A Guide to Akita, Japan
Situated on the northwest of Japan by the sea, the city of Akita is one of the more modernized cities in the region. Established back in the 8th century, Akita has sadly lost many of its historical sites and has become a completely industrialized port city which has admittance to the small number of oil reserves within Japan. Although many of the tourist sites in Akita can be explored within 24 hours, the city is well worth staying a few days extra to explore the region and get to know the local culture.
Between the 3rd and 6th August each year, Akita holds the fabulous Kanto Matsuri festival, which is, sadly, the last of the illustrious Tohoku summer events. Somewhat similar to the lantern festivals held in Aomori and Aizu-Wakamatsu, at this time local men make their way along the streets of Akita holding tall bamboo poles with paper lanterns attached to them. What makes it truly spectacular is how they juggle these immense poles from their hips to the heads, or from their shoulders to their hands, whilst keeping the lanterns steady.
Hirano Masakichi Art Museum
Visit the Hirano Masakichi Bijutsukan, otherwise known as the Art Museum, for an interesting journey through the minds of various worldwide artists. Located in the Prefectural art Museum, there are wonderful artworks from European artists including Goya, Picasso, Rembrandt and even Rubens. However, it is the gigantic canvas art by native artist Fujita Tsuguhara (b. 1886 – d. 1968) which draws visitors here like moths to a flame. Called ‘Events in Akita’, the canvas is a strikingly beautiful scene of festival times in Akita. It only took 15 days for Fujita Tsuguhara to complete it, but they had to destroy a complete wall of his studio in order for them to bring it out. The entrance fee here is ¥610.
Kanto Festival Centre By ?? (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Kanto Festival Centre
For a fascinating glimpse into the history and culture of the surrounding region, pay a visit to the Kanto Festival Centre. Here you will learn through several interesting videos about the festivals here and even try out a kanto. Kanto are the gigantic bamboo poles weighing around 60kg each adorned with paper lanterns and paraded through the streets of Akita during the festival held in early August.
Erected in 1912, the Akarenga Kyodokan was the headquarters of the Akita Bank. Beautifully preserved, it is one of the few historical buildings in the city that is certainly well worth exploring. Head behind the building to the extension where you can discover a compilation of woodcuts by Katsuhira Tokushi. His strikingly beautiful depictions of country life have been met with worldwide appeal and are guaranteed to make the senses burst alive.
Senshu Park– This photo of Senshu Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor
After a hard day’s exploration of the city, head towards Senshu Park where you can let your mind and body relax in some immensely beautiful surroundings. During the spring, when the cherry blossoms bloom, the entire park looks as though it has been transported out of an ancient fairy story. There is even a replica of the old Akita Castle, where an interesting museum can be perused, to make the scene complete. Head towards the top of the castle to enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the entire city.
Akita may have lost many of its historical buildings, but it has never lost its unique appeal and sense of pride. It is a city that has been modernized, but still has its roots firmly rooted back in the past. Simply put, it is a city full of hidden delights, if you know where to look for them.