Akita, Japan (Part 2): Around the City

The next day we headed out to check out downtown Akita Center.  Since it was raining we stuck to indoor museums.  First up was the Kanto Festival Center.  We didn't have the chance to visit Akita during their famous Kanto Festival so we thought this was the next best thing.  This museum was so awesome!

Here is a display from inside the museum.
And here is another display, which depicts the lantern festival that is famous in this town.  The size/weight of the lantern (which hold lit candles by the way) depends on the age of the male.  The younger they are the smaller the pole with the lanterns.
The best part of this museum was that we got to actually try it out, minus the lit candles of course!  This part was so much fun and I really appreciate that the staff was so accommodating and really wanted us to have this experience, even if it meant tracking down an employee that spoke some English just to help us out.  It was fun and definitely a memorable experience.  And no, this is not easy!  And yes, this was heavy so I was surprised to know this would be the size for a child (maybe teen).
After the festival museum we headed down the street to Akarenga, which is an old brink building that doesn't look Japanese at all, and used to house the Akita Bank.  You can see inside how it would have looked as a bank.  Many things inside are still the original.

This is the original fireplace.
After the museums we decided to find lunch.  The night before we passed by this restaurant called Pamplemousse, which looked really cute when we walked by.  We didn't know what they served so we were pleasantly surprised when we walked in and found very quirky decor AND an English menu.
Talk about quirky, in a very good way...the bell to signal to the server that you were ready to order was a bike bell.
Ryan and I both ordered a drink because, well, they all sounded so wonderful that we couldn't imagine passing on these.  Mine was amazing banana milk!
I don't need all of this to feel like I had a healthy and delicious meal but I can certainly appreciate the care that goes into running a restaurant like this and the food they are striving to provide to their guests.
Here is the menu.  How cute?!?!  And there you can see the banana milk that I ordered.
I absolutely love this menu and I love that it was also in English so I could fully appreciate it.
After seeing this menu I definitely knew I wanted to come back with my sister and so we are planning a trip there the next time she comes to visit me.
And of course I love this idea!  This place was so cute and I am so glad we decided to eat there.
Now for the food...

I could't resist the cheese plate.  It was yummy!
Ryan had a crazy version of a croque monsieur or something similar.
And yes, I totally did this!  I could not resist and I didn't see any reason to skip out on trying this.  It was definitely worth it!  Of course I couldn't finish it all, but it was certainly fun trying!
We also went to an art museum but I don't have pictures of that because they didn't allow pictures to be taken inside.

The next day before we left we headed to Kubota Castle and the park where this is located in Akita.  It was a short walk from the hotel.  It was raining the day before so we avoided outdoor activities.  Thankfully it was nicer that next day so we could check out the castle.
The park itself is pretty large and there is a lot of space to walk around.
The park had plenty of beautiful scenery and the weather was pretty good so it was nice to walk around, especially before we would be sitting in the car for a 4-5 hour drive.

I love this picture of one of the gates into the castle area.

As expected there was a shrine by the castle.

Lots of paper cranes!  It's hard to tell but these are all origami paper cranes that are linked together.
Then we finally made it over to the castle tower.  I am definitely glad we were able to see this castle before heading home.

We climbed all the way to the top so we could check out the awesome views.  Way out in the distance from one of the sides we were able to see out to the water (on the west coast, looking towards Korea).

One last picture of the park.  Really peaceful and serene.  Not a lot of people were out.  It was late November but the weather was actually warmer than I would have expected, which was nice.
That's all for our Thanksgiving mini-vacation.  Akita was definitely a good choice and I am so glad we went.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever been to a lantern festival?  How are your balancing skills?  What is your favorite kind of pancake?

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