Travel

Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture

After spending the morning in Akita City’s Senshu Park, I was off to Kakunodate in the afternoon.

If you just go to the Senshu Park in Akita and do nothing else, then you can easily also visit Kakunodate and enjoy everything there is to see! No need to hurry! ^__^

Visited: May 2nd 2012

Kakunodate

In front of Kakunodate Station there were some cute Totoro figures. There were also coin lockers available which was great!

 

Exploring Kakunodate

Kakunodate is mostly famous for cherry blossoms and old samurai houses.
The street that led from the station to the houses was decorated. Colorful!

statue in akita prefecture statue in akita prefecture

There were also a few smaller shrines and temples on the way. I was impressed by this huge statue.

pink house in japan Kakunodate

I loved this tiny pink house. If I remember correctly it was some kind of shop.

Cherry blossoms Japan Cherry blossoms in Japan

I have to admit that I mainly went because of the cherry blossoms and NOT because of the samurai houses.
I’ve seen so many old samurai residences already … and while they can be interesting, it’s not something I’m hunting for (unlike castles).

Furthermore Kakunodate is known as one of the most popular cherry blossom viewing spots in the Tohoku region!

Kakunodate Cherry blossoms Japan

Hanami Dango! Of course I couldn’t resist and bought a few for myself to eat later while doing hanami (flower viewing).

On my way to the samurai houses I ran into a few spider webs that caught nothing but cherry blossom petals. I wonder if spiders like eating them? Just kidding …

Kakunodate

Along the main tourist road, Bukeyashiki Dori, the samurai houses are lined up on the left and on the right.

Kakunodate flourished as a castle town and the seat of power in Akita during the feudal period. In the present day, Bukeyashiki (warrior mansions) with their deep groves of trees and dignified facades retain the face of the feudal period and are designated as a Historically Significant Traditional Buildings Preservation Area.

On top of that Kakunodate is most famous for the sight you see in the photo above with the weeping cherry blossom trees (Shidarezakura, 枝垂桜).
Unfoturnately the petals had already fallen down and green leaves were growing instead by the time I visited!

Kakunodate

The two biggest and most impressive warrior mansions are: “Aoyagi House” and “Ishiguro House“.

Kakunodate

Inside the Ishiguro House.

Kakunodate

In front of the “Aoyagi House“. I recommend visiting!

Kakunodate Kakunodate

Some awesome old medals and a beautiful folding divider wall.

Kakunodate Aoyagi House

I loved those. Too bad you weren’t allowed to open them. I’m curious what was inside!

Kakunodate Aoyagi House Kakunodate Aoyagi House

The museum had everything from old times up to modern times! There were also clocks, cameras and gramophone records.

Kakunodate

I left the samurai residence and was back on the street again.

 

Kakunodate

There are many smaller cafés and restaurants where people can rest and enjoy the atmosphere!

Kakunodate Kakunodate

Besides the samurai houses and restaurants there are also various souvenir shops.
When I suddenly spotted a cat related shop, I couldn’t resist any longer! ^__^;

 

Kakunodate

A woman wearing traditional clothes is posing for the tourists.

Kakunodate rickshaw

You could also enjoy Kakunodate using a rickshaw! ^-^

 

There’s also a merchant district besides the former samurai district, but I wasn’t very interested and wanted to enjoy the cherry blossoms some more.

Kakunodate is actually a former castle town, but the castle doesn’t exist anymore.
Yet I wanted to go to the spot where the castle once stood.

Cherry blossoms Japan

And so I walked towards the cherry blossom paradise.
While the weeping sakura trees have already turned green, the standard cherry blossom trees were in full bloom!

Kakunodate

Tons of trees line up along the Hinokinai River.

The landscape with the pink cherry blossoms, the blue river and all the green was just breathtaking!

Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita

And as if this wasn’t enough already the mountains in the background had snow on top.

 

Kakunodate Kakunodate

On my way to the castle ruins. Not many tourists there. I only met like 4 or 5 people.

I guess it’s not a main attraction. I also couldn’t find any details in my pamphlets.

Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita

The view from up there was absolutely awesome!!!
All the tourists who didn’t come up definitely missed something!

Kakunodate Kakunodate

As it was quiet up there (no people) and I had such a great view I decided that it was time to eat the Hanami Dango I bought earlier.

Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita

Up at the top where the castle once was. It’s a bit of a hike up, but totally worth it!!
It doesn’t take too long. I’d say about 20 minutes one-way.

 

I went back to the river and decided to stay there until it would get dark.
For me that was the most beautiful spot in Kakunodate anyways!

Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita

There were a lot of people having hanami picnics or just enjoying the romantic atmosphere.

Kakunodate nama morokoshi

The black poster says: “I made nama morokoshi.

The origin of morokoshi dates back to the Edo period. It is a refined and aromatic confectionery made from azuki beans and a popular souvenir to bring back from Kakunodate!

 

I got to see a lot in just one day without rushing, so I’m sure you can do the same if you like to.

The next day I had a rather busy day. I visited Hachinohe in the morning and then moved on to the Shimokita Peninsula to go to one of the most sacred places in Japan: Mt. Osore.

15 Comments

  • I was supposed to go there next spring but then completely changed my itinerary. I like the general landscape and the samurai houses do seem quite interesting.

    Going to Akita is pretty far North though. I was also interested in lake Tazawa. Maybe some day…

  • This is definitely one place I have high up on my next Japan hit list. The cherry blossoms look magnificent and I really want to check out the historic samurai district.

  • Yeah, interesting, I’d just watched a film on Japanese history and the Samurai and the Cherry Blossoms are symbolic. Like the Cherry Blossom represents a Samurai Warrior, symbolically, and when the petals fall, represent Samurai Warriors who died in battle, symbolically of course.
    Maybe you could tell me different or a more accurate reasoning for the significance of Cherry Blossoms.
    Cannot wait to go planet hopping, on the same planet mind, you do understand :-))

    • Jason,

      that’s pretty much the major symbolic character of cherry blossoms. They symbolize death.
      They’re extremely beautiful and we should enjoy them as long as we can before they vanish forever.
      Despite all that, they have a very positive image, of course.
      Plus, catching a petal that’s just falling down is said to bring you good luck, so try it if you get a chance to. ;)

      Here’s much more on the topic!

  • Hi there! I’m planning a cherry blossom trip to Japan and came across your amazing page. I’m still hesitating shall I do Hakone or Kakunodate. From your pictures it seems like it’s not over crowded in Kakunodate. Have you been to both and which one would you recommend? Thanks!

    • How come, you’re comparing Hakone with Kakunodate?
      They’re very different destinations, so I’d say it all depends on what you’re truly interested in.
      Hakone has an amazing shrine and if you like volcanic landscapes and onsen, that’s where you should go. Also, it can be easily done as a day trip from Tokyo.
      I’m not sure if you’ll get too see that many cherry blossoms there, though.

      Kakunodate is famous for the weeping cherry blossom trees and the samurai residences. So, if that’s what you’re interested in, you should go for it.
      However, Kakunodate is up northeast of Tokyo and quite far. This is usually not meant as a day trip from Tokyo.

      Both are great, but if you’re not in Tohoku during your trip, I’d say save Kakunodate for next time and go to Hakone instead. ;)