Get to know Akita through its famous nabe hotpot

Japanese nabe hotpots are prepared and eaten as the group sits around the table in a circle. It is a winter feast that warms up your core as you share a good time with your family and friends. On this trip, you will taste the famous nabe of different parts of Akita prefecture as you experience the culture and traditions behind this cuisine.

Try kiritanpo nabe, the most famous Akita nabe

Authentic kiritanpo nabe cooking experience Cheerful Mother Shop

Kiritanpo nabe is a local recipe unique to the rice-based area of Akita that uses pounded and grilled rice. The Cheerful Mother Shop, which is managed by the mothers of local farmers in the kiritanpo hometown of Odate, offers a kiritanpo nabe cooking experience. This is an authentic kiritanpo nabe recipe that starts by pounding the rice, but rest assured that the mothers will provide essential observation at the key points, such as cooking it to the right degree. This amazing kiritanpo nabe uses a Hinai Jidori (local free-range chicken) soup. Kiritanpo nabe used to be made by the whole family on special days. This is a precious experience in which you will enjoy the flavors and culture that have been handed down through the generations in Odate.

Address:
Ienoushiro 97-1, Magata, Odate, Akita;
Fee (reservation required):
2,160JPY per person (reservations accepted for groups of four people or more);
Times:
9 AM to 18PM (closes at 17PM in January and February);
Closed:
N/A (closed Tuesdays in January and February);
TEL:
+81-186-52-3800

An exquisite kiritanpo nabe eaten next to the fireplace Tazawa Plateau Hotel

Long ago, fireplaces were the at the center of the lives of common Japanese people, who used to warm themselves and cook around the fireplace. The kiritanpo nabe at the Tazawa Plateau Hotel in the Tazawako Kogen Onsen Village uses a popular good old style where the rice is cooked and the hotpot comes to a boil around the fireplace. In addition to the this nabe, which hinges on the soup stock that is cooked for ten hours, you can also enjoy Akita’s famous kiritanpo miso dengaku, which is full of aroma as it is cooked at the fireplace.

Address:
2-36 Komagatake, Tazawako Obonai, Senboku, Akita;
Fee:
One night and two meals form 14,040JPY;
Check-in:
15PM;
Checkout:
10AM;
Closed:
N/A;
TEL:
+81-187-46-2331

Take a tour of the locations to share the luck of beautiful women of Akita after eating the beautifying hotpot!

There are so many beautiful women in Akita that people use the phrase “Akita Beauty.” After eating the kiritanpo nabe that provides a beautifying effect as it contains plenty of vegetables and collagen from Hinai Jidori (local free-range chickens), take a tour around a location that provides luck to the Akita Beauties.

Blessed with beauty
Gozanoishi Shrine

This shrine is one of the few shrines in the country that blesses people with beauty. It is located on the banks of Lake Tazawa where there is the legend of Tatsuko, who became a dragon after praying for eternal beauty. Amulets with mirrors can be purchased that are said to make you more beautiful.

Address:
Ainaigata-1, Nishikicho Hinokinai, Senboku, Akita;
Fee:
Free;
Times:
8AM to 17PM;
Closed:
N/A (shrine office (including sales) closed between December and March);
TEL:
+81-0187-53-2376 (Shinmeisha)

A famous beautifying spa
Yuze onsen and Yuze Hotel

This hot spring area near the borders of Akita, Aomori and Iwate is a famous spa for beautiful women. At the Yuze Hotel, you can enjoy a restorative bath in view of the mountain streams and seasonal scenery.

Address:
Yuzeyubata-4, Hachimantai, Kazuno, Akita;
Fee:
1,500 JPY on weekends, etc., 1,000 JPY on weekdays;
Day-return bathing hours:
14PM to 20PM (admissions until 19PM);
Closed:
N/A;
TEL:
+81-186-33-2311

Travel to the samurai residence area while wearing antique kimono
Shanari Kimono Tour

This antique kimono dressing service experience takes place at Kakunodate in Senboku, which is known as the little Kyoto of Tohoku. Take a stroll in an elegant kimono through the samurai homes and merchant cellars of these retro streets.

Address:
(Tatetsu-ke, Kakunodate Kabazaiku Center) Nakamachi 25, Kakunodate, Senboku, Akita;
Fee (reservation required at least one day in advance):
4,000 JPY (kimono for men also available);
Times:
10AM to 17PM;
Closed:
N/A;
TEL:
+81-187-63-6751

Keys to a delicious nabe: No. 1

Nabe, which are eaten while they are cooked, are easier to make if everyone around the pot puts in the ingredients and regulates the heat. The heat should be strong at first, and then the nabe should be simmered once it starts to boil. Do not put in more ingredients immediately after eating. Instead, once the first lot of ingredients has gone, put in the second lot for better consistency according to the heat.

Fishing village nabe originating in Oga

Ishiyaki nabe – a hearty fisherman’s nabe where a hot stone is placed into the pot Kaiyo

In the Oga Peninsula in the west of Akita prefecture where there is a thriving fishing industry, there is a notable kind of nabe hotpot that is unique to fishing villages. At the Kaiyo restaurant on the Nyudo coast on the westernmost point of the Oga peninsula, you can enjoy Oga’s traditional ishiyaki nabe. This is a hearty dish in which a heated stone is put into the pot in front of your eyes that was first made by fisherman on the seashore. This delicious dish is heated up in an instant, which locks in the umami of the seafood, and increases the aroma of miso. As only fish that is caught in the Oga Peninsula can be offered, this dish may not be available on days when no fish are caught.

Address:
Konbuura 2-71, Kitauranyudozaki, Oga, Akita;
Fee:
2,160 JPY for a portion of ishiyaki nabe;
Times:
8AM to 17PM;
Closed:
N/A (closed for winter from December to end of March);
TEL:
+81-185-38-2530

An addictive winter feast – Shottsuru nabe Kamezushi Restaurant

Shottsuru is a fish sauce made by pickling Oga’s famous sailfin sandfish that are left over from the catch. Shottsuru nabe, which is flavored with this fish sauce, is Akita’s most popular hotpot that has a richness and flavor that are addictive. Various types of fish can be used, including cod and sea bream, but shottsuru nabe using sailfin sandfish has a particularly delicious and rich flavor. Shottsuru nabe is a famous winter-only dish at Kamezushi Restaurant, which looks out to Kitaura Harbor in Oga.

Address:
Sakaecho 4-3, Kitaura, Oga, Akita;
Fee:
From 1,000 JPY per adult for a portion of shottsuru nabe (current price);
Times:
11:30AM to 14PM, 17PM to 21PM;
Closed:
Tuesdays;
TEL:
+81-185-33-2049

Know more about the attractions of Oga
with a double experience of nabe and namahage

The traditional folk performance of Namahage (demon-like beings) that has been handed down since ancient times surpasses even nabe as Oga’s most famous product. Young men dress up as namahage on New Years’ Eve, and they go from house to house shouting “Are there any cry babies around?” and “Are there any naughty kids around?” in order to warn against doing bad in the area, and to chase away bad luck.

See the namahage up-close Shinzan Folklore Museum in Oga

This performance is held all year long, although traditionally namahage can only be seen by local children on New Years’ Eve. The highlights include the opening scene where the namahage cry out “Are there any cry babies around?” and scenes where they meet the families, which combines humor and intensity.

Address:
Mizukuisawa, Kitaurashinzan, Oga, Akita;
Fee:
Adults 864 JPY, Students 540 JPY (1,080 JPY for adults and 756 JPY for students between December and March together with entrance to the Namahage Museum);
Times:
9AM to 16:30PM (9:30AM to 15:30PM December to March);
Closed:
N/A (please enquire during winter);
TEL:
+81-185-33-3033 (Shinzan Shrine)
See an exciting display of masks from all over the region, and dress as a namahage Namahage Museum

This display facility is located next to the Shinzan Folklore Museum in Oga. The highlight is the powerful display of namahage masks from all over Oga city. The large screen that televises original films and the section where you can dress as a namahage are also very popular.

Address:
Mizukuisawa, Kitaurashinzan, Oga, Akita;
Fee:
Adults 540 JPY, Students 270 JPY;
Times:
8:30AM to 17PM;
Closed:
N/A;
TEL:
+81-185-22-5050

Keys to a delicious nabe: No. 2

As the food is shared from a single pot, it is best not to make others feel uncomfortable. Instead of using your own chopsticks to take the food, use the specially-provided serving chopsticks and ladle. Of course, you can use your own chopsticks if you’re eating with close friends. It’s also best not to use the serving chopsticks to stir the ingredients to find a certain ingredient, as it looks unclean.

Yet more nabe hotpots unique to Akita

Secchu nabekko made by hunters in the snowy mountains Matagi School

Ani in Kita-Akita in Akita Prefecture has long been an area of activity of the matagi (hunting tribe) who hunt in the mountains. The secchu nabekko experience program held by the Matagi School in Ani allows you to enjoy a nabe and walking in snow shoes with the matagi in mountainous woody areas. The piping hot nabe that warms up your cold body is an absolute joy. Another highlight is learning about the wisdom and skills of the matagi as they live in harmony with mother nature by, for example, starting open-air fires using tree bark.

Address:
(Uto Onsen Matagi no Yu) Senboku Watari Michikami 67, Aniutto, Kita-akita, Akita;
Fee (reservation required at least one week in advance):
Secchu Nabekko (four hours) 6,480 JPY (for 2-8 people; 10,800 JPY for one person);
Opening period:
February to March;
TEL:
+81-186-84-2612(Uto Onsen Matagi no Yu)

Enjoy the famous yamanoimo nabe in a location revered by fans of secret hot springs Tsurunoyu Onsen in Nyuto Onsen Village

This popular rural hotel is surrounded by a deep green beech forest. There has been an onsen here since the Edo Period, and the Akita Daimyo stayed here. Hot springs with differing components from four water sources can be enjoyed.

Yamanoimo nabe (Japanese yam hotpot) is the famous nabe of the Senboku area, which is known for such things as Japan’s deepest lake, Lake Tazawa. This rustic nabe includes lots of mountain vegetables, including grated yam dumplings, and wild plants in spring, and mushrooms in the fall. The most famous of these is the yamanoimo nabe prepared with miso, which is a specialty of Tsutunoyu Onsen in Nyuto Onsen Village, a place revered by fans of secret hot springs. At lodgings, some of the rooms in the headquarters of the samurai of the Akita Domain from the Edo Period, the new headquarters, and the east headquarters feature a traditional fireplace. The hot pot cuisine is cooked at the fireplace and served in each room, which offers an emotional experience.

Address:
Sendatsuzawa Kokuyurin-50, Tazawako, Senboku, Akita;
Fee:
From 8,790 JPY;
Check-in:
15PM;
Checkout:
10AM;
Closed:
N/A (outdoor bath closed on Mondays, or the following day if Monday is a national holiday);
TEL:
+81-187-46-2139

Keys to a delicious nabe: No. 3

Part of the treat when eating nabe is the communication. Conversation naturally springs forth as everyone eats facing each other around the nabe. There is an even greater sense of harmony when the person nearest the pot distributes the food, while those furthest from the pot order drinks.

Akita Airport

From Tokyo Haneda Airport

65 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 5※

From Nagoya Chubu Airport

85 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 2※

From Osaka International Airport

90 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 3※

Odate-Noshiro Airport

From Tokyo Haneda Airport

70 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 2※

*Information correct as of January 22 2016

Details correct as of end of December, 2015.