In Akita Prefecture’s inland there is a city of samurai residences and beautiful cherry trees.
This time we are going to talk about the historical city of Kakunodate.
What’s special about Kakunodate?
A long time ago Kakunodate was a prospering castle city.
In the Edo period there was a castle that ruled all the neighboring provinces.
Around this castle many samurai residences still remain, today it is possible to visit a part of these wonderful buildings.
This is a must-see place for everyone who has an interest in samurai culture.
Moreover, Kakunodate is famous as the city of cherry trees. In springtime it is possible to see weeping cherries (called “shidarezakura – 枝垂桜” in Japanese) everywhere around the city.
They are especially worth seeing in combination with the samurai residences.
How to get to Kakunodate
Going to Kakunodate is relatively easy.
From Tokyo it is possible to go directly to Kakunodate Station with the Akita Shinkansen.
It takes around 3 hours to get there, and fare is aprroximately 17,000 yen. There is about one train every hour from Tokyo.
Since all the seats are reserved you should book in advance, especially during busy periods such as the Golden Week (that usually coincides with the cherry blossoms’ period). You can cover all this distance with the Japan Rail Pass, or the Eastern Japan Japan Rail Pass.
If you are going by plane the Akita Airport is the most convenient.
From Tokyo Haneda Airport it should take approximately one hour.
The price for a ticket is around 26,000 yen but, depending on when you buy it, it may be possible to buy it for less.
From Akita Airport it is possible to go to Kakunodate with 2,600 yen, taking the Akita Airport Liner.
However, since the number of trips is limited it is better to check the time in advance.
(Details here, but only in Japanese: http://www.airportliner.net)
There is also the possibility to go from Tokyo to Kakunodate with an overnight bus.
The fare for a one way trip is a bit lower than 10,000 yen, and you can save up even more with a return ticket.
(Here it is possible to find information about available seats by entering the date and time you would like to travel; however, the site is in Japanese language only: http://tinyurl.com/mpzv9el)
We visited Kakunodate in the middle of March., with snow that had not yet melted completely in the surrounding area.
At Kakunodate Station it is possible to obtain detailed information about sightseeing and basic English information should be provided by the staff.
The landmark samurai houses didn’t look too far, sowe enjoyed a walk through the city.
It is possible to go to the district where the samurai houses are in about 20 minutes on foot.
One can also visit the inside of some houses and experience the life the samurai led at that time.
Among the various famous places are Aoyagi-ke and Ishiguro-ke.
Walking through the city, you get to the Hinokinai river.
There are cherry trees along the river, if you visit the city during the spring you can see a beautiful scenery.