"Sharrie's Akita Bliss" Akita by Sharrie

Akita Travel Guide: 29 reviews and 42 photos

It's my birthday & I took the day off every year. Yes, I'm lucky :) ! This year, I decided to take the whole week off instead. Many are having phobias about traveling now, but I'm not. Call it what you may, to me, it's all in God's hands. So, I flew on Northwest (I had this mileage ticket) to Japan instead. The flight was great, not crowded as usual (in fact, I counted, only 20% full)... but that's bad for the airline industry. Anyway, I tried to fill up the space :) & spent almost an entire day on the flight & the bullet train. I love to fly; it gives me a sense of the miracle of human accomplishments.

Having landed in Japan, another observation is that there's not many westerners in the immigration queue. Surprising how fast thing changes in life. Just a random thought...

Now, while in Japan I found out how important JR is. No, not JR Ewing nor JR Johnson (just can't help myself, lol...) but Japan Rail. Anyone who wish to go to Japan & travel across the country on free & easy, please remember to buy the voucher in exchange for a JR Pass! It's going to be very expensive otherwise. The 7 day pass costs me about US$240 & one is entitled to unlimited travel (except on Nozomi) in Japan. This is huge savings compared to paying for each sector like the Japanese do.

So much for random thoughts. Now, back to Akita. Well, not quite yet... Having landed at Narita Interntional Airport, I took the Narita Express (1 hour trip on the amazing bullet train) to Tokyo Station in Tokyo. Now, if you don't read any Japanese (be it Kanji, Hiragana or Katakana or all of them), it's going to be a nightmare. Tokyo Station is huge by world standard & all signs are in Japanese. There are also many platforms & tracks. In addition, even the Komachi (that's the name of the train on the route I'm heading) is complicated in that the cars will go on separate ways once it reached a certain destination. So, one has to make sure one gets onto the right car (or cabin). The trains are also compartmentalized into different sections like reserved/non-reserved seats & smoking/non-smoking seats. There's even different queues for different trains. It's like a maze. You can try your luck & ask anyone but chances are most don't understand you in English. So, when you are in a rush to catch the train (& connections) & boy, it's always on time, it's very exciting! I managed to find my way because I did a course in Japanese while in university. So, off I took the bullet train to Morioka... a 2 1/2 hour journey. Finally, I reached Morioka but it's already dark. Yes, the day is short; it's Autumn in Japan now. I was tired after checking into the hotel. So, that's how the first day ended. Not very exciting, isn't it? But, there's always the next day...

Today is a beautiful day. The sun is smiling at me unexpectedly (the forecast was a rainy day!). So, I'm happy as soon as I get out on the street towards the JR Station. Well, I know where I want to go. Now, the big question is how??? Having make the seat reservation for the 1st destination on the train, I was speeding towards the right platform looking for the right car & seat. Finally made it! Yeah, the trains in Japan are very punctual! I'm impressed... as impressed as with those of Swiss Rail. Perhaps it has to do with both the countries' expertise with clock & watch-making?! Oh, don't worry about breakfast either, there's lots of food to buy at the station. Hot canned drinks as well! Generally, it feels like taking the airplane, even the seats are similar!

Upon reaching Tazawako Station, I'm anxious to find out where the bus stop is & when the next bus leaves. Somehow, I managed. Took a short ride & finally reached Lake Tazawa! It's truly a beautiful sight! The waters is so calm & transparent. Almost paradise! I've the lake all to myself. The beauty of traveling on free & easy is that you don't have to share with the bus load of tourists & one can stay at a place for as long as one wishes. I almost couldn't believe my luck! This is just great! The weather is perfect with a slight breeze which is very pleasant to the senses. I had never expected such luxury in Japan. No resorts or hotels around the lake either. All there's is just the lake, the earth, the sky & me! What a wonderful wonderful world!

Ok, ok, I'm not dreaming... but as with all things in life, this is just one moment in time (realistically it's about 30 mins of my life). The tranquility is now interspersed with approaching footsteps of local tourists who are awaiting for the next cruise. From afar, the arrival of the cruise boat signaled a change in my reality. I've yet bought the ticket for the cruise around the lake. So, back I went to where the driver dropped me off earlier & after much "chattering" the 60+ year old Japanese finally understood what I wanted! Back to the lakeshore & onto the cruise boat for an hour cruise.

The cruise on the lake was pleasant enough though it'd be great if there's narration in English. Well, I spent most of my time out at the deck admiring the views anyway. It's almost 11 am now & instead of touring the country side & visiting each individual onsen I decided to move on. Back to the station for another city, Kakunodate, the samurai city! Well, it's where the samurais used to live about 400 years ago. I shall not elaborate here since you can read all about it under the "Must See" section; I fear I'm getting ahead of myself. In any case, Kakunodate is a must if you are one who is enchanted by the Japanese culture. It's one aspect of the ancient Japanese life which I've watched on the TV serials/movies since childhood.

Now, finally, AKITA! I reached Akita late afternoon & it was a refreshing change in that it's a typical modern Japanese city. The truth is that I didn't expect Akita to be so new & modern. It's a city tucked away on the north-eastern shore of the Honshu Island & hardly anyone has heard of it (except the Japanese, of course). So, it was a pleasant surprise & I love surprises. So much so that I'll be back one day!

Capital: Akita.
Population: 1,210,000.
Area: 11,612 sq. km.
Prefectural Flower: Butterbur.
Prefectural Wood: Akita cedar.
Prefectural Bird: Japanese pheasant.
Main Events: Namahage Festival.

My Itinerary in Tohoku:
Oct. 15
Tokyo ---> Morioka.
Oct. 16
Morioka ---> Tazawako ---> Kakunodate ---> Akita ---> Morioka.
Oct. 17
Morioka ---> Aomori ---> Oirase Stream ---> Towadako --->Aomori ---> Morioka.
Oct. 18
Morioka ---> Sendai.
Oct. 19
Sendai ---> Okama (Yamagata page) ---> Sendai.
Oct. 20
Sendai ---> Tokyo.
Oct. 21

  • Last visit to Akita: Oct 2001
  • Intro Updated Mar 21, 2004
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