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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.