|Travel Reports by mfedley||view profile of mfedley|
|Note: The opinions and views expressed in this user report are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of japan-guide.com.|
July 3, 2018 - Hidden Honshu: Kakunodate
For my fourth day in Japan I moved from the acidic waters of Tamagawa Onsen (1.2 pH!) to the famous samurai and hanami town of Kakunodate. Even though it's best to visit this town during spring, there is still plenty to see here as it includes one of the best preserved samurai districts in Northern Tohoku.
For first stop for the day was Dakigaeri Valley, which is a little under 10 kilometers from central Kakunodate. This pretty valley has turquoise colored water, but will be one of the premier koyo spots (fall colours) for all of Northern Japan.
At present, it's possible to walk 1.5 kilometers (one way down the valley) to a pretty waterfall. Like many walks, it begins with the ubiquitous temple or shrine (but in our case shrine!)
One of the more interesting features of this valley is how it gets more spectacular as you go further into the valley itself. As you will see, the water changes colour depending on the amount of sunlight it catches.
One thing I have learnt in Japan is to sometimes be a little adventurous with the food you try. I don't know the exact name of this dish (which seems to have Korean origins) but it was fantastic on a hot day as it was cold itself. Add a little Japanese vinegar and it can only be described as delectable. Note that these are wheat noodles.
My second stop for the day was the Ando Storehouse which is found in the merchants district. The main reason people visit here is not for the building but for the high quality food products that it makes. I am a fan of pickled vegetables and if I could take them home I would have purchased a lot!
Even though the Ando Storehouse has lots of small free samples, I decided to try the unique Soya Sauce Ice Cream set (400 yen). To those who are Australian, it tastes a bit like a mix between Australian Milo (this is different than every other countries MILO!) and a very weak vegemite.
Located just down the road is the Nishinomiya House. It's free to enter but don't expect to spend longer than 5 minutes here. Note that the paid samurai houses are of generally higher quality in this town so they are really worth paying to get into.
My next stop was the petit Tatesue Residence which includes a small museum and attached shop. Like most locations here, it was free to enter.
The next residence I visited was the Odano House which has a slightly more rustic garden than some of the other locations around here.
The Kawarada Samurai Residence is currently closed until January 31st 2019 - that's if I can read Japanese well! It looks as though it might be the best of the free residences in the town.
As you get closer to the castle in most towns, you start to notice that the size and quality of the residences starts to increase. This is definitely the case for the Iwahashi Samurai residence which is also free to enter.
The largest Samurai Residence still in Kakunodate is definitely that Aoyagi Residence which costs 500 yen to enter. The residence is not that large but it's surrounding buildings and multiple storehouses is definitely large. Note that English translations is good at this site.
The one thing which surprises me that most about Kakunodate is the thickness of the storehouses - they almost look like vaults. However - this may have actually been their purpose to all that I know!
My favourite residence in Kakunodate was the Ishiguro Residence which costs 400 yen to enter. When you enter, you'll be asked to take off your shoes and a simple 5/6 minute tour will occur. English translations are included (in a flip book) and they ask you to take photos after the tour.
Two things which may be of interest to some people is that some of the original family still lives on the premises which have been separated from the exhibition area. Also - there is also some works occurring until December 31st 2018 but this should not impact your visit too much.
My last stop for the day was the small Matsumoto Residence which is quite uneventful after visiting other locations earlier in the day.
If you were to ask me my main highlights for the day, it would be Dakigaeri Valley along with the warehouses in Kakunodate itself. Do note that even though this is not my favourite saumari town in Japan - it would be absolutely fantastic to visit in spring with the large number of cherry trees. For tomorrow, I'll be visiting Akita.
Tourist Map: http://kakunodate-kanko.jp/language/pdf/kakunodate_map_en.pdf
Aoyagi Residence: http://www.samuraiworld.com/english/index.html