Akita City is situated in the mid-west of Akita Prefecture with the Dewa Mountains in the east and the Sea of Japan in the west, which is why Akita has some of the most beautiful sunsets in the country. There are not many large cities in this part of Japan, so Akita is an important center for industry with its port. The city has a long history going back all the way to the 8th century, but there is not much left of the old city.
The city’s heyday was in the 17th century, which is when Akita was the capital of the region under the feudal system. Nowadays it is a green city with a large park, which makes it a pleasant city to live in harmony with nature. Senshu Park is where the castle of the lord used to stand, which is why there is a moat around the park. There is a reconstruction of Kubota Castle in the park, and there are a few old temples, shrines, and mansions of rich farmers that recall some of the city’s history.
Akita Prefectural Museum
You can find the Akita Prefectural Museum opposite of Senshu Park. The modern museum building was designed by Tadao Ando, one of the most famous contemporary architects in Japan. He often uses simple concrete walls for his buildings.
The main exhibition of the museum is a huge mural painting ‘Akita no Gyoji’, meaning annual events in Akita, by Tsuguharu Fujita. He stayed in Akita when he was invited by Masakichi Hirano in 1937, and painted the artwork in his rice storage space. From the museum’s coffee shop you have a good view of Senshu Park.
Akita Kanto Matsuri
The most famous festival in Akita is the Akita Kanto Matsuri which is celebrated in the first week of August. The purpose of the festival is to pray for a good harvest, and it is one of the great four Tohoku Festivals. You can see tall bamboo poles covered with dozens of lanterns being carried through the streets by participants, which is especially spectacular by night.
The Suburbs of Akita City
It is said that some of the best rice in Japan, Akita Komachi, is grown in the surrounding area of Akita. It was named after Onono Komachi, a waka poet who was said to be the most beautiful woman in history. In Japan, the ladies of Akita are regarded as the most beautiful women in Japan. The image of women from Akita is that they have pale skin, small faces, and long noses, which are all regarded as standards of beauty in Japan. It is said that clean air and water and high-quality rice contribute to the ladies’ beauty. Whether it is scientifically true remains to be proven. What definitely did become better because of the superior rice quality and pure water is the sake from Akita.
If you go to the Tsuchizaki Port area, you will find Port Tower Selion, a symbol tower with a height of 143 meters. There are ferries going to Hokkaido and Niitaga from the port.
Let’s not forget about one of the most famous ‘export products’ from Akita, the Akita-inu, or Akita dog. It is a native Japanese breed of dogs and designated as a natural monument by the national government. Akita dogs are very loyal to their owners, and they perform well as watchdogs and during hunting.
The most famous Akita dog may be Hachiko, a dog continued to come to Shibuya Station for 10 years after the owner died, because the dog didn’t understand that its owner died. You will find Hachiko’s statue in front of Shibuya Station in Tokyo, and you can see his moving story in the movie ‘Hachi’ starring Richard Gere.