While the Akita Prefecture is a place of great natural beauty, and much spoken of, the city itself does not have much to offer in the way of tourist attractions or things to do. You probably won't be here for more than the weekend. The bulk of the attractions focus on the city's own history, culture and art. These include shrines, geology museums, cultural exhibits and preserved historical homes. The most popular attraction is the Senshu Park, which has the remains of the Kubota Castle inside. There are some nice shopping areas - the Atorion Mall and the Kawabata Street. Try and get a good understanding of the public transport system, and when and where to expect to find them. See if any local taxi driver won’t mind being your travel guide.
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What to Do in and around Akita
Enjoy 13 best Akita attractions and points of interest to choose from!
Once upon a time the Sakate Clan, one of the more powerful samurai families, had a castle at the site of this park. IT was called Kubota Castle. Practically nothing of the castle now remains, but there is a two story gate (through which you enter into the park) and a watchtower on the park's highest elevation - the Osumiyagura Turret . There is a small museum inside the tower, covering the history of the clan, but the real attraction there is the view from the highest point. As for the park itself, it was voted one of Japan's most beautiful. It's a local favourite throughout the year, and especially popular during the cherry blossom season, when cultural and music performances happen. By sheer virtue of being inside the park, the Iyataka Shrine is probably the most visited one in the city.
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1 Chome-9-1 Tsuchizakiminatonishi, Akita, Akita Prefecture 011-0945, Japan
09:00 am - 09:00 pm
This is basically a view point. There is an observation area 100 metres above the ground, from where you have terrific views of the city and the ocean. The sleek building creates a strange juxtaposition with its surroundings; the area downtown is sort of shabby looking, and creates a contrasting vibe. The tower is also a prominent landmark in the Japanese TV Drama 'Iris'. On the first floor of the tower is a small vegetable and specialty market. On a clear day, you can just about imagine seeing Russian shores over the horizon. It's a great place to catch sunsets.
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1 Chome-3-30 Omachi Akita-shi, Akita-ken 010-0921 Japan
09:30 am - 04:30 pm
It's not often you find a museum dedicated entirely to Japanese style-lanterns. This may be the only one in the world. Most of these lanterns are related to the Kanto Festival. There are video exhibitions on the first and second floor.
So this attraction is famous for having nearly nothing to see. The castle USED to be here, but it's gone now, and all that remains is a watchtower, the Sumi Turret. Inside the watchtower is an observation area and a museum. The exhibits are based on the history of the Sakate family of samurai, who were historically 'shamed' for their participation in the losing side of the defining 1600 Sekigahara Battle. You will find suits, weapons, armour and old maps.
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2 Chome-3-8 Nakadōri Akita-shi, Akita-ken 010-0001 Japan
10:00 am - 06:00 pm
So this building is sort of multipurpose. There is a Chiaki Museum, a blood donation outfit and a music concert hall. The pipe organ is said to be especially awesome. Other than that there are commercial and entertainment facilities in the building. There is a souvenir shop on the first floor basement, with some great examples of folk art, and it also sells local liqueur. The Akita Senshu Museum of Art in the building hosts travelling exhibitions, has a collection of works by artists related to Akita, and a small memorial for abstract painter Okada Kenzo.
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3 Chome-3-21 Omachi Akita-shi, Akita-ken 010-0921 Japan
09:30 am - 04:30 pm
This beautiful red brick building of Renaissance exteriors and Baroque interiors used to be the headquarters of the old Akita bank. Most people come to visit it for the gigantic metal safe doors leftover from its banking days. Today, however, it is a museum of folk art, dedicated to two people. The first is KatsuhiraTokushi, a woodblock artist who used to carve scenes of Akita life. And the second is SekiyaShiro, a genius 'hagiawase' metalworker whose memorial is on the second floor, along with exhibits of his masterpieces and tools. Prominent rooms of a regal nature worth checking out are the President room and the the VIP room.
The zoo is nothing special compared to some of the others you find in Japan, but it's good enough for the city. The fifteen hectares house about 117 species of animals, covered in about 500 specimens. Kids especially love the central tower in the zoo, which has an educational exhibit, and more important, a slide at the top with a fun drop to the bottom. The main animals are flamingos, timber wolves, giraffes, macaques, the Ural owl, caribou, marmoset, capuchin, prairie dog, beaver, and a bactrian camel. Check out the steam engine in Omoriyamapark. There is a lawn picnic area. It's clean and engaging and fun for the family.
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Kawabata Doriomachi Akita-shi, Akita-ken 010-0921 Japan
12:01 am - 12:00 am
This shopping street is probably the city's favourite hangout. There are over 1000 shops, some of them in buildings and stores more than 100 years old. They shops keep customers coming back by focusing on building strong relations. Every imaginable item is sold here - kimonos, electronics, Buddhist artifacts and other apparel. But the main reason you are here is for the food! The bars, cafes and restaurants serve up some of the best local gourmet dishes, and you should definitely try most of them out. Make sure to get some sake too. At night, the street basically transforms into the local red light district.
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1 Chome-3-30 Ōmachi Akita-shi, Akita-ken 010-0921 Japan
09:30 am - 04:30 pm
This attraction is worthy simply for its architectural heritage, a townhouse building from the late Edo period. Built in 1887, the building has two components - the main structure and mud-walled storehouse. On top of the building is a feature visitors find somewhat curious - a large water jar. It's a basically a fire-extinguisher! Inside, the rooms and halls are preserved as they would have been in the olden days. The house used to belong to a textile merchant.
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28-2 Osawa,Tegata Akita City, Akita, 010-8502 Japan
09:00 am - 04:00 pm
Akita is one of Japan's wealthiest areas as far as natural and mineralogical resources go. This museum has 20000 geological specimens and related artefacts collected over the years of research and mining in the region. Of these, about 3500 items are exhibited. The museum has three floors; one of mineral exhibits, the other for the geological and biological record of the planet, and the third is dedicated to mining technology. Reportedly, the exhibits get better every year.
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Ushiroyama-52 Kanaashiniozaki Akita-shi, Akita-ken 010-0124 Japan
09:30 am - 04:00 pm
This is probably the best attraction to start your tour of Akita with. The history of the prefecture is beautifully laid out in six galleries covering different themes of history, nature, culture, and people. The galleries are as follows:
Human History Exhibition Hall: Reconstructed dwellings from the Paleolithic period to the modern period.
Natural History Exhibition Hall: Fossils, skeletons, geology and stuffed animals.
Hands-on Experience Room: A kid oriented work shop for crafts.
Memorial Hall of Akita's Pioneers: An interactive library covering the stories of the pioneers who first explored the region.
Sugae Masumi Exhibition Center: An exhibition on one of the foremost researchers and historians of Akia.
Nara Family Residence: Removed from the main museum, this covers an Edo-period clan and their historical home.
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10-1 Izumimitakene, Akita, Akita Prefecture 010-0812, Japan
12:01 am - 12:00 am
Pilgrimages are always fun to hear about, but to undertake whole pilgrimage at a single site is unusual. But that's what this shrine offers - a line of 88 carved Buddhas, each representing one part of the actual Shikoku Pilgrimage. And the benefits that are supposed to accrue from that pilgrimage are apparently just as readily realised at this spot. The temple is a little way out of the city. The overgrown pine trees around the temple add a lot of mystical atmosphere. The building itself is a treasure trove of artifacts from the Sakate Clan.
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Akanuma-3 Hiroomote, Akita, Akita Prefecture 010-0041, Japan
12:01 am - 12:00 am
This ancient building is one of Japan's oldest shrines, built in 643 AD. The bulk of its nearly one million annual visitors probably happen along for New Year Celebrations, but the shrine's true devotees tend to be middle aged business men who regularly drop in for a short and silent prayer. Back in the Edo period, the main patrons of the Shrine was the Sakate Clan. Two lion gods guard the seisandotorii gate of the shrine; one's mouth is closed and the other's is open, symbolizing death and birth.