Akita, Japan: Lake Tazawa and Kakunodate

For Thanksgiving weekend we headed to Akita!  It's about a 4 hour drive from where we live and on the complete opposite coast.  We decided that with less than a year left in Japan we should take advantage and get out and sightsee as much as possible.
Although we stayed in the Akita City, we took a side trip to visit Lake Tazawa and Kakunodate, both within Akita prefecture and about an hour west of Akita City.

First up we stopped at Lake Tazawa, which is the deepest lake in Japan.  This is a crater lake and has very clear water.  Surprisingly not many people were around and it was like having the place to ourselves.  The lake is absolutely beautiful and I could have stayed there all day looking at the mirror like surface of the lake.
At the point of the lake where we started there was this little shrine.
In the distance you can see the famous statue of Tatsuko.  She is the lady of the famous legend about this lake.  She was a princess and prayed to be preserved forever as a beautiful young woman.  Instead she was turned into a dragon and sent to live in the bottom of the lake.  She is forever remembered by this statue.
Here I am with Ryan at the lake.  Beautiful scenery!
More shots of the very still lake and the impressive reflection on the surface.

Here is a close up of the Tatsuko statue.  In many pictures I have seen online she is more underwater. The base of the statue and the rocks surrounding this are usually covered.
I love the way the clouds are pictured on the surface of the lake!
A little further around the lake was a large shrine with a torii gate overlooking the lake.
It's a slightly different view and the water at this end wasn't quite as still.
A little back from the road was the actual shrine associated with the torii gate.

After we finished at Lake Tazawa we headed to nearby Kakunodate, which is known for being a well preserved samurai village.  This is the map that shows which buildings are open for tourists/which are museums.
Our first stop was for lunch.  I had cold soba noodles and Ryan had curry.

After lunch we checked out one of the museums.  These pictures show what homes and life looked like during this time period.

This was the well.  It was covered over for safety reasons.
Here is the bucket that goes along with the well.
This is a kitchen.  You can see where the pit is in the food for building a fire and the rope is where the pot could be hung for heating.
Then we went to another museum.  This was a very large house with multiple structures that was owned by one a well known family.  The houses on this street that weren't turned into museums were still being lived in.  From what I understand many of the current residents are descendants of the original samurais that lived there.
This is the door into main house.

Inside the armory section of this house was a collection of weapons and traditional samurai dress.

There were also some kimonos on display.

And of course there was some art work displayed.

After leaving the armory we followed the path around to the outside courtyard area.

Another museum we entered had some anatomy books and other interesting things to look at.
This was a collection of old cameras.

This was on display in one of the courtyards along the main street.  Definitely interesting to look at!
Here are some shots from along the street.  Those trees will bloom with cherry blossoms on the spring and line the streets in this old samurai village.

After we walked around Kakunodate for a little bit we headed back to Akita City to grab some dinner and walk around the main shopping area.  I am definitely glad we went ahead and planned a visit to Lake Tazawa and Kakunodate!

QUESTIONS:  Have you heard of Akita (my guess is that you have heard of the dog breed)?  Does your town have any local legends?  Do you live near a lake?  Have you ever visited a samurai village?