Spring has come! Beautiful cherry blossoms, “sakura” in Japanese, are blooming all over Japan in this spring time! Whenever I see cherry blossoms, I feel so relaxed. I guess it applies to many people in Japan or visitors as well.
Kakunodate in Semboku city, Akita, is one of the famous Sakura spots in Tohoku (the northern Japan).
It has been recognized as one of the Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Viewing Sites. So, I believe that this town is one of the best places to travel in Tohoku, Japan! It’s a beautiful place actually. Also, Kakunodate is called as “Little Kyoto” because of its historical Samurai (Japanese old warriors) District, called “Bukeyashiki”. You can enjoy traditional Japanese Samurai residences and cherry blossoms at the same time in spring.
Kakunodate is an old castle town founded around 1620 by the Ashina clan. Later, the town became ruled by the North Satake family. The Samurai houses in Kakunodate are said to remain since then until today. So you can feel the historical atmosphere when you walk along the street. Uchimachi, a district of Samurai houses, is located in front of the castle.
Well-known Samurai houses are the Aoyagi Manor, the Ishiguro Manor, the Iwahashi Manor, the Kawarada Manor and more. The Aoyagi Manor is a shooting place of a movie “Kakushi-ken Oni-no-Tsume (The Hidden Blade)” directed by Yoji Yamada in 2004. Also, visitors can take a look at the museums, tea shops, and experience Samurai costume or Kimono (traditional Japanese clothes).
In the narrow street coming out of the main street, you’ll find a small simple Samurai house, the Matsumoto Manor. Together with the Iwahashi Manor, this is the shooting place of “Tasogare Seibei (Twilight Samurai)” directed by Yoji Yamada in 2002. Please check all the Samurai houses because they’re all attractive!
The fee depends on each house. You may ask more details at the Tourism Center in front of Kakunodate station or the Kaba Craft Densho-kan museum in the center of the main street. (*Go to Official Website! )
On the other hand, Tomachi is a district of merchant. Many old storehouses and buildings are renovated to today’s shops and restaurants in Tomachi. I prefer walking around the area rather than driving a car because I can directly see the historical buildings, and sometimes, find lovely cafes standing there secretly. So, please don’t miss small sweets shops, gift shops, restaurants, old Kura (storehouses) and more fancy shops in addition to visiting the Samurai houses!
Between the end of April and the beginning of May, the contrast between black Samurai houses and pink cherry blossoms becomes really beautiful. This scenery can be seen only in this season! (Some local people recommend me about the contrast in winter, though. The black Samurai houses and white snow are also attractive, too! Come and check! )
About “Somei-Yoshino”, the weeping cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, there are about 400 weeping cherry trees standing along the Hinokinai River. However, they have begun with only three trees around the 17th century. At that time, the second lord of Kakunodate married a woman from Kyoto. The princess is said to have brought three cherry saplings at her marriage. Over hundreds of years, lots of the Somei-Yoshino still attracts many people nowadays. How wonderful!
When you visit Kakunodate in spring, I guess you’ll like an amazing tunnel of Sakura along the Hinokinai River as well as the Samurai street. Oh, don’t forget to try tasty Japanese sweets and foods, too! Please discover your favorites there.
~~~ Facility Info ~~~
Kakunodate, Semboku City, Akita, Japan
＊About 10 minutes on foot or about 5 minutes by car・taxi from JR Kakunodate Station
＊By Bullet Train: About 3 hours from Tokyo
＊By Bullet Train: About 45 minutes from JR Akita Station
＊By Train: About 1 hour 20 minutes (Change lines at JR Omagari Station)
＊From Akita Expressway (Akita-chuo IC): About 1 hour 10 minutes by car・taxi
＊From Akita Airport: About 45 minutes by car・taxi
Written by Naomi in Ugo
*As of May, 2021.