Aoyagi Samurai House.
Now, this is the centerpiece of all the Samurai houses. AOYAGI SAMURAI HOUSE, also know as the AOYAGI SAMURAI MANOR MUSEUM is one of the best preserved architectural beauties of its kind in Japan. The estate features the Main House, the Armory, the Seiryu-an Gallery, the Akita Folk Museum, the Samurai Tools & Utensils Museum & a beautiful garden. Do give yourself an hour at the very least to go through the entire estate. It's well worth your time & the admission is a mere 500 Yen.
Unlike the other museums, the buildings & exhibits have their roots in this Manor; the members of the Aoyagi family built & collected them for their actual daily use. In fact, the Main House had been home to the descendants until as late as 1985!
Enjoy this beautiful lake on a cruise boat, cycling around its scenic shores or skiing in Winter.
A breathtaking experience!
LAKE TAZAWA (TAZAWAKO) (423.4m): Deepest crater lake with a circumference of about 20 km. Tazawako is the 2nd most transparent lake in Japan.
The plateau by the lake is a resort with many hot springs & a ski resort.
TAZAWAKO conveys a feeling of calm & bliss. I've seldom experienced such emotions in Japan. Japan has always been a place of activities rather than relaxation. It's a very wonderful feeling & I'm sure I'll be back for more in the future.
Odano Naotake Statue.
THE ODANO NAOTAKE STATUE.
Odano Naotake (1749-80) was a Kakunodate-born samurai & a remote relative of the Aoyagi clan. He became famous when he created anatomical illustrations with western techniques which he learned from Hiraga Gennai. 'Kaitai Shinsho' - the first translation of a Dutch book on anatomy in Japan published in 1774 won him the respect of many art loving lords. He later invented the Akita Ranga (ie. the Akita Dutch-drawing method).
Autumn in Japan.
The Autumn is a great time to be in Japan. I have always enjoyed Autumn somehow; possibly, because I was born in this season. Whatever the reason, I think the different colors found in both the gardens & the mountains are a joy to remember by! I simply love Autumn, especially in Canada & Japan! The maple leaves & the momiji are spectacular in this season.
THE GARDEN: A compact botanical garden with flowers of the season. Hundreds of rare plants can be found here. If you are visiting around Spring, look out for the Aoyagi Yae Beni Shidare Zakura (an 8-petalled red weeping cherry only found in this garden).
The pond & Shinmei-sui well feed on 5 metric tons per hour of clear water flowing from aquifers under the Gendaiji-yama hill.
A Japanese well in one of the Samurai houses. Just a random thought... we are so lucky these days that we don't even question the daily conveniences of electricity, water & microwaving our food anymore. Lots of times, we take for granted that life will either remain at today's comfort level or is going to improve further. It was not so long ago that the source of water was from this well, even for the most prestigious clan in Japan. Amazing how far human races have come to today... & yet we are still having wars at different parts of the world. Is it really a case of built & destroy & then rebuild again??? I wonder...
KAKUNODATE is essentially a small town between Akita & Morioka on the Akita Shinkansen Route. From Kakunodate JR Station, take a leisure stroll for about 10 mins & you'd soon be brought back in time for about 400 years to the days when the Samurais reigned. As in the accompanying pix, one can feel the different era in Japanese history by just walking through the dignified Samurai houses.
Originally formed in the year of Genwa 6 (1620) by the feudal lord Yoshikatsu Ashina, Samurai houses numbered 80 & merchant houses numbered 350. Today, there's only 8 Samurai houses. In over 380 years, its structure hasn't changed in the least, esp. in the Uchimachi area; not a single corner of a street or its width has changed at all. History is still vividly alive today in Kakunodate.
Tree 'watching'! No, not looking for birds :)
Just something that caught my attention that moment in time.
The Samurai Armory.
What's a Samurai without his swords, right?
Do check out THE ARMORY where an exhibit of swords, armors, helmets, guns & war flags from 15th to 19th centuries are being displayed.
In feudal Japan, gates symbolized the social prestige of the owners. This house followed the architectural technology of the feudal lord times.
On the way to kakunodate, I came across fields such as this. Am not sure what they are but thought they are interesting nonetheless. Anyone has any idea???
Tazawako JR Station.
Exhibits of local lifestyle can be found at the Tazawako Station. Maps & information can also be obtained from this JR Station.
Lake Tazawa, believed to be the home of 2 serpent gods, is know for not freezing even in the cold winter.