Akita is one of the most beautiful Japanese prefectures, with everything from elegant samurai homes and castles to steaming hot springs.

When thinking of Akita Prefecture, a few things instantly come to mind. First and foremost delicious rice and sake (highest sake consumption in Japan!) and, of course, Namahage (red and blue demons used to scare children into behaving on New Year’s).

Included in Akita was the medieval district Kubota Domain which was ruled by Satake Clan. Despite the shogunate’s “one domain, one castle” policy, Kubota was one of the only areas to have two castles. Today, Kubota Castle and Yokote Castle are popular hanami spots and attract revelers and photographers from all over the country who come to enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms and the reconstructed fortifications.

The prefecture is famous for its beautiful farmlands, but is also home to one of Japan’s best gardens, the Former Ikeda Clan Tei-en. Another scenic destination is Lake Tazawa, the deepest lake in the country, long associated with Tatsuko, the mythical lake goddess who wishes for undying beauty and youth. Nearby Tamagawa Onsen is a hot spring town famous for its exposed bedrock that gives an otherworldly appearance. The waters are said to be beneficial to your health.

In picturesque Kakunodate you’ll find preserved samurai houses and the famous Denshokan Museum dedicated to the production of traditional crafts – mostly lacquerware made from the bark of local cherry trees.

And lastly, there’s Akagami Shrine, one of the oldest shrine in Akita, where Ninigi no Mikoto is enshrined. According to Japanese mythology, he was the first of the heavenly gods to come down to Japan. He was the grandson of the sun goddess, Amaterasu, and the grandfather of the first emperor, Jinmu.