Known only to the most intrepid traveler, skiing in Akita is an experience for the most single minded powder chasers.
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Akita is located in Northern Honshu with the Sea of Japan on it’s Western coastline delivering the snow storms and powder dumps the region is famous for. On it’s Eastern border is the Ōu mountain range, along which you will the area’s ski resorts. Only the most intrepid international travelers have skied the region, but that is changing as the word gets out about how epic this place can get.

Akita Ski Resorts

This region gets an incredible amount of snow, earning Akita the title of the 3rd heavy snowfall area in Tohoku. Akita resorts are still relatively unknown by mainstream snow trippers, despite the exceptional levels of sweet sweet powder on tap. Tazawako is the largest and most developed resort in Akita with all the facilities on site, including rentals, snow parks and English ski lessons. Its location slightly more inland means the snow here is often drier. At the foot steps of Mt Moriyoshi is the Ani ski resort. Slipping under the radar, possibly due to the difficulty in getting here for most travelers. Ani is known for it’s great powder snow and no-crowd runs. Akita Hachimantai and Jeunesse Kurikoma are located along the Eastern border with Iwate prefecture and is easier to get to from Morioka. There are also smaller resorts closer to Akita city which cater mainly to locals.

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Where to buy Ski & Snowboard Gear in Akita

Akita city has a couple of sports shops with snow gear like Murasaki & Xebio. There are also smaller independent shops which focus on snow surfing and backcountry gear. Your best chance for rentals are at the ski resorts.


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Where to Stay in Akita

Akita ski resorts are located a fair distance from the main city and there are no direct public transport options. Ani is particularly hard to get to from the city, and a better option is to stay at one of the lodges near the resort which cater to skiers. Alternatively, you can stay in Aniai or the larger Odate and take a train to Aniai station where there are taxis and shuttle buses to the resort. Tazawako is reachable from both Akita and Morioka if you can drive. There are also a couple of hotels in Mizusawa onsen town nearby.
Akita Hachimantai is near Akita’s onsen kingdom, where you can stay and bathe at one of the onsen hotels.

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What to Eat in Akita

Akita produces some of Japan’s best seafoods and vegetables due to the pristine natural environment from the Oga Peninsula in the Western shores to it’s mountain ranges. It’s name means “Autumn Ricefield” and travelers should try their famous rice, an ingredient in local specialities like the Kiritanpo nabe and Inaniwa udon. 

A traditional Akita dish, large skewers of local rice are roasted over charcoal fires and then added to a hearty hotpot stew with chicken and vegetables. It really warms up the room and your bellies.
Hinai Jidori
This free range chicken from Hinai in Northern Akita is one of Japan’s “3 great jidori” which are like the gold standard of chickens. The best way to taste this is in Kiritanpo nabes and Oyakodons where the chicken’s flavour is accentuated by adding raw egg.
Hata Hata
Eaten only in Akita, Japanese sandfish is caught in the winter months and used to make many dishes from hata hata zushi - a fermented fish sushi, to nabes or just grilled to accompany beer and sake.
Inaniwa Udon
Originating from Yokote, Inawina udon is handmade and thinner and flatter than normal udon. Its eaten cold by dipping into sauces to best experience the silky texture.
Sake Navi Akita
A standing bar in Akita city where patrons can sample sake from regional breweries. They have different tasting sets on offer.

Best Restaurants in Akita

In Akita city, there are lots of dining options close the train station where you can try the local gourmet specialties.

Akita Kiritanpoya
This restaurant near Akita station serves various traditional dishes and specializes in Kiritanpo nabe stews. They make it traditionally roasting the rice sticks and cooking the stew over a charcoal fire.
Akita Hinaiya
Hinaiya serves a variety of local dishes from oyakodons to kiritanpo nabes made with the famed Hinai Jidori chicken.
Akita Hinai Jidoriy
There are various Akita specialties, but the must try here is the “Ultimate Hinai Oyakodon” where Hinai chicken is grilled over oak charcoal and combined with Hinai egg over rice.
Sato Yosuke
This restaurant was started in 1665 in Yokote where the founder - Sato Yosuke created the Inaniwa Udon. The chain now has several stores in Akita where you can try this udon.

Things to do in Akita

Without many international visitors at Akita resorts, there isn’t much of an apres lifestyle. Do as the locals do and hit an onsen after skiing. There are incredible onsens hidden deep in the mountains and not too far from the ski fields. Dinner will likely be at the hotel or pension you are staying at. For nightlife, you will have to head into Akita city and the Kawabata shopping street. Nyuto Onsenkyo and Kaukunodate are good for sight seeing day trips. You can also experience the local culture at Akita’s Winter festivals.

Meet Akita Inu
Akita dogs are local celebrities here, and there are a couple of places where you can meet the cute canines. Ani resort has a mascot named Hokuto.
Kawabata Dori
West from the station and across the river is a shopping street lined with restaurants, izakayas, karaoke joints and stores. Its is also Akita’s red light district with some stores open 24 hours.
Namahage Sedo Festival
One of Japan’s most spectacular and surreal festivals takes place in Akita’s Oga peninsula every Lunar New Year. The Namahage Oni (demons) dance and roam the streets looking for little children to scare.
Yokote Snow Festival
A famous Winter festival in Yokote where igloos are built at various locations in the city. Some are life sized shrines with deities inside, while others are small with flickering candles. Takes place on the 15th and 16th every Feb.
Nyuto Onsenkyo
Set in the mountains and amongst beech forests, the famed Nyutto Onsenkyo has seven inns where the historical Samurai warlords of Akita were known to bathe.
Kakunodate Samurai village
A historic Samurai village dating back to the Edo period, where the residences of Samurai have been preserved for people to experience about Japan’s feudal warrior class.

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