Top things to do

Cultural in Akita

Akita Kantō Matsuri

At summer's height, Akita celebrates its visually stunning Pole Lantern Festival. As evening falls more than 160 men skilfully balance giant poles, weighing 60kg and hung with illuminated lanterns, on their heads, c…
Cultural in Kakunodate

Kakunodate Sakura

On the river embankment, a 2km stretch of cherry trees becomes a tunnel of pure pink during the hanami (blossom viewing) season. Some of the shidare-zakura (drooping cherry) trees in the buke yashiki (samurai distri…
Lake in Tazawa-ko


The under-visited beach at Shirahama (白浜) is a real find for open-water swimmers and beach bums due to its clear-blue water, shallow entry and breathtaking mountain backdrop, but is only recommended during summer wh…
Soba in Kakunodate


The best noodles in town are found in this 250-year-old Edo-era wooden schoolhouse. The house speciality is buke-soba served with takenoko (bamboo shoots) and tempura-fried ōba (large perilla leaf). Little has chang…
Park in Akita


Locals flock to this lush, leafy oasis on sunny days. The grounds were originally home to Akita's castle, built in 1604, which was destroyed with other feudal relics during the Meiji Restoration. A picturesque, wate…
Izakaya in Akita

Nagaya Sakaba

Rebuilt after a 2017 fire, Nagaya Sakaba is easy to spot due to the massive red-faced Namahage demon above the entrance. Sake flows freely once you've negotiated the Japanese-only menu. If in doubt, just shout 'osus…
Udon in Akita

Kanbun Gonendō

This bright, well-regarded shop specialises in inaniwa udon, a thin chewy wheat noodle that originated in Akita prefecture the 1600s. Locals seek out the chewy delicacy, often served cold with various sauces, while …
Soba in Tazawa-ko

Soba Goro

The line of locals out the door at lunchtime is testament to the popularity of this small restaurant, tucked inside a grocery store opposite the Tazawa-ko JR station. The menu is simple – soba noodles, hot or cold, …
Fusion in Tazawa-ko


Delicious, organic lakeside cafe known for its starring role in a Korean film. Salads, soups and locally made Kohan No Mori beer make for a very satisfying lunch – with the added bonus of expansive water views.
Cultural in Kakunodate

Kakunodate O-matsuri

As they have done for 350 years, festival participants haul around enormous 7-tonne yama (wooden carts) to pray for peaceful times, accompanied by folk music and dancing.