Region
Tohoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Akita
Population
1,189,215

Akita City

Home of the awe-inspiring Kanto Matsuri, the compact city of Akita is packed with museums, shrines, parks and panoramic views.

Akita City is a charmingly small prefectural capital, with museums, parks, restaurants, shrines and temples all within comfortable walking distance. Surrounded by the natural beauty for which the Tohoku region is famed, the city makes for a refreshing contrast to Japan’s mega metropolises. Akita is fond of festivals, and its pride and joy is the annual Kanto Matsuri, where poles strung with paper lanterns are hoisted into the air in thrilling acts of balance. Pour out a glass of the prized local sake and enjoy.

Akita Kanto Festival, Important Intangible Folk Cultural asset

The Akita Kanto Matsuri is one of Japan’s most famous festivals.

Senshu Park is the main green space located in the city center, and it’s an easy walk from the station. You’ll cross the bridge over a moat brimming with picturesque lotus flowers as far as the eye can see.

Look out for the smiling “babahera” ice cream vendors, who sell cones of pink and yellow ice cream sculpted to look like flowers.

The park was formerly the site of the Satake clan’s castle, and still contains ruins and a reconstructed gate that can be visited. You’ll also find small, peaceful shrines and temples.

Akita museum of art

Pay a visit to the slick Akita Museum of Art which exhibits the works of contemporary local artists.

There are a number of museums on offer, including the exceptionally stylish Akita Museum of Art. Designed by the visionary architect Tadao Ando, this museum offers a beautiful view of Senshu Park from over a pool of water on the second floor. The museum is mostly dedicated to the works of Akitan artist Fujita Tsuguharu, with temporary exhibitions often showcasing the talents of other local artists. The Akita Prefectural Museum and Akarenga Folk Museum provide insight into the region’s history.

Take the elevator up to the observation deck of the Port Tower Selion for a panoramic view of the city, the Sea of Japan and Mt. Chokai beyond. When you get hungry, skip the chain restaurants and head straight to the Akita Citizens Market (shimin ichiba). Treat your taste buds to fresh seafood and regional specialties like kiritanpo, a kind of rice dumpling often added to nabe.

Akita Kanto Matsuri

See incredible feats of balance at the Kanto Matsuri.

The best time to visit Akita is in August, when the unparalleled Kanto Matsuri is held. A kanto is a long bamboo pole with 46 paper lanterns hung from it to resemble an ear of rice. The lanterns are fitted with lit candles, and then hoisted in the air by teams of men, who take turns balancing the poles on their hands, shoulders, hips, and even foreheads. The performance is incredibly gripping, and it’s hard to tear your eyes away until the poles come down again at the end of the parade.

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Things To Know

Kanto Matsuri

The Kanto Matsuri is held every year from August 3rd-6th, with events during the day and the nightly parade from 18:50-20:50.

How To Get There

Address

2 Chome-1-4 Sannō, Akita-shi, Akita-ken 010-0951, Japan

By train

Akita Station can be accessed via Shinkansen. From Tokyo, the cost is ¥17800 and it takes roughly 4 hours.

By bus

Akita can be reached by night bus from Tokyo in around 8 hours (¥7000-9500).

Where To Stay

Hotel Alpha Inn Akita
  • Kyokuhoku Sakaemachi 1-48 Akita-Shi, Akita 010-0922
  • 7.2/10
  • 0.4 km
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Hotel Pearl City Akita Omachi
  • Omachi 2-6-25 Akita-Shi, Akita 010-0921
  • 6/10
  • 0.8 km
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Hotel Pearl City Akita Kawabata
  • Omachi 3-4-18 Akita-Shi, Akita 010-0921
  • 7.2/10
  • 0.9 km
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Albert Hotel Akita
  • Omachi 4-3-22 Akita-Shi, Akita 010-0921
  • 7.3/10
  • 1.1 km
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