Akita is the largest city in the prefecture, and as such is the hub for transportation, sports, and shopping. Its longitude is about the middle of the prefecture, and so is reachable from both the north and south.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
In Akita, late June to late July is the rainy season. The spring and summer before and after that tend to have fairly moderate amounts of rain, and are good for outdoor activities. In November, it is common for some cold weather thunder storms to occur—this is said to mark the end of fall and the beginning of hatahata (a local fish) season. In the winter, Akita sees some snow, though certainly inland areas get more.
Akita has an airport, with domestic flights coming in from such places as Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Sapporo. Buses connect the airport with Akita Station (秋田駅) -- a ride costs ¥980 and takes 40 minutes.
Akita can be reached by Shinkansen (bullet train) along the Akita Shinkansen Line (秋田新幹線). Komachi (こまち) trains are available from either Tokyo or Ueno stations in Tokyo and make stops at Omiya, Sendai and Morioka before slowing down to travel to Shizukuishi, Tazawako, Kakunodate, Omagari (where it changes direction), and finally Akita over conventional rail lines. The trip takes just under four hours and costs about 10,000 yen in a standard class car.
When the Akita Shinkansen runs on conventional lines it slows down to regular train speeds and it will stop several times to allow other trains to pass. This will be a bit of a disappointing shock after zooming through northern Japan at top speeds as far as Morioka. In return, the views from the slowed down of the interior of Tohoku are beautiful.
Be aware that the Komachi trains are coupled to Hayabusa trains, which split at Morioka, but as all seats are reserved, the chance of getting in the wrong car is minimal at best. For foreign tourists traveling from Tokyo, the better deal is to purchase a JR East Rail Pass or the national Japan Rail Pass.
The Nihonkai (日本海、Japanese for 'Sea of Japan') overnight train from Osaka and Kyoto stops in Akita before terminating in Aomori. The Akebono (あけぼの、Japanese for 'daybreak') overnight sleeper train from Tokyo's Ueno stations also stops at Akita. Both the Nihonkai and the Akebono are now only seasonal trains. If you get an opportunity these are great transport options. Overnight trains in Japan, once very common, have been in decline for years now and may not be around for much longer. Catch it while you can!
- JR Bus operates the Dream Akita-Yokohama overnight bus to Akita from the bus terminal at Yokohama Station (9 3/4 hours, ¥9,500) and from Tokyo Station (8 3/4 hours, ¥9,100).
- Odakyu and Akita Chuo Kotsu run the Flora overnight bus from Shinjuku (8 hours, ¥9,450).
- The Senshuu daytime bus runs from Sendai with multiple departures (3 1/2 hours, ¥4,000).
- 1 Shin Nihonkai Ferry (新日本海フェリー 秋田フェリーターミナル), ☏ . SNF has ferries going north and south. Two ferries go to Hokkaido -- one to Otaru, and the other to Tomakomai. Both of those towns are relatively close to Sapporo. To the south the ferries go to Niigata, and also to Tsuruga and Maizuru (which are roughly near Kyoto). Reservations can be made in English by email. For Golden Week and busy times, ferries fill up weeks or months in advance. These ferries accommodate passengers with or without vehicles, though the ferry terminals may be inconveniently located for passengers on foot.
You can get around by bus, taxi, car, or bike. Many bus routes start in front of Akita Station. In the winter, there can be snow and ice, so drivers should decrease their speed.
On the 2nd level of the JR Akita train station is a Tourist Information office. From there you can organize free bicycles.
- 1 Senshū Park (千秋公園; Senshū Kōen). Senshū Park is a beautiful place to take a walk, especially during the spring season when the cherry blossoms are blooming or in winter when the snow covers the trees and the ponds ice over. The park hosts a replica of a watchtower of Kubota Castle, the original having been constructed in 733AD. For a small admission fee, the lower floors of the castle contain a small museum, and the upper floor provides a panoramic view of the city.
- 2 Akarenga-kan Museum (赤れんが郷土館), 大町３丁目３−２１, ☏ . This museum, built in 1912, hosts various exhibitions of arts, crafts, and historical materials. This was originally the headquarters of Akita Bank. Aka means red in Japanese and renga means brick, so the name means therefore "red brick building". If you visit the nearby Kanto museum, you can buy a joint ticket for that and the akarengakan.
- 3 Senshū Museum of Art (千秋美術館; Senshū Bijutsukan), 中通２丁目３−８ (In Atorion Music Hall, south of Senshū Park and west of Akita Station.), ☏ . This museum has Akita-related art on display year-round. From time to time, various exhibitions are here, too.
- 4 Masakichi Hirano Museum of Fine Art (平野政吉美術館; Hirano Masakichi Bijutsukan), 千秋明徳町３−７ (South of Senshū Park, next to the Prefectural Art Museum.), ☏ . May-Sep 10AM-5:30PM, Oct-Apr 10AM-5PM, closed Mondays, closed Dec 28-Jan 3. This museum, built in 1967, focuses on the works of Tsuguji Foujita. Adults ¥610.
- 5 Kanto Museum (民俗芸能伝承館 minzoku geinō tenjō-kan ; nicknamed ねぶり流し館) (Opposite the Seven-Eleven on Torimachi), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. The Kantō festival (竿灯) is held in September every year and is about 400 years old. If you aren't around for the festival, this museum gives a taste of what it's like. A fine renovated 150 year old kimono shop adjacent to the museum is included with the price of admission. The guide in the kimono shop may be able to speak some English.
- 6 Hitotsumori Park (一つ森公園, Hitotsumori Kōen) (Near to the Red Cross Hospital, south Akita City), ☏ . This park contains an old samurai house that was originally in Nakadori, near Kubota Castle, and was moved and renovated in the 1960s. The park also has a Japanese archery (kyūdō) club and shooting range. ¥300.
- 7 Koizumigatta Park (秋田県立小泉潟公園, akita-kenritsu koizumigatta kōen) (Northern Akita City.). Home of the Prefectural Museum and a 300 year old rich farmer's house, which is rare and can be visited for free.Worth a visit if you like old Japanese houses.
- 8 Akita Prefectural Museum (秋田県立博物館; Akita Kenritsu Hakubutsukan), 金足鳰崎字後山５２ (NE of Oiwake Station, east of Kanaashi Agricultural High School.), ☏ . This museum has hands-on exhibits on science and history.
- 9 Okomoriyama Zoo (大森山動物園, okomoriyama dōbutsuen). 9AM-4:30PM. A small local zoo with a giraffe, elephant, monkeys, lesser pandas, camels, and other animals. ¥700.
- 10 Our Lady of Akita Convent (聖体奉仕会 (Setai Hoshikai)) (Take the 351 or the 361 bus from Akita Station West Exit look for 仁別リゾート公園線 (Nisetsu Resort Park) or 秋田温泉 (Akita Onsen) buses. There is an information stand at the bus stop and tourist information in the station if you need help. Get off at 湯沢 (Yuzawa, not to be confused with Yuzawa (Akita)), about 20 minutes ride and about two stops after you go under a large overpass. You will see signs from there through a small neighbourhood and up a hill to the right. You could just get a taxi, but you'd miss a great hike doing that.), ☏ . 9:00 to 11:30 am / 1:00 to 4:30 pm (April to November) 10:00 to 11:30 am / 1:00 to 4:30 pm (December to March). Of obvious interest to Catholics, but also simply beautiful for anyone keen for a bit of quiet reflection in a country with so many crowded and noisy temples, this is one of the most recent approved sites of Marian apparition. In the 1980s a statue inside the building wept on national TV. The site also has beautiful and expansive gardens and a church with Japanese-style architecture. The nuns have recently launched an English-language website with photos and directions which is worth a look. Free, though it would be polite to leave a donation in the box.
- 1 Round One (ラウンドワンスタジアム秋田店), 卸町１丁目１−２ (From the brown JA Building, follow Highway 13 south. Round One is on the corner next to McDonald's.), ☏ . Open 24 hours. Round One is a kind of indoor amusement park. Once you're inside, there are basketball courts, roller skates, a soccer turf, lots of video games, and similar things. 1 game ¥690, 2 games ¥1190, all-day up to 10 games: ¥2100. discounts for students and members.
- 1 Aeon Mall (イオンモール秋田), 御所野地蔵田1-1-1 (Near the intersection of Highway 41 and Highway 61, 4km south of the Akita Red Cross Hospital.), ☏ . This is the largest mall in Tohoku. There are many chain stores, mostly selling young women's fashion. Kaldi Coffee Farm sells foreign foods like biscuits and museli and of course coffee beans, There is also a movie theater sometimes showing movies in English. The ticket machines for films have an English option for buying tickets on them. On the third floor is a big Daiso, the Y100 shop, and also in the middle of the third floor is the food court. Other restaurants and Starbucks can be found on the ground floor, but i really would only recommend the kaitenzushi (round sushi) restaurant. Whale sushi may be on the menu.
- 2 TOHO CINEMAS Akita (TOHOシネマズ 秋田), 御所野地蔵田1-1-1 (Located in Aeon Mall.), ☏ . This theater is the largest in the prefecture. Some of its foreign films are in English with Japanese subs. See the website for details. Regular price ¥2000; seniors, students, ladies on Wednesday, men on Thursday, morning shows, late shows, one's birthday, first day of the month ¥1000.
- 3 Cheese & Wine Abe (チーズ＆ワインアベ), 千秋明徳町2-6, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 10AM-6:30PM, excepting occasional days off. This store sells wine, beer, cheese, and scotch.
- 4 105 (イチマルゴ), 1F Fonte Building, Nakadori 2-8-1 (A block SW of Akita Station.), ☏ . This store has a small selection of cigars. The owner can do special orders, if you ask.
The most well-known Akita dish is kiritanpo. Kiritanpo is essentially a tube made of rice, generally formed around a disposable chopstick. It is often roasted, sometimes after being smothered in miso paste. It is also eaten in kiritanpo nabe, a stew of sliced kiritanpo, vegetables, and chicken or fish, most commonly eaten during the winter. Of course, there are many non-local styles of food available in Akita City, including a wide variety of ramen and Indian restaurants.
- 1 Ebiya (えびや), 山王２丁目４−６ (From the Akita Prefectural Office, go a block east and a half block north.), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-2:30PM, 5PM-8PM. Serves tasty tantanmen. Several Japanese magazines rank Ebiya as the second best ramen shop in Akita. ¥500-1,000.
- 2 Kumari (枸茉梨), 広面字蓮沼９０−１ (From Senshū Park, take Highway 28 east for 2km. From the Lawson, go south 1 block. The restaurant is on the corner at the traffic light.), ☏ . 11AM-11PM daily. An Indian restaurant. Main dishes ¥1,000-2,000.
- 3 Peacock (ピーコック), 八橋新川向４−１７ (From the intersection between Yabase Park and the Akita Prefectural Office, go two traffic lights north and 1 block east. Peacock is on the corner.), ☏ . One of the top Indian restaurants in Akita. Vegetarian options available.
- 4 Rakusumi (インド料理ラクスミ), 外旭川八幡田１２１−１ (On Highway 233, several kilometers NW of Akita University. Across from Sunkus.), ☏ . M-F 11AM-3PM, 5PM-10PM; Sa-Su 11AM-10PM. This is a small Indian restaurant. The nan is all you can eat, and quite tasty. The curry selection is rather large, and tasty too. Main dishes ¥1,000-1,500.
- 5 Ramen Nishiki (Akita Main Shop) (らーめん錦 秋田本店), 外旭川字待合１６−１ (By car, go north from the large post office on Highway 56. After about 6 kilometers, turn right on Highway 72. The ramen shop is on the left after about 2 kilometers.), ☏ . This is a branch of Odate's famous Ramen Nishiki. That ramen shop is ranked as the best in Akita, and this branch is also quite good. Another branch is located south of Yabase Park.
- 6 Ramen Nishiki (Akita Branch Shop) (らーめん錦 秋田分店), 川尻若葉町4-46 1F (From the Prefectural Library, go south. The shop is on the right, between the 3rd and 4th traffic light. It's the second building on a side street, so look carefully.), ☏ . This is a branch of Odate's famous Ramen Nishiki. That ramen shop is ranked as the best in Akita, and this branch is also quite good. Another branch is in northern Akita City.
- 7 Suehiro (Sanno Branch) (末廣ラーメン本舗秋田山王店), 山王２丁目２−４ (Just east of the Akita City Office, a block north of Sanno Odori.), ☏ . 10:30AM-3PM, 5PM-2AM, closed Tuesdays, closed the 3rd Wednesday of each month. Delicious ramen. Another branch is near Akita Station. ¥500-1,000.
- 8 Suehiro (Station Branch) (末廣ラーメン本舗秋田駅前店), 中通４丁目１５−１ (SE of Akita Station, just west of Hotel Alpha One.), ☏ . Delicious ramen. Another branch is near the Akita City Office. ¥500-1,000.
- 9 Taisho (大将), 旭南２丁目３−４０ (5 blocks south of the Akita Sky Hotel on Sanno Odori.), ☏ . This restaurant is known for its tsukemen.
- 10 Me~GO (ミ〜ゴ), 中通3丁目4-6, OMC Bldg (On the south side of eastbound Chuo Dori, 5 traffic lights west of Akita Station.), ☏ . 11:30AM-11PM. This Mexican restaurant has tacos, enchiladas, other Mexican food, and a large selection of alcohol. The tacos are made with corn tortillas. ¥500-1,500.
- 11 Cafe Brugge (カフェ・ブルージュ), 南通築地６－１７ (A 15 minute walk from Akita Station.), ☏ , fax: . Tu-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5:30PM-9:30PM. This is a Belgium-themed cafe. Sometimes it has live music in the evening. Main dishes ¥500-1,000.
- 12 Restaurant Platz (レストラン プラッツ), Omachi 1-2-40 (A block NE of Hotel Pearl City, 2 blocks SW of Senshu Park.), ☏ . A restaurant and microbrewery. The portions are small, and the drinks are large.
As one of Japan's most famous rice-growing regions, Akita has some of the best local sake in all of Japan. A great place to find many different bottles for sale (and usually free samples) is in the Prefectural Goods Shop (あきた県産品プラザ, akita-renritsu puraza) in the basement of the Atorion Concert Hall.
- 1 Hotel Kenkoland Komachi (ホテル・健康ランド こまち), 卸町一丁目2-3, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Single for ¥3500.
- 2 Hotel Pearl City (ホテルパールシティ秋田竿燈大通り), Omachi 2-2-3 (On Chuo Odori just west of the canal.), ☏ . Check-in: 5PM. A nice business hotel in central Akita City. Single without meals ¥3400.
- 3 Dormy Inn (中通温泉こまちの湯ドーミーイン) (Just opposite the pond next to Senshuu Park - walk out of the station to where the buses are and go straight ahead on the right.), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Dormy Inns are Japanese business hotels, albeit slightly more expensive ones, but the rooms tend to be a bit bigger, have tatami rooms and this one at least contains a legit onsen on the roof. An onsen is a real hot spring with the water heated by the earth itself, rather than a heater. The mind boggles to think about how they get it up to the roof, but it's magic in winter as you sit in the hot water with snow falling on you. 8000 yen.
- 4 Toyoko Inn Akita Station East Exit (東横イン秋田駅東口) (Part of the station complex, walk to the East exit and you will see signs. You need to take the elevator up to the reception area on the upper floors.), ☏ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 10AM. As far as Toyoko Inns go this is a particularly nice one. Right in the centre of town, connected to the station and on the upper floors of one of Akita's tallest buildings giving guests a nice view from the rooms. Toyoko Inns are, in general, very uniform affairs. They're basic, cheap and clean and you get a free, basic Japanese breakfast in the mornings. They also have an English booking site, which is nice, though don't expect the staff to speak English. 5000 - 6000 yen.
There are bears in Akita. You won't find one trundling along Chuo Odori outside Akita Station, but visitors who are in Akita to enjoy its semi-rural outskirts such as Akita Onsen or the Our Lady of Akita Convent should familiarise themselves with bear safety. You will see signs scattered around warning of bear danger but if you cannot read Japanese they won't be much good to you. It's always best to assume that bears may be in the area, including in the colder months.
The Asian black bear is a retiring kind of beast. It's unlikely to bother you if you don't bother it and for that reason its best to avoid startling a bear, so make noise as you walk and keep a look out. Having said that, it could easily maul you to death so caution is advised. See Dangerous animals.
- Kakunodate, one of Japan's last true historical towns and filled with old samurai houses open to the public, is only about an hour away by shinkansen.
- Lake Towada, a beautiful blue lake, is several hours away.
- Lake Tazawa, with great hiking and skiing, is several hours away.
- Mt. Chokai, located in southern Yurihonjo, is two hours to the south.
|Routes through Akita|
|END ←||N S||→ Omagari → Kakunodate → Morioka|
|Aomori ← Noshiro ←||N S||→ Omagari → Yokote → Yamagata|
|END ←||N S||→ Yurihonjo → Niigata|