All About Japan

5 Great Things to See in Akita City

| Museum , Akita

Akita City, home to 300,000, is not often at the top of anyone's list of places to visit in Japan. But that's unfortunate because it has a rich history and culture that includes a lively festival and a famous artist. Akita has many places you can visit to learn about the history, culture and crafts of the city.

5. Kanto Festival

The Kanto Festival is held August 3-6 every year to pray for a good harvest of five grains, chief among them, rice. The highlight of this lively festival are the over 200 kanto light poles. A kanto is an eight to twelve meter long bamboo pole decorated with lanterns. Each kanto can weigh up to 50 kilograms (110 lbs), and one man carries one kanto balancing it on his palm, hip, shoulder and even on his forehead. The men practice all year for this festival.

4. Akita City Folklore &Performing Arts Center

If you cannot get to Akita for the Kanto Festival, you can still possibly catch a live re-enactment of part of it at the Akita City Folklore and Performing Arts Center if you are in town on a weekend or national holiday. You can even try to carry one of the kanto yourself! This small museum has displays about the Kanto Festival on the first floor. The second floor has exhibits about other festivals in the city that include mannequins wearing the traditional festival outfits.

3. Akita Akarenga Red Brick Folk Museum

3. Akita Akarenga Red Brick Folk Museum

This building was originally built in 1912 and was the location of the main branch of Akita Bank until 1969. Noted for its red brick exterior and Baroque-style interior, which has been preserved, the building was reopened in 1985 as a museum dedicated to showing off not just the architecture of the building itself, but also as a folk museum with exhibits on local Akita arts, crafts and culture.

2. Akita Senshu Museum of Art

2. Akita Senshu Museum of Art

Akita City has several art museums of note. The Akita Museum of Art, opened in 2012, has visiting exhibits as well as a permanent collection housing a number of masterpieces including a large number of paintings by Akita native, Tsuguhara Fujita (aka Leonard Foujita). He spent much of his career in Paris and is best known for his paintings of cats. One of his paintings on display in the museum, "Events of Akita," is among the largest, if not the largest, canvas paintings in the world and depicts Akita's different festivals throughout the year.

1. Senshu Park

1. Senshu Park

Senshu Park is a very large park on the site of the former Kubota Castle. The wooden front gate and one of the turrets, Osumiyagura Turret, have been rebuilt. The turret is open to the public and the observation floor offers a good view of the city. The park is famous for its cherry blossoms in early spring and its azaleas later in the season. Within the park are several shrines, gardens and a museum on the history of the Satake family that lived in Kubota Castle and once ruled over the area. As you stroll through the park you can see the remains of the moat and some ruins of the once formidable walls.