One hour drive from the modern city center of Akita, there is a place leaving the spirits of samurai, Kakunodate. Here, you can visit traditional residences of six samurais (Ishiguro, Aoyagi, Iwahashi, Odano, Onozaki, Kawarada, and Matsumoto) and catch a glimpse of their lives in ancient times. You can even try the rickshaw to look around old residences with cheerful and informative explanations from the rickshaw man. The refinedness and magnificence of Kakunodate streets will definitely dazzle your eyes.
The Kakunodate district is designated as one of the “Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings” and very popular as an unparalleled shooting place for filming samurai movies. For example, the movie “Tasogare-Seibei” was shot mainly in the residence of samurai “Iwahashi” and “Matsumoto.” In the craft center, you can meet craftsmen making traditional wooden crafts called “Kabazaiku” mainly made from the bark of mountain cherry blossom. The cup, brooch or chopsticks must be a good choice as souvenirs.
The history of Kakunodate
The street of Kakunodate was first constructed by an influential samurai, “Ashina” family in 1620. They widened the street, introduced drain system, and created special area called “Hiyoke-chi” aiming for protecting city from fire disasters. The Hiyoke-chi penetrated city from east to west and divided city into two districts so that the fire broke out in one city does not spread into another. The city for samurais in the north was called Uchi-machi and city for merchants in the south was called Soto-machi. If you closely look at the place names in Kakunodate, you will find that there are two terms “Cho” and “Machi” which respectively derives from ancient city names of Samurais (Cho) and merchants (Machi). Like this, some traces of traditions are still seen here and there in Kakunodate. After Ashina, the management of city was passed down to the hands of samurai “Satake-Kita” family and Kakunodate prospered as a castle town.
Sakura in Kakunodate
Not only the architectures, but also the natures one can enjoy in Kakunodate. Worthy of special mention is definitely the cherry blossoms. In spring during the Sakura festival, you can enjoy Somei-Yoshino blooming along the riverside and Shidare-Zakura (weeping cherry blossom) in Kakunodate Street. It is said that they were brought to Kakunodate from Kyoto 350 years ago.
- Senboku city, Akita prefecture
- Parking Fee
- 500 yen