Red torii gate, Gozanoishi Shrine at Lake Tazawa in Akita, Japan

Akita, Japan

Akita, Japan is ideal for exploring Japan’s natural landscapes and cultural festivals. From the deck of our perfectly sized ship, take in spectacular views of the glittering Sea of Japan as you pull into port. Begin sightseeing soon after disembarking at the nearby Selion Port Tower. Go 143 meters up to gaze at stunning panoramas of the city, which pink cherry blossoms cover in spring. Look east for Mt. Taihei and west for Mt. Chōkai. Hop on the Selion bus for a 25-minute ride to Akita Station—from there, transfer to the bullet train and other local transport.

A two-hour train trip arrives to Shirakami-Sanchi, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, as it encompasses the last virgin forest of a beech tree that once covered northern Japan. Unwind in an onsen or take part in shinrin-yoku (forest bathing). Another beautiful park, Oga Quasi-National Park is about an hour from Akita. If you prefer nature in the city, amble through Senshū Park, a tranquil oasis with gardens, lotus ponds and a reconstructed castle gate.

Akita is also known for traditional festivals, including the Kanto Festival every August, where performers balance lanterns on their heads and the Namahage Sedo Festival, one of five major snow festivals where locals scare away evil spirits by visiting residences in demon costumes. Take the time to sample the region’s renowned cuisine, such as kiritanpo, a dish made from mashed rice, served with a hot pot of stew. Wash it down with sake, another thing Akita does very well.

Top 3: Things To Do In Akita, Japan

1 Senshū Park Wander this serene oasis and learn about samurais.
2 Oga Quasi-National Park Soak in one of Akita’s many onsens.
3 Selion Port Tower Enjoy spectacular views from an observatory.