3 Day Trip to Iwate and Akita: Nature & Hot Springs

Area Map 青森県 岩手県 宮城県 秋田県 山形県 福島県 新潟県

Akita and Iwate can be found towards the northern part of Tohoku and share a border along the Towada-Hachimantai National Park.


This course starts not far from Morioka Station, which can be reached in two and a half hours from Tokyo.

START
Day1
 
 

Koiwai Farm

Recharge your batteries in this massive farmland backed by stunning views of Mount Iwate!

Koiwai Farm
With a history stretching back over 120 years, Koiwai Farm is an important local landmark with part of its vast 3,000-hectare grounds, known as “Makiba-en”, open to the public. Visitors can enjoy the gorgeous natural surroundings, learn about the production of a range of dairy products and visit some of the 21 buildings on the farm designated Important Cultural Properties.
The precious buildings include the farm’s original head office referenced in the work of the acclaimed poet Kenji Miyazawa, along with a number of cattle barns and silos. Most of the functioning buildings were constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A number of guided tours are available, those that take a look inside these buildings not generally open to the public are particularly popular. The forest rejuvenation tour is another favourite with visitors. The tour travels around the farm’s private forest area on a special tractor-pulled carriage and includes a guided walk in the woodlands.
A wide range of activities is available including horseback riding, butter churning, trampolining and shepherding performances.
Visitors can enjoy sampling a number of dishes and sweets made with fresh farm produce. Their ice cream made with fresh milk produced on the farm in particular is a must-try!
On winter evenings the farm transforms into a magical wonderland of colourful illuminated displays, one of the most popular winter attractions in Tohoku, fascinating its many visitors.
The farm’s famous lone cherry blossom tree, standing alone in a field with Mount Iwate in the background, is simply beautiful when in full bloom.
A thematic journey in the Tohoku region:Outdoor activities
 

Tsunagi Onsen

A popular hot spring on the outskirts of Morioka, discovered by the famous warrior Minamoto no Yoshiie

Tsunagi Onsen
Tsunagi Onsen is located near Lake Gosho, a popular scenic location with views of Mount Iwaki and the impressive Tsunagi Bridge spanning the breadth of the lake.
With a history stretching back 900 years, Tsunagi Onsen is a popular hot spring on the outskirts of Morioka. The Onsen was named “Tsunagi” (tether) from when the famous samurai warrior Minamoto no Yoshiie took a bath while his horse was tied to a stone. The stone came to be known as Tsunagi Stone and can now be seen at the Tsunagi Onsen Shrine. The alkaline hot spring water is rich in metasilicic acid, a natural moisturiser, and is known to promote beautiful skin by removing waste products from the body and making the skin smooth.
Tsunagi Onsen is a 30-minute drive from Morioka station. Along with the nearby Koiwai Farm and Morioka Tezukuri Mura arts and crafts centre, the Onsen offers easy access to local attractions including Lake Towada, Mount Hachimantai, Kakunodate, Jodogahama Beach and Hiraizumi. The Onsen offers a wide range of hot spring inns suitable for all visitors and is the perfect location to stay while travelling around Northern Tohoku.
Visitors can enjoy the seasonal scenery of Lake Gosho with springtime cherry blossoms, verdant summer greens, vibrant autumn leaves and snowy winter scenes. The fireworks display over the lake during the summer festival is particularly spectacular.
Day2
 
 
 

Samurai District

Travel back in time to the Edo period in the “Little Kyoto of Tohoku”!

Samurai District
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 two-kilometres in radius 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.
Though some of them are still functioning homes, the residences are open to the public so visitors can get a feel for the traditional samurai life. Tourists can travel back in time to the Edo period by strolling around the traditional streets in an antique Kimono from one of the rental stores in town! A rickshaw ride from the Kakunodate Denshokan Museum will enhance the experience.
The town is charming throughout the year with springtime cherry blossoms, verdant summer greens, colourful autumn leaves and snowy winter scenes. Springtime is particularly popular with people coming for cherry blossom viewing from late April to early May. The traditional district features a row of weeping cherry blossom trees whose pink flowers bloom in beautiful contrast with the black walls of samurai residences, 162 of the 400 weeping cherry trees are designated natural treasures.
The samurai district is a 15 to 20-minute walk from JR Kakunodate station. Be sure to pick up the handy map and brochures available at the tourist information centre, located in a building resembling a traditional storehouse in front of the station!
A thematic journey in the Tohoku region:Castles・SamuraiA thematic journey in the Tohoku region:Flowers

Lunch at around Kakunodate

 
 
 

Lake Tazawa

Get spiritual at Japan’s deepest lake with mysterious cobalt blue water!

Lake Tazawa
Lake Tazawa (Tazawako) is a stunning lake in Akita and has been selected as one of the 100 most scenic spots in Japan.
It is the deepest lake in Japan, with a depth of 423.4 meters. The surface of the lake changes from brilliant lapis lazuli to azure to indigo and is worth seeing. Take a cruise on a sightseeing boat, or take a paddle boat, canoe, kayak, SUP to enjoy the waters of the lake. It is also worth cycling, trekking, or driving along the lakeside to see the colors change across the lake. For those who want to stay longer, set up camp and see the changes with the time of day.
The Statue of Tatsuko is a golden female statue which stands against the backdrop of this magnificent lake. It is a famous spot by Lake Tazawa erected based on a legend that once upon a time, a girl named Tatsuko, who wished to keep her beauty forever, turned into a dragon and threw herself into Lake Tazawa. But there is more to this legend. In Hachirogata, or Hachiro Lagoon, there was a man named Hachiro Taro transformed into a dragon, and he fell in love with Tatsuko. As the two began to live together in Lake Tazawa, the lake became deeper and deeper without freezing in winter. In contrast, Hachiro Lagoon became shallower and shallower with each passing year when its master disappeared. 
There are three statues associated with the Tatsuko Legend; the others being Tatsuko Kannon on the east shore of the lake and Tatsuko Hime (Princess Tatsuko) on the grounds of the Gozanoishi Shrine. Ukiki Shrine, located right next to the Statue of Tatsuko, is a power spot for marriage. Gozanoishi Shrine, which enshrines Tatsuko Hime no Kami as its main deity, is said to be bring beauty. The red torii gate is a popular photo spot.

Stay one night in Nyuto Onsenkyo

These seven hidden hot springs nestled in the mountains are a must visit!

Stay one night in Nyuto Onsenkyo
Nyuto Onsenkyo is a hot spring town famous throughout Japan for its hidden hot springs. The area consists of seven hot spring resorts, each with its own unique hot spring source. Since there is a wide variety of spring qualities and inns, it is recommended to enjoy each one by visiting the various hot spring baths.
For 600 yen, you can purchase a Yumeguri Map for unlimited rides on the Yumeguri-go bus that circles around Nyuto Onsenkyo for one day, making it a convenient way to get around. Guests can purchase a Yumeguri-cho booklet for 1,800 yen, which includes bathing fees for the seven hot springs. Both are available at the front desk of each inn.
Day3
 
 
 

Senshu Park

Autumn leaves of Kubota Castle

Senshu Park
Senshu Park is the site of the 200,000 stone castle of Satake of the Akita Domain and is also a stunning location when the autumn leaves are in full bloom from mid-October to early November. <br> From here you can enjoy views of Akita City from the observation room of the Osumi-Yagura turret. Check out the view with Kubota Castle Front Gate and the Satake Historical Material Museum for a memorable autumn view.

Lunch in Akita city

Inaniwa Udon Noodles

Lunch in Akita city
Inaniwa-cho in the city of Yuzawa in Akita prefecture is the hometown of Inaniwa Udon noodles. The smooth, chewy noodles are hand-made using the traditional processes of kneading, pounding and stretching. Praised nationally as one of Japan’s three best noodles, Inaniwa Udon was used as a traditional offering to landlords and as gifts between feudal lords travelling to and from Edo (Tokyo) during the Edo period. In addition to the city of Yuzawa, there are a number of restaurants throughout Akita offering popular Inaniwa Udon.


Search Restaurants
 
 

Ogashinzan Folklore Museum

The traditional folk event "Namahage of Oga" demonstration is so powerful!

Ogashinzan Folklore Museum
“Namahage” is a folk ritual performed throughout the Oga Peninsula and surrounding areas. Each New Year’s Eve fierce demons known as Namahage visit each house to frighten misbehaved children. Despite their scary appearance, the Namahage are gods bringing the local people warnings against laziness as well as blessings for the wellbeing of their families and rich harvests from the mountains and the sea for the coming year.
The Ogashinzan Folklore Museum gives visitors the chance to learn about and experience the Namahage folklore tradition. The museum is in a traditional thatched-roof farmhouse known as Magariya (“bent house”) connected in an L-shape with a horse stable. Visitors seat themselves in the tatami-floored room beside a traditional “Irori” fireplace while listening to an explanation of the Namahage and viewing a live performance.
The fierce Namahage, stomping around the room and crying out for badly behaved children, are vigorous and frightening. Be sure to collect some of the fallen straw from the Namahage’s costumes which is said to be a charm against evil spirits. Please don’t pull at the costumes too forcefully though!
The nearby Namahage Museum offers a variety of displays on the Namahage and offers visitors the chance to dress-up in a Namahage costume. Enjoy discovering the folk culture of Namahage, officially recognised as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage!
 

Namahage Museum

The collection of 150 hand-carved Namahage masks is a must see! Enjoy dressing up in a real Namahage costume!

Namahage Museum
Namahage is a traditional folk event on the Oga Peninsula. Namahage wears an ogre mask and cries out, "Are there any crying children?" and is mistaken for a bad guy who makes children cry.In truth, however, he is a god who comes every New Year's Eve to warn people against laziness and to bring good health, good harvest in the fields, good harvest in the mountains, and good harvest in the sea.
The Namahage Museum introduces the history and culture of Namahage. The Namahage display corner features 150 diverse masks that were actually used in each village. In the Lore Hall, the movie "One Night of Namahage," which introduces the Namahage culture on New Year's Eve, is shown.
There is a corner where visitors can dress up in Namahage costumes and have their picture taken, and a souvenir corner where Namahage goods can be purchased. If you are lucky, you can watch a Namahage carver demonstrate hand-carving masks. (This event is held irregularly).
Next to the Namahage Museum is the Oga Mayama Folklore Museum, where Namahage demonstrations can be seen. Visit both and enjoy the Namahage, which has been registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
 
 
GOAL
  • Koiwai Farm
  • Tsunagi Onsen
  • Samurai District
  • Lake Tazawa
  • Stay one night in Nyuto Onsenkyo
  • Senshu Park
  • Ogashinzan Folklore Museum
  • Namahage Museum

You might also be
interested in…

Nature and hot springs in Aomori and Iwate (3 days / 2 nig…
View Details
Highlights of Sendai, Matsushima and Hiraizumi (2 days)
View Details
Historic tour and hot springs in Sendai and Yamagata (2 da…
View Details
The best of Niigata, Yamagata and Akita along the sea of J…
View Details
Historic and nature tour of Aizu and Niigata (3 days / 2 n…
View Details
Historic tour of Sendai, Matsushima and Aizu (2 days)
View Details
Historical and cultural tour of the Jomon and Heian period…
View Details