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Akita City

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Akita City
Akita City
Akita City in Akita
Location in Akita
Physical characteristics
Area905.67 km²
Population317,236 (as of 2015-05-01)
TreeZelkova (けやき)
FlowerSatsuki azalea (さつき)
City emblem
City Hall
MayorMotomu Hotzumi (穂積 志)
Address1-1-1 Sanno, Akita-Shi
Akita 010-8560
(〒010-8560 秋田県
Telephone☎ 018-863-2222

Akita City (秋田市; -shi) is the largest city and capital of Akita Prefecture. It is the third largest city in the Tohoku Region and one of 37 designated Core Cities in Japan. Akita City is the largest city in Japan south of Sapporo and north of Sendai.


The history of the city goes back to 733 AD when a castle was built on Takashimizu Hill and the castle became the administration center of the Hokuu(北羽) Region. In 1604, the area around the castle began to develop as a town called Kubota. In 1871, the town's name was changed from Kubota to Akita. In 1880, the castle burned down, and that misfortune was followed up in 1886 when the Tawaraya Fire destroyed 3,474 homes and buildings in only three hours. In 1889, the area known as Akita Town was established as Akita City and designated as the capital of the prefecture. In August 1945, Tsuchizaki was hit by a pre-dawn air-raid attack resulting in the death of more than 250 people. This was the last air raid on the Japanese mainland prior to the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Following several other town merges, in January 2005 Kawabe Town and Yuwa Town were incorporated into Akita City.

Akita at present
Akita City is both the prefectural capital and the center of political, economic and transportation in the prefecture. The Akita City metropolitan area has a population of around 323,600 people.

Central Akita City is full of department stores, restaurants, izakayas, hotels, markets and people. The Sanno District is the primary government district with regional, prefectural, and city government offices. Tsuchizaki remains the port district to the north of the central city as well as the location of the Akita Thermal Power Plant and Industrial Park and a Japan Self-Defense Force Base. The Yabase & Terauchi District contains one of the largest oil fields in Japan.

Several national routes cross through Akita City, including Route 7, Route 13, Route 46, the Nihonkai Expressway, and the Akita Expressway. Akita City is connected to Morioka, Sendai, and Tokyo via the Akita Shinkansen. The JR Uetsu Main Line, JR Ou Main Line, and Oga Line also operate in Akita City. The Akita Airport is located in Yuwa District near Akita International University.

Akita was relatively unaffected by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011. Although the area lost power for a few days, Akita was the only prefecture in Tohoku to suffer no casualties. One unexpected result of the earthquake is that the amount of business going through Akita Port in tsuchizaki has increased dramatically. Sadly, the number of foreign tourists have declined, much like the other prefectures in northern Japan.

Akita city has the highest concentration of business in the prefecture, and has been designated as a Primate City. The Prefecture's governmental offices and large businesses such as Akita Bank and the Akita Sakigake are based in Akita City.

Most national governmental institutions have branch offices in Akita City, as well as national recognized businesses such as the East Japan Railway Company and Teikoku Oil. After opening the Akita Shinkansen in 1997, the area experienced (and continues to experience to some extent) urban decay as a result of the straw effect. In essence, easier travel to more populated areas such as Morioka or Sendai have allowed many shop owners to close their stores in Akita, and move to an area where they believe are more business opportunities. Reversing this trend is currently a major theme for the local government.

The city's Yabase area has long been a source of petroleum and natural gas.


Main Article: List of schools in Akita City

Akita boasts some of the highest tests scores throughout Japan, and in the past has served as the model for national changes in curriculum. The City is home to not only a large amount of primary and secondary schools, but also two 4-year universities; Akita University in Tegata, and Akita International University in Yuwa Town.


Exact dates may vary from year to year.

  • Winter Fireworks . Mid-January. On the Omono River at Raiheizan Miyoshi shrine.
  • Miyoshi Bonden. (Jan-Feb?).
  • Spring Flower Fair . Mid-March. In Katagami.
  • Kawabata Daruma Festival . Mid-April. Also called the Hoshitsuji Shrine Daruma Festival. If you buy a daruma here, you will have success in business. Make a wish on it and paint in one of the daruma's two blank eyes; once your wish comes true, paint the other eye in. You can buy your own daruma here, and even hand over "finished" daruma so the good luck it brought you will be preserved. Location: Omachi 1-chome.
  • Kashima Fest. June 2. Paper dolls are sent to Hiyoshi Shrine on a small reed boat. The festival ensures that kids to grow up strong and healthy. At Araya-Hiyoshi Shrine.
  • Heso Bellybutton Festival. June 3. In Kawabe.
    Kanto, Akita's largest festival
  • Tsuchizaki Port (Port Hikiyama Festival). Late July. Held at Shinmei shrine, on Hommachi St. Decorated floats of giant warriors, bamboo flutes, taiko, and boisterous music all take to the streets in this festival to protect Akita Port. Includes a neighborhood competition.
  • Kanto Festival (竿灯祭). Early August. This is Akita's most famous festival, where men balance towering tiers of lanterns on various parts of their bodies, escorted by women playing traditional melodies on the flute, bell and taiko. The lattices of lanterns symbolize ears of rice, and usher in a good harvest. This festival is a form of Tanabata celebration, and is over 350 years old.
  • Akita Fireworks Festival. Mid August, 7pm.
  • International Festival. Early November.
    Annual events run by the Akita International Association. Various foreigners (including ALTs) put out booths representing their home countries while ethnic groups put on stage performances.
  • Ikebana Exhibition. Early November.
  • Narayama Hashigo-Ichi. Last Sunday morning of every month in Narayama. Various kinds of stores in Akita gather in Narayama so you can do store hopping ("hashigo" in Japanese). Please check their twitter for the details.


For visitors to Akita City, there are coin lockers on the bottom level of the station under the escalator by Lotteria, as well as inside the station building near the ticket gates. There are also some cheaper ones by the ground floor entrance of the nearby Forus department store.

  • Akita Prefectural Museum (秋田県立博物館). website. ☎ 018-853-8686 / 018-833-5809. (map). The museum is in a large, nice building with wonderful layouts and displays of the prefecture's history, nature, an Akita native 'hall of fame,' and special exhibit rooms. The museum is located in Koizumi Park, a beautiful marshland area just a short distance northeast of Oiwake Station in the Kanaashi District of northern Akita City. Admission is free.
  • Katsurahama and Shimohama swimming beaches. Although they will not win any awards for prettiest beaches in the world, these two beaches are easily reached by train and provide a fun way to cool off during the summer.
  • Kawabata Street (川反通り). Within walking distance from the station, this bustling quarter has plenty of bars, izakayas, and restaurants.
  • Masakichi Hirano Museum of Fine Art (平野政吉美術館). website. ☎ 018-853-8686 / 018-833-5809. 中通一丁目4-2. (map).
  • Mt. Taihei (太平山). The part of the Ou Mountain Range that borders Akita to the East. Great for hiking in the fall.
  • Neburi-Nagashi Hall (ねぶり流し館). website. ☎ 018-853-8686 / 018-833-5809. Also known as the Akita City Folk Traditions Hall (秋田市民俗芸能伝承館), this museum introduces the different festivals and folk dances of the Akita City region. The first floor holds a demonstration area where you can try hoisting a Kanto pole yourself, while the third floor features a try-it-yourself taiko room. The museum connects to an Edo-period merchant's house that has been preserved as a cultural asset. Admission is ¥100 (or ¥250 for a combined ticket for the Akarenga Folklore Museum). The displays are primarily in Japanese, but the staff are quite friendly, and the museum is within walking distance of Akita Station.
  • Omoriyama Zoo (大森山動物園). website.
  • Round One. 卸町1丁目1-2. (map). It's like an amusement park! There's many sports, arcade games, and activities here all under one roof. It's pretty cheap — about ¥1,800 for 3 hours of fun. It's great to go to the baseball cage when you need to vent, or play some taiko arcade games. Features a tennis court, indoor soccer, basketball court, roller skating, and more.
  • Senshu Park (千秋公園). Chosen as one of the "100 Parks of Japan," Senshu park is located in the remains of Kubota Castle. Although none of the original structures remain, their is a recreated castle keep which functions as a museum for the history of the area. There is also a museum about the Satake family which ruled Akita for roughly 200 years.
  • The Boon Waterpark (ザ・ブーン). ☎ 018-827-2301. 仁別字マンタラメ213. (map). Located at the foot of Mount Taihei, this waterpark has various pools and slides. Buses for The Boon leave regularly from Akita Station.


  • Onsen Plaza (秋田温泉). 添川字境内川原142−3, map. ☎018-833-1919. 9-10 weekend, 10-10 weekday. ¥520. Lovely cedar scented water and outdoor bath.
  • Hana no Yu (華のゆ). Nakadori 5 Chome 2-1, map. Inside Hotel Granita. ☎0188-25-5411. 10am-midnight. ¥850 weekends, ¥750 weekdays. Akita City's swankiest onsen has great pools, but it's a little pricey for what you get. Onsen Plaza is just as refreshing, though less accessible from Akita Station.
  • Otakiyama Onsen Kami no Yu (大滝山湯温泉神乃湯). 秋田県秋田市上新城道川字愛染90, map. Otakiyama Onsen claims to have secret water from the gods. By secret water from the gods, I think they mean very hot water. The onsen is small but offers a nice view of a small waterfall in the back. A great onsen for sore muscles, and a very friendly staff. Located in rural Akita City, Kamishinjo (上新城) Otakiyama Onsen is a great place to park your car and hike up to Otaki Waterfall (大滝). The hike will take you through Otakiyama Park (大滝山公園) and around Otakisawa Reservoir Pond (大滝沢用水池). It is an especially beautiful hike during the fall.
  • Fukushi Kenkō Araya Onsen (福祉健康新屋温泉). 〒010-1632 秋田県秋田市新屋大川町20番3号, map. ☎018-888-8800. ¥500. Open daily 13:00-21:00, Sat & Sun opens at 10:00. This all wooden onsen has 3 baths, a small 1 person cold bath, a 4 person hot bath, and a larger regular temperature bath.
  • Sakura Onsen Sakura Sakura (桜温泉 さくらさくら). 秋田県秋田市秋田市桜2-92 (map) ☎018-835-4126 Open 9:00-22:00 ¥600. Has a main bath, a rotemburo, sauna and cold bath.


Main article: List of restaurants in Akita City

As the most populous city in Akita Prefecture, Akita City is home to a number of restaurants, bars, and cafes. There is a wide selection of both local businesses and national chains to be found here.


Clothes: Buying trousers for ladies can be a bit hard. Many ALTs don't even fit the large size, but don't despair. There's a Uniqlo superstore in Barajima (turn right at Round One and go straight until you reach Bulldog; it's next door) which stocks many great-fitting get-ups in a range of styles. Also, the fantastic Mujirushi Ryouhin, or Muji (on the basement floor of the Ars building near Akita Station), now carries a widening range of clothes for all ages, sexes, and sizes, which are mostly made of natural materials, use no sweatshop labor, and are quite cheap to boot.

  • Mansaidō (Formerly Manga Soko) (万SAI堂). website. ☎ 018-880-2652. 〒011-0911 秋田県秋田市飯島堀川10. (map). This store has a large selection of everything: games, manga, action figures/models, clothes, accessories, music, DVDs, capsule games, slots, musical instruments, various electronics, ski/snowboard gear (in winter months), fishing gear, and more. Stop in and browse until you are ready to pass out and then take a break on the free console displays. 9:00A.M.-1:00A.M.
  • ICI Ishii Sports (ICI石井スポーツ). website. ☎ 018-892-7291. Next to Goshono Aeon mall. 〒010-1414 秋田市御所野元町1-1-15 フレスポ御所野1F. (map). Specialist outdoor shop. All the top brands and equipment for hiking, camping, winter sports, and generally surviving the apocalypse. Also does ski and snowboard repairs and maintenance. 10:00-19:00 Closed on Wednesdays.
  • Yamaya (やまや). website. A liquor store that also has great selection of imported food. It also probably has the largest liquor selection of any one store too. Akita City has three branches: Hiromote, Sanno, and Tsuchizaki. See the Yamaya wiki page for details. Sanno branch 10:00-22:00; Hiromote & Tsuchizaki branches 09:00-21:00.
  • Jupiter. website. ☎ 018-833-2416. In Topico, a small shopping center attached to the west side of Akita Station. A nice variety of foreign snacks and beverages. As far as import food goes you are better off looking at Yamaya for a more substantial meal, but Jupiter has a much better selection of spices. Map.
  • Cheese & Wine Abe (チーズ&ワインアベ). website. ☎ 018-884-0093. 〒010-0875 秋田市千秋明徳町2-6. (map). A great little shop for lovers of life, of cheese, wine, a decent selection of microbrews and various things that taste great with the latter. They also have the most extensive selection of high-end whisky in the prefecture. The couple who run the shop are very knowledgeable and friendly. 10am-8pm Mon-Sat. Sundays 10am-6:30pm. Closed on Saturdays.
  • Fonte. website. Near Akita Station and has huge red 'Fonte' kanji signs. Basically similar to the Ito Yokado that inhabited the building before it — a depato of reasonable quality and price compared to the slightly more expensive Seibu across the street.
  • Seibu. Near Akita Station, opposite Fonte. The Akita branch of Seibu is the city's "higher end" department store to Fonte's more utilitarian one. Things can get pricy, but this is the place to go if you're looking for a really fancy gift or something really high-quality for yourself, though it's definitely not for everyday shopping. This is where you'll find Coach, Godiva, Chanel, and a lot of foreign cosmetics and fashion brands. The basement floor has several reasonable restaurants and an up market hair salon. Seibu also has seasonal sales, especially at New Year's or when the Seibu Lions win an important baseball game.
  • Forus. Near Akita Station with a multi-colored English sign on top of the building. A fun department store to look around in, but its quite expensive. Some of the sales are pretty great, so look out for them. The most notable feature of Forus is the bookstore located on the 6th floor. It has a small but well-stocked section on Japanese language books, Japanese-English dictionaries, workbooks, and Japanese-English text books. In short, go to Forus to buy books on learning Japanese.
  • Akita Ningyō Kaikan (秋田人形会館). website. ☎ 018-863-5963. Near Round One, between Akita Maruloto and Kojima Denki.. 〒010-0061 秋田県秋田市卸町2-3-1. (map). The most famous shop in Akita for traditional Hina dolls. 09:00-18:00.
  • Hirasawa's Rice Shop (平沢商店). website. Ohmachi 5-7-18. This is an authentic Japanese rice shop located near ドンキホーテ. 5 generations of Hirasawas have run this excellent store. They speak great English, too, and are very gaijin friendly. This former Akita Jet can attest that this is the best rice I've ever had! They carry various kinds of high quality rice, including brown rice, and you can even buy freshly-milled rice from the store's mill machine. ☎018-862-4032
  • Iwaya (港北いわや). ☎ 018-846-4775. This shop is a very standard shop for trading card games. Located around 7 minutes away from Mansaido, this shop sells most card games under the sun, along with various supplies. It is one of the very few places in Akita that sells and supports Magic: The Gathering by doing things such as selling packs and hosting prereleases. Their staff is not proficient in English, but players are very friendly. If this is a thing you're missing from home, then look no further. (map) 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

See also

Akita Prefecture
Northern Akita Fujisato • Happō • Kamikoani • Kazuno • Kitaakita • Kosaka • Mitane • Noshiro • Ōdate
Central Akita Akita City • Gojōme • Hachirōgata • Ikawa • Katagami • Oga  • Ōgata  • Semboku
Southern Akita Daisen • Higashinaruse • Misato • Nikaho • Ugo • Yokote • Yurihonjō • Yuzawa