While Akita City has lost nearly all of its historical relics, nearby KAKUNODATE (角館) still has the air of a feudal town, with its strictly delineated samurai and merchants’ quarters. Kakunodate was established as a military outpost in 1620 by the lords of Akita, with a castle on a hill to the north, a samurai town of around eighty residences, and 350 merchants’ homes in a cramped district to the south. This basic layout and a handful of the samurai houses have survived the years, as have several hundred of the weeping cherry trees brought from Kyoto three centuries ago. It’s still an atmospheric place, and although you can visit on a day trip from either Akita or Morioka, it merits an overnight stay.

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