How to Do Japan Different – in Tohoku

01/11/2022

The international crowds arrive in Tokyo and then follow the same route, turning left: Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima…etc. The well-travelled ‘Golden Route’ through Japan, perhaps nowadays a little hackneyed with attractions contrived for tourists. How about turning right instead? To find something more authentic, less discovered and, crucially, quieter. You will thank us!

The Real Japan – Putting a tick in every box

Akita Prefecture still manages to put a tick in every visitors ‘must-see’ or ‘must-experience’ boxes – traditional ryokans, beautiful outdoor onsen, historic samurai districts, bullet-trains journeys, lakes, mountains and a rugged coastline. Time in Akita assures you will connect with an authentic, rural Japan.

 

Akita - Shirakami Sanchi - Crooked Compass
Akita – Shirakami Sanchi – Crooked Compass

Easy come, easy go
A direct Shinkansen (bullet-train) from Tokyo gets you to the heart of Akita Prefecture in only three-hours. No more, no less. And from Akita it is possible to delve deeper into the delights of the Tohoku region of Northern Japan.

A sincere welcome

An undeniable part of the appeal of Japan is not only the novelty of the country to travellers, but of the travellers to the country. The magic of genuine mutual fascination and appreciation with the local population and visitors is as powerful in Akita today as it was in Kyoto over 30 years ago.

Kakunodate – the new Kyoto?
This is undoubtedly Japan’s best historic samurai town and remains remarkably unchanged since its founding in 1620. To stay in a traditional ryokan and visit this undiscovered small town (well, the Japanese know all about Kakunodate) and walk through its wonderful preserved merchants district is to step back in time. Places like Kakunodate are why people want to visit Japan.

Akita - Kakunodate Samurai Village
Akita – Kakunodate Samurai Village

The Best Place to See the Cherry Blossoms

We can’t think of a better place in Japan to witness, experience and marvel in the cherry blossom season. And, because the cherry blossoms arrive later in Akita (at the end of April), you can avoid the mad rush taking place further south, in Tokyo or Kyoto. Less cost, fewer crowds, better availability and a better, more intimate experience.

Cherry blossoms - Samurai village - Crooked Compass
Cherry blossoms – the best place to see them in Japan!

Also the Best Place to see the Autumn Colours

The landscape is made from mountains, pristine lakes, valleys and deep gorges, terraced paddy fields- much of it also covered in luxuriant primeval forest. And, come the Autumn, it all turns red, purple, orange and yellow. It is simply gorgeous and there is no better place in Japan to see the changing of the colours.

Changing of colours Tohoku - Samurai village - Crooked Compass
Changing of colours Tohoku – Samurai village – Crooked Compass

A Connection with Nature

There is a deep and palpable connection between the people of Akita and their pristine natural environment. In a physical sense through it being the main food-producing region, but also in a cultural and spiritual sense. Nature is at the heart of truly idiosyncratic lifestyles, art and crafts, rituals and religious practices.

Get Your Ethics On

Good karma points are available by travelling to Tohoku. A visit to Akita should most certainly be part of an itinerary that includes its neighbouring prefectures on the East coast where almost 20,000 lives were lost during the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. The resilience and industriousness of the local population has done much to support regeneration, but they are very much in need of continued support from international tourism. For Akita itself, it is heavily reliant on tourism to help preserve local cultures and cottage industries, protect its pristine natural environment and create new opportunities for its dwindling younger population.

Make these experiences yours and join our Shogun & Samurai small group tour!