We will explore Kakunodate, a small town with a well-preserved samurai district in Akita.
Kakunodate is a former castle town which flourished during the Edo period. Known as the “Little Kyoto of Tohoku”, the town is home to a district consisting of samurai residences and traditional architecture popular with both domestic and international tourists. The samurai residences lining the town's most famous street are nationally protected Traditional Buildings. Previously housing about 80 families, the Kakunodate samurai district is a fine example of samurai architecture. Its wide streets and large courtyards are shaded by weeping cherry trees that bloom in early May. The wide streets are filled with Hanami tourists during this time.
It is possible to see how middle-class and wealthy samurai families might have lived in six of the samurai houses that remain intact. The Aoyagi House and the Ishiguro House stand out for their size and quality among the six open houses.
There are numerous centuries-old gardens and houses, including the Aoyagi Samurai House, one of the best-preserved samurai manor houses in Japan. Featuring a main house, armory, antique museum, tea room, gift shops, and a beautiful garden, this open-air museum is a must-see attraction. Ishiguro House, where descendants of samurai live, is another impressive building. Here, you can view a collection of samurai clothing and armor, along with some drawings and artwork.
With dozens of trees lined along the wide streets and thatched residences hidden behind black fences, the town has remained relatively unchanged since its founding in 1620.
If you are looking for a historical and cultural experience in Japan, you should visit Kakunodate, a charming town that preserves the legacy of the samurai. Kakunodate was once a prosperous castle town during the Edo period, and it earned the nickname of “Little Kyoto of Tohoku” for its elegant and refined atmosphere. You can walk along the streets lined with samurai residences and traditional buildings that are designated as national cultural assets. You will feel like you have traveled back in time to the feudal era as you admire the architecture and gardens of the town. Kakunodate is a popular destination for both Japanese and foreign tourists who want to enjoy the beauty and history of this unique place.
One of the most impressive examples of samurai architecture and housing in Japan is the Kakunodate samurai district, where about 80 families used to live. The district has wide streets and large courtyards that are covered by many weeping cherry trees that blossom in early May. During this season, many hanami tourists come to enjoy the scenery. Six of the remaining samurai houses are open to the public and show how samurai families of different social classes lived. Among these six houses, the Aoyagi House and the Ishiguro House stand out for their size and quality.
Ashina Yoshikatsu, a local lord, founded Kakunodate as a castle town in 1620. The town layout reflected a social division between the samurai district and the merchant district. The samurai district attracts more tourists, but the merchant district has its own historical and architectural attractions.
Kakunodate Kabazaiku Center is a shop that specializes in kabazaiku, a traditional craft of making objects from cherry bark. You can find various kinds of woodwork, folk crafts and local products from Akita prefecture. The shop has a natural wood interior that creates a warm and cozy atmosphere. You can also visit the Tomachi Town Museum, Tatetsuya, which is located next to the shop. It is a museum that showcases the history and culture of Kakunodate and its samurai district.
We highly recommend that you book our shore excursions now if you will be taking a cruise in 2025. 2023 has already seen large crowds, and 2024 will see even more. We expect many tourists will be unable to book their shore excursions in 2025, so please make your plan as soon as possible.