8 Reasons Why Akita is Japan’s Best Kept Secret
Japan has become one of the top destinations for Malaysia since they lift the visa restrictions a few years ago. They are getting record high tourists arrivals from Malaysia and it increases year to year basis. The direct flights from Malaysia to Japan are limited to a few cities and they are Osaka, Tokyo, Narita and Hokkaido. Thus, many travellers choose to travel nearby those cities.
Japan offers more than that. In fact, we visited one of the best kept secret of Japan, the city of Akita. Akita is a prefecture (state) of Japan located in the Tohuku region of northern Honshu in the main island of Japan and the capital is the city of Akita. It is not a popular region to travel as it is quite far from the popular cities. However, what you are going to discover in Akita is more than meets the eye. That’s why we listed 8 Reasons Why Akita is Japan’s Best Kept Secret
1. The Landscape
The landscape of Akita reminds me of the ‘old Japan’ that Japanese series we watched on TV during the 1980s. The laid back city offers traditional Japanese homes (not ancient) with lots of greens, mirror-like lake, skiing mountains, paddy fields and the clean air.
You can hardly spot a skyscraper in Akita and this is a dreams come true. This is the place to visit if you are bored with the concrete jungles of cities like Tokyo or Osaka.
We walked in the morning by the paddy fields and catching the fresh air of Akita. This is the real feeling of Japan and how we love this place. There is least pollution and the landscape is as pure as it can be.
We also visited the Oga region of Akita, a quiet peninsula with lots of culture, myths, good food and scenery. You can read all about Oga at https://www.placesandfoods.com/2016/04/five-things-you-must-do-in-oga-japan.html
Ask any Japanese about Akita and they will talk about the ladies. The prettiest girls in Japan come from Akita. This is the truth and not a myth.
If you are looking for a girlfriend or partner, you probably can find one in Akita. However, the reality is they often travel to the main cities for work so the chances of you seeing them in Akita is slim. You never try you never know. We did spot quite a number of pretty girls in Akita.
The legendary Hachiko the dog of Japan, he comes from Akita. In fact, he is the Akita dog and born near a farm in Odate Akita. You probably find quite a number of Hachiko alike dogs in Akita.
The Lake Tazawa or Tazawako is one of the most breath taking lake we have seen. The mirror-like lake is home to the legendary Tatsuko, the golden lady sculpture on the lake. It is said that Tatsuko and Prince Hachirotaro were so deep the lake will not freeze during winter. You can spend hours enjoying the view of Tazawako and this feels like heaven on earth.
The beauty of Japan is each and every province in the country has its own unique food. This brings out the character and the identity of each prefecture and this is the same goes to Akita.
We didn’t try the popular dishes in Akita but we did try some of their famous local product such as rice, noodles and fish. In fact, we find the food in Akita very healthy with lots of greens and lesser deep fried food. Some of the unique food we tasted includes Ishiyaki Ryori with Arakabu Fish and Nagashi somen.
The Hachimantai National Park in Akita is a beautiful national park which is popular with ski activities during winter. In this national park, there are seven onsen (natural hot springs). The onsen here are extremely popular with locals and tourists and the national park is very close to the scenic Tazawa Lake.
Onsen is extremely popular in Japan and the water from underground contains minerals with natural healing effects. Thus, everyone must be naked in onsen and you are recommended to dip into the hot pool for 15 minutes max to avoid dehydration.
You can find male and female onsen only as well as mixed gender onsen in Akita. Yes, you read it right there are mixed gender onsen in Akita so male and female can dip into the same hot spring naked. It is hard to find mixed gender onsen in Japan but you can find them in Akita.
Namahage are considered as gods of Akita. They are the myths and legends of this prefecture. They often wear ‘demonic’ a-like masks and it is the icon of Oga and Akita Prefecture.
However, the tales behind the Namahage legend is rather unique. Once a year, the Namahage gods will enter houses to try to kidnap the children and it is either the parents or the grandparents duties to save them. This is to show how brave the parents and grandparents are to protect them from the Namahage gods.
The intention of the kidnappings attempts is to create fear to children and also for family bonding. It is a weird methodology but they still practise it up to today. At Namahage Museum, you get to learn the complete history as well as the variations of Namahage Gods. You can find many Namahage Gods museum, performances and even souvenirs in Akita.
8.The Homestay Experience
Homestay is the best way to experience the local culture, food and the way of living and life of a place. Homestay in Akita is an eye opener for us. It is a totally different experience than staying in hotels or even in hostels.
We had friendly hosts and we stayed in traditional Japanese house. What impressed us is how the locals prepare their food as well as getting to know their work as well as their culture. It feels participating a short culture exchange program.
For full details on our homestay experience you can read it at https://www.placesandfoods.com/2015/12/homestay-experience-in-akita-japan.html
Of course there are plenty more reasons than our 8 Reasons Why Akita is Japan’s Best Kept Secret. We travelled around in Akita with a reliable travel company Wendy Tour from Japan which is based in Kuala Lumpur. They work closely with Akita Tourism board to provide the best deal and experiences for Wendy Tour customers. Thus, if you are looking for Akita Japan Tour from Malaysia, Wendy Tour is the best choice!
This trip and story is sponsored by Tourism Akita and Wendy Tour.