south and 80 km from east and west in width.
The whole west coast faces the Sea of Japan, and Oga Peninsula expands to west from the nearly center of the coastline.
At the base of Oga Peninsula, there was a large lake named Hachirogata in the past.
From 1957 to 1977, it was drained off to create farmland.
In winter, wet and cold wind blows across the Sea of Japan, then much snow falls in whole prefecture.
Agriculture and forestry are the main industries in Akita Prefecture.
A lot of rice crops are produced in Akita Prefecture, and "Akitakomachi" is one of popular rice brands in Japan.
And, Akita cedar is known as one of the three most beautiful forests in Japan, so the good-quality woods are widely used.
By the way, Akita Prefecture is known for beautiful women.
When you visit Akita prefecture, you may find many fair-skinned and beautiful women.
Tourist Attractions in Akita Prefecture
Hotels in Akita Prefecture
- To Akita from Tokyo : By Tohoku & Akita Shinkansen, about 4 hours.
- To Akita from Morioka : By Akita Shinkansen, about 1.5 hours.
- To Akita from Aomori : By JR limited express, about 2 hours and 40 minutes.
- To Akita from Niigata : By JR limited express, about 3 hours and 40 minutes.
- To Akita from Tokyo : about 9 hours.
Akita airport is located about 15 km southeast of Akita city.
It has the flights from Haneda (Tokyo), Itami (Osaka), Chubu (Nagoya), and Shin-Chitose (Sapporo).
There is Odate-Noshiro airport in the north part of Akita prefecture.
It is located about 18 km west-southwest of Odate city and about 28 km east of Noshiro city.
It has only the flights from Haneda (Tokyo).
Main events in Akita Prefecture
Yokote Kamakura (In the middle of February)
"Kamakura" is a hut made of snow, which is almost 3 meters in both diameter and height.
(There is no relationship with Kamakura city in Kanagawa Prefecture.)
Each kamakura has a household alter dedicated to the god of water.
Usually, there are some children in each kamakura.
And they invite passersby inside and offer them hot amazake (sweet light sake).
In the evening, candles are lit in each kamakura, so you can see the fantastic sight.
Kamakura is held as the event at the luner new year.
It is held in some snowy cities and towns in Akita Prefecture.
Especially, the kamakura in Yokote city has been held as a festival for over 400 years.
Akita Kanto Festival (August 3 - 6)
It is one of the famous summer festivals in Tohoku Region, and is held in Akita city.
"Kanto" is a bamboo pole with a lot of "chochin" (paper lantern), and it is the expression of an ear of rice as the hope of a good harvest.
A man hold a kanto pole, then he places it on his shoulder, forehead or hip with balancing and dancing to music.
The weight of a kanto pole is about 50 kg for adults, 15 kg for boys and 5 kg for male children.
It has been held since the late 18th century to prey for a good harvest and drive away evil spirits.
Main fastival is held in the evening, additionally, the competition of feat is held about from 9:30 to 15:00 as the daytime event.
Oga Namahage (December 31)
It is a traditional and unique event in Oga peninsula.
"Namahage" is a devil with two horns on the head.
He wears a mask with fearful expression and a coat made of straws, holds a sickle or a knife in his hand.
A few namahages visit door-to-door with giving strange sounds on the last day of every year.
(Basically, unmarried men in the village act the namahages.)
In each house, the master of the house invites them.
They act wildly to punish bad children in the house, then the children in the house cry out with fear.
The master calms down them, then he entertains them with sake.
They talk to the master about his harvest and children, then go away.
This event has a meaning that they make good children, give cautions against the house and call the happiness.
Local foods and products in Akita Prefecture
First, a little mashed rice is formed into a cylinder around a stick, then it is toasted over an open hearth.
The stick is removed, then it is called "tanpo".
After a tanpo is cut up, each piece is called "kiritanpo".
Generally, it is eaten with miso, or is added to one-pot stew which is called "kiritanpo-nabe".
We can eat at the northern area in Akita Prefecture.
Photo by Akita Prefecture
Shottsuru is a fish sauce made from hatahata (Sailfin sandfish), and is a local condiment in Akita Prefecture.
Recently the catch landing of hatahata is reducing, then it is said that shottsuru is sometimes made from other various fish.
Shottsuru-nabe is an one-pot stew with shottsuru.
Of course, whole fish of hatahata are added in this pot.
Hinai chicken is a kind of domestic fowl in this area.
"Hinai" is the name of north area in Akita Prefecture.
It is known as one of the most delicious chickens in Japan.
It is moderately hard to chew, and is not so fat.
Of course, this is certainly added to kiritanpo-nabe as the local dish of Akita.
Udon is one of popular noodles in Japan.
And Inaniwa udon is one of the tastiest udons.
It is thinner and more elastic than general udon.
This udon is produced in Inaniwa area near Yuzawa city in the southeastern part of Akita Prefecture.
It started when the lord of Akita area encouraged people in Inaniwa to make udon in 1665 because Inaniwa was a production center of good wheat and clean water was gotten there.
Some old established restaurants of Inaniwa udon are in Akita city.
Babahera is the ice cream which we can eat in only Akita Prefecture.
Under a colorful parasol, an old woman wearing a hat and an apron sells the ice cream.
Originally, farm women has sold the ice cream near their farm as a sideline, then they have clothes for agricultural work.
Pink and yellow ice cream are placed like a rose flower on a cone.
"Baba" means an old woman, and "hera" means a spatula which she uses.
They open their stands along main roads or near event sites.
Photo by Akita Prefecture
Akita-inu is a large breed of dog originating from Akita Prefecture.
It is designated a national monument.
The dogs had been owned mainly in Akita area, and are kept throughout the country today.
The popular dog statue "Hachiko" by Shibuya station in Tokyo is Akita-inu.
In 2012, an Akita-inu was presented to Russian President Putin as a token of gratitude for the support after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
And, in 2018, an Akita-inu was also presented to Alina Zagitova, a Russian figure skater and the 2018 Olympic champion.