Japan's sixth-largest prefecture, Akita-ken (秋田県) is shaped by the Oū-sanmyaku and Dewa mountain ranges. These soaring peaks have long kept the region isolated, and even today development is sparse. Mountains, of course, are good news for hikers and skiers, but also for those with more idle pursuits: Akita's peaks shelter remote, rustic hot springs that are among the best in the country. Paired with neighbouring Tazawa-ko, Nyūtō Onsen is an unrivalled retreat. At lower altitudes, towns and cities have sprung up in fertile valleys, including the prefectural capital of Akita and the feudal city of Kakunodate, a storehouse of samurai culture. The region is also said to have the most beautiful women in Japan, the so-called Akita-bijin (Akita beauties).