Fall Foliage Hikes in Kakunodate!

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Written by Editorial department

When it comes to the maple leaf, the red and black combination formed by the maple leaf and the black wall has an elegant as well as intoxicating beauty. This article introduces the itinerary of appreciating the architecture of the Pavilion and the beauty of maple red in Kakunodate.

Fall Foliage Hikes in Kakunodate

Located in Akita Prefecture’s Senboku, Kakunodate has a grid of neat streets, ancient samurai houses (bukeyashiki), temples and traditional simple warehouse, which makes this cozy town known as "Little Kyoto in the Northeast", a famous place for sakura-viewing and fall foliage.

Next, I would like to introduce a hiking trail for viewing fall foliage: set off from the neighborhood of Kakunodate Station, walk northward along the road of Bukeyashiki (Bukeyashiki-dori), to south along the road of Tamachi Bukeyashiki (Tamachi Bukeyashiki-dori), and return to Kakunodate Station.

1. Kakunodate Tourist Association

It is a one-minute walk from JR Kakunodate Station to Kakunodate Tourist Association. Here you can get a free brochure introducing various sightseeing information, learn about the festivals and activities held at the time, etc. You can also buy local products on your return trip.

Kakunodate Tourist Association
Kakunodate Tourist Association

2. Tatetsu House (Kimonos Rentals)

There are many samurai houses of all sizes in the pavilion, all of which are residences of samurais and celebrities living between the 18th century and the 19th century. Dressing in Japanese kimono will certainly add a special flavor to your maple viewing experience!

Tourists wearing kimonos
Tourists wearing kimonos

Kimono rentals are available from the Tatetsu House.

Basic Information on the Tatetsu House

Address
25, Nakamachi, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture
Appointment
0187-63-6751
Hours
9:00-18:00
9:00-18:00
Price
4,000 yen
Time for rental
10:00-17:00
10:00-17:00
Official website (in Japanese)
http://www12.plala.or.jp/kabasen/event/index.html

When you walk northward along Bukeyashiki Street, you will be greeted with tightly packed beauties of black walls and fall leaves.

Bukeyashiki Street aflame with fall colors
Bukeyashiki Street aflame with fall colors

The bright red mailboxes and the black walls on the street make another combination of black and red.

Red mailbox and black wall
Red mailbox and black wall

3. Samurai House: Odano House

You will first visit Odano House, which is the simplest among all the famous samurai houses. Although the gable board (hafu) and the fish-shaped board (gegyo) decorating the roof were no longer there after the reconstruction following the fire in Meiji 33 (1900), the fall foliage looks enchanting.

Odano House and fall foliage
Odano House and fall foliage

The scenery around the Odano House is characterized by giant maple trees, the tallest of which is up to 66ft. A master of Akita ranga painting was born in the house: Odano Naotake.

※Akita ranga also known as the Akita-ha, was a short-lived school of painting within the larger Japanese genre of ranga, or Dutch-style painting which lasted roughly from 1773 to 1780

Giant maple trees in the courtyard
Giant maple trees in the courtyard

Basic Information on the Odano House

Address
10, Higashikatsurakucho, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture
Phone
0187-43-3384
Dates
Mid-April to November
Hours
9:00-16:30
9:00-16:30
Closed
Winter
Admission
Free

4. Samurai House: Kawarada House

The Kawarada House was the family residence of Kawarada, who was a descendant of the Ashina clan, and moved from Fukushima’s Aizu to Kakunodate with the family of Ashina. The existing building was constructed during the mid Meiji period, and the architectural style of samurai (buke) houses in the Edo period remain the same until this day.

Kawarada House and fall foliage
Kawarada House and fall foliage

The Kaharada family is characterized by a secluded courtyard with fresh green in summer and maple red in autumn. Walking in the courtyard full of fallen leaves, you can not help but forget the noise of the outside world.

Secluded courtyard blanketed with fall leaves
Secluded courtyard blanketed with fall leaves

Basic Information on the Kawarada House

Address
9, Higashikatsurakucho, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture
Phone
0187-43-3384
Dates
Mid-April to November
Hours
9:00-16:30
9:00-16:30
Closed
Winter
Admission
Free

5. Samurai House: Iwahashi House

The Iwahashi family also served the Ashina clan and occupied a rather wide area for being as "superior warrior" family. It was later used as the shooting place of the Japanese "period drama" (Jidaigeki) Film - The Twilight Samurai.

Iwahashi House and fall foliage
Iwahashi House and fall foliage

Kakunodate is dotted with so many wooden houses, so fire is especially dangerous. The huge fire that occurred in Meiji 33 (1900) destroyed such renowned residences as the above mentioned Odano House. But, the Iwahashi House survived the fire for its roofs made with shingles of shakes (thick wooden boards made of cedar) and its well in the courtyard.

Iwahashi House with a well and fall foliage
Iwahashi House with a well and fall foliage

With chestnuts, red pines, maples and oaks planted in the courtyard, the House is highly recommended among many samurai houses for viewing of fall foliage. It is said that an oak tree there is more than 250 years old, which is very rare in Akita Prefecture.

Appreciating the fall foliage outside
Appreciating the fall foliage outside

Basic Information on the Iwahashi House

Address
3-1, Higashikatsurakucho, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture
Phone
0187-43-3384
Dates
Mid-April to November
Hours
9:00-16:30
9:00-16:30
Closed
Winter
Admission
Free

6. Samurai house: Aoyagi House

The Aoyagi household was once a vassal of the Satake clan, the most influential family at Kakunodate; After the efforts of generations of owners, and the Aoyagi Houseis now recognized as the most spacious and luxurious residence among the samurai houses in Kakunodate. Later, The Hidden Blade, a Jidaigeki movie was filmed here.

Aoyagi House and fall foliage
Aoyagi House and fall foliage

The Aoyagi House covers an area of 3,000 tsubo (about 10,000 square meters). There are about 600 varieties of plants grown in the spacious courtyard, with beautiful scenery all the year round. The whole residence adopts black-painted batten fences (sasarako-bei) and fall leaves stretching out of the wall as if in and greet passers-by.

Black-painted batten fences and fall foliage
Black-painted batten fences and fall foliage

On After entering the broad courtyard from the front door, you will be greeted with Wells, a rice barn, an armory on the north side, and according to the identity of visiting guests and divided into the front door porch and side porch, the main room for the master dedicated bedroom, do not receive guests, the whole residence is very imposing.

Aoyagi House: main building
Aoyagi House: main building
Aoyagi House: weapon warehouse
Aoyagi House: An Armory
Aoyagi House: a corner of the rice storehouse and the courtyard
Aoyagi House: a corner of the rice barn and the courtyard

Now the residence is established with the Kaitai Shinsho (literally New Text on Anatomy) Memorial Hall, the Akita Folk Museum (Kyoto-kan), the Samurai Tool Museum (Buke Dogu-kan), the Western Style Museum (Yofu-kan), the Museum of the Photos on the Closing Days of the Tokugawa Shogunate Regime (Bakumatsu Photo Museum) and the Period Experience House, and about 30,000 valuable ancient cultural relics are publicly available.

Interior of Akita Folk Museum in the Aoyagi House
Interior of Akita Folk Museum in the Aoyagi House

The Aoyagi family was related by marriage to the Odano family mentioned above, so there is a stone statue of Odano Naotake, an artist from the Odano family.

Stone statue of Odano Naotake
Stone statue of Odano Naotake

On the first floor of the Western Style Museum, there is a café, which offers “Nanban-cha” (actually coffee) (500 yen) brewed with the sacred water that flowed into the pavilion hundreds of years ago (“Shinmei” water) and various types of dessert; beside the Museum of the Photos on the Closing Days of the Tokugawa Shogunate Regime, there is the Morinoshoku Sai-kan, where you can savor Inaniwa Udon, the traditional food of Akita. It is recommended to have lunch and rest your feet here.

Aoyagi House with Shinmei water that seems to be from an endless supply since several hundred years ago
Aoyagi House with Shinmei water that seems to be from an endless supply since several hundred years ago

Video on the Fall Foliage around the Aoyagi House

Basic Information on the Aoyagi House

Address
3, Omotemachi-shimo-cho, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture
Phone
0187-43-3257
Hours
9:00-17:00 (9:00-16:30 between December and March)
Closed
No
Admission
Adults: 500 yen; junior high-school and high-school students, 300 yen; elementary school students: 200 yen
Official website (traditional Chinese)
http://www.samuraiworld.com/taiwan/index.html

7. Samurai house: Ishiguro House

Among the existing samurai houses in Kakunodate, the Ishiguro House at the northernmost end of Samurai House Street is most ancient. There are also many fir trees in the gardens, illiard branches, etc., with many trees lasting more than 250 years.

Ishiguro House and fall foliage
Ishiguro House and fall foliage

Relative to the luxurious Aoyagi House, the characteristic of Ishiguro House is to have more primitive temperament. With the main building, doors, walls and earthen storehouses representative of the Edo period, the House built in the architectural style of the period between the 18th century and the 19th century is well preserved.

Unadorned and quaint Ishiguro House
Unadorned and quaint Ishiguro House

Among the samurai houses in Kakunodate, the Ishiguro House had the most distinguished pedigree. The courtyard now only has ancient trees and ancient buildings, occasionally with moss spreaded on some paved path. The perfect reproduction of the simple and unsophisticated samurai house is inevitably fascinating.

Plain and quaint courtyard in the Ishiguro House
Plain and quaint courtyard in the Ishiguro House

Basic Information on the Ishiguro House

Address
1, Omotemachi-shimo-cho, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture
Phone
0187-55-1496
Hours
9:00-17:00
9:00-17:00
Admission
Adults: 300 yen; junior high-school and high-school students, and elementary school students: 150 yen
Closed
NO
Official website (in Japanese)
http://www.hana.or.jp/~bukeishi/

8. Kakunodate Birch Craft Densho-kan

The Kakunodate Birch Craft Densho-kan was built to exhibit the renowned birch craft of Akita Prefecture. Any festival event held at Kakunodate is surely accompanied with a variety of activities or exhibitions in the museum.

Kakunodate Birch Craft Densho-kan
Kakunodate Birch Craft Densho-kan

Birch crafts refers to the mountain cherry tree bark paste together, and make such fine objects as tea canisters, stationery and other daily necessities by experienced artisans. There are birch craftsmen demonstrating the skills in the museum, in addition to the experience of making with your own hands!

※ Minimum of 4 people can participate, at 2000 yen per person.

Tea canister made with birch craft
Tea canister made with birch craft

By the way, Kakunodate Birch Craft Densho-kan is also known for sakura viewing. If you visit in the spring, you can enjoy the beauty of the cherry trees on both sides of the gate and the cherry blossoms in the garden.

Kakunodate Birch Craft Densho-kan in the flowering season of cherry
Kakunodate Birch Craft Densho-kan in the flowering season of cherry

Basic Information on Kakunodate Birch Craft Densho-kan

Address
10-1, Omotemachi-shimo-cho, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture
Phone
0187-54-1700
Hours
9:00-17:00 (April to November) / 9:00-16:30 (December to March)
Closed
December 28 to January 4
Admission
High school students and older: 300 yen; middle school and elementary school students: 150 yen; 6 years old and younger: free

9. Samurai House: Matsumoto House

The Matsumoto House differs greatly in architectural style with all the other samurai houses mentioned above. Matsumoto came from a scholar family, at that time belongs to the "lower samurai residence", so slightly humble. Like the Iwahashi House, the Matsumoto House was also a shooting location for the Jidaigeki movie The Twilight Samurai.

Matsumoto House and fall foliage
Matsumoto House and Fall Foliage

Featuring a thatched roof and fenced walls made of cedar bark, it is the only house in Akita that perfectly preserves this architectural style. Therefore, it was recognized as the designated cultural heritage of Akita Prefecture.

Fence wall and fall foliage
Fence wall and fall foliage

Basic Information on the Matsumoto House

Address
4, Kobitomachi, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture
Phone
0187-43-3384
Dates
Mid-April to November
Hours
9:00-16:30
Closed
Admission
Free

10.Samurai House: Nishinomiya House

The Nishinomiya family was the largest family of wealthy merchant and landlord in Kakunodate. From the Meiji period to the Taisho period, a library and a rice barn were built in the broad courtyard, both now together with the main building, have been transformed into a famous scenic spot representing Tamachi Bukeyashiki Street.

Nishinomiya House and fall foliage
Nishinomiya House and fall foliage

Many historical documents and cultural relics are now on display in the Library; Japanese-style commodities are sold in the rice barn; the front storehouse is transform into a conference room; the northern storehouse is a café; the gakko storehouse sells local tsukemono (literally “pickled things”) and specialties, while the main building is a dining room for tourists and high-grade matcha is also sold there.

Fall colors of the courtyard of the Nishinomiya House
Fall colors of the courtyard of the Nishinomiya House

Basic Information on the Nishinomiya House

Address
11-1, Tamachi-kamicho, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture
Phone
0187-52-2438
Hours
10:00-17:00
Closed
No
Admission
Free

11. Shinchosha Memorial Museum of Literature

The Shinchosha Memorial Museum of Literature is a MUST-VISIT photo scenic spot ! The wall is engraved with the opening paragraph of Snow Country (Yukiguni) by Yasunari Kawabata, the first Japanese author to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Exterior of Shinchosha Memorial Museum of Literature
Exterior of Shinchosha Memorial Museum of Literature

“The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country. The earth lay white under the night sky. The train pulled up at a signal stop.” It is a paragraph that almost every Japanese can recite. Readers will feel as if they are also entering into the snow country.

The ones who have read this novel might ask, The stage of "Snow country" is Niigata Prefecture, why it mentioned in this article on Kakunodate? In fact, Shincho Bunko and the author of the Snow Country became known to every family after the publication of the first edition of "Snow country". And Sato Giryo, the founder of Shinchosha, the publisher of Shincho Bunko, came from Kakunodate.

Basic Information on the Shinchosha Memorial Museum of Literature

Address
23, Tamachi-kamicho, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture
Phone
0187-43-3333
Hours
9:00-17:00 (April to November) / 9:00~16:30 (December to March)
Admission
High school students and older: 300 yen; middle school and elementary school students: 150 yen; 6 years old and younger: free
Closed
Mondays, December 28 to April 4

12. Ando Workshop

Founded in 1853, Audo Workshop is a workshop mainly making miso and soy sauce brewing. This red-brick warehouse adopts a fire protection design.

Ando Workshop
Ando Workshop

The store sells heiry-passed miso and soy sauce, as well as a variety of pickles and other local products, and offers free samples of heiry-passed traditional miso of Akita Prefecture.

Savoring the laudable traditional miso of Akita Prefecture for free ♪
Savoring the laudable traditional miso of Akita Prefecture for free ♪

Basic Information on Ando Workshop

Address
27, Shimo-shinmachi, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture
Phone
0187-53-2008
Hours
8:30-18:00
Closed
No
Admission
Free

Illumination of Fall Foliage at Night

The best time to see the fall foliage at Kakunodate is generally from late October to mid-November. During this period, Bukeyashiki Street will be lit up between 16:30 and 22:00 every day.

Illumination of the fall foliage on Bukeyashiki Street
Illumination of the fall foliage on Bukeyashiki Street

This fall foliage walking route between Odano House through Matsumoto House (no.3 through no.9 mentioned in this article) illuminated at night, makes up a great scene of romance, that can be appreciated everywhere. ♡

Illumination of the fall foliage in the Ishiguro House
Illumination of the fall foliage in the Ishiguro House

Basic Information on the Illumination of Fall Foliage at Night

Dates
Late October to mid-November
Hours
16:30-22:00
Place
Bukeyashiki Street
Official website (in Japanese)
http://kakunodate-kanko.jp/

Fall Foliage Viewing on a Rickshaw

Tired of walking? Hop on a ricksaw! You can take a rickshaw at Kakunodate Birch Craft Densho-kan (no.8); Enjoy your rickshaw trip for 15-minute, 30-minute or even an hour! One rickshaw can take up to 2 persons.

Viewing fall foliage on a rickshaw ♪
Viewing fall foliage on a rickshaw ♪

Basic Information on Kakunodate Rickshaw Company

Phone
090-2970-2324
Hours
9:00-17:00
Place to take a rickshaw
Opposite to Kakunodate Birch Craft Densho-kan (10-1, Omotemachi-shimo-cho, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture)
Closed
No
Price
15-minute: 3,000 yen; 30-minute, 5,000 yen; 60-minute, 9,000 yen

Basic Information on Sakurakazetei

Phone
090-2994-2722
Hours
9:00-16:30
Place to take a rickshaw
Opposite to Kakunodate Birch Craft Densho-kan (10-1, Omotemachi-shimo-cho, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita Prefecture)
Closed
December to March
Price
15-minute: 3,000 yen; 30-minute, 5,000 yen; 60-minute, 9,000 yen