Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Hachikō’s Hometown – Ōdate City

Anyone who has been to or even heard of Shibuya Station (渋谷駅) knows there is a Hachikō statue there. Hachikō wasn’t just another Akita around the corner. Due to his fierce loyalty to his first owner, he gained the deepest respect from the community that even a statue of him was made and then placed in front of the station where he used to wait for his deceased owner’s return.

Ōdate City (大館市) in Akita Prefecture is where Hachikō came from. Although most of his life was spent in Tokyo, you can find Hachikō’s statues all over the city! Ōdate City isn’t just about Hachikō and Akita dogs, of course! Read on, and find out where to go and what to do in Hachikō’s hometown (^_-)-☆.

Here is a list of attractions for your reference when you visit Ōdate City. The following attractions are listed by their distance from JR Ōdate Station (大館駅).

Click HERE to skip to how to get to Ōdate city.

Hachikō’s Statue (忠犬ハチ公像(大館駅前))

At Hachikō’s hometown, as soon as you step out of JR Ōdate Station, Hachikō will be there to welcome your arrival (just like how he waited for his owner)!

This statue is what Hachikō looked like when he was younger. It is good to see a healthy Hachikōo (because the statue in front of Shibuya Station is the Hachikō with an injured ear…).

Akita Dog Visitor Center (大館市観光交流施設「秋田犬の里」)

Just a short three-minute walk from JR Ōdate Station, you can see the real Akita dogs! The bronze Hachikō statue in front of Shibuya Station is cute too, but it can never beat the real, fluffy dog (*´ω`).

Here at Akita Dog Visitor Centre, you get to learn about and meet Akitasfor free!

© Tohokukanko.com.jp

Although there are currently only four Akita dogs in the center, you should still be able to meet at least one of them (but better than nothing, isn’t it!).

One thing to note is because most Akita dogs wouldn’t generally show strangers much affection, it is likely that they wouldn’t allow strangers to pet them either. For the doggo’s mental health reasons, patting the dogs in the center would not be allowed.

Apart from the Akita Dog Showroom, there is also an Akita Dog Museum where you can learn about the Akita dog’s bloodline and characteristics (English available) and Souvenir Corner where you can grab as many Akita dogs’ goodies home!

Tip: There is also a terrace area where you will get a panoramic view of Ōdate city (^_-)-☆.

© Tohokukanko.com.jp

Bike Rental from Akita Dog Visitor Center

Given the attractions in Ōdate City being quite distant from each other, how about getting a rental bike from the center?

  • Rental bike services are available from 9 am to 4:30 pm from April to November.
  • It only costs 300 yen for up to 4 hours and 500 yen for a whole day rental.
    • You will need to return the bike by 4:30 pm.
    • Please contact the center if you have trouble doing so at +81-186-57-8120.

Akita Dog Visitor Center’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The center is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except on the 31st of December and the 1st of January
  • The Akita Dog Showroom is open from 9:30 am to 4:45 pm daily except Mondays
    • Note the dogs do have their break time during the day
  • It is just a 3-minute walk away from JR Ōdate Station, which you can easily get to by taking a JR train from JR Akita Station
  • Lastly, allocating 30 minutes to an hour should be enough at this spot

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions of Ōdate city!

Akita Dog Museum (秋田犬会館)

When you visit Ōdate city, we highly recommend you visit the Akita Dog Museum unless you are not a dog person, of course!

If you are visiting the museum on a sunny day from 9 am to 4 pm between mid-April to mid-November, you will find two Akita dogs outside of the building waiting for your arrival!

And if you aren’t satisfied with just the two dogs, there will be another three in the office during the weekdays (*´ω`).

Important: Please note that Akita dogs don’t generally like to be touched by strangers. So although they look super cute and super fluffy and hard to resist, please refrain from touching them as this may agitate them. It is also normal for them not to display any interest in you as most dogs would. So don’t be upset or offended! As they are a very loyal breed, the only person they care about is their owner.

The building is actually where the Headquarters of Akita Dogs Preservation Society is located as well. On the third floor, where the museum is, you will find various artifacts and items related to Akita dogs. Photos of successive winners of the Akita Dog Contest are also on display (‘ω’)ノ.

There is also a shop selling Akita dog’s soft toys and plushies which will make a perfect souvenir for your dog lover friends (^_-)-☆.

Akita Dog Museum’s Opening Hours, Entrance Fee, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from 9 am to 4 pm daily except the afternoon of the 13th of August and from the end of December to the beginning of January
  • The entrance fee is
    • 200 yen for adults
    • 100 yen for elementary school students
  • The museum is around a 15-minute walk away from JR Higashi-Ōdate Station (東大館駅), where you can easily catch a train from JR Akita Station to get to
  • You can also catch any Shuhoku Bus (秋北バス)’s bus services that stop at Ōdate City Hall (大館市役所前) from JR Ōdate Station (roughly around 10 mins). The museum is less than a 5-minute walk away.

Tip: If you visit the museum on a weekday, there should be Akitas in the office too. You can also check out their Twitter account for some photos!

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions of Ōdate city!

Keijō Park (桂城公園)

© Tohokukanko.com.jp

Keijō Park is where the Ōdate Castle (built in 1582) used to be. The castle was burnt down during the Boshin War (戊辰戦争) in 1868, so all they have been left with is the moat at the park’s south.

Also, you will find around 200 cherry blossom trees. From mid-April to early May, the park will be wrapped in light pink spring color, attracting many locals who may want to go on a picnic under the trees (*´ω`).

The park is also where the Ōdate Cherry Blossom Festival (大館桜まつり) takes place from mid to late April. So if you happen to drop by Ōdate City around this time of the year, come and enjoy the gorgeous flowers, great food sold at the stalls, and the romantic atmosphere at night with the trees lit up available until 9 pm!

© Tohokukanko.com.jp

How to Get to Keijō Park

  • The museum is around a 15-minute walk away from JR Higashi-Ōdate Station (東大館駅), where you can easily catch a train from JR Akita Station to get to
  • You can also catch any Shuhoku Bus’s (秋北バス) bus services that stop at Ōdate City Hall (大館市役所前) from JR Ōdate Station (roughly around 10 minutes). The park is just a 1-minute away from the bus stop
    • Note we haven’t put up a timetable here as there are too many routes that make a stop at Ōdate City Hall
  • The park is opened 24/7 with free entry

Ishida Rose Garden (石田ローズガーデン)

Around 500 roses (different varieties) are planted in a garden of about 2,300 square meters.

This 2,300-square meters garden was a private property of Hirohide Ishida (石田博英). It remained private property until his bereaved family gifted the garden to Ōdate city.

Apart from strolling around the garden, the best way to enjoy the garden is probably enjoying a cup of coffee in their cafe newly opened in 2022!

© Akita Tourism Federation
© Akita Tourism Federation

Since July 1995, the garden has become a place for people who wants to look at the beautiful flowers from May to October. It is also the venue for the Ōdate Rose Festival (大館バラまつり), held from the end of May to mid-June and in mid-October (dates change every year).

Tip: The rose’s season is from mid-Juen to October.

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

Ishida Rose Garden’s Access Information and Opening Hours

  • The garden is just a block away from the Akita Dog Museum and is really closed to Keijō Park. Please refer to the access information of the two spots
  • If you happen to rent a bike from the Akita Dog Visitor Centre, it takes around 15 minutes by bike to get to the garden
  • And if you want to be really healthy, it is a 30-minute walk away from JR Ōdate Station (大館駅)
  • The park is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except for Tuesdays
    • The park opens daily in May and June

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions of Ōdate city!

Iwagami Fureai no Mori Park (岩神ふれあいの森)

Iwagami Fureai no Mori Park is a forest park centered on the Iwagami Reservoir at the foot of Mount Akiha (秋葉山).

With about 3,000 cherry blossom trees of 22 species, the park is known as one of the most beautiful spots in Northeastern Japan. If you are super keen, come visit from late April to mid-May, and you will be truly amazed by its beauty (^^)/.

© Akita Tourism Federation
© Akita Tourism Federation

There are a few well-maintained promenades around the reservoir. Follow this map HERE and take a relaxing stroll around the reservoir, known for its most stunning park views!

The map is Japanese, but if you are coming via bus from JR Ōdate Station, you will be coming from where the car park sign is.

In autumn, we recommend you follow the tracks marked in orange for some beautiful autumn foliage (^_-)-☆.

Iwagami Fureai no Mori Park’s Access Information and Opening Hours

  • To get to this park, take Shuhoku Bus’s (秋北バス) Hachikō Line (ハチ公号) from JR Ōdate Station (大館駅前) and get off at Naganeyama Sports Park (長根山運動公園前). The bus trip takes around 20 minutes.
    • You can check out the timetable HERE for departure and arrival times to plan. Please reference the Japanese stop name to read
    • Note there are 2 bus routes for Hachikō Line and, therefore 2 timetables in the link above
  • From the bus stop, the forest park is around a 10-minute away. You will walk past the Naganeyama Sports Park first before you reach the forest park
  • The park is opened 24/7 and free of entry

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions of Ōdate city!

Torigata Estate (鳥潟会館)

The Torigate family seems to have its way of discovering their family member’s talent before flourishing it. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Torigata raised at least a successful surgent, an inventor of the radiotelephone, and a well-known acrobat.

As they are so well-recognized in their fields, the amount of wealth that they generated is enormous without saying!

Over the five years since 1936, more than 1000 carpenters and gardeners from Kyoto were involved in renovating this family estate.

You will find many high-quality building materials and items in this Kyoto-style estate. As amateurs in architecture, we couldn’t really tell how much value the estate is worth. But, it certainly looks much more refined than other old residences that are open to the public in northeastern Japan!

© Tohokukanko.com.jp

The colorful Azalea in spring, the harmonious chirping and clicking noises by the cicadas in summer, the autumn leaves that are burning red, and the pure white world in winter is what the Torigata family used to enjoy back in the days.

So, if you visit Ōdate City, don’t miss out on this estate. It is absolutely free to explore!

Torigata Estate’s Access Information and Opening Hours

  • From JR Ōdate Station (大館駅前), take Shuhoku Bus (秋北バス) that is bound for Hokuyo Junior High Schol (北陽中学校) and get off at Torigata Kaikan-mae (鳥潟会館前).
    • The trip should take you roughly 20 – 30 minutes.
    • The number of bus services running on this line isn’t that many, so check out the timetable HERE to plan
    • Please match the Japanese name of the bus stops on the timetable
  • The estate is open from
    • 9 am to 5 pm between April and October
      • The last admission at 4:30 pm
    • 9 am to 4 pm between November to March
      • The last admission at 5:30 pm
  • The estate is closed on Mondays and from the 29th of December to the 3rd of January. If Monday falls on a public holiday, the estate will close on the next business day

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions of Ōdate city!

Nagabashiri Wind Caves (長走風穴)

Ever wondered how people retained their food cold and fresh before the refrigerator was invented?

Located in the northern part of Ōdate City at the foot of Mt. Kunimi (国見山), even on the hottest day in summer, there is still cold air of zero to five degrees blowing out of the cave Σ(゚Д゚).

The Nagabashiri Wind Caves Eco-Museum (長走風穴館) doesn’t require an air conditioner in the summer. All they need to do is connect the museum to the cave!

For more details about this mysterious spot and its phenomena, check out Ōdate City’s website HERE.

© Akita Tourism Federation

Nagabashiri Wind Caves’ Access Information and Opening Hours

  • From JR Ōdate Station (大館駅前), take Shuhoku Bus (秋北バス) that is bound for Jinba/Yadate-Haitsu (陣場・矢立ハイツ) and get off at Nagabashiri Wind Caves (長走風穴前).
    • The trip should take you around 20 – 30 minutes.
    • The number of bus services running on this line is limited. So please use the timetable HERE to plan.
    • Please match the Japanese name of the bus stops on the timetable
  • The cave is open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm daily between June and August
  • From September to November and April to May, the cave is closed on Mondays
    • If Monday is a public holiday, then the cave is closed on the next business day
  • The caves are closed from December to March

Nagaki River (長木渓流)

Nagaki River is a long river that flows through Ōdate City. There is a promenade starting from the front of the onsen hotel Seifuso (清風荘) at the river’s upstream. Follow the promenade to explore the most scenic part of the river, especially in autumn, from mid-October to mid-November!

Ōdate–Kosaka Railway Railbike (大館・小坂鉄道レールバイク)

© Akita Tourism Federation

We also recommend you visit the Ōdate–Kosaka Railway Railbike. Utilizing an abandoned railway, the 2 km refreshing forest course that runs along the Nagaki River is one of the best activities that you can do in Ōdate! This activity takes roughly 30 minutes.

If you are looking for some thrill, you can ride through an iron bridge. The bridge is quite safe but can be quite scary at the same time (to us at least! (≧▽≦)).

For more information regarding this railbike, including reservations and types of bike for hire, please refer to their official website HERE.

Ōdate–Kosaka Railway Railbike’s Access Information and Opening Hours

  • From JR Ōdate Station (大館駅前), take Shuhoku Bus (秋北バス) that is bound for Kosaka (小坂) and get off at Seifuso Mae (清風荘前).
    • The trip should take you around 20 – 30 minutes.
    • The number of bus services is limited, so refer to the timetable on the official website HERE to plan
    • Please match the Japanese name of the bus stops on the timetable. Also, as Seifuso Mae is a small stop, it is not listed on the timetable. Please only use it to reference the departure time from JR Ōdate Station
  • The upstream of the river can be accessed anytime during the year free of charge
  • The railbike rental service is available from the 16th of April to the 13th of November in 2022 from 9 am to 4 pm daily except Wednesdays and Thursdays
    • If Wednesday or Thursday falls on a public holiday, the service will be available
    • In August, the services are available throughout the month.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions of Ōdate city!

The Faithful Dog Hachikō Birthplace (忠犬ハチ公生家)

If you are touched by Hachikō’s story and want to have a pilgrimage trip to his birthplace, this is the spot you want to be at!

Hachikō was born in 1923 in the Saitō family. A stone monument and a statue of Hachikō are placed in front of where the Saitō family’s residence used to be.

Opposite the monument, the public toilet (bottom left photo in the Tweet) shaped into an Akita dog is really cute (*´ω`). It is probably the only time where we would purposely visit a public toilet (´▽`*).

The Faithful Dog Hachikō Birthplace’s Access Information

To get to Hachiko’s hometown, you can take Shuhoku Bus’s (秋北バス) Manaka Line (真中地区コミュニティバス『さわやかみなみ号』) from JR Ōdate Station (大館駅) and get off at Oshinai (大子内) stop.

  • The bus trip takes around 40 minutes
  • You can refer to the departing time from JR Odata Station HERE (Oshinai stop isn’t on the timetable. It is between Itazawa (板沢) and Motomiya (本宮) stop).
    • There are two sets of timetables on the webpage. Please refer to the second set that says “真中線” on the subject line. The first timetable is for weekdays and the second timetable is for weekends and public holidays.

Or you can get a taxi from JR Ōdate Station or Higashi-Ōdate Station (東大館駅). The cost from JR Ōdate Station is around 3,500 yen.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions of Ōdate city!

Kitaka Harristos Orthodox Church (北鹿ハリストス正教会聖堂)

That little wooden church behind the super cute Shiba dog was built in 1892. The Byzantine church is made of high-quality Akita cedar, and the icon painting is a city-designated tangible cultural property.

If you ever get a chance to explore the church’s interior, don’t forget to look up! The octagonal dome might not astound you, but it is architecturally hard to create this arc with Akita cedar.

To explore this church, unless you happen to drop by on the day it opens for a service (currently once a month, and you can refer to their official website HERE for the date), you will need to contact the church in advance by calling +81-19-663-1218. The church’s website is only available in Japanese, so if you need assistance regarding the date it is open to the public, you can contact us HERE, and we will get back to you.

How to Get to Kitaka Harristos Orthodox Church

From JR Ōdate Station (大館駅前), take Shuhoku Bus (秋北バス) that is bound for Hanawa (花輪) and get off at Magata (曲田).

  • The trip should take you around 40 minutes.
  • The number of bus services is limited, please use the timetable HERE to plan.
  • Please match the Japanese name of the bus stops on the timetable.
  • Also, as Magata is a small stop, it is not listed on the timetable. It is just a stop after Nakayama (中山) if you are coming from JR Ōdate Station

Farmer’s Market (陽気な母さんの店)

© Akita Tourism Federation

While you wait for the returning bus back to JR Ōdate Station, how about crossing the main road to check out what a typical Japanese farmer’s market is like?

This farmer’s market is run by local mums. You can source some freshly harvested local fruits/vegetables, tasty bento boxes, grilled rice balls, and side dishes there.

If you want to dine in, they also have deliciously made udon or soba noodles from their restaurant corner (^_-)-☆.

The most special thing about this farmer’s market is the range of cultural activities available upon request.

For more information about what this farmer’s market offers, please refer to our Yōkina Kasan no Mise Farmer’s Market article!

© Akita Tourism Federation

Hikage Onsen (日景温泉)

© Akita Tourism Federation

Hikakge Onsen is an onsen ryokan/hotel with 140 years of history. Many of its guests became regulars due to the onsen’s impeccable customer services and, of course, their onsen.

At Hikage Onsen, there are two types of onsen water: sulfur-based hot springs and carbonated hot springs. Both of them have a public bath area and private baths for you to choose from (a total of four baths).

If you don’t have time to stay overnight, you can still come for a day trip to enjoy the onsen.

If your accommodation plan includes dinner and/or breakfast, you will be experiencing one of the most delicious Japanese cuisines ever (please note that currently, they don’t cater to special dietary requirements…)! And what is great is that they are all made from organic ingredients!

© Akita Tourism Federation

Hikage Onsen’s Access Information

The two closest stations to the hotel are Jimba Station (陣場駅) and Ikarigaseki Station (碇ヶ関駅). If you are staying overnight at the hotel, they offer free pick-up and drop-off services. Reservation is required by filling out the form HERE. If your train’s arrival time isn’t on the list of options that you can select from, please give them a call at +81-186-51-2011. As the web form is in Japanese, if you have trouble filling out the form, you can contact us HERE, and we will get back to you.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions of Ōdate city!

Other Festivals at Ōdate City

Ōdate Daimonji Festival (大館大文字まつり)

The Ōdate Daimonji Festival is the biggest event in the summer for Ōdate city. The one-day festival is divided into two parts: day event and night event, taking place in different parts of the city.

During the day, parades and various folk performances arts will take place at Omachi Hachiko Street (おおまちちハチ公通り). At night on Mt. Houou (鳳凰山), the character “big (大)” is drawn with fire while the firework display takes place at the Nagaki River (長木川).

For more information, please refer to the city’s official website HERE. Please note that the event does not take place on the 16th of August each year. For the correct date of the festival, please refer to the Japanese website HERE. On the Japanese website, you can also find the google map of the two events venue.

Odate Daimonji Festival Odate Akita Japan
© Akita Tourism Federation

Ōdate Shinmeisha Festival (大館神明社祭典)

Another festival that takes place at Ōmachi Hachikō Street (おおまちちハチ公通り) and is the most representative in Ōdate is the Ōdate Shinmeisha Festival.

The one-and-a-half-day event that takes place on the 10th and the 11th of September each year is the Ōdate Shinmeisha Shrine’s main festival. On the 10th of September, the festival commences at Ōdate Shinmeisha Shrine at around 11 am. From then on, it bounces back and forth between Ōmachi Hachikō Street and the Shrine.

At the festival, you will see all 14 large floats and 8 portable shrines pulled and paraded on the street. There are also other folk performance arts performed throughout the event.

© Akita Tourism Federation
© Akita Tourism Federation

The part of the festival that is the most enjoyable is the Purification Ceremony (清めの儀) which takes place at 6:30 pm on Oomachi Hachiko Street. You may get wet! (≧▽≦)!

For more information about the Shrine and the Festival, please refer to their website HERE.

To get to the Ōdate Shinmeisha Shrine, please take a train to JR Higashi-Ōdate Station (東大館駅). The Shrine is just a 4-minute walk away. You can also walk from Ōdate Station (大館駅), which takes around 30 – 40 minutes.

Ōdate Amekko Fair (大館アメッコ市)

Ōdate Amekko Fair is the event where residents and visitors gather together for lollies on the 2nd weekend of February each year since 1588. It is said that if you eat candy on this day, you will not catch a cold (‘ω’)ノ.

One of the fair’s highlights is ‘Shirahige Ookami Junko (Shirahige God Parade), where the legend of the god comes to buy sweets from the highest mountain in Ōdate city, Tashirodake, is replicated.

© Akita Tourism Federation
© Akita Tourism Federation

On the event day, you will find a lot of stalls selling crafted candy and branch candy, which are basically lollies tied on branches. Around 100 thousand visitors across the country would gather around Ōdate City on the day, hoping for a healthy coming year!

For more information about this event, please refer to Ōdate City’s website HERE. The timetable of bus services departing from JR Ōdate Station’s (大館駅前) bus stop no. 1 that will stop by the nearest bus stop of the venue is Suehiromachi (末広町) can be found in the link HERE.

Ōdate Kiritanpo Festival (本場大館きりたんぽまつり)

In autumn, when the rice is freshly harvested from the field, Ōdate Kiritanpo Festival – the biggest food event in Ōdate city, is held in mid-October each year.

The three-day event allows you to fully enjoy Akita’s local cuisine – “Kiritanpo”. Whether it is Kiritanpo Hot Pot (usually not vegetarian), grilled Kiritanpo with sweet miso paste, or other Kiritanpo dishes, you will surely be full by the time you step out of the event venue!

© Akita Tourism Federation

For more information about Kiritanpo, check out Ōdate city’s website HERE.

  • The event is held at Nipro Hachiko Dome, also known as Ōdate Jukai Dome (ニプロハチ公ドーム(大館樹海ドーム) ). The venue can be easily accessed by catching a bus from JR Ōdate Station (大館駅前).
  • Two services are running by Shuhoku Bus (秋北バス) that you can catch. One is bound for Shishigamori via Jukai Dome (獅子ヶ森環状(樹海ドーム経由), which you need to get off at Ōdate Jukai Dome (大館樹海ドーム前), then walk for 4 minutes. You can refer to the timetable HERE.
  • The other one is bound for Kosaka (小坂線), where you need to get off at Ōdate Jukai Dome Entrance (大館樹海ドーム入口), and then walk for 7 minutes. The timetable for this route can be found HERE.
  • Note there are only Japanese timetables available at the moment, so match the Japanese name of the bus stops on the timetable.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions of Ōdate city!

How to Get to Ōdate City

By Airplane

The closest airport to Ōdate city is the Ōdate-Noshiro Airport (大館能代空港). After you get to the airport, you can then get a connecting bus to Odate city. The bus trip takes around an hour and costs 940 yen one-way (there are currently two services per day corresponding to ANA’s flight schedule). Other access methods from the airport can be found HERE on the airport’s official website.

By Train

  • From JR Hirosaki Station, take the trains running on the Ōu Line (奥羽本線), and it will take you directly to JR Ōdate Station.
  • For information on how to get to JR Hirosaki Station, please refer to the access in our Hirosaki City article.

Explore Other Cities Nearby

Ōdate city offers a great countryside vibe to its visitors. But if you are like us, who love shopping and exploring museums/historical buildings, then make sure to put Akita City on your itinerary as well!

Hirosaki-Castle-Sannomaru-Otemon-Gate-Aomori-Japan
Find out more about all the great attractions in Hirosaki city with our article!

It can be accessed by a direct train, albeit the travel time is around two hours (´▽`*).

If we were you, we would plan our trip like this: Hirosaki city → Ōdate city → Akita city → other parts of Japan that you want to visit. The reason is that Ōdate city is just between Hirosaki and Akita. Also, if you are traveling to the top part of Japan’s main island, Hirosaki city is really a place that you won’t want to miss out on! Why? Find out the answer in our Hirosaki City!

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