Kakunodate – 角館
In the 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 still remain many samurai residences, and today it is possible to visit a part of these residences.
I think this is a must-see place for everyone who has an interest in the 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)
Impressions about Kakunodate
I visited Kakunodate in the middle of March. It looked really like a snow country, with snow that had not yet melted at all in the surrounding area. The weather was clear and it was a bit cold, but it was really a good day.
At Kakunodate Station it is possible to obtain detailed information about sightseeing in the surrounding area, and a basic English information should be provided by the staff.
The landmark samurai houses didn’t look too far, so I enjoyed a sightseeing walk through the city.
It is possible to go to the area where the samurai houses are in about 20 minutes on foot.
One can also visit the inside of the houses in this area, 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, and if you visit the city during the spring you can see a beautiful scenery.
When I visited Kakunodate it was still early for the cherry blossoms season, so it would be nice to visit it during the blossoming season the next time.