Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Kakunodate Town – The Little Kyoto of Northeastern Japan

Kakunodate Town, or Kakunodatemachi (角館町), is a town in Akita Prefecture that is known as “Michinoku no ko Kyoto (みちのくの小京都)”, or “Northeastern’s Little Kyoto”. The town used to be the home of the samurai stationed at Kakunodate Castle back in the Edo period (1603 – 1868). Even now, traces of the presence of the samurai remain a vivid reminder of their glory days during the Edo period.

Kakunodate is an escape from the big-city hubbub. The tranquil atmosphere will heal your tiredness from the exhausting daily grind. And of course, the delicious local cuisine is another reason why we love Kakunodate!

One of the best things about Kakunodate is that most attractions are within a 30-minute walk from Kakunodate Station (角館駅)! Without having to use any sort of transportation between the places tourists want to explore, you can save on both time and money, which are the two most limited things to us, tourists!

Click HERE to skip to Kakunodate’s access information.

Kakunodatechō Sightseeing Information Center (仙北市観光情報センター「角館駅前蔵」)

© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association

As soon as you come out of the Kakunodate Station, you will see this white-walled storage building on your right.

It is the first spot you will want to drop by for all the tourist information about Kakunodate. For some of the attractions on your itinerary, there might be discount vouchers or coupons that you can get from this center!

Luggage Storage Service at Kakunodatechō Sightseeing Information Center

If you are dragging large suitcases, check them in at the information center for 500 each, and remember to pick them up by 5:30 pm (4:30 pm in winter)!

For smaller bags, utilize the coin-operated lockers to save!

Free Services at Kakunodatechō Sightseeing Information Center

  • At the entrance of the information center, the white plastic umbrellas are there for anyone to use without charge. Before you borrow one, please let the staff know!
  • In winter, when it is snowing heavily outside, rent out a pair of boots for free suitable for walking in the snow before you start exploring this lovely town (^_-)-☆
  • If you require a wheelchair, you can also rent one out from the information center

Kakunodatechō Sightseeing Information Center’s Access Information and Opening Hours

  • Kakunodatechō Sightseeing Information Center is open from
    • 9 am to 6 pm from April to September
    • 9 am to 5:30 pm from October to March
    • It closes on the 31st of December

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kakunodate!

Shimoda Rental (下田レンタサイクル)

Instead of taking a bus, cycling is a great way to explore Kakunodate. And the best place to rent one out is Shimoda Rental, just a one-minute walk from Kakunodate Station. Plus, they offer free luggage storage service if you rent a bicycle from them!

With a bicycle, you can go as far as the stunning Dakigaeri Valley (抱返り渓谷), which would be harder to get to with public transportation!

Shimoda Rental’s Business Hours, Bike Rental Cost, and Access Information

  • Shimoda Rental is open from early morning to 6 pm daily from March to November
  • The cost to rent a bicycle is 300 yen per hour

Inaniwa udon (稲庭うどん)

© Akita Tourism Federation

We are all familiar with udon noodles. But did you know that there are different kinds of udon noodles?

Inaniwa udon is the type of udon that originates from Akita Prefecture. What makes it so special is its translucent and flat shape. Compared to normal udon, Inaniwa udon is incredibly smooth!

Whether you like it cold or hot, grab a bowl when you visit Kakunodate (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Important: Please note the broth most likely contains fish extract in most restaurants. We will update this article if we find a place that serves vegetarian Inaniwa udon.

Strolling around Kakunodate with Kimono

Kakunodate is a town full of Japanese history that you can feel in the air. Blend into the beautiful scenery decorated by traditional houses by wearing a gorgeous kimono when you walk around the town. A kimono will bring your visit to Kakunodate to a whole new level!

There are quite a few kimono rental shops around the station. But if you really can’t find one, check out Aoyagi Samurai House (角館歴史村・青柳家).

© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association

Bukeyashiki Street (武家屋敷通り)

© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association

Just like its name, the houses where samurai used to reside are lining up on this street.

A couple of these 200-year-old traditional houses are open to the public. Finding the differences in the construction of the houses between the home of top-ranked samurai, middle-ranked samurai, and lower-ranked samurai can be really fun!

For more information, please refer to our article on Bukeyashiki Street (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Kabazaiku Denshokan (Cherry Bark Woodcraft Museum) (角館樺細工伝承館)

Kabazaiku is a kind of traditional craft in Kakunodate that is made of cherry blossom tree bark. It started as one of the jobs of a low-ranking samurai back in the Edo period.

Just like all the handmade crafts nowadays, the price tag of these beautiful products isn’t so friendly. But at the museum’s souvenir shop, you get to have a feel of how they differ from the normal wooden craft (=゚ω゚)ノ.

© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association
© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association

In the museum, not only are various fantastic local craftworks on display, but demonstrations of Kabazaiku are constantly held in the hall, letting visitors observe the intricate techniques of the artisans up close!

If you are tired, grab a cup of tea or coffee from their café, or simply just rest in their resting hall (^_-)-☆.

Craftwork Experiences at Kabazaiku Denshokan

If you are keen to make your own Kabazaiku, make a booking with the museum to participate in their Kabazaiku wall-hanging workshop at least ten days in advance!

Cost-wise, the more people you have in your group, the cheaper it is!

  • 5,000 yen for one person
  • 2,500 yen per person for 2 people
  • 2,300 yen per person for 3 people
  • 2,000 yen per person for 4 people
  • 1,800 yen per person for 5 people and more participants

If it is too pricy for you, then consider the Itayazaiku workshop. In the workshop, you will make an Itayazaiku wickerwork house (^_-)-☆. The participation cost is 1,000 yen per person.

To get an idea of what exactly you will be making, check out the Japanese website for the craft’s photo HERE.

To make a booking, please call +81-187-43-3353. Alternatively, try emailing Semboku City Hall at [email protected] They should be able to assist you with the booking as well.

Important: All participants have to be older than the age of ten.

Kabazaiku Denshokan’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from
    • 9 am to 5 pm from April to November
    • 9 am to 4 pm from December to March
    • The last admission is 30 minutes before museum close time
    • The museum is closed from the 28th of December to the 4th of January
  • The admission fee is
    • 300 yen for adults
    • 150 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • The museum is located a 20-minute walk away from Kakunodate Station

Tips:
☛ Drop by the Kakunodatecho Sight Seeing Information Center (仙北市観光情報センター「角館駅前蔵」) in front of the Kakunodate Station to get one of the voucher to get a discount on admission fee!
☛ If you are also visiting Hirafuku Memorial Museum (平福記念美術館) and/or Shinchosha Memorial Literature Museum (新潮社記念文学館), you can get a combo ticket at 520 yen (half price for elementary and junior school students) to enter two out of the three attractions. 750 yen (360 yen) will give you access to all three attractions.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kakunodate!

Hirafuku Memorial Museum (平福記念美術館)

© Akita Tourism Federation

If you are interested in Japanese painting, drop by the Hirafuku Memorial Museum!

The museum is named after the masters of Japanese painting – Suian Hirafuku (平福穂庵) and his son – Hyakusui Hirafuku (平福百穂) who were from Kakunodate.

On the museum’s display are the two masters’ paintings and artworks of local painters and contemporary artists associated with Kakunodate.

It is quite fascinating how the painting styles are so different between the father and the son. One other interesting thing we found is the contrast between the Japanese artwork and the European-style museum (´▽`*).

Hirafuku Memorial Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from
    • 9 am to 5 pm from April to November
    • 9 am to 4:30 pm daily except Mondays from December to March
    • The last admission is 30 minutes before museum close time
    • The museum is closed from the 28th of December to the 4th of January
  • The admission fee is
    • 300 yen for adults
    • 150 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • The museum is located a 20 to 25-minute walk away from Kakunodate Station

Andō Soy Sauce and Miso Brewery (安藤醸造 本店)

This brewery was first opened in the Edo period. Even now, at the back of the shop, brewers are still making high-quality soy sauce and miso for us to enjoy. And you get to have a peek at their brewing work from the entrance!

Free sampling is available for soy sauce, miso, and pickles. So utilize it and bring your favorite product back home (=゚ω゚)ノ.

© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association
© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association

Andō Soy Sauce and Miso Brewery’s Access Information and Business Hours

  • The shop is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm daily
  • They are located a 15-minute walk away from Kakunodate Station

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kakunodate!

Nishinomiya Residence (西宮家)

© Akita Tourism Federation

The Nishinomiya family was a prominent local landlord in Kakunodate. Their majestic main house demonstrates the prosperity of the family.

Apart from the main house, the family also owns the other five storehouses nearby, which have all been renovated into shops, restaurants, and exhibition spaces for tourists to drop in and enjoy (≧▽≦).

In addition to the delicious food and cute souvenirs, the thing we love the most about Nishinomiya Residence is their internal renovation.

It blends Japanese culture’s simplicity and Western culture’s elegance well. We would love to hire a designer to renovate our place if we could!

Nishinomiya Residence’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The residence and the 5 storehouses are open from 10 am to 5 pm daily
  • They are located an 8-minute walk away from Kakunodate Station

Hinokinaigawa Tsutsumi Park (桧木内川堤)

The cherry blossom trees planted along the Hinokingai River bloom from late April to early May.

The trees on the two kilometers long pink flower tunnel were only planted in 1934 to celebrate the former emperor’s birthday. Together with the cherry blossoms on Bukeyashiki Street, Hinokinaigawa Tsutsumi Park’s cherry blossom was chosen as one of Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots!

© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association
© Akita Tourism Federation

Around 400 cherry blossom trees are on the river bank, and the mountain afar also has many cherry blossom trees that bloom simultaneously!

When the night time comes, don’t forget to return to the river bank. The flowers that are illuminated by the street lights are another reason why the cherry blossoms here are so highly regarded (*´ω`).

How to Get to Hinokinaigawa Tsutsumi Park

  • The riverbank is around a 15-minute walk from Kakunodate Station

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kakunodate!

Other Hidden Cherry Blossom and Fall Foliage Spots

Furushiroyama Park (古城山公園)

© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association

Furushiroyama, where Kakunodate Castle used to be, is located on the outskirt of the town center of Kakunodate.

As it is not the cherry blossom festival venue, few visitors would make an effort and climb out the hill to this park. This means you will have this hidden gem all to yourself!

From the park, the entire Hinokinaigawa Tsutsumi Park can be seen clearly. Plus, the park is full of cherry blossom trees, which also bloom at the same time (*’▽’).

The only catch is the 20-minute uphill road that might make it a bit hard to catch your breath (´▽`*)!

Walking from Kakunodate Station will take around 40 minutes to get to the park.

© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association

Tenneiji Temple (天寧寺)

© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association

Also located at the outskirt of Kakunodate’s town center (but on the other side of the town) is the Tenneiji Temple.

The temple’s ground is quite spacious, with cherry blossom trees planted across. Again, it isn’t a major spot for cherry blossom viewing, so you should be able to enjoy some tranquility here (^_-)-☆.

Walking from Kakunodate Station will take around a 15-minute to get to the temple.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kakunodate!

Festivals in Kakunodate

Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Festival (角館の桜まつり)

  • The festival is held between mid-Apr to early May around Bukeyashiki Street and Hinokinaigawa Tsutsumi Park
  • During the festival, there will be temporary stalls, and the areas will be lit up at night
© tohokukanko.co.jp

Kakunodate Hinameguri Festival (角館雛めぐり)

  • In Kakunodate, instead of just the 3rd of March each year, the Hinamatsuri Festival, where people display a set of ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period, is celebrated from late February to early March.
  • Throughout the few-week period, many of the facilities throughout the town have various types of Hina Dolls on display. From the traditional ones to the ones made of clay or cloth, strolling through the town for all the different kinds of Hina Dolls is one of the ways to enjoy Kakunodate!
© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association

Kakunodate Hifuri Kamakura Festival (角館火振りかまくら)

  • Hifuri Kamakura is an event where one swings a fire-lit bale around himself. This is a ritual to pray for a safe and disease-free year.
  • On the 14th of February, from 6 to 8 pm, this ritual can be seen at several venues across the town. As the venues may change from year to year, it is best to get the venue information from the information center in front of the Kakunodate Station.
© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association

Bukeyashiki Street Fall Foliage Light Up (武家屋敷通り紅葉ライトアップ)

Each year from mid-October to the end of November, Bukeyashiki Street is lit up at night for its vivid autumn foliage! Although no stalls will be set up, it is still nice to stroll around this street that is filled with those gorgeous traditional houses (*´ω`).

© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association

Kakunodate Festival’s Battling Yama (角館祭りのやま行事)

Each year from the 7th to the 9th of September, the Kakunodate Festival is held to pray for the citizen’s prosperity, good harvest, and health.

As the festival comes to an end on the 9th of September, it also marks the beginning of autumn.

For more details, please refer to the official website HERE.

© Lake Tazawa/Kakunodate Tourism Association

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Kakunodate!

How to Get to Kakunodate

By JR East Trains/Shinkansen

It is probably the easiest to get to Kakunodate by catching a JR train. Whether the normal trains or the bullet trains/Shinkansen, they should all stop at Kakunodate Station.

If you are catching a Shinkansen, please catch those bound for Akita (秋田行). The Shinkansen’s name is Komachi (こまち).

By Airplane

You can catch a flight to Akita airport, and from there, there are reservation-based shared taxi services that will bring you straight to Kakunodate. Albeit it is more expensive, it is a more convenient way. For more information about the price, timetable and to make a booking, please refer to the Akita Airportliner’s English website HERE.

Note reservation through internet needs to be made by 5 pm 2 days in advance. If you are booking through a phone call, please do so by 5 pm the day before.

By Akita Nairiku Line

On the other hand, if you are already in the Akita Prefecture, we recommend you catch the Akita Nairiku Line. It is one of the most scenic train lines in Japan you can ever experience (*’▽’).

Kakunodate is the southern terminus stop on the Akita Nairiku Line, so you never need to worry about missing your stop because you fell asleep on the train. The only chance this might happen to you is you are too amazed by all the cute Akitas pictures on the train and the breathtaking scenery outside the train windows.

Find out more about all the scenic spots that this train line brings you to with our article HERE!

Akita-Nairiku-Line-Akita-Japan
Find out more about all the great attractions along the Akita Nairiku Line with our article!

Discover the Beauty of Dakigaeri Valley

Dakigaeri-Gorge-Akita-Japan
Click the photo to find out more information about this beautiful valley!

If you are a nature lover, a really good attraction you can visit when you come to Kakunodate is Dakigaeri Valley. While public transportation can’t reach the valley, you can cycle your way there!

For more information, please refer to our article on Dakigaeri Valley!

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