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Explore Kakunodate Samurai Town

Senboku-shi, Japan


Added by Tara Scott

Step back in time and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this beautifully preserved samurai town district in Akita prefecture. 

Tucked away in the north of Japan, this quiet town is a perfect slice of Japanese tranquility and history. The samurai town boasts beautifully preserved residences dating back to the 17th Century, six of which are open to the public. The largest of the houses is the Aoyagi residence (青柳家), which includes a small museum and extensive collections and displays of artifacts from the house and local area. There are also small local museums and information centers around the town.

Kakunodate can be explored during any season, but be aware that many shops and some residences close during the winter period due to heavy snow. The town is particularly popular during the spring cherry blossom season, as hundreds of blossom trees line the banks of the nearby river and streets around the town.

The town holds two main festivals each year. At the end of summer you can watch the Kakunodate Matsuri (角館祭り). It is held annually from the 7th-9th September and has been designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property. The festival includes traditional dances and music, but the main focus of the event is the crashing of elaborately decorated wooden floats.

In the winter you can enjoy the Hiburi Kamakura Festival (火振りかまくら), which involves swinging a ball of fire around your body. It takes place on the 13th and 14th of February every year. You can also see kamakura (igloos) and fireworks at the event.

Small cafes and shops sell refreshments and local specialties. Akita rice, Inaniwa udon and sake (rice wine) are great souvenirs from the prefecture. Some local shops even sell shoyu (soy sauce) ice cream which is really delicious!

The whole town can be explored by foot in a day, and is only a short 20 minute walk from the nearby Kakunodate JR station. There is car parking available for a small fee during peak periods.

Summer in Akita can be very hot and humid while winters are cold and snowy, so be sure to dress according to the season. 

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