Meet the Akita-inu Tour: Discovering the hidden charms of Northern Akita and Hachimantai area
Looking for a tranquil mountain retreat? Here is a perfect place in the north region of Japan: the northern Akita and Hachimantai area, with towns nestled off the beaten path, known for ski resorts, wildflower hikes, natural hot springs, quaint local culture, and Akita-inu dogs.
The area of northern Akita and Hachimantai is situated in the north part of Japan's mainland, blessed with rich natural resources that brought wealth and culture while it flourished in the mining industry. Since the northern region is far from the political center of Japan, it has retained the idyllic and serene atmosphere, is favored by tourists wanting to relax in an exquisite natural setting.
This area and its environs have famous sightseeing spots of Japan, including Towada Lake, Tazawa Lake, and Kakunodate samurai district. Furthermore, there are also many places to explore and things to do and see.
In March 2019, a tourist association "Akita Inu Tourism" and the collaborative companies organized an event to promote the area and held a familiarization tour. Having taken part in the tour gave us a chance to find the hidden charms and attractions scattered in the area, and here is a series of articles about what we saw and experienced on the 2-day trip.
Northern Akita Area - Odate Kitaakita, Kosaka, Kamikoani
The home of Akita-inu dogs (Akita dogs), provides many places where the fluffy dogs welcome you with a smile.
Kosaka Town 小坂
The town formerly flourished in the mining industry, reserving the atmosphere of the back in the good old days. In May and June, the acacia flower of 300 thousand trees blooms and fills the town with its sweet scent.
A historic Japanese inn with authentic hot springs known for its skin benefits. The renovated rooms are in a modern Japanese style, fully fit in with the ritzy wooden building originally built in 1893.
Matagi Museum and Utto hotsprings "Mataginoyu"
This is the place where you can learn what Matagi is, and also offers a chance to experience bear meat dishes and fresh milky Sake.
A picturesque mountain site on the outskirts of Towada-Hachimantai National Park, known for ski resorts, wildflower hikes, and quality hot springs. In Spring, the corridor of snow and cherry blossoms attract visitors.
Getting to and around there
From Tokyo to Morioka by train
A gateway to this area is Morioka Station (盛岡駅) on the Shinkansen Line, is about 2 hours and 15 minutes by Shinkansen "Hayabusa " departing from Tokyo Station. Taking the train "Komachi" on the same line requires a bit more time, will be approximately 3 hours.
From Morioka Station (both West and East Exit) bus services are operated between major places in the area. For example, the bus served between Morioka Sta. to Hachimantai Mountain Hotel & Spa, is about 40-minute ride and runs every one hour on the daytime.
From Morioka Station, you can also take a local train "Hanawa Line 花輪線 " bound for Odate, another option to travel around the area.
From Tokyo to Kakunodate by train
Kakunodate Station (角館駅) , another gateway to this area, is reachable from Tokyo Station by the shinkansen train "Komachi", is about 3 hours. From the Kakunodate Station, you can take a local train "the Akita Nairiku Line 秋田内陸線", running through the scenic mountain area and takes you to the Odate City.
From Tokyo or other cities by air
For people who want to quickly travel around Japan from south to north/east to west, air transportation may be convenient. There are three airports in the region, Odate-Noshiro airport, Akita airport, and Iwate Hanamaki airport. The flight operated between Tokyo Haneda airport and Odate airport is about a 70-minute flight.
Akita airport and Iwate Hanamaki airport which operate domestic flights between major cities in western/southern Japan are somewhat far away from the northern Akita area, but it is accessible by public transport. (Some of the flight routes are shown on this map here.)
One thing suggested is that you consider the weather condition when planning your travel by air, especially during the winter season as the flight may be canceled due to snow.
The map below is of the northern Akita and Hachimantai area showing the places we visited on the Meet the Akita-inu Tour and some of the other tourist attractions there.
The area has an abundance and variety of great places, more detailed information and beautiful photos can be found on the website Akitainu tourism and Visit Hachimantai which help you get the most out of your stay there.
Visit Hachmantai by Hachimantai DMO Inc.
Akita Nairiku Line
Iwate Kenpou Bus (Northern Iwate Transportation Inc.)