Akita: Tazawako Skiing Area
Enhance your trip to Japan with an itinerary that includes the bright lights and tall towers of Tokyo, and the hidden secrets of Akita, about a 65-minute flight away. If you visit in winter, you can frolic or ski in Akita’s powder snow.
Experience a birds eye view of Tokyo from this radio tower built in 1958. It features two observation decks – one at 150 metres and another at 250 metres, giving sweeping views over this futuristic, yet traditional, city. The tower is illuminated with the displays changing by season and for special events, and make sure you allow plenty of time to explore Foot Town at the base of the tower, which houses an aquarium, souvenir shops and restaurants.
After you’ve been up the tower, stroll through the Omotesando area with its sophisticated boutiques and galleries mixed in with restaurants. The Omotesando Hills complex, designed by Tadao Ando, is a sight to behold. The streets themselves are beautiful, lined with zelkova trees. If time permits, also visit Marunouchi Naka-Dori Street in the Marunouchi area, with more shopping malls to give your credit card a workout.
Tazawako Skiing Area
During the winter months, from December to March, snow bunnies will love skiing or snowboarding in Tazawako’s powdery snow. Give your legs a workout in the moguls or just enjoy the pillowy snow on runs that range from beginners to expert. In fact even the top skiers in the world ski here, with the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup held here in February of 2015 to 2017, and is also confirmed for February 2018. No matter how you ski, the views over the Lake Tazawa, the deepest lake in Japan, are exquisite.
Nyuto-onsen-kyo Hot Springs Village
The Nyuto-onsen-kyo Hot Springs Village is the collective name for seven hot spring inns located inside the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. These hidden springs, surrounded by a primeval beech forest are indicative of the traditional onsens Japan is famous for. Each of the seven hot spring inns – Ogama Onsen; Ganiba Onsen; Kyukamura Nyuto-onsen-kyo; Taenoyu Onsen; Tsurunoyu Onsen; Magoroku Onsen; Kuroyu Onsen – have their own hot spring source.
Paper Balloon Festival of Kamihinokinai
Another reason to visit Akita in winter is the Paper Balloon Festival, head every year on 10 February to celebrate the lunar new year. Held in the Nishiki area of Semboku City, the festival is thought to date back to the Edo Period (1603-1868) with local farmers sending paper balloons with messages written on them, into the sky asking the gods for bountiful rice harvests. The balloons are painted with Ukiyo-e styled women and samurai warriors and are lit with candles, glowing brightly against the night sky.
Day 1: Tokyo
Haneda Airport (Tokyo) ¬ Omotesando (Tokyo)
¬ Marunouchi Naka-Dori Street (Tokyo)
¬ Tokyo Tower (Tokyo)
Day 2: Tokyo-Akita
Haneda Airport (Tokyo) ¬ Akita Airport (Akita)
¬ Tazawako Skiing Area (Akita)
¬ Nyuto-onsen-kyo Hot Springs Village (Akita)
Day 3: Akita
¬ Kakunodate Bukeyashiki-dori Street (Akita)
¬ Paper Balloon Festival of Kamihinokinai (Akita)
Day 4: Akita-Tokyo
Akita Airport (Akita) ¬ Haneda Airport (Tokyo)