Kakunodate (角館) is an old samurai town with a rich history and lots to see. Near Lake Tazawa in Tohoku, Kakunodate has plenty of traditional samurai and merchant houses, as well as museums, cherry blossom spots and lots of free samples!

Budget travel tips

  • There is a really helpful Tourist Information Center next to the station. Head there and get a free map. Everything is within walking distance and shown clearly on the map.
  • Just like Lake Tazawa, check train times before coming, as there are not many cheap local trains.
  • It’s great anytime of the year, but the cherry blossom season is particularly famous.
  • Head to the convenience stores or river side for affordable food.

Main places of interest

kakunodate_samuraiSamurai Streets

The main tourist attraction in Kakunodate. It’s best to walk down these two streets and head into any open buildings that look of interest. Most charge a bit, but one or two samurai homes is enough! Some of the best in Japan.

kakunodate_cherryblossomCherry blossoms along the river

Stunning cherry blossom trees all along the river. Lots of great festival food and a lovely place for a walk.

kakunodate_breweryAndojyozo Brewery

Lots of free tea, sake, miso soup and more to try out. Staff are super helpful and will explain about the items while you try them out.

kakunodate_shop1West side art and slippers shop

Lots of little Japanese arts and crafts, so a good place for a bit of window shopping. Go to the back to see someone making Japanese traditional straw slippers.

kakunodate_ShinmeishaShinmeisha Shrine (神明社)

Get away from the crowds at this quiet shrine area up an easy to climb hill.

Bark Ornament Shops

Hundreds of amazing items made using bark from the local area, with all sorts of interesting designs. You can also enjoy free tea and Japanese sweets at the front. Follow the red Merchants area route on the map below.

Kakunodate Hill

Provides a nice view over the town and another nice place to relax away from all the crowds. At the end of the samurai road, take a right and walk forward. Next take a left just before the petrol station and walk up.

How to get there

With the Japan Rail Pass

From Tokyo station, take the JR Akita Shinkansen (JR bullet train) to Kakunodate Station station (about 3 hours).

Without the Japan Rail Pass

Get an overnight bus with Willer Express (click link at the top for English) to Omagari or Morioka, then take the local train from there. You can also get a bus to/from Lake Tazawa.


Published by Matthew Baxter

Japan travel writer and onsen addict