Visit Japan - Akita

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Akita, Japan - Gotta visit em’ all!

Akita is in the cold but beautiful Tohoku Region of Japan.

秋田県 - Akita Prefecture

When people hear the word Akita, they might first think of these cuddly 秋田犬 (Akita Inus), or at least I do:

adult Akita dogs

puppy Akita dogs

Akitas are known for their large size and lovable personality. Probably the most famous Akita known is Hachiko, and if you don’t know him, get some tissues ready because it will give you all the feels.

Hachi: A Dogs Tale

Akita dogs in old original movie scene

Akita Inus are one of the oldest known dog breeds, and their ancestors were used in bear and deer hunting, or マタギ (Matagi), in the Akita region, hence its name.

Another “Akita” is the 秋田美人 (akita bijin), or Akita Beauties. Historically, Akita has been known to have women with light skin, round faces, and high pitched voices. One of the most famous Akita Bijin is Ono no Komachi, a legendarily beautiful poet from the ninth century.

drawing of beautiful Akita women

Though not much of her scandalous life is known for sure, she wrote sad poems, many about her several lovers whom she treated cruelly. Legend says, she died old, alone, and miserable after all her lovers left her as her beauty faded with age. Looks aren’t everything!

But sometimes, looks are everything, especially if you look like this:

Akita oni or devil

These horrible things are called namahage and will give you nightmares for life. Men dress up as these demons around New Years to scare children into being good. They go around houses, and say 泣く子はいねがぁ (nakukowa inega-), or “Are there any crybabies?” in an northern, Akita dialect, and not surprisingly, kids are terrified.

Some say that this tradition can be traumatizing for the children, and some say it teaches them a valuable lesson, but honestly I’m just glad that I didn’t have any namahages in my childhood. However, if you do feel traumatized, fear not, because mother nature of Akita is with you, and will nurture and protect your soul.

You’ll know what I mean when you drive through 白神山地 (Shirakami-Sanchi mountains),

Akita Shirakami Sanchi

or walk through the 美郷町ラベンダー園 (Lavender Festival) (Misatomachi rabendā-en),

Akita Lavender Festival

or take in the panorama of 桑ノ木台湿原 (Mulberry fields) (kuwa no kidai shitsugen),

Akita Mulberry Fields

or stroll along with the 角館のシダレザクラ (Weeping sakuras of Kakunodate) (Kakunodate no shidare zakura)

Akita Cherry Blossoms

Not only has mother nature blessed Akita with its scenery, but Akita has an abundance of hot springs. One of the best hot springs in Japan is found in Nyuto, and as a 秘湯 (hitou), or a secret spa, you’ll be able to get away from all of hustle and bustle of the city. Tsurunoyu is the oldest hot spring and ryokan in the Nyuto area, said to be operating since the edo-period.

Akita Hitou or secret spa

After you’re warmed up from the hot spring, let Akita warm you up even more with some Kiritanpo. Kiritanpo is a type of nabe, or hot pot, served with rice on a stick. It is traditionally cooked on top of a 囲炉裏 (irori), as shown below with the delicious looking kiritanpo nabe:

Akita nabe or hot pot named Kiritanpo

Well what do you think about Akita? Regardless of what you think, there are many people who are attracted to what Akita has to offer - and there’s even a website for Akita fans! Check it out!