Kakunodate Samurai Residence Area is home to deep groves and stately mansion entrances that provide a glimpse of how the area looked during the feudal era. Enjoy a relaxing stroll through an impressive atmosphere that envelops the entire city, making it easy to see how Kakunodate earned its reputation as the little Kyoto of Tohoku. The town itself includes distinctly different atmospheres between the inner and outer areas with the samurai residences found around the town center, and traditional merchant houses located farther out.
Walking through the samurai residence area, visitors will find homes from notable historic figures, including Ishiguro manor, Aoyagi manor (the Aoyagi Samurai Manor Museum), Matsumoto manor, and Iwahashi manor. These buildings—many with interiors open to the public—provide a glimpse of the life of times gone by. Kakunodate Samurai Residence Area is also a popular cherry blossom viewing spot thanks to the splendid contrast of pink petals against the black fences. Hinokinai River is also well-known as a destination to view cherry blossoms, with a grand cherry blossom festival taking place every year.
The border separating the inner and outer areas of town is called Hiyoke (literally “fire control”) and serves as a fire prevention measure. This area was born out of the numerous fires that spread from the outskirts of Kakunodate throughout history. Today, many of the merchant homes outside of town have been renovated for use as restaurants and shops where visitors can enjoy delicious meals or find unique products. Founded in 1853, Ando Jyozo Honten is one of the more popular destinations, offering delicious miso and soy sauce. In addition to a shop offering Ando products, the brewery also includes a rest space where weary travelers can relax.
With its treasure trove of ingredients, the little Kyoto of Tohoku is a charming destination with a variety of gourmet foods. Visitors to Kakunodate can sample all of Akita’s local specialties—from delicious Hinai-jidori chicken to kiritanpo (mashed rice grilled on skewers) and Inaniwa udon noodles—in a uniquely stylish Japanese atmosphere. To get a proper feel for the unique streetscape, a rickshaw ride is highly recommended!