Say the word Sakata and you would be forgiven for thinking immediately of the lovable dog of the same name. But in fact, visitors to Sakata will be treated not to a friendly furry face, rather to a beautiful city located on the northern tip of the island, around 500 km north of Tokyo. Lucky visitors will arrive in time for the superb sakura (cherry blossom), and surely there can be no sight more lovely than the elegant dip of the cherry trees alongside ancient Samurai residences. Akita is also home to a 2km tunnel of blossoming trees that run along the banks of the Hinokinai River, which is said to “bring a grown man to his knees and weep at its beauty”.
If to you, Japan is synonymous with peace and serenity, then a trip to one of the onsens is a superb bucket list experience. Buses and taxis are easily available in the centre of town that will take you to Mizusawa, Oyu and Oyasukyo hot springs, some of the loveliest onsens in the country.
Some of the superb sights in Akita are: Senshu Park, on the former site of Kubota Castle, the elegant red-brick folk Museum (housing works by block printer Katsuhira Tokushi (1907-1971) and metalwork by Sekiya Shiro (1907-1994) and the Old Kaneko Family Home. The Akita Museum of Art opened in 2012 and is home to the largest canvas painting in the world, Events of Atika, by Foujita (1886-1968). The painting measures a staggering 3.65 x 20.5 m (12 x 67 ft). The Museum also has many works by European masters such as Goya, Rubens, Rembrandt and Picasso.