Akita Prefecture – Culture, Sightseeing and History

Akita, Japan – History, Cities, Festivals, Food and more.

When you ask most people if they’ve ever heard of a place called Akita, Japan, many people will either say no, or they’ll say isn’t that a dog breed’s name? But, if you were to ask people if they ever heard of the famous statue of Mary Magdalen that cried real human tears, you’ll have a lot of people saying yes. If you were to ask them where this happened, many will tell you… I don’t know.

So besides having the name of a type of dog breed, this rather large prefecture in Japan gets very little recognition in terms of it’s existence yet so many people are influenced by the area. This area’s largest attraction is the statue of Mary who has cried real tears. Many documentaries have shown and showed cased this statue, and the tears that have come from it, are actually human tears. So either it’s an epic hoax or that’s one interesting statue.

There are a few other things about Akita, Japan that are mildly interesting. Because honestly, this place of Japan besides its absolute beauty is not a very happening place. In fact it’s more so a major farm Prefecture, as it’s one of the largest growing Prefectures of rice in Japan. With that in mind it shouldn’t surprise you to know it’s also well known for it’s sake breweries. It’s also noted that Akita has the highest consumption rate of sake per person in the whole of Japan.

Again doesn’t surprise me after learning about this prefecture, there is nothing to do but drink and work! Since the 1945 the population has slowly been declining. Theory? Kids grow up and say…. “Screw this” and move to the city. If that’s the truth of the matter or not, I’d say it’s in the top 5 reasons why population has been declining. This area of Japan only has 1 million people who reside there, so if you’re looking to move somewhere in Japan that is not that crowded, you found it!

But this area despite it’s children not wanting to take up the family business (which is only about 11 percent of the population) Akita, is teeming with festivals, onsen, sightseeing, culture and women hunting >_<…

Let me explain a bit on the last part. In Akita, the women there are called Akita Bijin which means ‘beauties of Akita’. It’s well known across Japan that they are renowned for their white skin, rounded faces and high voices. These traits in Japan are highly desirable.

The sightseeing besides the geography of Akita which is absolutely amazing, has mostly increased because of a popular Korean TV drama called Iris. A few scenes just so happened to be filmed in Akita at a Lake called Tazawa and at the Oga GAO Aquarium.

Here is a great blog about Akita, Japan for additional information

READ MORE ABOUT JAPANESE PREFECTURES HERE

Learn about the history and culture of Akita JapanMain Cities of Akita:

Akita
Daisen
Katagami
Kazuno
Kitaakita
Nikaho
Noshiro
Oga
Oudate
Semboku
Yokote
Yurihonjou
Yuzawa

Famous Festivals and Events:

Kariwano Big Tug Destival – Daisen (February)
Amekko Festival, Odate (February)
Kamakura Snow Statue Event, Yokote (February)
Tsuchizaki Shinmei Festival, Akita (July)
Akita Kanto Festival, Akita (August)
Nishimonai Bon Dancing Festival, Ugo (August)
Kemanai Bon Dancing Festival, Daisen (August)
All Japan Firework Competition, Daisen (August)
Kakunodate Festival, Senboku (September)

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Hokkaido, Japan – Culture, History, Sightseeing an More

Learn the history of HokkaidoHokkaido, Japan – History, Cities, Festivals, Food and more.

Hokkaido (北海道 Hokkaidō) is Japan’s most northern region island and it’s closest prefecture neighbor is Aomori which is at the very northern part of the island of Honshu. Hokkaido was first ‘stolen’ from the Ainu people and made as a Japanese land mass in 1869 right after the beginning of the Meiji period.

It’s hard to describe the history and the current state of what Hokkaido is without explaining who first lived on this northern island of Japan before even the Japanese themselves occupied the land of what is now known as Japan. The Ainu people were the indigenous people that first inhabited the lands of Japan.

They are said to have come over from Russia long time ago when a frozen mass connected the island and Russia, and their ancestry has been said to stem back to the Jomon period, which is basically early man kind. I strongly recommend learning about the Ainu people, click here to learn more about Hokkaido the Ainu and where it’s been.

Hokkaido has been known as several names throughout history. Ezo, Yezo, Yeso and Yesso. It’s their second largest island of Japan and of course the most northern area of Japan before you get to the Kuril Islands and Russia. Hokkaido is separated from the island of Honshu of Japan by the Tsugaru Strait, but the two islands are now connected by an underwater railway called the Seikan Tunnel.

The main capital of Hokkaido is Sapporo, although there are several large cities in Hokkaido this is the only one that is ordinance-designated by the Japanese government. The Meiji period government had a tough decision to make when they came to renaming Hokkaido which was called Ezochi then.

They had a few choices when it came to renaming the island. They had Kaihokudo and Hokkaido, they of course decided to name the island Hokkaido, but they decided to write the kanji in a way to compromise between similar names then like Tokaido. But according to the Matsuura, the name Hokkaido was brought up because the Ainu people called the region Kai.

The food in Hokkaido is said to be some of the best seafood in the world. But the residents of Hokkaido have been able to manage growing crops on soil that’s been said to be hard to grow on because of all the activity with the volcanoes and the huge amount of volcanic ash that is in the area. But Hokkaido is known for garlic, potato’s and Japan’s largest grow area of corn.

It’s said that the seafood is so good though, that if you have any desire or liking of seafood, you should visit Hokkaido at least once in your life!

Hokkaido has a good amount of Earthquakes every year and also has active volcanoes such as:

Mount Meakan
Mount Tarumae
Mount Tokachi
Mount Usu
Mount Koma

But not everything in Hokkaido is a snowy mass or a volcano. The spring, summer and fall times of Hokkaido have a lot of beauty in them as well. In fact many come to Hokkaido during the summer months to come see the flower farms.

There are over 80 different flower farms or flower lands in Hokkaido that you can visit. Because of the unique summers Hokkaido has by not being too hot or too cold, it’s perfect for growing flowers, and because of this, Hokkaido has a huge tourist industry based solely off of Hokkaido’s flowers, and when the trees start to change in September for a festival called Momijigari. Click here to see the different Flower Lands in Hokkaido.

The wildlife in Hokkaido is extremely rugged being that it’s one of the roughest areas during the winter in the world. But, besides this rough wilderness it has more brown bear in the world then anywhere else in Asia. But it’s also known to have large amount deer and red crown crane that still live on the island. Some mountains will incur up to 400 inches of snow fall during the year and because of this Hokkaido is known for it’s snow sports.

There are several ski resorts in Hokkaido such as:

Niseko
Furano
Teine
Rusutsu

Hokkaido Festival:

Since it’s roots are in the winter, it’s not surprising to note that Hokkaido hosts several different festival during the Winter but host some famous Spring, Summer and Fall festivals as well:

Sapporo Snow Festival Asahikawa Snow Festival Sounkyo Ice Festival
Chitose-Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival Obihiro Ice Festival Otaru Yukiakari no Michi (Snow Gleaming)
Showashinzan International Yukigassan (Snowball Fight) Sounkyo Hyobaku (Ice Waterfall) Festival) Otofuke Tokachigawa Swan Festival Sairinka
Abashiri Okotsk Drift Ice Festival Lake Akan Ice Festival “Fuyu-hanabi” (Winter Fireworks) Mombetsu Drift Ice Festival
Sapporo Lilac Festival Hakodate Goryokaku Festival Matsumae Cherry Blossom Festival
Non Key Land Moss Phlox Festival Yosakoi Soran Festival Hokkaido Shrine Festival
Sapporo Summer Festival Pacific Music Festival Otaru Ushio Festival
Lake Shikotsu Lake Water Festival Hokkai Heso (Belly Button) Festival Shiretoko Shari Neputa
Noboribetsu Hell Festival Esashi Ubagami Daijingu Togyo Festival Furano Wine Festival
Nemuro Crab Festival Autumn Wine Festival Momijigari (Leaf Watching)
Marimo Festival Sapporo White Illumination Hakodate Christmas Fantasy Festival

Click here to learn more about these festivals.

The cities of Hokkaido are as followed:

Abashiri Akabira Asahikawa
Ashibetsu Bibai Chitose
Date Ebetsu Eniwa
Fukagawa Furano Hokdate
Hokuto Ishikari Iwamizawa
Kitahiroshima Kitami Kushiro
Mikasa Monbetsu Muroran
Nayoro Nemuro Noboribetsu
Obihiro Otaru Rumoi
Sapporo Shibetsu Sunagawa
Takikawa Tomakomai Utashinai
Wakkanai Yubari

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Tanabata Festival: Star Lovers, Looms & Better Handwriting

Learn what the Tanabata Festivals are all about in JapanWhat is the Tanabata Festival?

Stars that Meet Once a Year, Looms that make God Protect Rice Fields and Men… They Want Better Handwriting!

Seems like enough to create a festival around! Why not?

Tanabata means ‘Evening of the Seventh’. It’s known in Japan as the Star Festival. It actually comes from the Chinese Festival called Qixi. The original story and celebration of Tanabata comes from the meeting of two gods Orihime & Hikioboshi (The stars (the ones in the sky) are Vega and Altair).

By custom and how the story is told, these two stars (gods) are separated by the Milky Way and they are only allowed to see each other once a year. Which so happens to fall on the 7th of the 7th month. It varies a bit from regions of Japan, but the festivities usually start on July 7th. It will be held from July to August normally in Japan.

The Tanabata ritual was originated to Japan by the Empress Kōken around 755 AD. It came about because of the “Festival to Plead for Skills”, the Chinese name is Qixi.

The festivities grew in popularity among the public and by the early Edo age, when it became commingled with various Obon or Bon rituals and traditions, and grew into what most know now days as the Tanabata festivities. Ever increasing popularity for these customs concerns the festival changed a bit from one region of Japan to the next, but overall women hoped for better sewing craftsmanships, and men hoped for better hand-writing by jotting down their hopes and dreams on strips of kami-paper. Around this time, the ritual was to use dew on taro leaf to create the pen-ink used to scribe hopes and wishes with. But as time went on, Bon is now held on 15th of the 8th month from the solar calendar, these two are very close together but over all, Tanabata and Bon festivals and events are separate from each other.

Tanabata was read as “Shichiseki” at one time. It’s believed that a Shinto cleansing ritual was invented around the same time, in which a Shinto miko wove a unique piece of cloth on a loom called a Tanabata and offered it to a god to pray for protection of rice and for good harvests. After awhile this ritual intermingled with Kikkōden to become the Tanabata festival event.

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