This small town lost in the wilderness of Akita prefecture, just south of Lake Tazawa-ko, is distinguished by its well-preserved samurai quarter and renowned for its splendid cherry blossoms in April.
Kakunodate is by no means a major tourist destination, and its remoteness restrain its interest almost only to travellers to the Tōhoku region.
When it was established in 1620 by Ashina Yoshikatsu, brother of the lord of Akita, Kakunodate had 80 samurai residences and 350 merchant houses. Only a dozens have survive, and most only date from the 19th century and many are still lived in.
The few samurai houses open to the public are : Aoyagi-ke (￥500, open April-Nov 9am-5pm, Dec-March 9am-4pm), Ishiguro-ke (￥300, open 9am-5pm) and the adjoining Denshokan Museum (￥300), Memorial Art Museum (￥300, open April-Nov 9am-5pm; Dec-March closed Mon) and Kawarada-ke & Samurai Museum.
You can also visit Suzuki Shuzoten, a 300-year old sake brewery, famous for Hideyoshi brand.
How to get there
In spite of its remote location, Kakunodate is easily accessible by train as it is on the Shinkansen Komachi line to Akita. The journey from Tokyo (￥9,000) takes just 3 hours and 15 minutes without any change of train required. Alternatively, Kakunodate is 45 minutes either from Morioka (￥1,110) or from Akita (￥1,280) on the same line.
Coming from Aomori, the quickest way again via Morioka, and the trip takes about 2 hours 30 minutes (￥4,300).